Red Herring Fallacy

🧠 Psych - 105 / 200

Hello!

How is it going for you?

Let’s talk about the Fallacy of Red Herring.

What is it?

The fallacy is where an attempt is performed to divert your attention away from the relevant issue by introducing you to a different irrelevant issue.

Also known as Fallacy of Misdirection.

Examples -

Bob: “I’m disappointed you broke your promise and didn’t help me move.”
John: “Oh yeah? What about that time you didn’t show up to my birthday party?” [1]

Where does it occur?

In conversations, political statements, novels of different genres, announcements of large companies.

Why do I need to know?

The goal with red herring is to sway you away from the main argument or topic. It is not a bad ‘trick’ or something. It can be used to win or convince over arguments in a sense.

Interesting side note:-

The use of herring to distract pursuing scent hounds was tested on Episode 148 of the series MythBusters.

Although the hound used in the test stopped to eat the fish and lost the fugitive's scent temporarily, it eventually backtracked and located the target, resulting in the myth being classified by the show as "Busted". [2]

Takeaways: -

Make your arguments better with the knowledge of this fallacy. While it is actually very easy to notice, you need to be aware enough to catch it.

References & Studies: -

  1. https://www.developgoodhabits.com/red-herring/

  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring


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