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Common Fallacies in Advertising

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Presentation on theme: "Common Fallacies in Advertising"— Presentation transcript:

1 Common Fallacies in Advertising
Ad Hominem, Appeal to Emotions, False Dilemma, Appeal to the People, Scare Tactic, False Cause, Hasty Generalization, Red Herring, and Traditional Wisdom

2 What is a Fallacy? According to Webster’s Dictionary, a fallacy is an error in reasoning or a flawed argument. It’s an argument that does not conform to the rules of logic, but appears to be sound.

3 Prevalence of Fallacies in Advertising
Fallacies are all around you… Advertisements in magazines, on T.V., on billboards all contain fallacies! Can you think of a place where there are NO advertisements? Probably not! That’s because advertising is impossible to escape and ad-free zones rarely exist.

4 Impact of Fallacies What might be the impact of being told that we are not pretty, handsome, rich, clean, or good enough? What does the casual acceptance of surrounding ourselves with fallacies say about us?

5 Types of Fallacies: Ad Hominem
Ad Hominem (meaning “against the person”) attacks the person and not the issue The major difficulty with labeling a piece of reasoning as an ad hominem fallacy is deciding whether the personal attack is relevant. For example, attacks on a person for their immoral sexual conduct are irrelevant to the quality of their mathematical reasoning, but they are relevant to arguments promoting the person for a leadership position in the church.

6 Ad Hominem Example Person A makes claim X
There is something objectionable about Person A Therefore claim X is false Example: What she says about Johannes Kepler’s astronomy of the 1600’s must be just so much garbage. Do you realize she’s only fourteen years old? This attack may undermine the arguer’s credibility as a scientific authority, but it does not undermine her reasoning. That reasoning should stand or fall on the scientific evidence, not on the arguer’s age or anything else about her personally.

7 Types of Fallacies: Appeal to Emotions
Appeal to emotions manipulates people’s emotions in order to get their attention away from an important issue. You commit the fallacy of appeal to emotions when someone’s appeal to you to accept their claim is accepted merely because the appeal arouses your feelings or anger, fear, grief, love, outrage, pity, pride, sexuality, sympathy, relief, and so forth.

8 Appeal to Emotions Example
X makes me feel good. Therefore X is true. When something is associated with good feelings, then it is desirable and must be true. The converse is also true: X makes me feel bad. Therefore X is bad. 9/11 makes me feel bad. 9/11 has been associated with Iraq. Therefore, Iraq is bad.

9 Types of Fallacies: False Dilemma
False dilemma limits the possible choices to avoid consideration of another choice. A person who unfairly presents too few choices and then implies that a choice must be made among this short menu of choices commits the false dilemma fallacy.

10 False Dilemma Example I want to go to Scotland from London. I overheard McTaggart say there are two roads to Scotland from London: the high road and the low road. I expect the high road would be too risky because it’s through the hills and that means dangerous curves. But it’s raining now, so both roads are probably slippery. I don’t like either choice, but I guess I should take the low road and be safer. This would be fine reasoning is you were limited to only two roads, but you’ve falsely gotten yourself into a dilemma with such reasoning. There are many other ways to get to Scotland. Don’t limit yourself to these two choices. You can take other roads, or go by boat or train or airplane.

11 Types of Fallacies: Appeal to the People
Appeal to the people uses the views of the majority as a persuasive device. If you suggest too strongly that someone’s claim or argument is correct simply because it’s what most everyone believes, then you’ve committed the fallacy of appeal to the people. Similarly, if you suggest too strongly that someone’s claim or argument is mistaken simply because it’s not what most everyone believes, then you’ve also committed the fallacy.

12 Appeal to the People Example
You should turn to channel 6. It’s the most watched channel this year. This is fallacious because of its implicitly accepting the questionable premise that the most watched channel this year is, for that reason alone, the best channel for you.

13 Types of Fallacies: Scare Tactic
Scare tactic creates fear in people as evidence to support a claim. If you suppose that terrorizing your opponent is giving him a reason for believing that you are correct, you are using a scare tactic and reasoning fallaciously.

14 Scare Tactic Example David: My father owns the department store that gives your newspaper fifteen percent of all its advertising revenue, so I’m sure you won’t want to publish any story of my arrest for spray painting the college. Newspaper editor: Yes, David, I see your point. The story really isn’t newsworthy. David has given the editor a financial reason not to publish, but he has not given a relevant reason why the story is not newsworthy. David’s tactics are scaring the editor, but it’s the editor who commits the scare tactic fallacy, not David. David has merely used a scare tactic. This fallacy’s name emphasizes the cause of the fallacy rather than the error itself.

15 Types of Fallacies: False Cause
False Cause wrongly assumes a cause and effect relationship. Improperly concluding that one thing is a cause of another Example: My psychic adviser says to expect bad things when Mars is aligned with Jupiter. Tomorrow Mars will be aligned with Jupiter. So, if a dog were to bite me tomorrow, it would be because of the alignment of Mars with Jupiter.

16 Types of Fallacies: Hasty Generalization
Hasty generalization (or jumping to conclusions) draws a conclusion about a population based on a small sample. Example: I’ve met two people in Nicaragua so far, and they were both nice to me. So, all people I will meet in Nicaragua will be nice to me.

17 Types of Fallacies: Red Herring
Red herring presents an irrelevant topic to divert attention away from the original issue. A Red Herring is actually a smelly fish that would distract even a bloodhound, so in the case of advertisements…it causes the viewer to become so distracted that they forget about the true issue at hand.

18 Red Herring Example I know your car isn't working right.  But, if you had gone to the store one day earlier, you'd not be having problems.   I know I forgot to deposit the check into the bank yesterday.  But, nothing I do pleases you.

19 Types of Fallacies: Traditional Wisdom
Traditional Wisdom uses the logic that the way things used to be is better than they are now, ignoring any problems of the past. If you say or imply that a practice must be okay today simply because it has been the apparently wise practice in the past, you commit the fallacy of traditional wisdom.

20 Traditional Wisdom Example
We need to buy Gateway computers because we’ve always bought Gateway computers. My wife should stay at home and be a housewife because my mom stayed at home and was a housewife.

21 Applying What You Learned:
You will now be working in small groups to identify the types of fallacies used in several different advertisements. You can either use the advertisements that I’ve provided, or you can refer to the examples Solomon references, or you can even reference the fake advertisements used on the Futurama clip. As a group, list examples for at least 5 fallacies studied today.

22 Works Cited Information taken from:
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Fallacies

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