Josh Fischman, a writer for the National Geographic Magazine, wrote an article called Bionics. This article explains how physically impaired people are benefiting from the use of mechanical systems and how these body like systems work. The National Geographic Magazine is circulated world wide in thirty-two languages and over 50,000,000 people receive it monthly. Thus the audience is anyone in the general public who is interested in geography, culture, photographs, popular science, history, or current events. Josh Fischman effectively uses many great strategies and techniques to support his claim that bionics are improving the quality of life for physically impaired people around the world. The audience would be interested in this article because it is about technological advances and forward thinking. A key component of any article, whether it is argumentative or informative, is getting the audience to trust that what you say is reliable and true. This is commonly known as establishing credibility or ethos and Fischman does this throughout his article.
One way he does this is by including quotes from experienced professionals such as Robert Lipschutz—a member of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago— who said, “The basic technology of prosthetic arms hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years… materials are different, so we use plastic instead of leather, but the basic idea has been the same: hooks and hinges moved by cables or motors, controlled by levers. A lot of amputees coming back from Iraq get devices like these.” He also establishes his ethos by following his statements with a supporting quote from a professional in the field. Toward the beginning of the article Fischman says, “As scientists have learned that it’s possible to link machine and mind, they have also learned how difficult it is to maintain that connection. If the cup atop Kitt’s arm shifts slightly, for instance, she might not be able to close her fingers. Still, bionics represented a big leap forward, enabling researchers to give people back much more of what they’ve lost than was ever possible.”
Then to support that statement Fischman includes, “That’s really what this work is about: restoration,” which is a quote from Joseph Pancrazio, the program director for neural engineering at the institution of neurological Disorders and Stroke. Not only does this statement establish credibility but it also acknowledges the fact that Bionics are not perfect. The author says that maintaining the connection between “machine and mind” can be a challenge but the patience still benefit from bionics in a huge way. By mentioning this Fischman uses logical reasoning or logos and comes across as an intelligent person who is looking at the subject from both angles, which is important for the author of any argument to do. First he agrees that it may be a difficult process then he strengthens his claim by saying the benefits still outweigh the difficulties. Appealing to the pathos—audience’s emotions— is a common technique used to evoke certain emotions from the reader. Fischman does this by saying things like “When a person with a spinal-cord injury can be in a restaurant, feeding himself, and no one else notices, that is my definition of success.”
The author is trying to get the reader to realize that these patients don’t want to be the source of pity, they don’t want people to feel bad for them, they just want to function and blend in like everyone else. He is trying to connect with the emotions of the reader and it works. Everyone wants to be able to take care of him or herself. Being independent is something everyone works towards as they grow up and if that ability was taken away it would dramatically change that person’s life. This statement helps the audience realize how important bionics is to physically impaired people. Later on in the article the author includes quotes of a woman who describes the pain and sorrow she went threw knowing that her son, who was born deaf, would never be able to hear her, she would ask herself “How will he ever get to know me?” She would call his name, make noise, even bang pots together but her son never responded. Today her story is different. Bionics has ended her sorrow, and her son can now hear the banging pots with the use of a microphone that converts noise into signals that his nerves can interpret. In the margin of the article Fischman includes a picture of the boy from the story.
In the picture the boy is having fun and smiling as if he’s completely unaware of his hearing problem. The pathos appeal or emotions this story evokes are so powerful that it is near impossible for the reader to disagree with how beneficial bionics have become. To explain how people are benefitting from bionics Fischman includes facts and multiple stories of the different ways people have successfully used bionics to improve their lives. He informs the reader that nearly 200,000 people around the world have had bionic devices implanted in the past 30 years. Then he shares the stories of Amanda Kitts and a man named Eric Schemp. Amanda Kitts story is of how bionics has replaced her arm, which was amputated at the shoulder because of a car accident. In Eric Schemps story he talks about how bionic nerves and receptors have allowed him to control his arms once again. Since he broke his neck in 1992 he has been a quadriplegic, however the recent advances in bionics have allowed him to do things like grab a fork.
These stories appeal to pathos, show the different ways bionics can be used, and explain how bionics work. The majority of this article has an average diction that includes ordinary language. However—due to the medical and technological background of the story—it often takes on a high style of writing. These parts of the article include fairly complicated language like neural prosthesis, microprocessor, retinitis pigmentosa, and ophthalmologist. This language is perfect for the intended audience because the majority of them are fairly intelligent people who are looking to expand their knowledge. However this is just the majority, so in order to make it possible for everyone to comprehend, the complex words are usually followed by an easily understood definition or put in a sentence that allows the reader to decipher the meaning. Josh Fischman effectively uses strategies and techniques to support his claim that bionics are improving the quality of life for physically impaired people around the world. His style and strong appeal to ethos, pathos, and logos makes this a compelling, intriguing, and well-rounded argument.
Josh Fischman. “Bionics.” The National Geographic Magazine. Published January 2010. January 11, 2010