Nadia Diaz

Thesis Statement: The trajectory of the deadly attacks in Barcelona were shaped by media outlets all throughout the world. Newspapers and news stations brought the story, along with pictures and video footage to reach all audiences.

In “Why Our Memory Fails Us,” by Chabris and Simons, they choose to build their case on the problems of relying on one’s memory through the use of logos. Chabris and Simons argue that we tend to have overconfidence in our memory. They also believe that we reconstruct memories from our past to the present and compare this to the “telephone,” [improper punctuation] game. Chabris and Simons state that our memories change to coincide with our beliefs about our world and ourselves. They primarily rely on facts and studies to support their arguments. Some of the ways in which they do this are by mentioning studies from cognitive psychologists Henry L. Roediger III and K. Andrew DeSoto, the National Academy of Sciences, and psychologist Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett.

Chabris and Simons make a connection to ethos by demonstrating credibility through Simon’s participation in the expert panel for the National Academy of Sciences. Using credible studies and facts from organizations and psychologists allow their arguments to have more reliability.

The tone of the authors is candid and stern, and relates to the pathos of the article [Pathos refers to emotional rhetoric. Specific examples needed]. In the last paragraph, this tone is made clear as they state when our memory fails us we should simply admit the error, apologize and move on from it. Chabris and Simons also demonstrate their tone when they state we are all fabulists and we should get used to it.

The top three comments in the readers’ choice were convincing by others because of their use of ethos, logos and pathos. The first comment comes from Neil deGrasse Tyson himself, who is frequently mentioned and referred to in the article. His comment provides credibility because it shows his direct public statements. The top two comments provide facts about references to quotes and statements made in the article. The third comment has an emotional appeal because it is sympathetic to our failing memory by emphasizing on honest mistakes, which is something many readers can relate to.

In reference to the Times approach to ranking comments, I believe it is effective and needed. When going through all the comments, I believe the editors look for engaging, thought [hyphen] provoking and neutral remarks. These neutral, yet intelligently interesting comments in the NYT Picks allow us to step outside our own beliefs and take a look at a new perspective that enhances the significance of the article.

On the contrary, the readers’ choice can deliver comments that present facts and allow us to support our opinions through emotional appeal by looking at the top comments readers felt they could relate to. Without the readers’ choice and NYT Picks, comments are left in an echo chamber, as stated by Virginia Heffernan in “Comment is King. [Interesting point]” This echo chamber makes it hard for readers to find the comments that are worth reading, in the sense that they are intelligent and engaging thoughts. Overall, the Times approach to ranking comments provides readers with arguments that can appeal to someone’s logos or pathos.


Individual Assignment #1: Rhetorical Analysis of NYT Article & Commentary by Brian Phillips

Authors Chabris and Simons apply The Rhetorical Triangle appeals when describing how people use their memories.


I believe this article involved all three points of The Rhetorical Triangle and that’s also how Chabris and Simons built their case. They used Logos when stating facts about Bush & Tyson’s quotes including when, where, and what they were talking about and how this supported their claims. For help, they used different articles and reports to back them up. It was a Pathos [wording: The authors used pathos?] when informing us exactly how our memories work without a source to control our emotions [sounds more like a fact (logos)] and what they want us to believe . They had an Ethos approach when they told us what we should be doing to better our perception of memory as if their way is the right way [ethos refers to credibility and trustworthiness . . . examples would be useful here to prove this point]. Logos was used more than the other two appeals.

This article relied on emotion of the audience, while basing information on facts and studies. The article is divided whether they are stating facts or their beliefs on a subject. If it had to be one or the other I’d say the article leans more towards facts and studies than beliefs. As authors, Chabris and Simons gave a respectful tone when explaining the mistakes by Dr. Tyson and Mr. Bush, and describing the way that our memories function.

Each of the top three comments voted by readers had a feature in them that made them interesting enough to be voted up. This included evidence, quotes, or well explained logic that made sense to everyone. Neil deGrasse Tyson provided his side of the story with links to notes he had taken. This is who the article was calling out, only Neil was giving his side of the story. This is a Pathos approach [pathos refers to empathy and emotionally charged statements . . . examples needed here too]. Another technique, done by Keith Dow, was stating quotes, made by Mr. Bush, that he researched and provided links. These quotes were used as supports to [to support his] his statement that he believed Mr. Bush isn’t intelligence [intelligent]. His technique was using quotes as facts to support his claim. This is a Ethos approach. Jacob Sommer states his common sense when he gives his thoughts on the matter of memory. He says this as if he was stating it in an honest way. This is a Logos approach.

The NYT Picks were more about what other people’s takes were than providing evidence and stating facts. If you look at how many people liked those comments, it’s not as popular compared to the readers picks. I believe ranking comments is effective, but not needed. As I read an article or watching a video that I’m interested in, I look forward to reading the top voted comments of others because I want to know how others understood the same piece that I just took in. I don’t need to know what someone else’s opinion is, but knowing doesn’t hurt. This all boils down to the same topic, understood, and expressed in different ways by readers. Neil deGrasse Tyson made an apparent mistake when stating a quote based off of memory and Charbis and Simons took advantage of that opportunity.



Why Memory Fails Us (Due 8/31)

Thesis: In the article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” Chabris and Simons explain how an individual should understand why certain memories can be altered through the three modes of persuasion.


