Observations of RAP

New York Post.

The picture is taken outside. A man is hunched over a bronze statue of a girl. The girl is wearing a dress and short-sleeves shirt underneath the dress. She is also standing with her hands on her hips with her chest stuck out and she has her chin held high while her ponytail swishes over her right shoulder. The man next to the statue is wearing a blue sweater with small horizontal stripes, the sleeves are partially scrunched up his arms. His hands rest on his knees. He is wearing jeans and tennis shoes. He has dark, thin hair that swoops towards the left of him. His eyebrows are arched slightly and his mouth is neutral. Next to the girl statue on the right is a small statue of an animal with its hind right leg lifted towards the girl’s left leg. The statue is a lighter bronze than the girl’s statue. They all stand on a dark bricked pavement that is raised above the concrete path behind them. Also behind them stands a crowd of people. On the right side of the picture is a little girl with a bright pink sweatshirt that says “GAP.” Behind the girl is an older woman with dark hair who is holding a bright pink-striped umbrella. Moving towards the left and farther behind the younger and older girls are two more women holding black and orange umbrellas. Directly behind the girl statue is a young boy wearing a black sweatshirt. His hair is dark. The last few people of the crowd are standing towards the left of the image, behind the man. The crowd has three more black umbrellas and a woman stands in the middle with a black hat and a phone in her hands that she holds close to her face. Behind the whole crowd is a street lined with tall buildings. They vary in color from pale white to brown and the sides are all lined with windows. In the very back of the picture there is strip of daylight and another tall building is visible, this roof is pictured and pointed. Lastly, a black pole holds yellow rectangles above the crowd’s heads and there is an American flag that hangs on a pole from the side of a building.

Hurricane Irma

Weather Channel Hurricane Central

Until our brief class discussion about Hurricane Irma, I hadn’t given too much thought on the impending storm. I rarely watch the news anymore so I haven’t stayed up-to date on Irma’s path. I knew about it, but now that its path is changing I’ve become even more worried.

In fact, it didn’t really hit me until just a few hours ago. It was when I took my normal commute home and the drive took me one hour longer than usual due to traffic. All the extra time stuck in traffic had me noticing things a little more, like the countless cars with Florida license plates. It seems like many people are heeding the advice to evacuate their homes in Florida and I am glad that they are trying to stay safe. Unfortunately, my own brother and sister-in-law live there and they are not evacuating. I think it’s really hard to leave your home even if you are warned. And I actually think because Hurricane Harvey was so destructive, more people are taking this new threat seriously. But not everyone is going to, or is even able to, evacuate from the dangerous threat.

Weather Channel Hurricane Central

Now that I’ve watched some of the news, it’s even scarier to think that Atlanta could be just a category one hit. To think any central part of a state, like Orlando or Atlanta, could be hit by a hurricane seems strange to me. I’m not a meteorologist, and I know this has happened in the past before, but whenever I think hurricane threats, I think coasts. And after seeing all the stories out of Harvey, I’m even more worried. More so, Irma is currently hitting the Caribbean (as a category five) and causing immense damage. It’s easy to forget about places outside of the U.S. when we are in a threat as well, but this storm is dangerous to thousands and thousands of people all over. When I think about how many people may lose their possessions and homes, I feel helpless. Mother Nature is one of the few things that can’t be overpowered, and in cases like these, there is nothing to do but to just weather the storm.  The best anyone can do is stay informed and stay as safe as possible. The hurricane’s path can change in the coming days and it’s good to take precautions. With the current projected path, people are already wisely doing so. Parts of coastal Georgia have declared a state of emergency. I have a friend who attends school in Charleston, SC, and her school has already canceled until mid-next week to allow for travel. As the saying goes, it is always better to be safe than rather than sorry.

