Rhetorical Analysis- Nathalie Bernal- IDS3309

Thesis: In the New York Times articles “Comment is King” and “Why Our Memory Fails Us”, the respective authors use rhetoric to spell out the commonness of distorted memory and the brutal commentator’s perspectives that indubitably accompany the publishing of said memories. (Very good thesis)

Chabris and Simmons set out to prove how unforgiving people can be in their article “Why Our Memory Fails Us.” We are surrounded by pompous critics who remain concealed behind usernames that are inflated by voicing their skepticism and distrust of others. Chabris and Simons kick off the article by giving the example of Neil Degrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and TV host, who made the mistake of misquoting former president George W. Bush in one of his stories. After receiving heavy reproach from a multitude of people, Dr. Tyson did admit to his mistake and apologized for his overconfidence.

Throughout this article, you will find that the authors used the triad of appeals. Right off the bat, they used ethos when describing Dr. Tyson. They used ethos again when speaking of Mr. Bush and again with Hillary Clinton. These are people that the majority see as educated, well-rounded, and of high regard. We are shown that even they can recall false memories and it is not always about twisting the truth or being a liar. The authors have us question ourselves, “do our heroes have memories of clay?” 

The authors used logos heavily when providing examples of different experiments and studies as well as the names of the psychologists and academies that were used for reference. They included a study that was conducted by cognitive psychologists Henry L. Roediger III and K. Andrew DeSoto. These two conducted an experiment to test how accurately people could recall words from list. It turned out that people were just as confident in both words on the list and words similar to them. 

A memory can be distorted each time you recall it. A report from the National Academy of Sciences strongly suggests relying on initial statements as opposed to courtroom proclamations and this is why. This fact can be seen as a logos, but it ties into pathos when the authors explain how false memories can sentence an innocent person to life in prison or the death penalty. The reader is bound to feel guilt and concern for society. The thought of people being sentenced to death alone is a thought that could stir a few emotions.

Then we dive into the reader’s comments which is basically scrolling onto the sea of opinions. Two comments that stood out the most to me were by Keith Dow and Jacob Sommer. It was very obvious that they article rubbed them in very different ways. Dow was totally submerged in the fact that the authors called George W. Bush an educated person and used logos when listing several examples on comments that the former president made during his time in office. Sommer, on the other hand, I believe used ethos when he demonstrated his agreeance to what was explained in the article about memory. He wanted to show the readers of his comments that he is very conscious of distorted memories including his own, that he generally assumes the best of people, and basically, we should all follow his lead. 

Hi Nathalie,

Excellent post! Good command of language and sentence structure. A good analysis and not just a summary overall. I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to working with you.