John Aristotle Phillips (born August 23, 1955) is a U.S. entrepreneur specializing in political campaigns, who became famous for attempting to design a nuclear weapon while a student.
Phillips was born in August 1955 to Greekimmigrant parents and raised in North Haven, Connecticut. In 1976, while attending Princeton University as a juniorundergraduate, he designed a nuclear weapon using publicly available books and papers. In February 1977, several months after the story first went public, Phillips was contacted by a Pakistani official trying to purchase his bomb design, an incident addressed on the Senate floor by William Proxmire and Charles Percy. Phillips was a celebrity by this time, dubbed The A-Bomb Kid by the media, and making a series of television appearances including a featured spot on the game show To Tell The Truth.
Phillips was an underachieving student who played the tigermascot at Princeton games. Hoping to stay at the school, he proposed a term paper for a seminar on nuclear proliferation outlining the design for an atomic bomb similar to the Nagasaki weapon. Whether the weapon as designed would have actually exploded was questioned. Dr. Frank Chilton, a California nuclear scientist who at that time specialized in nuclear explosion engineering, said Phillips’s design was “pretty much guaranteed to work.” However, Phillips' faculty advisor Freeman Dyson, a renowned physicist, and professorHarold Feiveson, who held the seminar, said Phillips' design was not functional. Nevertheless, the Federal Bureau of Investigation confiscated Phillips's term paper and a mockup he had constructed in his dormitory room. In 1979, Phillips published his story together with a co-author, David Michaelis, as Mushroom: The True Story of the A-Bomb Kid (ISBN 0-671-82731-6 / ISBN 0-688-03351-2).
Phillips parlayed his celebrity into a brief career as an anti-nuclear activist. In 1980 and 1982 he ran for the United States House of Representatives as a Democratic Party candidate in Connecticut's 4th congressional district, losing both times to RepublicanStewart McKinney.
The experience he had gained during his campaigns obtaining the voter list from the state and using it for campaign purposes led him and his brother Dean (who had written a program to handle the list on an Apple II) to found Aristotle, Inc. in 1983, a non-partisan technology consulting firm for political campaigns which John Philips has since led as the CEO. It specializes in combining voter lists with personal data from other sources (such as income, gun ownership or church attendance) and data-mining, to assist with micro-targeting of specific voter groups; as of 2007, its database contained detailed information about ca. 175 million U.S. voters and it had about 100 employees. Aristotle has served every occupant of the White House since Ronald Reagan, and consults for several top political action committees.
In 1998 he spoke of the critical importance to a political campaign of targeting its advertising, including on the world wide web. In 2009 he observed that 8.9% of registered voters in the United States are ineligible to vote because they have moved away or died.
As of 2007, Phillips lived in San Francisco with his wife, Patricia and daughter, Katherine Grace.
- ^Vollers, Maryanne (August 7, 1980). "The A-Bomb Kid Runs for Congress". Rolling Stone. Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (323): 42–43.
- ^"Student Designs Nuclear Bomb". Spokane Daily Chronicle: 2. October 9, 1976. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- ^ abDavid Michaelis (July 18, 1977). "What's A Nice Kid Like John Phillips Doing With an A-Bomb?". New York Magazine. NYM Corporation. 10 (29): 66.
- ^Charles Peterson (May 8, 1977). "John Aristotle Phillips: The A-Bomb Kid". Youngstown Vindicator. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- ^Collins, Paul (December 16, 2003). "The A-Bomb Kid". Village Voice.
- ^"Student Plans Complete Nuclear Bomb". Spokane Daily Chronicle. 9 October 1976. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
- ^ abcdeJames Verini: Big Brother Inc.. Vanity Fair online, December 13, 2007
- ^Aristotle - Now You Know
- ^Lindlaw, Scott (June 17, 1998). "Politicians Slow to Embrace Web". Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
- ^Harper, Jennifer (October 29, 2009). "Inside the Beltway - THEY'RE ALL GONERS". Washington Times. p. A9.
- John Aristotle Phillips and David Michaelis (1978), Mushroom: The Story of the A-Bomb Kid, New York: Morrow, ISBN 0688033512 .
