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!



Carlos Escobar Team#15 Individual assignment

Thesis: Authors of a New York Times article, “why our memories fail us” by Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons, both psychologist, use the rhetorical techniques Logos, Ethos, and pathos to construct their argument perhaps add something like “proving that …….” (Not really a thesis statement, please reread section on thesis statements. )

                When constructing their argument Chabris and Simons used logos to explain memory, in the article that became evident when the authors stated, “we then rely on confidence as a signal of accuracy-in ourselves and others”. (remove unnecessary words)The point this quote make is rational since our “overconfidence”, when leading up to remembering an event often leads us to remember the more crucial details and leave out the insignificant details usually twisting the truth. So, Chabris and Simons argument has a logical point.

                Chabris and Simons also used Ethos when they told the anecdote of when Simons took part in an expert panel to review the state of research on the topic of memory, “…released a comprehensive report… to minimize the chances of false memory and mistaken identification” this shows the reader an outside source (the report) besides the writers own argument making this article more credible.

                In the article Charbis and Simons used the rhetorical technique pathos as well, this was clear to see when they stated “Memory failures that resembles Dr. Tyson…led to false convictions, and even death sentences” this rendered readers to think about how even in court memory could be effected similarly which sparked fear into readers knowing that if something like this could happen in courts and everyday life then it could occur more important places such as hospitals.

In summary, the three rhetorical techniques Logos, Ethos, and Pathos were used in this article to make their argument and they relied more on facts and studies than on the emotion of the audience.  The tone the authors have is serious and informative.

                Regarding the top 3 reader’s comments, they were all representative of each type of rhetoric technique. The first comment which was from Dr. Tyson, which had Ethos as it provided detailed notes of conversations about his mishap giving him more credibility. The second comment by Keith Dow uses logos though his comment is more humor he does, use quotes from the former president validating his point. The last comment by Jacob Sommer uses pathos, his comment portrays a kind of understanding that mistakes are sometimes made and that small harmless mistakes should be let go and this allows the audience to sympathize understanding they are susceptible to making mistakes as well.

                I believe that the Times approach to ranking comments is efficient as it doesn’t just isolate comment choices to certain editors but allows the community of readers to decide for themselves which comments are worthy of being acknowledged for its effectiveness to get a point across.

Overall good work Carlos. Your writing is acceptable and you make some good points. Try to do more analysis than summary in future assignments.

Colin Miller Team 15

Thesis Statement: In the article, “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons, they use every part of the Rhetorical Triangle by incorporating logical reasoning and studies, famous (or infamous) anecdotes, and relatable real-life arguments add “proving that ………..”  (Not really a thesis statement, please reread section on thesis statements. )

The first part of the Rhetorical Triangle introduced in the article is ethos. Chabris and Simons are described as both being psychology professors and co- authors of the book “The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us.” This immediately gives the authors a sense of credibility in what they are talking about in their article right away. They also mention the astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his misattributing a quote by President George W. Bush. This brings more credibility to their article by citing a prominent scientific mind as its first example of how our memory, or at least our confidence in it, can indeed fail us sometimes. (good!)

In their article, Chabris and Simons then incorporate logos. One example is when they cite a paper by esteemed psychologists Henry L. Reedier III and K. Andrew DeSoto where they said that they had tested how well people could recall lists of words that they looked over. As it turned out, those that had expressed great confidence in their memory (or false memory) were prone to both be more accurate and inaccurate. This gives Chabris and Simons’ argument authenticity and logical edge.

Chabris and Simons use pathos in their article as well. When referencing anecdotes of famous politicians such as President George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton having memories that conflict with well-documented events. They use emotional rhetoric such as “Do our heroes have memories of clay?” to make this issue relatable. That even our leaders, who Chabris and Simons describe as “intelligent, educated people,” can be prone to a failure of memory as much as anyone. They conclude the article by telling the reader to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Tyson and stop doubling down, admit possible error, apologize, and move on.

In my opinion, I believe Chabris and Simons rely more on audience emotion than they do on facts and figures. However, both were incorporated in their argument.

