Red Herring

Red Herring

The propagandist technique of presenting data or issues that, while compelling, are irrelevant to the argument at hand, and then claiming that it validates the argument.

A red herring, besides being a fish, is an argument style in which an irrelevant, or false, topic is presented in an attempt to divert attention from the original issue, with the intention of "winning" an argument by leading attention away from the original argument and on to another, often unrelated topic. This "reasoning" takes the following form:

  • Topic A is under discussion.
  • Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A, even though topic B has no relevance to topic A.
  • Topic A ends up being abandoned.

This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because changing the topic of discussion does not count as an argument against a claim.

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