Research, Responsibility, Rhetorical Mastery, and Good Ol’ Donald

"With great power comes great responsibility" -Uncle Ben (Benjamin Parker)

The definition of responsibility given to us by the habits of a creative mind is: the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others. Rhetorical mastery is a power of sorts, something that is proven many times over by politicians, especially some of our previous presidents. Now some politicians have speech writers that do all of the rhetorical writing but either way, politicians use these powerful devices of persuasive speech to get votes and gain approval from the American public. This power, like any superpower, can be used for good or for evil or neither. Adolf Hitler is known as one of the worlds best speakers, and was especially for being able to control and manipulate the emotions of his followers, something we know as Pathos (Lambertson 1942). Martin Luther King Junior was also an eloquent and revered speaker, who was able to use multiple rhetorical skills to his advantage. Rhetoric is powerful, it isn't good or bad, but it is something that needs to be used with a degree of responsibility because it does have consequences.

Joe Romm (2016) talks about rhetoric in comparison to Donald Trump, and how he is a master of rhetoric. This may seem absurd if you compare it to the other speeches that we commonly analyze rhetorically, for example MLK's I Have a Dream speech, but looking at Trumps ability to convince a large group of people of his credibility even without proof is a testament to his skill as an orator, though his approach is not what we would not automatically think of as a masterfully crafted and full of potent language devices. One quote that Romm's (2016) article references is very important for analyzing Trump as an orator.

An emotional speaker always makes his audience feel with him, even when there is nothing in his arguments; which is why many speakers try to overwhelm their audience by mere noise." - Aristotle

Trump doesn't often have reliable sources for what he says and promotes but he often makes people believe him anyway. Trump is able to sell people on him, he does this by using emotion and through this emotion he creates a fantastic reality that people identify with. His ability to exaggerate is one of his keys to success, something he knows too, he even coined his own term 'truthful hyperbole' (Romm 2016). He is a master of figures of speech, coining his own terms often for example "Alternative Facts" that allow people to believe the things he says, even if he is proven wrong.

One of Trumps largest problems is his inability to research, though he masquerades this with his exaggerations and emotional speaking. Most people, who are of much less powerful and influential positions, are held to a higher standard of credibility and research. To some people, this is part of his appeal, his entire brand is to appeal to the average american who feels like they are oppressed by academic elitism and liberal policies, which mirrors some things that Obama's administration was criticized for (it is not a coincidence that the supporters of Obama aren't often supporters of Trump). The way Trump speaks and his brand in general has a purpose, and is all part of powerful rhetoric.

Every president is a reaction — whether positive or negative — to the president that came before him" - Chris Cilliza

What is good research? In school we are taught that without citations our papers are useless and stolen. This is about giving credit, but not only are we told to give credit, we are told our sources need to be credible. This means that we can trust a source. In our classes we are taught a multitude of things to ensure that a source is credible, because as academics it is our responsibility to ensure that we are putting our information that is impartial and true to the best of our knowledge. Evaluating a source takes a long time, you have to look at the credibility of multiple components of the source individually. In a study by Kanayo Umeh (2010) it was found through testing that people with increased ignorance on a topic were focused on the knew information more than evaluating the credibility of the source. It also found that based on social heuristics that low-quality sources can be just as persuasive.

Not all information is created equal" - UCSC Library

Though Good Ol' Donald has proven quite a few times that sources who aren't the most credible can be just be persuasive, but it's still important that we know how to evaluated sources, for our own papers but also to evaluate the things we read online. The point of knowing how to find credible sources is trying to get as close to the truth as possible, because of the way that news if presented now it can be hard to find something with out bias. Finding the truth is always worth the time. A few tips for evaluating a source for credibility is looking at three key things, the authorities behind it, the currency (how recent), and the purpose ("Evaluate..." 2017). Authority is important, it is not only who wrote the article, but also an assessment of the bias and credibility of everyone involved as well as the establishment. The currency, especially in scientific articles, is relevant to how often the information changes. Purpose involves how it serves the purpose of the author, but also the purpose (and possible bias) of the people sponsoring the research or author ("Evaluate..." 2017). The truth is out there, just make sure to evaluate the source first.

The truth is out there, but so are the lies" - Dana Scully (X-Files)

"Evaluate the quality and credibility of your sources" University Library. University of California Santa Cruz. 2017. retrieved from Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Lambertson, F. W. "Hilter, The Orator" The Quaterly Journal of Speech, vol. 28. 1942. pp. 123

Romm, Joe. "Donald Trump may sound like a clown, but he is a rhetoric pro like Cicero" Thinkprogress. retrieved from Accessed 20 Jan. 2017.

Umeh, Kanayo. "Does a Credible Source Also Need a Fearful Audience?" Journal of Applied Social Psychology. vol. 7, no. 7, 2012. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.00916.x


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