Rhetorical Analysis By: Joshua Phillips team 15

Thesis statement: In Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simmons’ Article “Why our Memory Fails us”, they rely mostly on the rhetorical appeals logos and pathos in an effort to develop their argument about how human memory can sometimes be unreliable. With logos, the authors rely on evidence and factual information as a tool to support their argument. Additionally, they depend on pathos by appealing to the emotions of their audience through specific examples. As authors, Chabris and Simmons exhibit assertive tones. They want to argue that our memories can change easily, and they do so effectively, even calling the audience, and themselves, “fablists”. (Your thesis statement is somewhat incomplete. It makes good points but it needs to offer something more, something for you to defend or support more thoroughly. 

Through logos, the authors explain that our memory is not a reliable source in regard to retrieving facts. They claim no two individuals recall an event exactly the same. Furthermore, memories have a tendency to constantly change over time to bring to view the logic that memories are not dependable. Simmons and Chabris also brought to the attention of the audience that most memories cannot be backed up by specific evidence and may rely on confidence to examine the accuracy of what really happened.

In addition to the use of logos, the authors also use pathos to bring across their argument that memory cannot be trusted when involved with serious matters. In a study they found out that “flashbulb memories” of emotionally charged events can be distorted and inaccurate. In doing so, Simmons and Chabris subconsciously encourage their audience to recall events from their own life and question whether or not their memories are clear. By providing this information, they argue that one’s emotion can blur their memories. Therefore, they bring light to the fact that an individual’s memories tend to morph to match their beliefs about themselves and the world around them. Knowing that emotion and trauma can influence an individual’s memories makes it clear that it can alter their reality, therefore making their memories invalid when it comes to evidence.

The other has three top picks: one from Neil deGrasse Tyson, another from Keith Dow, and lastly one from Jacob Sommer. Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a valid and strong point in which he pushes the fact he has an explicit memory and that he does not need written notes for public speaking, but rather that he prefers to make it feel like a conversation. Matter of fact, the editors considered this comment their top pick which provides evidence that people try to use their memory and experiences more than they try to find hard facts to provide the public. Keith Dow has yet another strong point in which he downplays President Bush by saying that the people’s memory of Bush being intelligent is faulty. In an effort to validate his reasoning, Dow uses logos to show his audience quotes from Bush that provides some evidence that his intelligence or speech presentation is questionable. Lastly, Jacob Sommer acknowledges the fact that everyone makes mistakes so other try to give them the benefit of the doubt. By doing so, he appeals to pathos, sympathizing with their audience so they do not feel discouraged about their flawed memories. The fact that Chabris and Simmons cite educated and well known figures in society, they appeal to ethos which serves only to strengthen their argument. Times effectively ranks the comments because it provides reader with insight about why each comment may or may not be the best.

However,  although they are ranked from best to worst, Times fails to explain why those comments are ranked in such a matter. In other words, they fail to provide evidence to prove the rankings are accurate.

Overall you made some excellent points and your writing style is quite good.  Good sentence structure, word choice and overall good work!