Gould - the Median Isn't the Message

Good Essays
02/13/07
Analytical Summary of The Median isn't the Message by Stephan Jay Gould
Gould's "The Median isn't the Message" is an essay about Stephan Jay Gould's experience with cancer and the strategies he employed to overcome them. He comments on the necessity for a positive state of mind (164) as well as a full understanding of the information one is reading (165). These necessities lead to a pinnacle point: Gould insists we are not average and therefore, our fate will be anything but average. Therefore by bettering one's lifestyle one can better their expected longevity (166). Gould is very successful in presenting this point to the reader by clearly explaining the fundamental concepts regarding averages and logically building upon them to reach his conclusion.
Gould's colourful use of examples helps us to easily grasp the concepts Gould uses to reach his conclusion; this is best exemplified in the description of the two politicians that use different statistical averages to manipulate or bend the information they are providing (163). This example changes the reader from a somewhat suspicious and unconvinced skeptic into a believer of, or at least a believer in the plausibility of, different averages. Furthermore, I think the extensive use of examples is very effective in solidifying the concepts in the readers mind. We also see that Gould not only uses standard verbal examples but incorporates a graph into his essay in order to enhance the readers understanding (166). Finally, using his life as an extended example is a very powerful way to solidify the readers trust in Gould as it is a personal account that holds huge significance to Gould himself (163).
When one is reading an essay of this nature – where one needs to potentially learn a lot of information – it is very easy to loose concentration. I feel Gould's continual use of parenthesis in this essay helps to add a flowing, speaking rhythm which keeps the audience from becoming bored. He further makes this

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