McLuhan and the Critical Perspective

Leslie, you touch on several major points in the McLuhan doctrine. You bring

in some interesting quotations as well. Good!

Your essay is, however, a little short at around 360 out of 500 words.

Maybe you  could have expanded it a bit by adding more examples under

each category. 





Thesis: Mcluhan uses the critical perspective in “The Medium is the Message” since he explains what is wrong in the current society (he questions the assumption that the media is just a means to deliver a message). He expands the bounds of debate by showing the effects of media illiteracy on the individual units of society, and aims for the betterment of society as he educates the reader on the implications of passive media engagement.


Leslie Castillo


Team #3

McLuhan’s work, “The medium is the message” is the message employes the critical perspective as it explains an issue with society, expands bounds of debate, and aims for the betterment of society.

The medium is the message questions the commonly held assumption that the media is a means to deliver a message, by stating that the message is the medium itself. “Whether the light is being used for brain surgery or night baseball is a matter of indifference. It could be argued that these activities are in some way the “content” of the electric light, since they could not exist without the electric light. This fact merely underlines the point that “the medium is the message” because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.”

McLuhan expands the bounds of debate as he mentions the implications of failing to realize how the media affects us turns us into its prisoners. “Failure in this respect (“the maintenance of an equilibrium between the strength of the techniques of communication and the capacity of the individual’s own reaction” -Pope Pius XII) has for centuries been typical and total for mankind. Subliminal and docile acceptance of media impact has made them prisons without walls for their human users. As A. J. Liebling remarked in his book The Press, a man is not free if he cannot see where he is going, even if he has a gun to help him get there.

Finally McLuhan aims for the betterment of society by informing the reader of the role the media plays in their lives, and the how the media will continue to bring changes to society.




Image result for mcluhan



Rhetorical Analysis

Hi Adriana, Your essay is well-written however rather short on word count. I’d like to see more content your discussion of the rhetorical triangle.  You do make sound points. I also don’t see anything on the NYT comments.  Please read the assignments carefully. Otherwise, overall good job.

In the article “Why our memory fails us”, the authors Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons, use ethos and logos as persuasion modes to convince readers that human memory is not always reliable.

Adriana Cano

Team 12


Why our memory Fails Us Rhetorical analysis


Many people rely 100% on their memory when it comes to remembering certain things, others not so much. In the argument presented by Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons, both authors take on the job to persuade people to believe that our memory is not always correct, and people tend to forget and confuse things. The authors used ethos, logos, and pathos as modes of persuading the reader that people forget things even if they believe they are right.

Chabris and Simons use ethos as one of their modes to persuade the reader when talking about problems of relying on one’s memory. They use credible past events and researches to prove their points. As stated in one of their arguments, “Politicians are often caught misremembering their past”. Ethos was used to convince the reader that anyone, even politicians can misremember things. In addition to the use of politicians, the authors talk about the Showtime series “The Affairs” and explain how in their episodes they would present contradictory witness testimonies to show the different memories of the crime.

Another mode of persuasion used was logos. The authors relied heavily on facts and studies to have arguments that can be backed up by reliable sources. For example, “In a paper published earlier this year” this was used to remind the reader that there is a written paper that can be used to prove their point in the argument. Moreover, experiments regarding people’s memory were also discussed in their arguments. Stating specifically that it was done by the National Academy of Sciences. And also, the name of the psychologist Federic Charles Bartlett was used to explain the experiment he mimicked. The use of names of professionals such as the psychologist was used to add credibility to the experiment used in the argument.

The authors use a serious and smart tone in the paper. The seriousness of the facts stated in the article add to the persuading of the reader. The serious paper reveals the audacity of the authors, therefore making their arguments sound true and believable.





Assignment #1

Mingli Yactayo, Team 16

Well-done Mingli!  I enjoyed your essay and like how you outlined each point of the rhetorical triangle and then supported your position.  I don’t see any grammatical errors or issues with your writing style.  Keep up the good work.

After analyzing Heffernan’s article, as well as other readings, Chabris and Simons argument on the memory of our brains and how it had often been supported by rhetorical devices; ethos, logos, and pathos.

