The issue on happiness has become ubiquitous today; possibly sparked by the proliferation of technology. This prompted us to think about our source of happiness – whether it is internally-based (Graves, 2017), or attained from interactions (Whippman, 2017). I believe that Graves’ article is more persuasive compared to that of Whippman’s in terms of the legitimacy of evidence cited, tone of author, and structure of argument. Firstly, Graves is more persuasive than Whippman due to her coherence and structure of argument. Graves’ arguments were more structured as her paragraphs had clear topic sentences and bolded headings, allowing the readers to follow her ideas easily. She used topic headings such as “Pursue meaning, not happiness” and “Make your brain a sunnier place”, allowing the audience to expect the following topic (Graves, 2017). She then went on to quote the words of professionals like Susan David (David, 2018), and then elaborated further in her own words. On the other hand, Whippman lacked a clear structure and seemed contented with simply debunking the idea that happiness comes from within (Whippman, 2017), thus compromising on coherence. She rarely had distinct topic sentences substantiating her arguments. This is evident when she started off a paragraph by simply arguing that “This isolationist philosophy is showing up…” (Whippman, 2017, para 6). Moreover, since the title of Whippman’s article is “Happiness is other people” (Whippman, 2017), one would expect that her article would mostly contain reasons on why social interactions should take center stage. Yet, she had only provided one reason which was about a study shown that people need social interactions to be happy (Whippman, 2017, para 13). This shows poor use of logos and cause-and-effect analysis in her arguments since her reasons provided were not well-substantiated. Comparing the flow of the two arguments, it is clear that Graves’ argument was more structured and coherent, thus allowing the audience to easily understand the argument, enhancing persuasiveness. Moreover, Graves’ is more persuasive than Whippman due to her language used, by which the tone and hence objectivity can be inferred consequently. Overall, Whippman’s article seems anecdotal in nature, and she is speaking from a first person’s point of view, using “I” and “we” (Whippman, 2017). Moreover, Whippman’s tone appeared to be critical and even mocking while Graves’ was more neutral. While Graves often offered encouraging advice on how innate happiness should be reinforced in a more positive tone, like “you can start making values-driven choices” (Graves, 2017, para 3), Whippman used harsh phrases, like “full of anomalies and contradictions” (Whippman, 2017, para 12) to criticize the Graves’ standpoint. Moreover, while both authors adopted the use of parentheses suggesting informality, Whippman extended the use of it by injecting humor and disapproval. An example would be “thought it was an ad for a nose-to-tail …” (Whippman, 2017, para 4), which sounded like she was mocking the advice given by the self-help mail. This painted her in an arrogant light, hence resulting in lower objectivity. Generally, Graves’ article seemed to appeal to those who are open-minded on this topic while Whippman’s article uses pathos, appealing to mostly skeptics of Graves’ view. Therefore, Graves’ article is more persuasive as her adoption of a positive tone, as compared to Whippman’s who was mocking and critical, resulted in greater objectivity. Lastly, Graves’ article is more persuasive than Whippman’s as her sources were more credible with clearer evidence. While both authors quoted studies, the studies quoted by Graves’ were more specific. For instance, when Graves’ claimed that leading a fulfilling life should be the focus instead of chasing after the idea of happiness (Graves, 2017, para 2), she referenced Susan David, a PhD holder and an award-winning psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School (David, 2017). Quoting professionals like David would ensure accurate subject knowledge on the topic and increase the strength and reliability of her sources. Whippman, however, rarely quoted specific evidence on the studies she referred and resorted to the use of blanket statements. Her sentences often started with “according to research” (Whippman, 2017, para 14) and “study after study” (Whippman, 2017, para 13), without specifying the author and type of research. She even committed the fallacy of “causation does not imply correlation” when she quoted ‘The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Time Use Survey (Whippman, 2017, para 9) to show that the search for happiness within oneself has caused Americans to spend less time on social activities (Whippman, 2017, para 8). Yet, she dismissed the possibility of other potential factors that could lead to a similar result. Therefore, Graves wrote a more persuasive article than Whippman due to the legitimacy of her sources. Overall, although both articles do not meet the ideal standards of persuasion, Graves has done a better job in persuading the audience, especially through the legitimacy of her sources.
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