A fallacy is an idea that people believe to be false. A logical fallacy is an argument that contains a mistake in reasoning. Logical fallacies can be divided into two categories, fallacies of relevance and fallacies of insufficient evidence. Given that fallacies are common in everyday talk, individuals, especially those broadcasting news, should be careful to substantiate what is thought to be true from what is indeed correct in order to reduce any misconceptions that can arise. An example of a fallacy of relevance is the red herring fallacy. During the 2012 presidential debate, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama did not answer the question asked about how they would limit the availability of assault weapons. Instead, they both diverted the attention from the question where Obama said he would combat insecurity before it would get in control while Romney talked about good schools and family setup. The answers by the two presidents demonstrate the red herring fallacy. The appeal to pity is another fallacy under this category. Non-governmental organizations use this kind of fallacy by showing pictures of starving children to appeal for funds. In this case, emotional appeal is used to distract from rational thinking. Another fallacy under this category is the bandwagon argument. For example, someone may insinuate that a lot of people watch Ellen’s show, so you should watch it too. Though the show is popular, there is no evidence that it is good.
Equally, there are examples of fallacies of insufficient evidence. The alternative fallacy falls in this category. For instance, the MasterCard advertisement has a punchline that says “There is something money cannot buy. For everything else, there’s MASTERCARD”. This advertisement gives only two choices: a person can purchase a product using MasterCard or he/ she should not buy the commodities. The hasty generalization fallacy can be identified in this statement that Donald Trump made during the campaign: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.” Trump generalizes his views of Mexicans is based on the reputation of a few that individuals who cross to the United States illegally. Another fallacy under this category is an appeal to ignorance fallacy. A good example of this fallacy is found where Leonard Pitts Jr. writes an article in Miami Herald on January 27th 2008, about Obama not being a Muslim. In the report, Pitts notes that this thought is what Obama himself had made people believe. Although no one had proven this suggestion, the writer implies that Obama is a Muslim simply based on people’s opinions.
To sum up, people should be careful to differentiate fallacies from factual truths. Since fallacies are common in ordinary talk, social media, and even mainstream media, it may be used to construe information and influence the thoughts of individuals. In this regard, people should always examine the information that they are hearing or what they are saying to ensure that it is credible.