The top three reader’s comments from The New York Times article by Chabris and Simons were quite polarizing in how different in approach they were. For instance, the comment from Neil DeGrasse Tyson was professional and respectful and he provides ethos with links to his Facebook page where he says he has “notes in which I discuss these matters more fully.” He is using the credibility of his name to elaborate on the matter being discussed. In Keith Dow’s comment, he uses a combination of pathos and logos. He starts with pathos by blatantly questioning the intelligence of President Bush as quoted in the article. He then proceeds to back up his argument with logos by providing a link as well as multiple verifiable quotes where President Bush did not appear to be at his brightest. Jacob Sommer then concludes the comments with pathos with what I think can almost be a summary of the article itself, “It’s relatively common for people to attribute a negative experience to active malice instead of honest mistake.”

Hi Colin,

Overall good job. Your writing is quite good but you might consider visiting the Writing Center if only to have a second pair of eyes on your assignments. Keep up the good work and I’m sure you will do well.

Georgina Stamper Assignment 1

Thesis: The article “Why our memory fails us” by Chabris and Simons uses a mixture of Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.

Logos and Ethos are mainly used in this article along with some Pathos. The way Chabris and Simmons build their case in what they see as the problems of relying on one’s memory is by first using logos. They build it by giving out examples of how our memories can fail us but we would still deny it because of how confident we think we are regarding our memories. Such as how For example, Dr.Tyson explicitly remembering how Bush said the words “Our God is the God who named the stars” during an event and yet there was no evidence of such statement. Although Bush did say something similar during another event which is probably how Dr. Tyson confused his memories. He was in denial for a bit blaming others memories by saying “Odd that nobody seems to be able to find the quote anywhere” along with “One of our mantras in science is that the absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence”.  It is also mentioned how “overconfidence in memory could emerge from our daily experience” like how events can be easily remembered if it is considered important to someone. Another example of logos is how in the article the series of the “telephone” game experiment that was conducted by the psychologist Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett is mentioned to further explain how our memories can easily change over time.

Now the way (unnecessary words) Ethos is used is how the author’s examples are with people that have authority and credibility. Mr. Bush, an authoritative man misremembering what he saw on 9/11 and Dr. Tyson, a man with credibility, the astrophysicist and host of the TV series “Cosmos” whom most of his audiences that he regularly speaks to would have probably believed and trusted him without question, but yet was mistaken because of his memory failure.

And this brings us to Pathos. It is further said that our memory failures can lead to much bigger problems such as false convictions or death sentences. Which they back up with some logos on how it’s “so concerning that the National Academy of Sciences convened an expert panel to review the state of research on this topic”. This appeals to the higher emotions of people reading the article. They would feel sad or mad and that it’s unfair for the ones wrongly accused.

The top three comments have their own usage of logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos is seen in Keith Dow’s comments, he uses quotes to prove how he believes that Bush being an intelligent person is flawed. Ethos is seen in how Neil Degrasse Tyson himself is the first comment and he’s not denying anything. He just offers more information to those who want it, which is what links the article with credibility and reliability. Pathos is seen in the third comment by Jacob Sommer. He tries to appeal to the reader’s better judgment of people. Like I suppose to give people the benefit of the doubt. We’re all human and we make mistakes and shouldn’t quickly judge others without probable evidence.  (good point in forgiving others)

Be concise and direct, do not use first person, remove all unnecessary words!!! Proofread your writing always. Read it aloud. Have someone else read it as well.  You do make some good points

Always put your Team number on ALL your posts!!

Lauren Bedevia Team #15 – Assignment One

Thesis: Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons explore the topic of how one’s memory is unreliable in the New York Times article, “Why our Memory Fails Is.” Chabris and Simons incorporate rhetorical tools such as logos, pathos, and ethos to support their argument. (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. Overall you made some excellent points and your writing style is quite good.  I’d like to see more analysis than a summary of the articles in future assignments. Overall, well-written, good use of language, well-done.

Logos is used heavily in this article to prove to the reader that memory is unreliable. For instance, the authors used a lot of antidotes throughout the article. Chabris and Simons used experiences of memory failing from successful people such as Neil deGrasse Tyson on President Bush and 9/11, along with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. Logos is also used when they mention a paper written by cognitive psychologists, Henry L. Roediger III and K. Andrew DeSoto in which tested how well people could recall words from lists they had studied, and how measured they were in their recollections. At the end of the study, it was concluded that people express both bad memory and good memory with confidence. Both authors approach their logical explanations with an informative tone.

Chabris and Simons also use Pathos to support their argument. They want to reassure the reader that we can have a failing memory. They use Rhetorical questions such as,” Do our heroes have memories of clay?” This question encourages the reader to think deeper and dare to question the memory of powerful, successful figures such as Clinton, Bush, and Tyson. There is something consoling in how Chabris and Simmons use Pathos to tell the reader that even the most powerful people remember events in a different way.

