Comparing the Effectiveness


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Comparing the Effectiveness of Rhetorical Situations in Articles


Published in the Scientific American Blog Network, the article Hollywood’s Portrayals of Science and Scientists Are Ridiculous was written by Ushma S. Neil in January 2019. The article follows the portrayal of science and medicine in the media and particularly in movies. According to the author, various scenarios in the movies serve to highlight the level of disconnect that exists between actual physicians and screenwriters. Moreover, the article New Amsterdam Is a Medical Drama That Fails Doctors—And Viewers is a medical drama that highlights the healthcare system of the United States as is. Written by Brit Trogen, the article was published in the Atlantic in November 2018. New Amsterdam is simple and patronizing and it has an insidious effect on how the members of the public view medical practitioners and the healthcare system by extension. The purpose of this essay is to compare the rhetorical situations including the logos, ethos, and pathos employed in both articles. Compared to its counterpart, the article on New Amsterdam published in the Atlantic has stronger rhetorical appeals and is, therefore more effective in persuading the readers about the author’s stance.

The Use and Effectiveness of Logos in Both Articles

To begin with, the authors of both articles employ the use of logos to appeal to the audience. In the article by Scientific American, the author writes, “ I’d like to invite screenwriters and casting directors to spend more time with actual lab teams or to shadow clinical groups to get a better sense of who we are as professionals.” This statement points to the fact the screenwriters have been failing in how they portray doctors and scientists in films. The statement opines that if screenwriters took the time to interact with physicians and scientists, then they would write better films that portray them for who they are. Most films portray scientists using various stereotypes. Particularly movies always describe doctors as Caucasian with perfect teeth, a white coat, and designer clothes and nurses as black women who have seen it all. For such a noble profession to be portrayed that way when the reality is more varied, it points to the old fashionness of the screenwriters. They refuse to showcase physicians as the careful, methodical, and professionals that they are. The New Amsterdam article author also writes, Against this backdrop, distrust in physicians is rising, with only 34% of Americans now expressing confidence in medical leaders, down from 73% in 1966.” This statement uses facts to appeal to the audience. The statement proves helpful to the author’s cause in convincing readers that New Amsterdam does not paint a true picture of the medical profession. The statement evokes a reaction of shock to the audience. The fact that members of the public have significantly lost confidence in physicians over the years makes the reader sad. It opens their eyes to the influence that film has on the public’s perception. Although films are purely fictional, people tend to believe the message that is being communicated.

The Use and Effectiveness of Ethos in Both Articles

Secondly, both authors of the two articles also employ the use of ethos to pass across their claims. In the article published by Scientific American the author writes, “When reality is not congruent with what is shown on the film, audiences reinforce these hurtful stereotypes.” This statement seeks to appeal to the ethics and principles of the reader. The statement points to the fact that screenwriters are part of the problem because they fail to showcase reality in the films they create. In essence, whatever is showcased in medical films is nothing close to reality. They showcase doctors as models stuck in the 70s era fashion and scientists as capable of solving most problems which is not the case. The quote points to the fact that the stereotypes harm the medical profession as the audience always ends up subscribing to the perceptions displayed in the film. Further, in the New Amsterdam article, the author writes, “In a recent episode, he encourages physicians to defraud the hospital through downcoding—providing expensive and time-consuming care to patients, then lying about it in the medical record.” This statement proves effective in appealing to the audience as it speaks to the ethics and morals of Dr. Goodwin. Without a doubt, whatever he is doing is morally wrong. Directing doctors to the lie in the medical records is equal to defrauding the hospital and it can have a dire effect on the hospitals’ finances. Although he has the best interest of the patients at heart, it compromises the values of the profession.

The Use and Effectiveness of Pathos in Both Articles

Thirdly, both articles also use pathos as a rhetorical strategy to pass across their main points to the audience. In the Scientific American article, the author writes, “It was therefore particularly apt and cringeworthy when these tweets showed up about the lack of thought put forward who is often most critical on successful scientific and medical teams.” This statement appeals to the emotion of the audience by addressing the issue of diversity of ethnicities within the medical profession. The statement points to the fact that Hollywood productions are notorious for neglecting ethnicities including people of color from roles and that they only give most roles to white people. In most films, the role of the physician is mostly played by white people which give the assumption that certain people are the only ones that can be doctors in real life. However, this is not the case as even the most successful people doctors and engineers attain results by collaborating with other people. In the New Amsterdam article, the author writes, “That Goodwin also has cancer, which is revealed in the first episode, only adds to his zeal.” This statement discloses the fact that Dr. Goodwin is also struggling with his health. The statement evokes emotion and feelings of sympathy for the good doctor. It is evident that the doctor has good intentions for the hospital. From the way he handles situations including firing head departments, doing away with the waiting room, and even asking doctors to undercharge patients, it is clear that he is a good person. The doctor kept his illness a secret all while transitioning t a new job that was rather demanding. This statement is effective in passing across the author’s main message that the medical profession is not always represented as a true picture in films.


Both articles highlighted employ the use of ethos, pathos, and logos as rhetorical devices to express the main claim to the audiences. Although the rhetorical devices attained their use in both articles, they were more effective in the article on New Amsterdam published in the Atlantic than in the article published in the Scientific American. The audiences are likely to resonate with and buy in the claims made by the author that wrote the article about New Amsterdam than compared to its counterpart. This text is insightful as it has set the record straight about the perceptions of the medical profession and particularly physicians and scientists as highlighted in media.


Neill, U., 2019. Hollywood’s Portrayals of Science and Scientists Are Ridiculous. Scientific American Blog Network. Available at:

Trogen, B., 2018. ‘New Amsterdam’ Is a Medical Drama That Fails Doctors—And Viewers. The Atlantic. Available at:

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