Rhetorical Analysis: Why Our Memory Fails Us.

Deyanira Morgado

Thesis Statement: Throughout the article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” published on in the New York Times , psychology professors Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simmons effectively inform the audience about memory distortion and persuade the audience to consider this phenomenon when judging others’ memory mistakes in the future by utilizing  a mixture of logos, ethos, pathos, imagery and anaphora. (Good!!)

The article begins as informative as Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simmons  introduce the main topic , (I would consider maybe putting a hypen here) which is the reality of distorted memories and their effect . Throughput the essay, however,  the authors adopt an informal writing style as they state opinions about how people should react to false memories by using words such as “we”, “our” and “us”. The informal  and simplified writing is also utilized by the authors in  order to expand their audience and  effectively communicate  their opinions and ideas. For example the authors state, “Our memories tend to morph to match our beliefs about ourselves and our world” (Chabris and Simons, 2014) as to show the audience that this happens to everyone even phycologists that are aware of distortion of memory. 

 The authors use ethos throughout the essay to prove the ideas of  false memories and distortion of memory  when briefly describing the findings of the National Academy of Sciences on false memory and the application of these findings on legal processes, as well as several research studies conducted by psychologists Henry L. Roediger and K. Andrew DeSoto,  and Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett. Moreover,  when describing the findings of psychologist Frederic Charles, the authors include imagery and logos  by describing the experiment with the analogy of the telephone game to visualize and understand how memories are distorted  in a logical way.  Moreover,  the authors aim to increase their ethos by presenting the events in which former president Bush  and politician Hillary Rodham Clinton experienced distortion of memory .

Additionally, the authors appeal to the emotions of the audience (pathos) when incorporating the 9/11 event  and what Bush mistakenly said about the event to prove that the effects of memory distortion can be drastic and can even lead to conspiracy theories and harmful critics . For example the authors used imagery  once again to show distortion of memory  when they mentioned, “ …on  more than one occasion Mr. Bush recollected having seen the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center before he entered a classroom in Florida” (Chabris and Simons, 2014) .  This statement also appeals to higher emotions of those who  know about the event , especially the audience that was affected by it. Then,  the authors show the result of Bush’s public mistake by stating , “ … some Bush critics concluded that he was inadvertently leaking the truth, and must have known about the attacks in advance”  (Chabris and Simons, 2014). Lastly,  Chabris and Simmons highlight the importance of understanding false memories,  and persuade the  audience to apologize when their memory fails and forgive others when this happens by using   anaphora and concluding the article with the following statement : “ We should be more understanding of mistakes by others, and credit them when they admit they were wrong. We are all fabulists, and we must all get used to it”.

The authors  of the top three comments were chosen by the readers because they are constructive and supported by evidence and quotes(logos) , as well as personal experiences with false me memories(pathos).


Chabris, C. and Simons, D. (2014). Opinion | Why Our Memory Fails Us.  

Hi Deyanira, You make excellent points and have a good grasp of the material. I enjoyed reading your post. Keep up the good work. Nice thesis too!