Effectively communicating an idea or opinion requires several language techniques. In his study of rhetoric, Aristotle found that persuasion was established through three fundamental tools. One is logos, which is used to support an argument through hard data and statistics. Another is ethos, which is the credibility of an author or speaker that allows an audience to conclude from background information and language selection a sense of knowledge and expertise of the person presenting the argument. The impact of pathos, however, is the most effective tool in persuasion due to the link between emotions and decisions. Although each of these tools can be effective individually, a combination of rhetorical devices when used appropriately has the ability to sway an audience toward the writer’s point of view.
In an article originally published in May 2003 in USA Today called “College Isn’t For Everyone,” by W.J. Reeves combined these rhetorical devices to make a compelling argument that although colleges are easily accessible, higher education lacks students with the capabilities of academic success. To validate this claim, Reeves uses persuasive appeals to convey an effective argument by influencing the audience, however, he limits his reach because of the excessive pathos and condescending tone used to present his argument.
The hard, logical proof used to persuade is called logos. Authors use this technique to support their propositional statements in an argument. By supporting an opinion with a sufficient amount of data, an audience is able to find the argument believable. Logos, however, goes beyond the abundance of information geared toward swaying an opinion into agreement. Presenting facts also includes decisions such as which information is pertinent to the argument, determining the amount of data that is sufficient, and considering where to place the information for the best support. By constructing a persuasive argument between an author’s own words and the right amount of supporting information results in an audience that is not overwhelmed with copious details or facts allowing understanding and comprehension to occur. Therefore, in the proper presentation of information the doubts of readers or listener will diminish allowing logic and reason to prevail.
Reeves for instance, uses logos by producing statistics from well-known media publications such as The Chronicle, Education Week, The Futurist, and facts from the books The Two Nations and Success Without a College Degree. In his attempt to persuade parents that a four-year college is not always the right choice for enrolling students, Reeves links his opinion to a statistic regarding how education relates to the economy. For example Reeve states “… that 70% of the workers in the coming decades will not need a four-year degree, but, rather an associate degree from a community college or some type of technical certificate,” which he quoted from The Futurist in the article “Creating...