Individual Assignment 1

Drawing on my understanding of the rhetorical triangle, I believe that Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons presented an argument that appealed to pathos in their article “Why Our Memory Fails Us”. HOW? WHY?


WHO? begin with talking about Dr. Tyson; his profession and staple story on former president George W. Bush. They then develop their ideas through narration; Elaborating on a memory failure that Dr. Tyson had about what Bush had said post the 9/11 attacks and in his 2003 tribute to the astronauts lost in the Columbia space shuttle explosion.

Chabris and Simons go on to explain about THE memory failures that both Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton themselves had experienced. They explain that “politicians are often caught misremembering their past, in part because their lives are so well documented”. They build their case by depicting and explaining circumstances in which indeed memory failed the politicians of our country, who at the end of the day are only human. They “support” the mis-remembrances of the politicians with relating data stating that greater confidence in memory is associated with greater accuracy while also high confidence in false memories is associated with low accuracy. The correlation is that in both cases, whether the person is remembering correctly or not, there is a level of high confidence.

WHAT IS THE TOPIC SENTENCE? So the problem of relying on one’s memory is that it fails us no matter how sure of our memory we are and we should therefore “ be more understanding of mistakes by others, and credit them when they admit they were wrong” (Chabris & Simons). I believe Chabris and Simons used a dignified and frank tone throughout their article and by portraying the mistakes of politicians to the reader they have appealed to our emotions of likeness with people of importance.


On the other hand, I believe the top three comments of the readers’ pick were found to be convincing by so many other readers because they appealed to both ethos and logos. The comment by Keith Dow was basically all quotes and a link to “verifiable quotes from Bush”. His comment appeals to ethos because with the link he establishes credibility. Jacob Sommer however appeals to logos with a comment that was but a thought. No quotes, no data or other overload of information.


The NYT picks differ from the readers’ choices in being in that valley of open mindedness where it is easy to listen to the “ clearer, brighter, rarer voices” as Heffernan said. And so yes I think the Times approach to ranking comments is effective because it groups comments alike. I also think this approach is needed because it allows for an easy find and read of different types of comments depending on preference. And so even though it supports the echo-chamber effect in a way, I think it does away with the craziness of a storm of comments and contributes to a genuine dialogue.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: