Manipulating Content

Rhetorical fallacies are subtle errors in speech and writing. – The manipulation of rhetoric and logical thinking. The following fallacies can be categorised as ‘Manipulating Content’.

Ad hoc rescue

Trying to save a cherished belief by repeatedly revising the argument to explain away problems.

“… But apart from better sanitation, medicine, education, irrigation, public health, roads, a freshwater system and public order… what have the Romans ever done for us?”

Begging the question

Making a claim while leaving out one or more major contributing factors that may affect the conclusion.

“If we label food with warning labels, it will encourage people to eat more healthily.”

Biased generalising

Generalizing from an unrepresentative sample to increase the strength of your argument.

“Our website poll found that 90% of internet users oppose online piracy laws.”

Confirmation bias

Cherry-picking evidence that supports your idea while ignoring contradicting evidence.

“It’s obvious 9-11 was an American-government led conspiracy to justify war in Iraq and Afghanistan. No plane hit the Pentagon.”

False dilemma

Presenting two opposing options as the only two options while hiding alternatives.

“We’re going to have to cut the education budget or go deeper into debt. We can’t afford to go deeper into debt. So we’ll have to cut the education budget.”


An outright untruth repeated knowingly as a fact.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Misleading vividness

Describing an occurrence in vivid detail, even if it is a rare occurrence, to convince someone that it is a problem.

“After a court decision to legalise gay marriage, school libraries were required to stock same-sex literature; primary schoolchildren were given homosexual fairy stories and even manuals of explicit homosexual advocacy.”

Red herring

Introducing irrelevant material to the argument to distract and lead towards a different conclusion.

“The Senator needn’t account for irregularities in his expenses. After all, there are other senators who have done far worse things.”

Slippery slope

Assuming a relatively small first step will inevitably lead to a chain of related (negative) events.

“If we legalise marijuana, more people will start using crack and heroin. Then we’d have to legalise those too.”

Suppressed evidence

Intentionally failing to use significant and relevant information which counts against one’s own conclusion.

“The Iraqi regime possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”


Offering a claim that cannot be proven false, because there is no way to check of it is false or not.

“He lied because he’s possessed by demons.”

See other: Rhetorical Fallacies

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