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Robert Wright's Article "The Evolution Of Despair"

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Robert Wright's Article
Robert Wright's Article
Robert Wright's Article
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Robert Wright is the science writer for Time Magazine. Because he
writes for this popular magazine, he enjoys the attention of many readers who
look to him to provide them with the latest news from the scientific community.
After reading The Evolution of Despair, an article written by Wright, I came
under the impression that he is both reporter and commentator, but not
explicitly so. Wright utilizes a variety of rhetorical tools to establish trust
and confidence in his readers, thereupon interjecting his own opinions without
arousing suspicion.
The article's first paragraph is a perfect example of how a writer can
establish intimacy with his reader. The following example demonstrates Wright's
use of first person and emotional appeal:

"Whether burdened by an overwhelming flurry of daily commitments or stifled by a
sense of social isolation; whether mired for hours in a sense of life's
pointlessness or beset for days by unresolved anxiety; whether deprived by long
workweeks from quality time with offspring or drowning in quantity time with
them ' whatever the source of stress, we at times get the feeling that modern
life isn't what we were designed for" (1).

Everyone, at some point, has experienced the feelings that Wright
describes. And with the pronoun 'we' Wright tells his readers, 'Yes, I have
been through the same things.' This sort of statement is like a token of good
will. The readers feel that Wright understands their plight and thus are more
likely to listen to what he has to say.
With this trust established, Wright moves on to the task of building
confidence in his readers. He lives up to his title of science writer by
providing various statistics ("As of 1993, 37% of Americans felt they could
trust most people, down from 58% in 1960" (4).) and reporting the findings of
numerous professors and scientists ("The anthropo-logist Phillip Walker has
studied the bones of more than 5,000 children from hundreds of preindustrial
cultures, dating back to 4,000 B.C." (2).). This serves a three-fold purpose:
1) to give credibility to the article, 2) to provide subject matter on which
Wright can comment, and 3) to indirectly establish the moral character of Wright.
On this last point, explicit endorsement of Wright by these respected
authorities is absent and unnecessary. The mere appearance of support from
these sources is sufficient enough to suggest the validity of his views.
Wright's persuasive ...

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