Rhetorical Analysis: Michael Eure – Team 17 – IDS 3309

Thesis Statement: In their New York Times article, “Why Our Memory Fails Us”, psychology professors Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel Simmons build their argument on the problems of relying on one’s memory by using ethos to present real-life studies about the topic, pathos to invoke a connection with the reader, and logos to present logical reasoning behind their argument. (Very good!)

Chabris and Simons use pathos to support their argument by writing that our “flashbulb memories”, those often linked with emotional events, can become “distorted and inaccurate”. This gets the reader to realize that emotions have a strong connection to memories and how they may be remembered inaccurately. Two people in the same situation may remember an event differently if one of them is in trouble, and the other is just watching from a safe distance. The reader now questions their own memories and wonders what really happened. This shows that Chabris and Simons have successfully used pathos to invoke an emotional connection to their writing.

The professors continue their argument through the use of logos by presenting studies and research conducted about memory and how it is affected by our own process of remembering. They provide information about research that tested people on how well they could recall word on a list. The study showed that those that were highly confident in their memory were usually right, but those who gave the wrong words when asked were equally confident in their answers. By providing an experiment conducted by two cognitive psychologists Chabris and Simons create a stronger argument for the reader.

Ethos is also used in their article when Chabris and Simons state that “the National Academy of Sciences report strongly advised courts to rely on initial statements rather than courtroom proclamations…”. This statement backs up their argument that memories can easily morph with time and the ability to recall them exactly is unlikely. Using an outside source as large as the National Academy of Sciences gives their argument far more credibility and gives the reader a source they may trust.

Chabris and Simons construct a rhetorical argument using logos, pathos, ethos and an active tone to connect with the reader in multiple ways. They use a lot of evidence to back their claim but rely on the connection to their readers’ emotions causing them to question their own ability to remember things accurately.

The readers found the top three Readers Picks comments so convincing because they provided logical and credible discussion to the argument in the article. These comments do what Virginia Heffernan, in her article “Comment is King”, says most comments do not do, and that’s reading the article against itself to create a discussion with the argument provided. Although the comment made by Keith Dow is focusing on a personal detail, (insert comma) it still creates discussion by using logos to provide facts on why he holds his position against ex-president George Bush’s intelligence.

The other two comments create a discussion of the overall argument a bit better. Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson uses ethos by giving more information on the argument in which he was included at the beginning of the article, this gives the article more credibility.

The third comment shows the use of pathos when commenter, Jacob Summer, recalls how mistaken memory tends to be attributed to negative experiences but should be forgiven when it is an honest mistake.

Overall very good Michael. Solid writing style, good word choice and sentence structure. Be careful about the word ‘a lot’ try to be specific whenever possible. perhaps ” They use substantial evidence…” Always select the most accurate word that you want to convey what you want to say.

Krystal Montoya Team 17

Thesis: In the article, “Why Our Memory Fails Us”, Chabris and Simons utilize all three rhetorical techniques to display (not the best word choice) in their argument that memory is not always reliable. (Thesis could be improved on – a stronger statement) 

Overall, a good solid writing style and good work on the assignment. You made some very good points.  Good sentence structure and paragraphs follow sensibly with one another.

Chabris and Simons begin their commentary by detailing the example of President Bush after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. They utilize pathos in this right at the beginning to build the reader’s emotional relatability to the topic they are about to discuss, especially when they state how Dr. Tyson had remembered the event completely wrong. They want the reader to visualize an example of memory failing to better understand the topic. Along with that, the use of this specific example impacts the reader more than any other example because the majority of the readers are able to remember those events, due to the fact that it was recent. This could even trigger the readers’ own example of false memory.

The rhetorical argument that I believe is most used throughout this essay is logos. I believe the specific part of this article that displays this argument is when the topic of memory retrieval was brought to the National Academy of Sciences. They prove that memory is so fragile that even the slightest thing can alter it completely, as presented with the example of the police lineup. They used that study to rationalize their argument to the reader.

Chabris and Simons end the commentary with ethos. By not only dictating how politicians should respond in the case of false memory retrieval but also stating that we should generally be more understand to false memory shows that they are confident about their stance in the topic that they have discussed. Ending on such a strong statement and sentiment allows to reader to believe that they have done their fair share of research on the topic. Along with that, Simons was a part of the National Academy of Sciences, which adding that small tidbit to the essay proved that Simons was more than qualified to discuss the topic. (very good)

The use of all three rhetorical appeals works in favor for Chabris and Simons because they are able to appeal to all kinds of readers and fully immerse them in the topic that they are discussing. Different readers relate to different rhetorical appeals so utilizing all of them ensures the topic reaches as many people as possible.

One of the top reader’s comments focuses on how faulty memory can often times be a mistake and that it is never done intentionally. This commenter uses logos to discuss how most people don’t remember every detail of every day so faulty memory is bound to happen; however, if they acknowledge that their memory may be incorrect, such as Dr. Tyson, then it wouldn’t be as big of an issue.