Ethos is used in the article to convey to the reader that memory can be failing. The case where Daniel Simons served in a jury serves as an example of how ethos is used in the article. According to the article, a comprehensive report was released that consisted of procedures that prevented any false memory and mistaken identification, including videotaping police lineups and improving jury instructions. This case proves that besides Simons and Chabris, there are others that believe that one’s own memory can be unreliable.

In conclusion, Chabris and Simons use rhetorical tools such as logos, pathos, and ethos to inform the readers on how our memory fails you whether you are a politician, astrophysicist, or the average Joe.

Comments help us understand where we fall in the range of perspectives about a view (Don’t read the comments! (Why do we read the online comments when we know they’ll be bad? D’Costa).  This statement can be applied to the comments section of Chabris and Simon’s article. The top three comments indicate Tyson’s perspective along with different perspectives of Hillary and Bush’s career history. Tyson uses ethos in his comment in which, he provides links to whoever would like to further read about his comments on Bush. The links could either prove that the authors have a false memory of Tyson’s comments or prove that Tyson is clinging to what he remembers.  The two comments under Tyson, criticize the article and use pathos to influence anyone who reads their comments. The commentators criticize the author’s choice of using Bush and Clinton as examples of intelligent people. The Times ranking the comments is effective because it can expose the readers to different perspectives beyond the author(s) of the article, which allows readers to explore their own understanding and opinions.

Cody Johnson Team 15 – Assignment One

Thesis: Authors of the New York Times articles “Why Our Memory Fails Us” and “Comment Is King”, Christopher Chabris, Daniel Simons and Virginia Heffernan use logos, pathos and ethos to establish their perspectives.

In her critique of online commentary, Heffernan uses logos to point out how readers such as Joshua911 have posted comments that read “Awful place. Awful change. Awful analysis. Awful writer. Awful country. Awful.” Suggesting that better filtering of unsubstantiated comments needs to be created in order to keep the integrity of newspaper journalism.

Heffernan details through logos how political columnist Anne Applebaum, who was declared in 2008 by Foreign Policy magazine as “one of the world’s most sophisticated thinkers”, often sees her online columns ridiculed with little reasoning behind the comments. Heffernan’s greatest moment of pathos is seen when she writes “…it makes it hard to keep listening for the clearer, brighter, rarer voices nearly drowned out in the online din.” We all can feel like small fish in the big sea that is the internet, thus her connection between our emotions and the logos behind an unchecked online commentary medium is warranted. (good point)

The second article “Why Our Memory Fails Us”, in contrast to Heffernan, sees its authors Chabris and Simons use logos, pathos and ethos throughout their article to support their positions. Logos and ethos is used to support their criticisms in how we affirm our own memories by showing examples of how astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson found himself in a situation of memory misrepresentation while still being regarded as extremely credible.

Chabris and Simons also use logos and pathos when they write “We recall events easily and often, at least if they are important to us, but only rarely do we find our memories contradicted by evidence, much less take the initiative to check if they are right.” This usage of logos and pathos instantaneously causes the reader to think of memories that may be incorrect, thus we connect as readers to their attribution of ethos and logos in this manner.

The most substantial form of ethos in their column is when Chabris and Simons connect their previous logos mode when they write “…Memory failures that resemble Dr. Tyson’s…have led to false convictions, and even death sentences.” Through this use of ethos, readers are maneuvered into remembering cases they have heard about involving improper convictions, thus validating their claims and positions.

The top readers comments within the NYT are their own reflection of ethos, pathos and logos. Ethos is seen in Neil Degrasse Tyson’s comment as readers attach credibility and authority to his own verified account and comment. The second comment from Keith Dow is a form of logos because although there are elements of satire in his response, he uses quotes from President Bush to validate his position. The final comment from Jacob Sommer is a great example of pathos as his response relates to the articles own points of pathos on the detrimental mistakes that can be made from memory mistakes. I believe that from these reader’s picks we can deduce that perhaps people connect with the rhetorical mode they connected with most within their reading.

I believe that while an editor’s picks section in the comments would be most beneficial, the NYts are treating their reader’s picks section properly by instituting a recommendation tab with every comment.


Well-written, clear and concise. Good analysis. Make sure you review the rubric for all the assignments.