In terms of using ethos for Chabris and Simons argument on how our memory fails us, they used Neil Degrasse deGrasse Tyson’s credibility and Mrs. Hillary Clinton to further their reasoning. By starting their article with introducing not only Tyson’s role in a popularized television show but also stating his career as an astrophysicist. By including this small piece, Chabris and Simons were able to showcase that it is not only regular people with ordinary jobs that have a bad memory or a memory that fails us. With Tyson being an educated and very intelligent individual, the audience can see that memory fails even those that successful with their careers. Our memory failing us is not something that is caused by who we are personally and/or our IQ levels but rather it is something that affects anyone and everyone regardless of their profession. (good point!) Furthermore, their use of ethos is also seen with their example of Hillary Clinton falsely remembering an event that never truly took place. It was not Clinton’s intentions to falsely report an event but rather it was the fault of the memory that she had. Her memory failed her regardless of her being a candidate for the president of the United States. Her credibility did not affect her memory whatsoever. It was by including these two professions that emphasized the  that a failing memory is something  that everyone held experiences, regardless of who they were and how successful they were.

Furthermore, they also used pathos in their article when describing the consequences that would have arisen from Tyson’s mistakes and in their conclusion when stating the proper actions that politicians, who often make these memory failing mistakes, should be making. When stating that the mistakes that Tyson made could “have led to false convictions, and even death sentences”, the writers convey a sense of shock to the audience because while although this may just be a minor mistake that Tyson made, the consequences that followed through it were more drastic than estimated. This causes the audience to see that our memory failing us will not only just cause a public embarrassment but also a serious offense. Adding on to that, In addition to In their closing statement of the article, Chabris and Simons stated that if politicians continue to make a common memory failing mistake, they shouldn’t continue the lie but instead they should own up to their mistakes and apologize. By stating this, they were able to convey the sense of trustworthiness to the audience. That if they were being lied to, they would want someone to own up to their lies and mistakes and apologize. Something that everyone would want when these mistakes happen.

Finally, the last rhetorical device that they used was logos when stating the actual research that has been done in making these memory failing mistakes. By including the paper that professional psychologists have wrote and how they claimed that “for false memories, higher confidence was associated with lower accuracy.” they were able to enhance and emphasize their argument on the failure of memory and even how confidence can also affect it. With a scientific founding for their argument, Chabris and Simons’ argument was now proven with facts and statistics.

Individual Assignment 1: Rhetorical analysis of a New York Times’ article and commentary


Isabella Herrera / Group 17

Hi Isabella,

Very good work!  A careful and excellent analysis. Good writing style, good sentence structure. Well-done. I look forward to your other essays.

Thesis: Although online commentary can be a useful tool for users to become active consumers on the articles they are reading, the comment section is often misused and littered with ill-written feedback that lack any true analysis or understanding of the author’s writing.

In Virginia Heffernan’s article, “Comment Is King,” the author relies heavily on the usage of ethos and logos to argue that many peoples’ methods of commenting on online news forums are typically not very effective, and not very methodical at all. Heffernan uses the writer Anne Applebaum as her prime example of someone who sparks a variety of online commentary in her articles, using the appeal of ethos in establishing Applebaum’s credibility as a journalist and experienced intellectual in the first paragraph. Having already expanded upon why Applebaum is incredibly intelligent and has been dedicated to her work for years, Heffernan then shows specific examples of online commenter’s attacking this author, and not always on the subject matter of what she’s writing, but simply attacking her as a person. This method of presenting Applebaum’s credibility, followed by real-life examples of numerous comments of the author being “acidly patronized” could also appeal to pathos, in that Heffernan wants people to feel a sort of sympathy towards journalists who deal with this sort of backlash all the time. Heffernan then picks right back up with logos by explaining the lack of actual analysis most comments contain, and the specific patterns (using quotes from the comments, and the times of day they were posted as evidence) they seem to follow after an article has been posted. In “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Chabris and Simmons, the authors also rely, quite heavily, on logos in their argument as to why our memories are not always correct and that because of this, we should be slightly skeptical of ourselves. From the very beginning of the article, the two authors build upon examples of memory failure in significant, very intelligent people and specific studies done on memory accuracy. The authors build their case using these numerous studies that have proven peoples’ memories wrong time and time again. The authors mainly rely on facts and studies in their presented argument, and their tone is informative and slightly persuasive. When explaining how memory failure happens to the best of us, the authors reassure the reader about their possible moments where their own memory failed them, perhaps trying to appeal to pathos. They also use this appeal of emotions in describing that while it happens to everyone, incorrect memory has “led to false convictions, and even death sentences,” making the reader think about the severe situations their own false memories could create. The authors also play on ethos and establish their own credibility by citing that they are both psychology professors at the bottom of the article. The authors urge their readers to use the knowledge that their own memories aren’t always accurate to “guide their personal attitudes and actions,” and to be able to admit when they are wrong.  By showing that their argument, that most peoples’ memories often fail them, through this use of logos, they can then appeal to the emotions of the reader and urge them to think wisely about what they think they know, and how they know it.


