Author: Professor Chris Lee
Type of article: Speech
Date of publication: 25 – 27th October, 2010
Contention: We, as humans must consider our impact on biodiversity and take action to change our lifestyles before we damage the world beyond repair.
Number of article(s): 1
Number of image(s): 2
Source: VCAA website
Note: Persuasive techniques can be interpreted in many ways. The examples given below are not the single correct answer. Only a selected number of persuasive techniques have been identified in this guide.
Taking Stock Analysis
Persuasive technique: Reputable Source
Example: ‘United Nations stated: “It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity in our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity”.’
Analysis: The use of a reputable source indicates that 1) the author has done his research and is therefore credible, 2) his opinion is supported by an expert group, thus strengthening his reasoning and opinion in regards to biodiversity.
Persuasive technique: Rhetorical questions
Example: ‘Has this been a year of celebration of life on earth? Has this, in fact, been a year of action?’
Analysis: The use of rhetorical questions aims to portray to listeners that the answer is obvious, that humans have not done enough to help biodiversity. As a result, listeners are manipulated into agreeing with the author since if they were to refute the answer; it will appear as though they are nonsensical.
Persuasive technique: Personal approach
Example: ‘It is with great pleasure – though not without a tinge of sadness’
Analysis: By introducing himself with ‘it is with great pleasure’, listeners are invited to reciprocate the feeling of welcome for Lee and hence be open to his opinion. His subsequent, ‘though not without a tinge of sadness’ suggests to listeners that he is disappointed with the current state of biodiversity, which may persuade listeners to feel as though they should help fix the situation.
Persuasive technique: Statistics
Example: ‘35% of mangroves, 40% of forests and 50% of wetlands.’
Analysis: The incorporation of the apparently reliable and credible statistics testifies for Lee’s opinion and thus may persuade listeners to believe that it is indeed, ‘too late for [species]’.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to sense of guilt
Example: ‘Due to our own thoughtless human actions, species are being lost at a rate that is estimated to be up to 100 times the natural rate of extinction.’
Analysis: Since the destruction of biodiversity is ‘due to our own thoughtless human actions’, Lee aims to incite a sense of guilt as listeners appear to be selfish, which may urge them to agree that they need to cease being inconsiderate and do more to improve biodiversity.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to humanity
Example: ‘Reversing this negative trend is not only possible, but essential to human wellbeing.’
Analysis: The appeal to humanity, ‘essential to human wellbeing’ encourages listeners to support Lee since it is our instinctive for humans to nurture ourselves and others.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to sense of pride
Example: ‘We are, in truth, the most educated generation of any to date. We have no excuse for inaction.’
Analysis: Through the appeal to a sense of pride, Lee aims to coax listeners into believing that they have ‘no excuse for inaction’ since only those who are ‘intelligent’ would understand and agree with his stance.
Persuasive technique: Attack on the listener
Example: ‘YOUR country – actually done since 2002 to contribute to the achievement of our goals?’
Analysis: The attack aims to leave listeners in a state of vulnerability since it is clear that many have failed to ‘achieve…[the] goals’. Once in this state, listeners may be more inclined to accept Lee’s stance.
Persuasive technique: Appeal for sympathy
Example: ‘Biodiversity loss undermines the food security, nutrition and health of the rural poor and even increases their vulnerability. ‘
Analysis: Though the reference to ‘the rural poor,’ Lee aims to appeal to listeners’ sympathy and may invite support since it is instinctive to wish for the best for humanity, rather than to see the poor experience a lack of ‘food security, nutrition and health.’
Persuasive technique: Appeal to pride
Example: ‘As leaders in the area of biodiversity’
Analysis: The appeal to pride through positioning listeners as ‘leaders’ invites support since it is innate for humans to wish to be thought of as a person who is respected and powerful.
Persuasive technique: Inclusive Language
Example: ‘we know what damage our lifestyle is doing to our world’
Analysis: The use of inclusive language aims to involve listeners with the issue, thus encouraging support since listeners may feel responsible for the future outcome of biodiversity.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to sense of urgency
Example: ‘The time for talk is over: now, truly, is the time for serious action.
Analysis: By appealing to a sense of urgency, Lee aims to urge listeners to take responsibility since it appears as though the damage to biodiversity will be too late if we fail to take ‘serious action…now.’
Persuasive technique: A sense of responsibility
Example: 2010 with outlines of nature
Analysis: The incorporation of a background of ‘2010’ with outlines of animals, plants and humans aims to demonstrate to listeners that earth is shared by all species, with none dominating another in an attempt to gain listeners’ sense of responsibility since they are part of the biodiversity issue, yet can also be the solution to the problem.
Persuasive technique: Pun
Example: ‘Taking Stock’
Analysis: The first meaning used for the pun suggests to listeners that they need to ‘take stock’ or in other words, scrutinise the dire situation of biodiversity in call for much needed attention to the issue. Through referring to the second meaning of ‘stock’ as animals, Lee intends to appeal to a sense of guilt since he projects the idea that humans are cruelly annihilating the environment by ‘taking’ whatever ‘stock’ for their own self-centered purposes.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to responsibility
Example: ‘earth is in our hands’
Analysis: By placing the ‘earth…in our hands,’ Lee aims to urge a sense of responsibility on behalf of the listeners which in turn, may cause them to agree with the notion to take ‘serious action’ in the name of biodiversity.
Persuasive technique: Use of reputable source
Example: ‘Biodiversity is the greatest treasure we have . . . Its diminishment is to be prevented at all costs. Thomas Eisner’
Analysis: The reference to ecologist, Thomas Eisner attempts to persuade listeners to support Lee since experts in the field of biodiversity recommend that the earth needs to be cherished.