If I try to relate this all back to class, I can easily see persuasion in the language and acts of everyone. The news covering the hurricane’s trajectory is convincing enough to me, but when you add in their language, like “powerful” and “category five,” the threat becomes even more imminent. Not only that, but the constant photos, videos, and stories offered by the news persuade people even more. This is the more pathos or emotional side to the persuasion. Just driving home and seeing a significant amount of florida plates is convincing enough of the gravity of the situation. Additionally, because the recent aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is fresh on everyone’s minds and Irma is already affecting the Caribbean, it’s not hard to imagine how far the storm could go.

Until the storm has passed, I hope everybody can stay informed, stay in-touch with family and friends, and most importantly, stay safe.

Resources to Stay Informed:

Website Coverage (Most Locations): Weather Channel Hurricane Central

Radio Coverages (Florida): Radio Station Coverage


Thick Description Image

  • It is a black and white photo.
  • There is a women with her hair pulled back, she is wearing a t-shirt, her head is angled backwards over a shoulder.
  • She is in a room with objects on the wall and shelves.
  • These objects are mugs and signs.
  • There is a silver cup dispenser with white cups.
  • There is a sign that says “Rate Schedule” and below it is a list of words with numbers next to them like “ANSWERS………$1.00.”
  • There are multiple mugs on a shelf above the women’s head . They have different images and wording displayed on them.
  • A sign posted on the wall has a depiction of a stripped animal with a written description below like ‘THIS IS NOT ()URGER KING.”
  • A sign hangs that states “Good Coffee” with a cartoon mug next to it.
  • Above the left of the women’s head is a sign that says “89 B.”
  • On the shelf that is above the women’s head is a pot that says “Ashes of Problem Customers.”

    Flickr. “Look at the “Rate Schedule” Sign, last line!”

Comments on Reading Responses (Group 1)

Debunking Cognitive Biases Reading Response https://thewalrus7.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/debunking-cognitive-biases/comment-page-1/#comment-24

Your analysis of Pullman’s vague definition is very interesting. In a way, claiming that the definition is vague is reading against the grain. Just because the book offers us one semi-complete definition, does not mean we, as readers, have to take it for what it is. I thought it was also interesting how you then tried to complete the definition of cognitive bias and I agree with how you included consciously and unconsciously. I do not think we recognize our cognitive biases, and sometimes, I think a few cognitive biases are so ingrained into a subconscious part of ourselves that it would be difficult to even try and analyze it. In fact, I think this relates to Pullman’s additional idea on cognitive bias in “how our brains systematically fail to think critically unless we stop them periodically to inspect the quality of their output” (41). We will likely fail every time when critically analyzing something unless we are told beforehand to do so. On a daily basis, we do not think about why we are choosing this decision or explanation because there may not be a reason to. Is it necessary to think about our biases all the time?

I think it is also compelling how you included an analysis of your own cognitive biases and related it back to a connection between your relationships. I think the recency effect can relate to many things and your example supports this. The book also gives many examples of this, like watching the news and thinking the world is horrible or watching a public spokesperson (who has had a safe company for 10 years) talk about a morning tank explosion, and then thinking it is a unsafe company. I can relate easily to this recency effect because I often avoid the news because I do get in that mindset after watching it. Maybe if I begin to think critically after watching the news, I can understand that it is just the recency effect in play.

Finally, to answer your question on what is good and bad, I recently read a translation of the Dissoi Logoi, which essentially means opposing arguments, and I now have a different analysis of what is good and bad. I tend to agree with your definition, and I think a lot of people think the same thing, where good brings pleasure and bad brings discomfort. After reading the translation, and taking into account the Pullman readings and class discussions, I think it is possible that good and bad are indefinable. Many things that are good to one are bad to others, so maybe there can be personal definitions of good and bad, but I am not sure there can be a universal definition. This seems like it could present a problem, but reading against my own grain, maybe it is best that we do not judge things on good or bad but we analyze them and recognize both sides. If this were the case, it might be able to relate back to the whole idea of cognitive bias and how we systematically fail to think critically.

