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A Comparison of Thank You for Arguing Vs Freakonomics

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There are no two people who view the world exactly the same, and with that being said, we want people to view the world the way we do; persuading one another to see what we see. There are multiple sides to everything. As you may see something as white, I see it as black and the next sees purple, there is a hidden side to everything. Nothing is as it seems. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything​ uses quite a few techniques to persuade the audience into seeing the world the way the author Steven Levitt does. He structures the book by comparing two topics together. He uses the art of logos, pathos and illusions to persuade the readers into seeing what he sees, sort of like an illusion. ​Thank You For Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach us About the Art of Persuasion​ shares persuasive topics on a more personal level that writers can use to convert the minds of readers.

An illusion is a trick your brain plays in which your brain allows you t sense something that isn’t there, or not as it appears. The introduction to ​Freakonomics​ gives us an insight to what brings freak- and -onomics together. My previous statement “nothing is as it seems” is proved by this short, but insightful quote. “Morality to could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work — whereas economists represents how it actually ​does work.” This sets the basis for Levitt to begin formatting the rest of the book.

Morality is an illusion, it allows your brain to think of right ways to do things according to how you want them done, whereas economically, it shouldn’t be done that way. As an economist, Levitt studied how the world actually functions, which of course deviates for a moralist plan. What motivates people to do, or not do, what is more is based on an incentive, and what comes out of doing it, therefore, what is done, is not always moral. In ​Thank You For Arguing​, Heinrich’s ‘The Invisible Argument’ Introduction touches n illusion just a slight but. “Whether you sense it not, argument surrounds you.” There are invisible arguments through everyday life. Which toothpaste to buy, what color shirt to wear , and whether or not it’s sock, sock, shoe, shoe, or sock, shoe, sock, shoe.

Pathos is a persuasion technique that appeals to emotion. It is an Ancient Greek word created by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Appealing to emotion is a pretty powerful technique to utilize, as it’s something that gives your book a feeling, and allows the reader to not only feel what they are reading, but to see what they are reading and compare it to themselves.​ ​In​ Thank You for Arguing,​ Heinrich gives us a thought analysis on how emotions convince people. Human beings are creatures who feel. Pathos seems to be a theme of ​Thank You for Arguing rather than just a technique used. Throughout the book, he gives us a list of emotions, and which technique appeals to different kinds of emotions. “Logos, ethos, and pathos appeal to the brain, gut, and heart of your audience… pathos is argument by emotion… registering concern for your audience’s emotions and then changing the mood to fit your argument.” In Freakonomics​ both authors Levitt, and Dubner use abortions affect on crime do how it actually was a positive thing. “It wasn’t gun control or a strong economy or new police strategies that finally blunted the American crime wave. It was… the reality that’s the pool of potential criminals dramatically shrunk.” Reading a little further Levitt explains that this is because of legalized abortion, putting killing babies in a positive light because ‘potential’ criminals being bred have been minimized. Reading abortion on a high pedestal creates a plethora of emotions for the reader duping on the the audience’s stand point on abortion. Maybe they agree, or maybe they are nw disgusted, sad or mad even. This allows the reader to view abortion as something that ended up being positive because the author isn’t advocating he is reasoning which interests the reader and draws them more into the book. Persuasion, pathos, appealing to the emotions of the reader.

Additionally, the authors of ​Freakonomics​ use Logos to apply both logic and emotion (pathos). In ​Thank You For Arguing,​ Heinrich states “Logos, paths, and ethos usually work together to win an argument. This technique is exactly what Levitt and Dubner used in explaining what it takes to become a perfect parent. When it comes to parenting, the objective is to protect your child at all costs. So. When it comes down to your child going to a house with a gun, or a house with a pool, the smarter option would be to choose the pool right? Levitt debunks this theory, and proves in fact that what we thought was correct, is not. “Molly’s parents parents feel good about having made such a smart choice to protect their daughter.” This quote appeals to emotion. An all American family with good intention can make anyone happy. Just as quickly as the smile on your face appear, Levitt wipes it away. “In a given year, there is one drowning of a child for every 11,000 residential pools…there is 1 child killed by a gun for every 1 million-plus guns.” 550 children under the age of 10 die every year for a country (USA) that has 6 million residential pools. With an estimated 200 million guns, 175 children under the age of 10 are killed annually. Levitt and Dubner gets to show that the likelihood of death by pool versus death by gun does not come close. The use of statistics show how real and true child deaths are and to think again when it comes to the safety of your child. The logic shows that it is safer to send your child to a house with a gun rather than sending them to a friend’s house to go swimming.

It is apparent that ​Thank You For Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach us About the Art of Persuasion​’s techniques appear quite frequently in Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.​ All in all, both writers of Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner, use pathos, logos, and illusion, to persuade their readers to view the hidden side of everything. They use techniques found in Thank You for Arguing by Jay Heinrich. Thank You for Arguing acts as a support system for the opposing text, which amplifies both narratives, connecting them in the end. Both texts together fluctuate one another, as well as prevailing the exertion of influence and persuasion. Both books are a great read but still leave us with the question in the end. What other ideas that we have in the end are false?

Works Cited:

  • LovetoKnow, director. YourDictionary. YourDictionary, 25 June 2019,
  • Shmoop, director. How to Identify Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. YouTube, 30 Sept. 2014,
  • Curley, Christopher. “Allusion and Illusion: Definitions and Examples.” Study, 2019, Allusion and Illusion: Definitions and Examples.
  • Nordquist, Richard. “The Meaning of Commonplace in Rhetoric.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 25 Apr. 2017,

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