Robert Wright's Article "The Evolution of Despair"

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Robert Wright's Article "The Evolution of Despair"

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...
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