Believe it or not, memories vary from individual to individual. For example, a recollection of the same event witnessed by 50 students will slightly vary from student to student. Students will add or even subtract details from the actual event purposely or accidentally depending on how that event impacted their sense of logic or emotion. A student may recall the event as being more dramatic then it was to establish a foundation of emotion. Or a student may add a detail in the recollection of the event so it makes more sense to him/herself. [Everything up to this point is unnecessary commentary. Eliminate it. Your analysis starts here ->] In the article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” Chabris and Simons explain case by case how an individual should understand why certain memories can be altered through the different modes of persuasion.

Every day, people purposely alter facts to make memories from yesterday make sense or have an impact on someone’s life today. Chabris and Simons rely solely on studies to prove that memory sometimes fails us. They set an example of memory that is altered is the “telephone game” which was mimicked by Frederic Bartlett in which a person creates a story and passes it on to another person in which that person tries to tell the same story to the next person and so on and so forth. He discovered that overtime the story itself is not the original as details were added and subtracted along the way. In this case the appeal to logos is being used as individuals implement details and take out details so that logically the memory makes sense to themselves. This supports Magicisnotreal in the comments in which he states that the practice of inference after inference is what makes memories false overtime.

The thing that is intriguing about our brains is that no one carries the same mindset meaning everyone’s confidence levels are different. Chabris and Simons use pathos in this argument to explain how confidence levels create a foundation for a specific memory whether it is the perfect recollection or not [More logos than pathos. Confidence associated with memory recollection is a fact (logos), not an emotionally charged statement (pathos). If they believe that its true, then the brain will construct a memory that makes it sound like it actually is.

Throughout the article the authors do bring pathos into their argument, picking at ways false memories have affected lives of individuals as well. To convince readers that false memories are a problem in society [comma needed] Chabris and Simons input [word choice: said?] that false memories have led to “false convictions”. [period inside quotation] This is a form of pathos as the authors use words like “false” and “innocent lives” so readers can feel the effect of false memories. This supports Peter C as he states that he accepts his memory faults and that we as humans should also accept the fact that it will happen. People need to understand why memories are able to fail us so we can start constructing more accurate memories as time moves forward.


[Do you think the Times approach to ranking comments is effective? Is it needed? Why or why not?]




Why our memory fails us – Daniel Velasquez


This article is relevant because we are all humans and want to know more how our brain works, we know our memory has failed us at least once in our life, and these fails in our memory have consequences.

Why memory fails us

Daniel Velasquez

Florida International University

The article “Why memory fails us” by Chabris and Simmons [Simons] tells the story of how a very intelligent and respected man like Mr. Neal Tyson can make a mistake because one of his memory failed [failing] him. Fortunately, he was wise and smart enough to recognize his mistake and correct it. Chabris and Simmons argument [argue] that our memory fails us because of preconceived ideas we have, by overconfidence on our memory and because memories can change overtime. The authors relay on a scientific appeal because they present evidence of studies that have been made. This article is relevant because we are all humans and want to know more how our brain works, we know our memory has failed us at least once in our life, and these fails [failures] in our memory have consequences.

Chabris and Simmons appeal to “facts” and studies and provide more than one example. They tell the story about Mrs. Clinton and how she misremembered and event that never happened and how Bush had some facts wrong about 9/11. This technique of giving more than one example helps to build up their case. People is interested in this fail because we all want to know what is “wrong” with our brain or just why these things happen [irrelevant statement]. No one likes not remembering a story or remembering how it did not happen so the topic is already relevant before their arguments.

The article is also relevant because memory fails are not rare at all. The saying “there is two sides for every story” applies for this subject because there is just not one correct story, every one sees things differently, people pay attention to different points so not everyone is aware of the same things and stories change. We also have a lot of memories stored in our brain and this complicates things when it is time to look back at the old memories [eliminate commentary].

These fails in memory are very important because not always but sometimes have big consequences for the parties involved in that memory. Accidents, murders, rapes, robberies… witnesses take an important part of these examples and we relay on their memories that could be affected by fear, adrenaline, and others. What if they get their memories mixed up? Or what if they feel the event bigger than what it really was? But they were present, they must be right, or not? [eliminate commentary]

Commentators on the other hand tend to attack Mr. Bush which was relevant in the article to make a point not to talk good or bad about him, others praise Mr. Tyson, some provide counter-examples” and tell their experiences with memories of their own. One says that the problem is not human memory but laziness, others add more arguments and there is one that talks about how when we do not remember something, we deny it ever happened. Others praise Chabris and Simmons for their “fascinating stuff”. [period inside the quotation mark] I am not a fan of commentators and usually never read them because most of them deviate from the subject of what they read, they write without thinking what they really wrote, so yes, I feel ranking comments is needed because most of the comments lack knowledge and quality and are blinded by the thing they believe in and in general online comments are so intense, it is unbelievable [Severely lengthy sentence. Break up into three or more individual sentences].

In conclusion, our memories fail because we are not perfect beings, our memories like us fail sometimes and it takes a mature and wise person like Mr. Tyson to recognize and correct mistakes our memories make us do. Being able to recognize what causes this “issue” is a big step on how to find a solution in order to be able to relay on our memory the best ways possible.