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Connor Ray
Dr. Fielding
WRTC 103
2/14/16
The US Government Should Not Cut NASA Funding Rhetorical Analysis
NASA is a source of national pride and innovation since its creation in 1958. It
is baffling to think anyone would support a cut in NASA funding. The argument
analyzed in this paper is the amount of funding NASA receiving from the US
government and if that funding should be increased or decreased. The article
beginning analyzed is The US government Should Not Cut NASA Funding written by
Josh Levinger. That article was published in MIT’s The Tech in 2012. NASA’s budget
is half of one percent of the total federal budget and some still think that is too
much. Some people think the exploration of space is a waste of time and effort
when there are people on Earth starving. They think everything on Earth should be
perfect before the human race even thinks about space exploration. The rhetoric of
both Josh Levinger’s The US Government Should Not Cut NASA Funding argument
and Connor Ray’s companion PSA relies on ethos, pathos, and logos to show why
NASA funding should not be cut and why NASA is completely necessary to the
survival of humanity.
The main claim of Levinger’s The US Government Should Not Cut NASA
Funding is that US government should fund NASA because NASA is necessary to find
life after Earth and NASA has created several technologies that have been very
practical in people’s everyday lives. The intended audience of this article are people

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interested in NASA, space exploration, and the federal budget. The author targeted
those audiences because they are mostly to take any action on the subject. The
style is of the article is a mixture of both scholarly and conversational. An explain of
the article being scholarly is the quote “Though charged by the [George W.] Bush
administration to extend the reach of humanity back to the Moon and on to Mars, it
was given no additional funding to do so. The civilian space budget has been
effectively capped for the last two decades; all aeronautical, biological, and
exploration related research fight for the same pool of money.” (par. 6) This quote is
scholarly because it references President Bush and gives reason why the space
program isn’t progressing. An explain of the article being conversational is the
quote “Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck can't save us from all of those threats [as they
did in the 1998 movie Armageddon]. (par. 9) We need real heroes, like the
engineers who toil in anonymity, designing the best damn fuel pump that they can.”
The quote is conversational because it is referencing a movie and it is a delivered in
a relaxed tone. The argument is organized by order of importance and the way a
normal person thinks through a problem. The first main body paragraph, which
models human’s initial reaction to the problem, is about the problem and why
people against an increase in NASA funding. The second main body paragraph,
which models human’s thinking though the problem, is why NASA is struggling to
meet is new goals and the only way to meet those new goals is to have an increase
in funding. The third main body paragraph, which models humans solving the
problem, is where the author presents a solution to the NASA funding problem.
Pathos is the main rhetorical device used in the paper. The author uses
pathos to evoke emotional responses, such as fear, in the reader. A quote that
creates fear is “We need a backup plan, because this world won't last forever” (par.

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9) and “We will either continue choking it with greenhouse gases, irradiate it with
our terrible weapons, or be blindsided by an asteroid. The odds are calculable, and
not in our favor.” (par. 9) That quote is emotionally loaded because of how much
fear it is provoking, saying the world is going to cause the reader to panic for at
least a couple of seconds. They start to think of ways to prevent the world from
ending and the author so conveniently gives a solution. So by using fear Levinger
tries to persuade the reader to agree with in. This use of fear establishes a
dominating relationship between author and the reader, whatever the author says
the reader is pressured into agreeing with him.
Logos is the second most used rhetorical device the author uses to persuade
the reader. The main type of facts and evidence the author uses are statistics. The
use of statistics make the author claims seem more realistic. There are facts and
evidence that supports Levinger’s claim in almost every single paragraph. A quote
that shows the authors uses of stats is “But it is not outsized in comparison to other
truly wasteful uses of your tax dollars. Here are but a few egregious examples: $8
billion for missile defense, $16 billion for nuclear weapons, $5 billion for foreign
militaries, $12 billion for spy satellites, and $9 billion to reconstruct Iraq that has
literally gone missing.” (par. 4) Levinger also uses quotes from authorities in the
article. The quotes from authorities have the same effect on the paper as the use of
statistics. The author also uses direct observations in the article multiple times. The
author uses direct observations to clearly say his points and point out the flaws in
cutting NASA funding.
Ethos is the least used rhetorical device in the article. Levinger represents
himself in a professional way. Levinger is a third party is biased toward more NASA
funding but still addresses the other side of the NASA funding author. Levinger’s

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credentials come from is educational background. He is former graduate student at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and works at the Citizen Engagement
Laboratory. A source to help prove Levinger’s credibility comes from MIT Center
Civic Media. Where it is stated that Levinger worked in for the Defense Department.
This source and the beginning part of article makes Levinger a trust worthy writer.