Shopaholic or Cognitive Bias?https://gracefullyemily.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/shopaholic-or-cognitive-bias/

I think your observation from work is very revealing because it is a real-life example of cognitive bias. The way Pullman describes biases suggests that it is something we see everyday and everywhere, but it isn’t always automatically recognizable. Unless we are in a setting like a school environment, we do not often consider all the cognitive biases that surround us. A personal example I can recognize in my life is sunk-cost bias. When I become too invested into something, I almost never give up because I think of my time before as wasted and not my future-time as wasted. This is something that happens to me frequently like something as simple as forcing myself to finish a random book that I’m not liking. Even when I decided on a degree to study, I took as long as I possibly could in order to make sure it was something I wanted to do so as to avoid a future sunk-cost bias. I knew I would feel obligated to finish my first degree choice once I was “too-far in.” If I’ve spent a significant amount of time on anything, I will not want to stop because I always think of my past time as wasted.

I thought your reading against the grain, and personal take on your own cognitive bias, was convincing because it not only questioned your own observations but also included another example bias, blind spot bias. Just like with many other things, it is easier to recognize faults in others and not ourselves. In addition, “the endowment effect,” another bias discussed in the book, can be related to this same idea but in the form of possessions. We tend to overvalue our own things and ideas, but undervalue others ideas and things. This can result in a problem because we never see fault in ourselves but are quick to see a fault in someone else. This also reminds me of the idea of “that could never happen to me.” Sometimes we forget to apply the rules to ourselves. Is there a way to recognize the cognitive biases, in others and ourselves, more consciously on a daily basis? Reading against the grain, is there a reason recognizing these cognitive biases should matter in cases that do not use persuasion? In fact, is cognitive bias something we only recognize for persuasive situations?

Toulmin’s Argumentation Model: Letter Analysis

The first component that is easiest to determine in this letter is the argument’s claim which is revealed in the statement “your ER, is a culture toxic to the notion of “excellent care” (Arrington).

The next component is data. After our class discussion, I think I first need to determine what “data” is. If data is the accumulation of different people’s agreement, this letter would not contain “data.” But I also believe that because this letter still reveals the accumulation of multiple poor experiences with the hospital it should be classified as “evidence” instead. Therefore, there is no suggestion that there were multiple survey cards or feedback collected just by using the word “data.”  The evidence of the letter is the multiple returning trips back to the hospital.  Every time Mrs. A and her father returned to the hospital signaled that the hospital failed to do its job during their previous trip.

Because the evidence or “data” portion of the argument is not plainly illustrated, I don’t believe there is a warrant portion of this argument either. Instead the letter offers numerous backings and while they may be personal accounts, they still offer vital evidence for this specific argument. There are many backings that can include everything from the experience of conversing with a “curt” or “rude” front desk employee to the catty nurses discussing about patients inappropriately in public. Even more so, the general accounts of the  hospital’s failure in “looking after” someone’s health provides a strong backing to the claim. For instance, the simple procedure of checking bathroom habits after a surgery is one even I am aware of, and I am not a nurse or have I had surgery. It’s incredible that a hospital staff could forget, or even worse, neglect such a simple but vital procedure. These are all convincing backings to support the claim that North hospital does not have excellent service.

The rebuttal can be found towards the closing of the letter in order to address any anticipated return arguments. For example, lines like “I’m no expert of course and cannot offer recommendations for how to address the problems that led to my father’s specific misdiagnosis” and “the nature of medicine, particularly in the ER, is a matter of guesswork, very educated guesswork” offer the other side to the argument which conveys that the arguer can look at both sides rationally further strengthening her overall argument (Arrington). In addition, she immediately readdresses why the hospital’s poor behavior and service should still not be excused: “But I would like to suggest to you that the problems extend beyond one nurse or one doctor. Obviously this is true; my father’s multiple trips to the ER…in the care of different nurses and doctors there” (Arrington). This again, restrengthens her argument.

Finally, the letter uses the modal component of Toulin’s model with strong expressive language like, “obviously,”  and “absolutely” which reinforce the evidence’s connection to the argument’s claim.

