Facts, Emotions, and Experiences.

Writers Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons back up their case with ethos, logos and pathos throughout the article, “Why Our Memories Fail Us”. They discuss the reasons behind the confusion our memory causes and explains them through examples of studies, anecdotes, and emotions.

Chabris and Simons begin their article explaining how Dr. Tyson recalled President Bush being prejudice while addressing the attack of 9/11. Dr. Tyson was wrong about the statement by President Bush and his memory confused it with a separate event in which that sentence was stated. Due to the confusion Dr. Tyson experienced many critics accusing him of being unreliable as a scientist. This situation is a perfect example about how they use ethos to make a connection. Chabris and Simons then took their investigation further and included a study by psychologists Henry L Roediger and K. Andrew DeSoto. They had people study a list of words and would ask to recall them. The study showed that higher level of confidence of the words that were actually on the list was associated with greater accuracy. When words were mistakenly recalled due to similar words on the list, signifying a false memory, people had high confidence but low accuracy. The study is a great combination between logos and pathos because it is an experiment through people’s ability to recall their memory and the emotion of being confident [somewhat of a stretch for pathos]. As the article continues, Chabris and Simons explain “flashbulb memories” and how they occur due to emotional events that distort the memory. This causes humans to cling to these thoughts with great confidence such as the study by Roediger and DeSoto.

Many facts and studies are carefully placed and explained in the article. From using Dr. Tyson’s recollection and Roediger’s study with DeSoto, many points are made because of these facts. Emotion does play a role in the article but it is not meant to play with the emotions of the audience [Great point!]. It is meant to show how a person’s emotion could alter the memory of an event. They also explain the “telephone” experiment by psychologist Frederic Charles Barlett as well as facts from the National Academy of Sciences.

Chabris and DeSoto use their tone in the article to educate society as to why memories might be recalled differently amongst a group of people. They stick strongly to the facts and studies instead of writing about their emotions to the proposed question. In the comments, some people let their opinions about President Bush and Hillary Clinton effect their judgment on the article, such as Keith Dow under “Reader’s Picks”. [period inside quotes] A comment by Dr. Neil Tyson himself is under the “Readers’ Pick” which allows readers to quickly access his own opinion on the matter. Many comments in the “Readers’ Picks” are written emotional because of a belief while “NYT Picks” are expressed through logic and thought. The top three comments each speak about different kinds of opinions, which could resonate with all types of readers making it more effective and influential. [Great work!]

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Rhetorical Triangle by: Dominic Hills

Thesis Statement: Logos, pathos, and ethos make-up an important part of writing known as the rhetorical triangle. Through the rhetorical triangle, authors such as Chabris and Simons have been able to publish articles presenting an argument and websites such as “The New York Times” have been able to create an effective comment section to add to the discussion of such articles.

In an article published in “The New York Times” titled Why Our Memory Fails Us, authors Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons present an argument as to why relying on memory leads to misinformation. These writers develop their ideas by using an example of when relying on memory led to misinformation and then describing studies that prove their point. They utilize a professional and steady tone throughout the article causing the reader to think that the two know what they are talking about. In this instance, the tone allows the authors to persuade the audience through a perceived credibility. This form of persuasion is known as ethos, which is the credibility of the author in the subject they are writing about. In addition to ethos, the authors utilize a persuasion technique based on facts proven by previous experiments and case studies, [use semicolon or break sentence into two] this is known as logos. The two authors mention a paper written by two psychologists that shows that in a test, subjects were asked to memorize a list of words and when repeating it, they were just as confident in their right answers as their wrong answers (Chabris and Simons) [break into two sentences]. In doing so, the authors provide an experiment that was conducted to provide facts in support of their argument causing the reader to accept it as truth. The two authors also utilize a third persuasion technique known as pathos that persuades by appealing to a reader’s emotion. In a portion of the article, Chabris and Simons refer to the fact that due to memory lapses, it is possible that innocent people have been convicted of crimes and sentenced to death. These statements appeal to the reader’s sense of morality and causes them to question if the court system can rely on testimonies and memories for convictions. It also raises the question on whether or not a person’s memory can be trusted for anything.

Aside from the article itself, many readers leave comments talking about the article whether they be productive and helpful comments or just plain ignorance [sentence agreement: correct word is ignorant]. “The New York Times” (NYT) utilizes a system in which readers pick their favorite comments and the editors pick the most intellectual. Of the top three reader picked comments, only one was picked because it criticized the author for saying that Bush was an intelligent person. Two of the top three reader picked comments actually present information that can be added to the article. One appears to have been left by Dr. Tyson himself and appears to have been picked due to the ethos aspect of the comment. The final was written by a regular reader and was chosen because he utilizes logos to present more cases in which relying on memory has been problematic. Compared to the NYT Editors picks for comments, the readers comments vary slightly. The top three comments picked by the NYT editors utilize logos to get their point across, but do so in a much more professional tone. This allows readers to read the few comments that contribute something to the article, adding to the discussion.