The reader’s comments show that we are constantly using rhetorical appeals in our daily lives, especially when we want to make sure the reader fully understands our stance and point of view.  Chabris and Simons’ use of rhetorical appeals helped to facilitate the discussion in the comments, as well. This is because, based on what rhetorical appeal the reader found most prominent, they will utilize that same appeal to comment on the original topic.

Adjany Kappen Assignment 1- Team 17

Adjany Kappen

Team 17

Thesis: Logos, Ethos and Pathos three means of persuasion used to demonstrate: logical reasoning, powerful emotion and credibility. (Not quite a thesis! Reread class notes on thesis statement and also perhaps visit the Writing Center for more assistance.)

In “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons the rhetorical argument presented is that although one may fail to accurately remember certain events from one’s past does not consider the person to be ignorant or foolish but simply a human error to not recall events vividly. The mind is powerful and although it works to save events in order to recall them, each time we remember it slightly less than the previous time. Our minds work non stop processing all that we experience, see, or live and therefore fail to grasp every single detail but what may be considered the “most important” and then combine parts from other experiences in which occurs the part in which we don’t recall the events in its entirety. Within the article we are presented with various cases in which very recognized people misremember a certain event and then are seen by the public to be incompetent. Chabris and Simons share examples  in which Ex-president Bush, Ex-first lady Clinton and Dr. Neil Tyson fail to recall memories they have shared to their public.

Chabris and Simons whole purpose is to inform the readers with these examples to let us understand how our memory fails us rather than why. To defend their arguments they use logical reasoning and do so by persuading us with logos and ethos. Their stance is that it isn’t always brilliant to rely on our memory fully due to the fact that we cannot recall it exactly the same as the first time. Logos is used to when being presented with statistical information and facts which persuade the audience with its logical truth. For example, presenting direct quotes from president Bush to which he did not vividly remember when presenting them to his audience and therefore are using facts to support their theory that we cannot rely on our brains to fully recall an event. The authors do not use emotion as it is more of a fact based argument.

Lastly, The comments left on the article don’t all incline to supporting how we fail to recall events rather than why. In the comments  presented many went on to continue supporting Chabris and Simons that it is simply human error and went on in more depth on how this occurs to the human race. On the other hand those that did not agree may have not just supported the authors views in its entirety due to their different forms of beliefs and or their political stance.

In “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons the rhetorical argument they compel their audience is to understand how it is the human fails to recall vividly memories rather than why and due a reasonable job by presenting logos and ethos throughout their entire article.

Hi Adjany, All good points! Your sentence structure and paragraphs follow each other nicely. I enjoyed reading your post. Also, you provided a pretty good analysis rather than just a summary. Keep up the good work. Good job.

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.


Julia Thomas – Team 17

Thesis: Authors’ of the New York Times article, “Why Our Memory Fails us” psychology professors, Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simmons utilizes pathos, ethos, and logos together to rhetorically argue their claim on false memory.  

A devasting(devastating sp)incident that tormented people’s hearts, and a heinous act known to most – “9/11 terrorist attacks.” Chabris and Simmons were logical to start the article with pathos to gain readers attention on a historic event but, then transition into a controversial topic, “… President Bush was prejudiced against Islam” was to get readers invested and continue reading.

Another prominent use of pathos was when the writers mention Dr. Tyson`s apology regarding his remarks on President Busch. “[h}e has publicly apologized.” The purpose of the apology was not to shine light on Dr. Tyson, but to support the writers claim in a form of pathos conjoined with ethos. If a credible scientist apologizes about their beliefs, readers will connect a reason to why they should believe the writers claim even more; it takes courage and embarrassment for a scientist to apologize on a concrete belief.

The writers also hint the readers in a discreet format – if a renowned scientist can apologize to the public, the readers should reconsider their opinion on memory based on the evidence provided in the article. “…until the evidence is overwhelming. We would all be wise to do the same.”

 To avoid bias, the use of ethos is constructed in the article to gain readers trust. One prominent use of ethos is when the writers stimulates the audience to believe Oprah Winfrey`s book, “What I Know For Sure” is titled merely on the fact that “We then rely on confidence as a signal of accuracy – in ourselves and in others.” This conception awakens readers when joined by reading “Politicians are often caught misremembering their past,”, to make readers comprehend the position of authoritative figures and if their confidence is misleading their memory in recollection of events. The challenged posed against credible figures leaves readers in question.

The writers also use logos to represent their argument. This is evident when “psychologist Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett conducted a series of experiments that mimicked the “telephone” game,”. People who have played the game Telephone have probably experienced loss in communication. The logical reasoning of mentioning this experiment is genius. The writers want their readers to recall how difficult it is to memorize what is being said while playing Telephone, and correlate that to how our memories can be distorted.

To conclude, Chabris and Simmons purpose was to primarily persuade readers on false memory with the appropriate use of emotions, credibility, and logical reasoning in a non – direct format.