While the letter may not incorporate each individual component of the Toulin’s model specifically, it uses a variation of them all and still successfully develops an argument with support.

Reading Response Chapter 1/pgs. 1-19

Chapter one is about the evaluation of persuasive acts. As the author explains, this means being able to recognize and examine different tactics that people use when convincing others whether or not to believe an argument.

One section of the reading that I thought was especially interesting was the inductive reasoning section. Pullman describes inductive reasoning as a form of logical explanation. He explains that often times just one vivid example can influence an argument. This reminded me of the “one bad experience” idea. Pullman offers the examples of a dog attack and restaurant food poisoning to further explain and he recognizes how powerful these examples can be. I found his explanation to be particularly moving because I recognize this reasoning frequently in my life. In my family, we call it a bad “memory stick.” While we can recognize that it is irrational, it does not change our minds. Even if other people continue to eat at “restaurant A” and walk away healthy, my sister will not because of the one time she did not walk away healthy. Or maybe someone had a bad fall while at a hiking trail and he or she is now afraid to go back to that trail because of the bad experience. Pullman himself calls it a once-bitten error. In reality, it could simply be considered a traumatic, or at least relatively upsetting experience, that made someone swear off of something forever. These experiences follow the idea of inductive reasoning, where one event leads to a conclusion, but overall, inductive reasoning does not provide enough evidence to support an argument.

This illogical reasoning can easily be connected back to the psychological aspect of persuasion. Many times people cannot disconnect their own fears or beliefs to truly examine something rationally and this is what leads to inductive reasoning or, additionally, what the chapter covers as fallacies. One fallacy listed was wishful thinking. While wishful thinking may seem like a good thing in some cases, Pullman points out that it can be an error in developing a persuasive argument. Fear, another fallacy the chapter highlights, has times when it is useful but also times when it is wrongfully used to persuade someone. Both fallacy examples are deeply connected to psychology because they are strong emotions, hope and fear, that are rooted within us. This suggests that the psychology of emotions and traumatic events is linked to persuasion as whole because we are unable to separate the two. 

Furthermore, the chapter reveals that one has to recognize these psychological influences, or “logic” and fallacies, in order to delve deeper into a persuasive argument. It is easy to believe a convincing argument, but it is harder to analyze and question the argument in a way you would have never thought to before.

Websites as Persuasive Acts

Canine Companions for Independence

The website I chose was the home site for the organization Canine Companions for Independence. This website is very persuasive because it uses a variety of tactics that evoke strong emotions from website visitors and in return can lead to more donations and volunteers.

The first noticeable tactic that the website uses is imagery.

One aspect of the imagery is the colors chosen. The organization’s theme colors are blue and yellow, both of which, are colors that people generally have positive feelings towards. Yellow is a happy, joyful color. It can be warming. Blue is mostly known as a calming color. Each color is complimentary to each other so it is attractive and might draw more attention just because of the logo’s and website’s appeal.

Another aspect is the website’s pictures. On the front page, the website displays multiple pictures. Each picture has a different effect. One picture shows a fundraising event with a range of people and dogs displaying the organization’s community. The picture right next to it is a picture of a puppy. Personally, I love puppies, just like many others, so a picture of a puppy is not only convincing but can make people happy. Finally, the last picture shows one of the service animals in action with his disabled partner showcasing the organization’s responsibility and good work.

Source: Canine Companions for Independence Homepage

Additionally, below each image is a relevant link that asks visitors to volunteer is different ways and to “Donate Now.”

One of the most persuasive elements of this website are the personal stories shared on the “Our stories” page. Reading about real stories of dog’s assisting and making a difference evokes an even stronger emotion to do something. From the stories of facility dogs helping abused children to the personal dogs that become hands and ears for others, the website truly covers what the company stands for.

Source: Canine Companions for Independence “Our Stories” Website Page

By focusing on heartwarming stories and endearing pictures, even logo colors, Canine Companions successfully persuades to their website visitors that their organization is important and life-changing.

Canine Companions for Independence Website Link