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Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
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    Main | The President Is Feeling Bleu »

    The Small Print Is On the Wall

    Quote: “Trust in God Electronics”

    Figure of Speech: argumentum ad verecundiam, the appeal to traditional values. 

    Figaro loves this brand! It prayerfully dives into a common mistake in rhetorical ethos, or expression of character. Why rely on customer reviews, superior service, or a money-back guarantee when you can just say, “It’ll work, God willing!” 

    Wait. What’s wrong with being religious? 

    Nothing, unless you’re hoping that will help you sell fridges and cookers. Every brand is a kind of ethos. As with your own personal ethos, a brand’s persuasiveness depends on whether people like and trust it. Aristotle described three basic tools for enhancing ethos: disinterest or selflessness (eunoia), the impression that you have only your audience’s interest at heart; practical wisdom (phronesis), seeming to have the knowledge and experience to know what to do with a video deck (what’s a video deck?); and virtue (arete), apparently sharing the audience’s values and living up to them.

    Which of these qualities would you look for in a guy who’s selling you a TV? Or put it in a different context: Suppose you were flying to Florida and the pilot came over the PA and said, “I hope everybody trusts in God.”

    Personally, Figaro would pray like heck.

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