žPath = feeling. Pathos is the emotional appeal.

Emotions are necessary in an argument, but be careful. If you use too much pity, hatred, envy, greed, you can drive a wedge between your audience. You could also prompt fear and loathing in the group you want to appeal to.

Arguments solely based on emotion are not based in rationality, hence why abortion, religion, and politics are NOT to be argued.

žTake a look at this website…

What are your initial reactions to this website?  Is this too much or just enough pathos?

žPathos builds a connection with your audience. Narrating a personal experience can prompt an audience to associate with your emotions. BE TRUTHFUL and BE HONEST with your story. If readers sense a rat, your credibility as an arguer will suffer.

Pathos can also help you reach an audience who would probably not care about the topic.

žBE CAREFUL—too much emotion will repel the audience you are trying to reach.


žHumor is very effective in an argument. If you are good with your wits, use them to your advantage. People cannot stay angry if they are laughing.

žHumor is also beneficial to use when arguing “touchy” controversial topics.

žSouth Park, The Simpsons, American Dad, and Family Guy tackle topics that could possibly erupt into a Geraldo episode (see video above).

žIronically, the more crass the show, the more people associate with it.

žThis is funny, even though it is racist. Humor can ease the edge with “hot topics.”

žComedians such as Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy use racist humor—with both blacks and whites laughing side-by-side.

žWhat is the author’s CLAIM about men? What humorous claims does he make about men? Why are most men not offended by this?

Let’s not forget some other shows that profit from a humorous—rather than a serious—approach: Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, Dennis Miller Live, The Colbert Report.

Your Turn

1. žIn groups, think of 3 TV shows that use ridicule to make light of a difficult situation. Explain the shows and the topic.

2. žFind 3 memes that use humor to argue. Explain the meaning behind the memes.

3. žFind one example of humorous arguments for each of the following: a t-shirt, a bumper sticker, an advertisement.

4. žExplain how each of these make an emotional appeal and WHY it appeals to you.

And on That Note...