Why Are Common Logical and Emotional Fallacies Important?: Or “Thank You for Not Paying Close Attention”

Listening for Hidden Agendas and Other Shady Tactics

As a writer, you need to be careful not to rely on common logical and emotional fallacies in your own argumentation, but you need to be aware of when others are using them too. In fact, you probably run into them more than you think.

The following clip comes from the movie Thank You For Smoking (2005), which follows fictional Big Tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor as he spins or confuses every argument against the dangers of smoking in favor of cigarette companies. Here he appears on a talk show panel with other experts. Can you identify the fallacies and other shady rhetorical tactics he uses to sweet-talk his audience?

In this clip, Naylor also discusses other methods that companies, organizations, and politicians sometimes employ in order to manufacture the biased evidence they need – in this fictional account, Big Tobacco relies on the paid-off Dr. von Grupten Mundt for their studies. Think back here to Humble’s imperative to evaluate sources by considering “credibility and objectivity.”

Be especially vigilant with statistics (p. 92); while numbers always seem like facts, statistics are still summaries or interpretations of detailed data from studies. Yet another reason why Humble reminds us to not be a knucklehead and think for ourselves.

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