The

main

Sources for the PSA:
NASA Insignia B&W. Digital image. NASA Nebraska Space Grant. NASA Nebraska Space Grant, 2010. Web.
20 Feb. 2016.
Rao, Nathan. Asteroid-hit-earth. Digital image. Asteroid a MILE Wide to Hurtle past Earth in 48 HOURS - as
Experts Warn of MASS EXTINCTION. Express, 12 May 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

claim in PSA is that should increase NASA funding in order for humanity to find a
new home. The story that is being conveyed is that the Earth is in danger, and the
human race needs to find a new home before the Earth is destroyed. Actions show
in this PSA are the Earth getting hit by an asteroid. The intended audience of this
PSA is everyone in the United States. The dominant images in the PSA are the

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asteroid and Earth. The dominant text and colors in the PSA are the claim and call
to action. Those two pieces of the PSA are in the bottom of the PSA.
Similar to the verbal argument, the main rhetorical device used in the PSA is
pathos. Vivid images, such as the asteroid, are used to create fear in the reader.
Seeing the asteroid so close to Earth gives some realism to the main claim. Visually
seeing an asteroid hitting to Earth make the threat seem much more real. This fear
was the same effect in the PSA as it did the verbal argument. Which is to make
people start to care about NASA. The red text is also meant to create fear in the
viewer. It draws attentions to the key points of the claim. The use of the work “our”
causes a personal connection between the reader. This connection between the
author and the viewer makes the PSA much more inviting and much less
aggressive. It makes it seem like the claim is their problems together, instead of the
author telling the viewer what to do. This makes the PSA much more marketable.
Unlike the verbal argument, the PSA relies on ethos much more. The content
is authenticated by the NASA logo in the bottom right hand side of the PSA. The
logo gives legitimately to the PSA; making it seem official instead of some random
person talking about how the world is going to end. The PSA is very polished and
professional because of its lack of grammatical mistakes and over the top graphics.
The PSA’s professionalism and polish has the same effect on the viewer as the NASA
logo.

The diction is very simple. In fact, no word in the PSA is longer than two

syllables. That makes the PSA readable for almost anyone that can read basic
English. The tone used is the PSA is appropriate because the goal for the PSA is for
people to take action and nothing gets people more motivated than fear. The author
qualifications are that he was read multiple articles relating to the topics of NASA
spending, threats to the Earth, and the federal budget. The author credits his

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sources in the bottom left hand corner of the PSA, this helps gives the PSA even
more legitimately. Logos is the least used rhetorical device in the PSA. The claim is
clearly supported by evidence from the verbal argument essay. The argument made
in the PSA is logical because there is a real threat of asteroids hitting the Earth and
studies have shown the Global Warming is slowing causing the Earth’s water to rise.
The PSA and verbal argument are similar in the fact that the main rhetorical
device used in both is pathos. The place where they differ is the second rhetorical
device used. The verbal argument uses logos as its second main rhetorical device
while the PSA uses ethos as its second main rhetorical device. PSA deepens the
understanding of the verbal argument by showing how real the threat of the
asteroids is. The PSA also shows the emptiness of space. The emptiness shows why
NASA needs to be funded more because there is nothing close to the Earth that
could support human life. The verbal argument is much more convincing because it
uses all three rhetorical devices well while the PSA only uses the pathos and ethos
well.

Sources
Levinger, Josh. "The US Government Should Not Cut NASA Funding." Space
Exploration. Ed. David Haugen and Zack Lewis. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. At
Issue. Rpt. Fro
m "Opinion: Should We Cut NASA Funding?: Counterpoint:
Funding a New Mission for NASA Is Funding Our Future." The Tech. Vol. 130.
2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.
J. Levinger, A. Hofmann and D. Theobald, “Semiautonomous Control of an
Emergency Response Robot,” Proceedings of Association for Unmanned Vehicle
Systems International, (2008).
NASA Insignia B&W. Digital image. NASA Nebraska Space Grant. NASA
Nebraska Space Grant, 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
Rao, Nathan. Asteroid-hit-earth. Digital image. Asteroid a MILE Wide to Hurtle
past Earth in 48 HOURS - as Experts Warn of MASS EXTINCTION. Express, 12 May
2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.

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