Rhetorical Analysis of “Why Our Memory Fails Us” and Commentary

An analysis on how rhetoric strategies shape an audience’s opinions of a piece reveals that commenters base their criticism on their own experiences and beliefs. [This is the assignment. What is your thesis statement?]

[Analyze rather than summarize.] In the article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, the authors explain how we may recall memories in ways that did not happen. Our biased minds help us remember what we think we recall, in turn we don’t get the exact details right. The authors also go on to explain how most individuals don’t respond well when they are criticized upon their false memories.

The authors rely more on facts and studies then appealing to their audience’s emotions. By using logos as their writing strategy, the writers establish reliability and credibility by citing cases in which important figures, such as George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton [use of ethos because they are famous], have reported inaccurate information based on what they remember. [Separate topic sentences with paragraphs.] The authors also include studies from psychologists to back up their logic with scientific viewpoints. The problem on relying on one’s memory is that one might be blinded by what they believe happened and distort reality. [Analyze rather than summarize.] Moreover, because we are so confident in our memories to be correct, we react poorly when we are shown our errors.

Additionally, the tone of the authors reflect that memories are powerful enough to be refined to fit what we believed accurately happened. They use testimonies and real accounts of when well known individuals have recalled morphed versions of past events. By providing reports, such as from the National Academy of Sciences, Chabris and Simons establish a strong reputation and trustworthiness [use of ethos].

Drawing from the top comments of the article, they were found to be convincing because of how relatable [use of pathos?] they were to the audience. The first comment from Neil deGrasse Tyson uses logos by referring to links where he is discussing some points of the article further. However, it appears he is only referring to the beginning of the article where he is mentioned. [good point] 

The second comment from Keith Dow gives a few links and quotes from when Bush had some said questionable statements. The commenter says that the writers have a faulty memory on mention that Bush is intelligent. By doing this, Dow is using ethos to establish an authority over the writers and logos by backing up his opinion on Bush. [good point] 

Finally, Jacob Sommer agrees with what the writers are discussing. Sommer believes that it’s okay that people make honest mistakes due to their memory because they are honest mistakes. He uses pathos by using humor and optimism about people’s memories. [good point] 

Compared to the NYT Picks comments, the Reader’s Picks comments are more “selfish” because their opinions revolve around what they believe, and not necessarily have to do with the overall purpose of the article. On the other hand, the NYT comments sound more informed and positive towards the article. They are comments directed towards the whole article, not just a few words or paragraph that hit a nerve. I believe the way the Times ranked the comments is not effective enough. The NYT Picks have a better understanding and knowledge about the subject in hand because they provide an opinion based on the whole idea of the article. The Reader’s Picks sound like the commenters take it personally and generally try to prove the writers wrong.


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