1st Assignment

Thesis: That people are fallible that no matter the education or personal intelligence we can always be wrong even with memory that we are positive is correct.

You make some very good points and do a good job on some aspects of the readings. I’d like you to reread your essay aloud, for this assignment and future ones, to see if you can hear how your sentence structure could be improved.  The Writing Lab is a good place to visit for help with clarifying that what you write is what you are thinking and trying to put into words.  Overall, good job and I look forward to more of your work. Please put your name and team number on ALL future assignments. Thanks,

The purpose of this article is that people’s memories are not fully reliable that there is a chance that you will be wrong. The way the article uses its rhetoric will shape how the readers perspective and whether they will accept its content. The first and primary way it colors its lens is though Logos, the appeal to logic, by using studies that deal with mistakes in memory recollection and reconstruction. Next would be Ethos, the appeal to authority, using people like the scientists that did the studies or leaders that have publicly made mistakes with their memory’s to give credibility to the article itself. Last and least used would be Pathos, the appeal to emotion, by bringing attention to people that mistakes that were made by leaders of importance like Neil Degrasse deGrasseTyson or Hillary Clinton can have lapses in memory that it becomes personable by those that respect or like them becoming more acceptable of the notation that memories are not hundred percent reliable.

Through Logos we gain a view for the argument in the rational view point by using sentiments like studies and observations that give evidence as payment for the acceptance of the articles ideas. The article, by way on how they bring in the studies of the cognitive psychologists Henry L. Roediger the third and K. Andrew Desoto on how well people could remember a list of words. Those that recalled correctly the right words were highly confident however those that were wrong do to similarities in words that could be misconstrued were also highly confident in the recollection. There is also the study by Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett the shows that memories can easily change over time. Through a series of experiments similar to the game of telephone,  it would show the article illustrates that after a time details would be distorted with elements lost or even new ones gained. As the articles explains you don’t remember the original memory, you remember last time you recreated the memory and while that is typically accurate however anything new or different then will then supersede the original memory. Even important memories that are among of the most intensive and emotionally charged moments can be inaccurate, but it’s difficult for many to conceive the idea that they made mistakes in their recollection.

Then there is Ethos which paints the articles in idea that since these authority figures seemingly align themselves with the articles viewpoints it is credible. With institutes such as National Academy of Sciences reporting that courts should rely on the initial statement rather than courtroom. Because any small act could be able to distort the witnesses memory with something as simple as asking for specific type of clothes to a tattoo would influence their memory and cause them to look for these items. And onto this there is also Pathos which gravitates to the emotional aspect that article uses to personalize and in turn causes the reader to empathize with the subject. Bringing in people that readers would likely know and respect is something that would let wonder that of someone they respected could do this, then maybe they themselves have done it as well. (I don’t quite understand this last sentence very well.)

Assignment 1


Team 11

Your essay is well-written and makes good points. I would have liked to see more analysis on each of the points of the rhetorical triangle. Overall, good work.

In the article “Why our memory fails us,” Christopher Sabris and Daniel Simmons highlight how we as humans tend to create “false memories” of a certain situation. Throughout the article, Sabris and Simmons employ logos through examples of research and events that explain why we may recall an event differently than how it might’ve actually happened. They’re sympathetic towards those who remember something differently, as long as they recognize that they were at fault and that it was an honest mistake. They perceive this act of misremembering as detrimental for the image of another person and for the way people may perceive the world. One example they use is Neil deGrasse Tyson’s criticism of Bush’s prejudice against Islam when Tyson believed that Bush claimed “our God is the God who named the stars.” Tyson’s bias failed him, his “faith in the accuracy of his own memory” eventually ends up disillusioning those who support him and his show. This is a prime example of the case that Sabris and Simmons are attempting to build, Tyson’s incorrect recollection of Bush’s words is damaging towards Bush’s reputation. In another example, they speak about Hillary Clinton’s wrongful memory of a time when, on a trip to Bosnia, she had to “skip a greeting ceremony and run from her plane under sniper fire.” Apparently, this is not what truly happened. They demonstrate how her memory failing her eventually impaired her 2008 presidential campaign. Even then, they’re still sympathetic towards Clinton, claiming that “Politicians are often caught misremembering their past, in part because their lives are so well documented.”

