Red Herring

red harring

Presenting an irrelevant topic in order to divert attention from the original issue.

Red Herring!

The red herring is as much a debate tactic as it is a logical fallacy. It is a fallacy of distraction, and is committed when a listener attempts to divert an arguer from his argument by introducing another topic. This can be one of the most frustrating, and effective, fallacies to observe.

The reason this fallacy isfallacy fallacy named as such dates back to the beginning of fox hunting. Fox hound trainers would drag dead red herrings across the paths of fox trails. This would test the dogs’ ability to stay on task, as it was very tempting for the dog to abandon the fox hunt when lured by something new and interesting.
Popular uses of this fallacy are in political debates when debaters bounce between Health care, taxation, tax cuts for business and new jobs, all in order to avoid answering questions voters would not like the answer of.
Note, all relevance fallacies are technically red herrings.

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