Writing assignments abound in college courses, with many requiring you to persuade your audience by arguing a claim of value, judgment, or opinion.
To present an argument convincingly, effective rhetoric is crucial. According to Ardita Dylgjeri in the “Journal of Educational and Social Research,” rhetoric can be defined as “the intentional use of language to influence an audience.” But how do you go about using language in this way?
In 4th century B.C., Greek philosopher Aristotle answered this very question in his comprehensive treatise, “Rhetoric.” He describes the triad of rhetorical devices: logos, ethos, and pathos, which connect the topic, the speaker, and the audience. The most influential communication employs all three.
Logos is the appeal to logic or reason and is directly connected to the topic. As proposed by Paula M. Carbone in “Aristotle in the Classroom: Scaffolding the Rhetorical Situation,” Aristotle opined that “the best arguments were suggested by the topic.” Moreover, Aristotle believed logos is “the superior persuasive appeal,” the most important. One can achieve logos by using reliable facts and statistics as well as inductive or deductive reasoning.
According to Stacy Weida and Karl Stolley of Purdue University, inductive reasoning begins with a specific situation and then applies broader conclusions or generalizations based on reliable evidence. For example, if you leave your house at 8 a.m. and make it to your class on time, you may conclude that leaving at 8 a.m. each day will ensure you are always on time.
Weida and Stolley explain deductive reasoning begins with a generalization, which is then applied to a specific situation using reliable evidence. For example, all bananas are fruits, and all fruits grow on trees. So, all bananas grow on trees.
When developing logos, the organization of your argument should be clear and logical. It is best to start with your strongest claim because as L. D. Rosenberg advises in “Aristotle’s Methods for Outstanding Oral Arguments,” you do not want you best argument to “get muddled or lost amid a sea of less persuasive arguments.” Outlining is a great way to visualize your organization before drafting your essay.
Ethos is the appeal applied to the speaker’s character and credibility; this device is directly tied to the speaker. Ethos is associated with ethics, so your trustworthiness as an expert on your topic is essential. You want your audience to trust that you know about the topic you are arguing. Carbone explains, “A speaker who is not credible or knowledgeable about the topic will have a hard time convincing others of anything, simply because an audience will not take seriously arguments from someone whom they do not respect, trust, or believe to be knowledgeable about the topic.” Luckily, there are several ways to accomplish ethos:
- Use fair, objective language
- Use and cite credible sources
- Include personal experiences with the topic
- Present counter-arguments accurately
- Find commonalities between your position and counter-arguments, such as common values
- Edit your essay for surface level errors (grammar, punctuation, citations)
Pathos directly connects with your audience by the appealing to their emotions. Dylgjeri explains, “Pathos is the power with which the writer’s message moves the audience to his or her desirable emotional action. Thus a good [writer] should know for sure which emotion would effectively impact [the] audience.” There are several ways to achieve strong pathos in an essay in order to invoke sympathy, anger, celebration, fear, or whatever the desired emotion.
To create an emotionally-charged essay, you may include emotional anecdotes. If you’re writing an essay about the dangers of tobacco use, tell the story of a woman suffering from lung cancer including harrowing details about symptoms, treatments, and pain to stir your audience’s emotions. Using strong connotative language — language with both direct and implied meanings — can create strong emotions in your audience as well. For example, using the word hate has a stronger connotation than the word dislike. Also, the inclusion of figurative language, such as vivid imagery, metaphors, or similes, can bring your essay to life for your audience by painting a picture with your words.
Carbone, P.M. (2014). Aristotle in the classroom: scaffolding the rhetorical situation. Voices from the Middle, 21(3), 41-48.
Dylgjeri, A. (2014). Logos, ethos and pathos in albanian political discourse. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 4(4), 55-59.
Rosenberg, L.D. (2007). Aristotle’s methods for outstanding oral arguments. Litigation, 33(4), 33-39. Weida, S. & Stolley, K. (2013). Using rhetorical strategies for persuasion. OWL at Purdue