This article substantially relies more on facts and studies than playing on the emotions of their audience. The article centers itself on the logic behind how our brain works when it comes to recollecting an event. (good point) It includes 2 different studies, both of them relying on the notion that our brain is capable of making a mistake in regards to memory.

For the reader’s picks comment section, there are distinct reasons why those comments resonated with the readers. For the first one, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s comment is imperative to the article because it demonstrates his remorse for inaccurately depicting an event along with his unfair criticism of Bush. Tyson is understanding of his mistake and uses pathos. The second comment is simply an attack on the author for believing that President Bush is smart. The author of the comment uses an extensive amount of quotes to demonstrate his belief on how unintelligent Bush is. The author of the third comment employs pathos throughout, when he claims “’I’ve seen mistaken memories enough to know that people make honest mistakes.” This appeals to the audience’s emotions in order for them to feel sympathetic towards those who may make mistakenly misremember something.

From the top three comments that I’ve seen, I do believe it is effective.  Their use of the “recommended” ranking system allows us insight on what people find to be the most important aspects of the article, which can enlighten our perspective of the issue.

Assignment 1

Dimitri Harper

Team 16

Hi Dimitri, You went considerably over the 500 word limit.  Simplify your sentences. Write clear and concise sentences.  Remove unnecessary words. Reread your posts thoroughly. Watch for clarity in your ponts.


Thesis: Memory can fail us in a plethora of ways, unless you write memories down or have them in a place of safe keeping there will always be room for failure and misinterpretation. Hard proof evidence is the only way memory can be portrayed and let out into the community especially on national stage. No matter who you are there will always be a discrepancy in at least one or two memories throughout your life. The question is will you be willing to own up to that conflict?

According to “Why Our Memory Fails Us” by Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons the article starts off with the majority of a false logos appeal being displayed. The focus is on President George W. Bush’s speech in 2008 regarding terrorist attacks. Dr. Tyson speaks on his interpretation of interprets the Presidents words “distinguishing we from they” meaning the division between Judeo- Christian against Muslims. Dr. Tyson is stating what he believes to be as facts about scientific awareness. He is implying that if George Bush knew what he was talking about he would not have mentioned certain prejudice statements in his speech about scientific awareness. When in fact Dr. Tyson was the person who was in the wrong, his memory was what had failed him to thinking the President was making prejudice accusations. Dr. Tyson was acting on different emotional appeals known as pathos. What was said by the president was that “the enemy of America was not our many Muslim friends” he had not mentioned anything about our God naming the stars. What was said was “the same creator who names the stars also knows the names of seven souls we mourn today.” These facts were pointed out by critics turning this matter into an ethical appeal, also known as ethos. Even though Dr. Tyson was accused of “lying” he makes his own statement saying he “reacted on the spot.” This happens to people when their past thoughts are being challenged in the moment. If the mistake has been owned up too there should be no penalty in this type of situation, just clarification. That is exactly what Dr. Tyson did instead of trying to argue his fogged memory. He took an approach to logos recognized recognizing that evidence held more power and formed an apology to the public.  When talking about memory failures this topic can be ruled upon any human being that walks the earth no matter how much power one holds over the universe. (who holds power over the universe???) Whether you are the President of The United States, the greatest athlete to roam the planet or Mrs. Winfrey herself we all have our memory farts. Meaning remembering only partial of what happened in our past and not the whole experience. In the article the authors rely heavier on facts rather than emotions. I believe this to be a well-used tactic because when speaking on serious subjects such as President Bush’s speech without the full proof evidence Dr. Tyson would have gained full credit for his theories even though he was wrong. Full proof ?facts are what made Dr. Tyson admit to his failure in memory and apologize to the public. The tone used by the authors in this article is subtle, as the tone should be when speaking on topics such as memory. Being precise is what is necessary when speaking on memories or else that is how memory can be failed and misinterpreted.