Rhetorical Analysis Janina Williams

Janina Williams



Recollection of memories is perceived differently depending on your confidence and security [word choice: knowledge?] on the subject matter.

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons both psychologist have taken a deeper look into the world of memory. Their article “Why Our Memory Fails Us,” gives an overview of memory. Explaining reasons why, when we recall it is obscured [Fragment sentence]. Memories are the way we all recall the past. From simple interactions like remembering a person’s name, to more in-depth task like taking a test, or just storing away a memory of a loved one or a special occasion. Our memories come in very handy, but what if everything we’ve ever seen or heard have not been recalled 100 percent accurately. [unnecessary commentary]

Taking an account of various case studies, Simons and Chabris have built their arguments on scientific evidence and individualized scenarios. For example, Dr. Neil Tyson unwillingly [wc: unknowingly] accused former President George W. Bush of a false statement. Simons and Chabris viewed his recollection of his memory, being driven through him being biased [rewrite sentence for clarity]. Giving him an alternate memory [fragment]. Utilizing facts and scientific studies Simons and Chabris focused on Logos, and by doing so their work came off as more knowledgeable, by giving case by case scenarios to back up their study on memory and how a person’s memories are constantly changing. These examples made their work a more informative article. By stating credible research institutions, like the National Academy of Science showed an example of ethos. The author’s [authors’] tone of the article was formal and thought provoking. Making the readers wanting to know more about memory [fragment].

Stemming from the comments about this article [A sentence has a subject (noun) and a verb. Your sentences have verbs but no nouns making them fragments]. Readers picked the top three comments purely through an emotional avenue the first comment was from Dr. Tyson, which he was featured in the article, he was the first subject they did an analysis on. The readers might have thought that was a reputable source of information because he was one of the main focuses in the article. And the second commenter challenged Dr. Tyson for him incorrectly listing Mr. Bush as intelligent. Readers might have picked this comment because he is being apprehensive and rude [How was he rude? Examples needed] towards Dr. Tyson. He would fall under the category of flamewars [Nice try but incorrect. Keith Dow’s comment has substance, truthfulness, and was respectful in tone]. The third comment was from a user trying to carry an informative dialogue about the article and his experiences with memory. He was the only one out of all three that had commentary about educational context about the article.

The next sequence of comments is derived from the New York Times’s pick. The three comments from this section seem to mirror the third comment from readers’ choice. Their statements are more focused on the context of the article and are trying to have an open yet educational dialogue on their differences on memory. The NYT mechanism deciphers [wc] out the negative commentary making this a more intellectual experience for users. The subject matter focuses on factual points of reference versus emotions and opinions.

Epic Memory Fail

Our memory fails us. This is inevitable. Our recollection of what happened can be very different from another person who witnessed the same event. There is no evidence to why this happens. Are we all just born to lie or is it something else?

This article is about our own memory [and] being unable to accurately recall things that were said by another person. The authors of “Why our memory fails us [capitalize first letters]” use a lot of facts to make a sound argument; however, they also play on emotion. They dramatize the statements in such a way that it initially seems like Dr. Tyson is lying [Dramatize may be a strong word. If that’s intentional, prove the authors’ exaggerations]. Why would Dr. Tyson lie about this? This tactic draws the reader in. They use a combination of logos and pathos. Dr. Tyson did in fact lie; however, he did not do so intentionally. He lied because he thought he was telling the truth. His memory was unable to produce an accurate response. The authors say this can happen to anyone, and this is true.

The purpose of the article is to inform everyone that we shouldn’t just rely on our own memory. Sometimes our perception can blind us to the facts. They use instances where this has happened to public figures to show how this is true. They use Dr. Tyson as an example because he is credible and extremely knowledgeable.

Dr. Tyson was the top comment for the readers’ picks. It’s hard to tell if Dr. Tyson was offended or humbled by the article starting with his name.  He offered more resources where he speaks in depth on the subject.  The second readers [Readers’ Pick] pick only tried to prove that President George W. Bush was unintelligent.  The third gave reasons why he gives others the benefit of the doubt. The readers’ picks were more in line with the article than the New York Times picks. The NYT picks have almost nothing to do with the article and criticize the article itself but not in a positive way where the feedback would be helpful.

The authors succeed in proving the point that everyone remembers an event differently even when many people witness the same event. They then go on to claim that is why inaccuracies happen with eye-witnesses to crimes. People misremember what happened.

Finally, at the end of the article they claim that there is no scientific evidence as to why this memory lapse occurs. One commenter from the NYT picks calls it mental laziness. If it were true that would mean we are all just mentally lazy. I don’t believe that’s what was intended by this article at all. The purpose is to show that there is a problem with human memory and there is no evidence to why or how this memory issue occurs.

