Overpopulation and Its Modes of Persuasion; a Rhetorical Analysis

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Famine, disease, social tension and poverty – progress, societal fortitude, prosperity and facility. All of these are consequences of one question deep at the heart of the quest for sustainable human existence; the question of the maximum capacity supportable by the planet Earth. As is true of a good deal of the puzzles plaguing our time, little consensus is to be found surrounding this topic. Fueled by images of societal collapse, hunger and a complete depletion of natural resources, organizations such as The Population Institute seek to control what they view to be out of control population growth. On the other side of the fence, The Population Research Institute and like associations present descriptions of a bright future represented by the continued growth of humanity. They fight what they see as dangerous and disturbing attempts to slow human birth rates. These two organizations make use of various persuasive strategies to accomplish their goals. Specifically, this paper seeks to explore, analyze and to attempt to understand the reasoning behind the choices each of these two organizations have made in their uses of the Aristotelian modes of persuasion known as Ethos, Pathos and Logos. In faded crimson text, a counter in the upper left corner of the website of the “Population Institute” ticks off to infinity. Bold capital letters proclaim this number to be the total increase in population since the user's arrival to the homepage. The candy-cane contrast of these stop-sign red digits against the white background of their table conjures images of the type of barricade denoting a damaged or closed road and seems to warn the reader of a dire and imminently approaching hazard. Below this birth counter, buttressed by emot... ... middle of paper ... ...s. To lend instant credibility to the organization in the form of Ethos, the reputation of an ostensibly significant natural scientist is placed in the foreground. Pathos is then expressed in a procession of sentiment-stirring images arouses from the most-likely western audience an obligation to act against the presented injustices. The accompanying information, such as the argument presented in flash animation is presented in an intellectually congruent manner consistent with Logos. Each of these three modes of persuasion plays an integral part in a rhetorical balancing act and work in harmonious conjunction to sway an audience. Aristotle would be proud. howstuffworks.com overpopulationisamyth.com http://blogs.hbr.org/research/2010/01/haiti-and-the-psychology-of-ch.html http://www.jstor.org/stable/30218108 http://mcckc.edu/longview/ctac/fallacy.htm

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