In This Lesson
>> Red Herring, also Called Distraction
Red Herring, also Called Distraction
The red herring fallacy occurs when a writer makes a point that serves only to distract the audience from a logical progression of the argument. The origin of the term red herring is provided by The Well-Crafted Argument: "In British fox hunting, red herrings (very odorous) are sometimes dragged across a trail to throw the dogs off scent. This practice serves as a metaphor for raising an issue that has little or nothing to do with what is being argued in order to force the argument in a new direction" (153).
An example of a red herring fallacy follows: "Wal-Mart may cause local business to go under, but in fiscal year 2004, the Wal-Mart Foundation gave over $170 million to charities, most of which were locally-based."
The red herring fallacy occurs because mentioning Wal-Mart's charitable contributions distracts the reader from the real issue: driving local merchants out of business.
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