Carlos Rivero – 5964829

Rhetorical Analysis

In the article “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Chabris and Simons their constant use of ethos is evident. They begin the article using as an example, the credible Dr. Tyson. He misremembered two different quotes from President Bush and confused them, causing people to question his credibility as a scientist. The author’s use this example to show how anyone, even vital [word choice: prominent] political figures, can misremember a memory and emphasize that “we are all fabulists”.

The authors do not rely on pathos throughout this article. Instead they rely on facts. Once the evidence of Dr. Tyson’s memory was undeniable, he realized that it had been his mistake in misremembering two different speeches delivered by President Bush. As the article goes on, their use of ethos is clearer with the National Academy of Science’s review on minimizing the chances of false memory by including videotaping police lineups and improving jury instructions. They use this example to show the readers once again that false memories are things that can happen to anyone, despite their confidence.

The author’s [authors’] use numerous examples and outside resources as factual support. They have an informative and cautionary tone. They are feeding the audience information about memories that most likely many are not aware of. Additionally, the authors also raise awareness that despite what position of power or credibility one may have, misremembering past information is always going to happen to all of us. For this instance, they used Hillary Clinton during her 2008 campaign and how she over-dramatized her visit to Bosnia. The authors suggest that the best thing to do is accept when we make a mistake like this and move on. They highlighted this suggestion when they said, “Politicians should respond as Dr. Tyson eventually did.” [did,” who] Who apologized for his mistake and moved on.

The top three comments in the reader’s choice challenge credibility as well. They supported their challenge with quote that helped their opinions make sense. The third comment begins with saying there might be people who have perfect memories, but that is usually never the situation [How does this comment challenge the authors’ credibility as stated in the beginning of this paragraph?]. This comment also includes pathos when the reader questions people’s motives. He answers himself by saying we make honest mistakes with our memories, and that people aren’t out to get you.

I agree in [replace in with that] the Times’ approach to ranking comments is effective. They added a comment that went against the premise of our memory failing us. This different comment allows for readers to have a different and possible [rewrite sentence for clarity] perspective on our memories. I believe these comments are needed because they take a different approach on the article. The third comment agrees with the article and uses a perfect example with students describing an event right after it happened.

Ashley Exposito Rhetorical Analysis


Writers have had the fortune and misfortune to come in contact with commenters who lack knowledge and can care less about the accuracy of the facts they present. This type of environment has lead [led] to credible writers being told they are misinformed and shouldn’t be writing on the topic at all. However other commenters who do their research and provide facts are allowing for healthy productive discussions between readers and writers. This weeks readings have provided reasons as to why readers comment in certain way and how these comments are created in the first place.

Each of these articles touches upon the topics of whether or not it is important for readers to be able to comment on certain articles and whether or not these readers have the knowledge or ability to research before carelessly giving their opinions [wordiness]. These articles explain the vicious cycle of article posts to random angry commenter. Each of these articles uses pathos, logos, and ethos to create a better understanding of the topic. They all argue whether or not commenting should be looked upon as productive or counterproductive to the topic at hand.

In Virginia Heffernan’s articles she expresses the slight frustration she feels for qualified writers such as Anne Applebaum. She further explains that although Applebaum is a knowledgeable and credible writer commenters continue not to just state their opinions but react with hate and false information. Some commenters have even blamed Applebaum’s religious beliefs for her views, claiming her Jewish beliefs have led to her opinions and facts. The funny part as Heffernan reveals is that she is not even Jewish. This is a clear depiction of how easily people can make up false statements about a person because they are trying to push their own ideas and opinions as the only correct ones [Good point but irrelevant to this assignment].

The article Why Our Memory Fails Us written by Christopher Chabris and Daniel J. Simmons is the perfect example of how the human brain can create false situations, which lead us to give false commentary. Chabris and Simmons through the story of Neil Degrasse Tyson appeal to logos by stating facts about how the human brain stores and processes information. They further explain that although our memories can be accurate it is proven that most people combine memories to create new ones just as Neal Degrasse Tyson did when it came to President Bush’s statement regarding the 911 [9/11] attacks. What about pathos and ethos? Author’s tone?

In reference to Why Our Memory Fails Us when it came to comparing top pick comments between readers and the New York Times there actually wasn’t that big of a disparity. In fact the New York Times picked two of the reader’s top picks as well. Neil Degrasse Tyson himself provided a comment, which was a top pick by readers. This comment proved to be important to readers because it allowed the person being spoken about a chance to further explain why he made that comment in the first place. The reader’s [readers’] second top comment proves that even if it is not the topic of the article they are still going to comment on it. This reader went as far as to provide examples of statements given by George W. Bush in which he appeared unintelligent. The New York Times top picks are all thoughtful comments that vary from agreeing with the writers to disagreeing with the writer’s [repetitive]. These top picks prove that although many comments can be driven solely by opinions and lack of knowledge others can be expressed kindly and with actual facts to back up those opinions. These articles prove that commenters have an affect [effect] on other readers and how they analyze and create their own thoughts and opinions on a subject.