I'm taking an online writing course that has a pretty hefty discussion-board participation requirement. One of the discussion topics was to explain the difference between the different types of argument appeals one can make: Ethos, Pathos and Logos. Considering that the definitions of those things are right out of our textbook, pretty much everyone was basically posting the same things with slightly different wordings. So, being the smart-ass that I am, I decided to try to mix it up a little.
Here, in its entirety, is my poorly written explanation of why one might want to use a particular appeal over the others:
Logos, or "an appeal using logic" is the most effective form of argument. According to a famous study, less than 10% of all arguments made by not using logic-based data and reasoning are effective in changing the mind of someone with an opposing viewpoint. Less than ten percent. That means that over 90% of all arguments that do use logic-based data and reasoning are effective. From this we can infer that the most effective way to argue one's point is to include relevant statistics and numbers -- after all, the numbers don't lie. Definitely choose Logos, because it's the best.
Ethos, or "argument from authority," is clearly the most effective tactic to use in an argument. I've had thousands of arguments with people, and believe me when I say, it's the way to go. In addition to personally participating in thousands of debates -- all of which resulted in me convincing the other party that they were wrong -- I've also served as an argument consultant to dozens of other famous arguers. Remember the Bud Light "tastes great VS less filling" debate from some decades back? Well, that was never conclusively decided because of the fact that I was coaching both sides on their arguments. This resulted in both sides of the debate having foolproof, undefeatable arguments, so the debate rages on. I'm just that good. So take it from me when I say that you should certainly choose Ethos for your argumentative needs. It's the best.
This brings me to Pathos, or "an appeal to the heart." I could tell you that this is the best tactic to use when formulating an argument, but I feel that it might be better to mention an argument from the past that didn't use Pathos. Remember that fateful day in September of 2001, when both towers of the World Trade center were spewing black plumes of smoldering death into the skies? Well, people all over the city were warning that those towers would fall, and that all those rescue workers should get out now, lest the death-toll rise exponentially. Sadly, though, those warnings were filled with facts and figures, delivered by civil engineers and mathematicians who didn't have the foresight to attempt to appeal to the emotions of those making the decisions. Unfortunately, as a direct result of this lack of Pathos-knowledge, these early-warners watched with tears in their eyes as the towers indeed collapsed exactly how their facts and figures said they would. If only they had tried to appeal to the hearts of those in power rather than their minds... If they had, then hundreds of people might not have lost their lives that day. Don't let this happen to you; always argue using Pathos, as it is clearly the best strategy in an argument.