Seth Rogen on Alzheimer's Disease

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For this blog post, I will be evaluating the claims made in Seth Rogen's statement before the US Senate at a hearing on Alzheimer's research on the 26th of this month. In his testimony, he recounts his personal connection to the disease and describes some of the effects that Alzheimer's disease had on his mother-in-law's life.  Rogen argues that the governments needs to maintain and increase its acknowledgement of the disease as well as its funding towards research for Alzheimer's. To argue these points, Rogen makes use of the proofs; logos, ethos, and pathos, throughout his statement.

In the first minutes of the speech, Rogen opens with a narrative of his first encounter with Alzheimer's disease. He establishes himself as someone who is closely associated with the disease and understands, from experience, the severity of the illness. His use of ethos makes him a trustworthy speaker on the subject. He also, simultaneously, makes himself relatable to the audience by acknowledging his prior conception of what it meant to have Alzheimer's disease. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important parts of Rogen's testimony. He points out where the general public lacks an understanding of what Alzheimer's entails. My dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's this fall, at the age of 54. When I try to explain to others changes I have seen in my dad, it is not limited to forgetting names and losing things. There are so many facets of the disease that no one hears about. As he says,

"Americans whisper the word 'Alzheimer's' because their government whispers the word 'Alzheimer's'. And although a whisper is better than the silence the Alzheimer's community has been facing for decades, it's still not enough. It needs to be yelled and screamed to the point that it finally gets the attention and funding that it deserves and needs."

I definitely agree with Rogen's push to increase the rigor with which Alzheimer's is addressed in government.

           In addition to ethos, Rogen also makes efficient use of logos at key points in his statement. He uses facts involving numbers and data to grab the attention of the audience. For example, he mentions a 70% increase in deaths from Alzheimer's disease in contrast to declining numbers in deaths from heart disease and stroke. He also adds in the shocking figure that within 35 years, it is projected that up to 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer's. The use of these figures also helps to contribute to Rogen's use of pathos.

            A lot of the emotions that would be expected to be associated with this type of statement would probably be sadness, fear and hopelessness. While these are present in moments of the statement, it is clear that Rogen makes a conscious effort to break up some of the more intense parts of his speech with more light-hearted comments. This helps; again, to maintain the audience's attention and also emphasizes the contrast present between the jokes and the topic in question.

            Overall, I think that Rogen makes a good argument. Although I think his claims could have been made stronger with more in-depth backing, I certainly agree with the points he made and think his style was intriguing and effective.  

1)   1.) In what ways do you think Rogen's argument could have been improved?

2)   2.) How would you have approached this type of argument?

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