Monday, November 24, 2014

Ad Hominem in the Media

One of the most prevalent logical fallacies in modern day political debating and reporting is a technique called ad hominem. Its a phrase that translates to, attacks against the man. This fallacy takes aim at not the claim a person is trying to make, but rather the speaker of that claim. And its most effective use is in the way that when this fallacy is used it draws the attention away from the substance of the argument and focuses on things irrelevant to the topic. What this means is that if you have an opposing arguer who has some arguable flawed character trait, it doesn't matter if your argument is right or not; as long as you can show why your opponent is a bad person, you can obtain the support of your audience.

One excellent example of the use of this fallacy is those criticizing Obama’s foreign policy. More often than not, those who don't agree with Obama’s reactions to foreign crisis around the world don't have any substantiated claims on why his plan of action would be ineffective. They instead try to minimize Obama’s leadership, describing him as weak or a pushover. Often in debates of this topic, arguers simply claim that the fault in Obama’s foreign policy is not the strategies he uses to solve world problems, but in fact the weakness in character Obama possesses. It is the avoidance of the substance of the argument that places this type of criticism in the category of a logical fallacy, specifically ad hominem.

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