The top three reader’s comments were the top comments because they generated open conversation to the public. According to Virginia Hefferman, in her article “Comment Is King”, “What commenters don’t do is provide a sustained or inventive analysis.” Of the top three comments, Keith Dow challenges the writers when they said President Bush was intelligent. Dow provides a sarcastic tone of humor by providing evidence of times when President Bush said foolish things. For example, “Our enemies are innovative…They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country… neither do we.” I don’t think NYT comment ranking is effective compared to the Top Three Reader choices because the NYT comments are what Hefferman would say, “automatic, churning out 100-word synopses of one stock ideological position after another.”

Hi Julie,

Well-written and good use of language. I think you did a pretty good job of analyzing and not just providing a summary.  Good job!

Assignment #4: I’ve got a secret

Ivonne Gamboa

I will grade this when you repost it with your name and team number on top.

Thesis statement: Keeping secrets under confidentiality agreements often nurtures growth of lies to protects a person’s violation of solitude and identity.

My senior year of high school, my best friend Sebastian confided in me a secret about his sexual orientation. While Sebastian opened up to me, I felt how anxious and difficult this was for him to say after keeping that part of himself confidential for his entire life. Keeping his secret was not a burden to me, I never felt emotional stress or guilt to disclose with others because I felt like it wasn’t my secret to tell. Above all, I was protecting Sebastian. As explained by Professor Blevens, I protected Sebastian’s identity against ridicule and intrusion of personal space from fellow peers. Throughout high school, many students always speculated Sebastian was gay and me, being his best friend, I was always the main target for questions. After knowing Sebastian’s truth, I felt the obligation to protect him from student’s attempting to penetrate the secret by diverting the conversation and lying by declining “rumors.” Lying did not make me feel guilty because I had a “prima facie duty” to uphold and Sebastian’s trust was more important than other’s longing for knowing.

Before watching Bleven’s lecture, I never realized the empowerment both parties feel when revealing a secret. I felt empowerment because I was the only person to know this huge secret about someone who would remember this moment for the rest of their lives. I also felt empowerment because, besides Sebastian himself, I was in control over the flow of information, which I would never expose unless told to do so. My responsibility protected his four human elements: his identity, his plans to come out when he decided it was right, his action on how to do it and lastly his property, which in turn is his autonomy or reputation. Sebastian felt empowerment because he felt a weight lifted off his shoulders and comfortable in his own skin with his closest friend. This experience made our relationship stronger because in exchange I opened up to him about my own secrets, which held him responsible for the secrecy of my confessions and we created a closer bond because of it.

After two years, Sebastian was finally able to come out his sophomore year of college to his family during a holiday gathering and his friends through social media. Many people started to ask me if I knew and remembered how I dismissed or at times lied on behalf of him. It didn’t make me feel any different about keeping the secret because it allowed Sebastian to find his true identity and expose himself when he was comfortable enough to do so. There was times where I felt an urge to say something in the moment to free him of constant badgering but I always felt an obligation to remain loyal and put his emotions and trust above all else. In the end, we see the links between secrecy that protects lies and secrecy that nurtures growth of lies. It’s very difficult to keep a confidentiality agreement without the use of either when protecting from outsiders attempting to penetrate insider information. Very well done. A great example and application of concepts from class. Glad you were able to support your friend the way he needed you to at the time and glad he was able to feel comfortable later, too.

Secrecy Assignment Hailey Brun Team 17

I will grade this when you repost it with your name and team number on top.

All of us at one point of our lives have been put into a situation where we must lie to protect a secret or someone with a secret. This information that we know and cannot tell another person can make us break our morals. I have experienced this a couple times in my life and it has shown me how secrecy and lying interrelate.

I remember the day like it was yesterday, I had just come home from school when I read a distant whimper from upstairs. I walked upstairs to find my sister crying on her bedroom floor. About an hour later I had learned that she had gotten three detention slips for the next three weeks and that our mother had to sign them. She was scared and so I told her I would sign the slips and not tell my mother of the incident. In that moment lying and secrecy are intertwined. I had told my mother that she was staying after school to complete tutoring so she wouldn’t be suspicious of her coming late.

This experience did empower me a lot because I had power over my sister with this secret that I promised to keep. I couldn’t tell my mom, or my sister would get in trouble. As an analyzed this situation from the past I can know see that this lie made anything I said less credible. This is because the information from the source already has a rep for lying could very well just lie again. For example, I thought I a lot about if my mom found out, I would be less credible to her because I had already lied first. This made me think a lot about lies, and that maybe helping my sister wasn’t worth the after effects.

To complicate the matter further, my sister told my other younger sister about the situation as well. However, my other sister used it to her advantage and wanted to breach confidentiality. She wanted to expose the secret for her own gain. This made me feel like I had to stop her from saying anything to my mom for my own benefit. I had to lie again in order for other sister not to tell the secret. I felt like one lie turned into another and I needed to tell more lies in order for no one to find out that I covered for my sister.

Looking back at the experience, I can clearly understand how lies and secrecy in interrelate. That just one lie or one more secret can make someone dig a deeper hole for themselves. In the end, my mother did find out about what happened and it did make me less credible. This has taught me how strong the power of information can be and how information had hold someone to their fate. Overall, lies and secrecy are seen a lot today in people with the  most high and powerful positions in the world. Very good job. You were able to analyze the layers and unfold them in an organized essay.