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Ad Hominem Fallacy
A hominem is one of the most common fallacy types that people like to use today. It seems to be easier to choose a character and develop an ad around his/her critique. An attack on a character is a central idea of ad hominem. Its purpose is to distract from the major idea but focus on the shortages of another person. There are no clear arguments in this type of fallacy, just negative thoughts that cause necessary emotions.
The Fallacy in the Add
In political debates, conflicts and verbal attacks remain the most effective means of communication. In the chosen ad, democrats again demonstrate their negative attitude toward the current political leader (“this administration” means President Donald Trump). The authors ask an important question about the things that people have already lost and developed a good answer, underling the importance of human lives, jobs, and other related opportunities that are destroyed today.
Mr. President, as a representative of the Republican Party, has already offered his program, and the Administration works according to his principles and ideals. Democrats, in their turn, do not offer a new plan of government and policies but focus on the mistakes made by the current leader. The example of the ad hominem proves its essence (to hide or omit personal arguments but to focus on someone’s mistakes and failures). It is said that people have lost their jobs and lives, but no statistics or real-life examples are given to prove this position). There is no suggestion on how to change something but the need to face the argument offered by the opponents who are dissatisfied.
A red herring is a fallacy that is characterized by the use of unrelated information with the purpose of distracting people’s attention. This diversionary tactic method is effective to avoid the existing arguments and to underline the importance of attention and recognition. During the course, this fallacy was associated with foul-smelling arguments that advertisers like to create not to inform but to involve.
The Fallacy in the Ad
The theme of COVID-19 is popular today, and the world’s population is interested in the methods of treatment for this disease. However, the impact of this unknown virus varies between nations, and many ads are created not to inform but to motivate people. In the chosen ad, much attention is paid to a famous Marvel brand but not to the virus itself. The star is the emblem of Captain America, whose purpose is to protect and save people. The audience sees the image and thinks about the existing passion for this character instead of focusing on a bigger problem of coronavirus and its prevention.
The ad supports the idea of staying at home and saving human lives. Still, there is no explanation of why this home priority matters in today’s society. The red herring is used to introduce a side issue (Marvel admiration) that is not relevant to the COVID-19 situation. There are no recommendations except one phrase that could lead to various outcomes, either positive or negative). Therefore, this fallacy cannot be ignored in the ad but has to be considered as an unreasonable call to action (in this case, inaction and neglect).
False Analogy Fallacy
A false analogy is an informal fallacy, the purpose of which is to prove a point by creating and promoting comparison that is implausible. In the majority of ads with this type of fallacy, designers introduce a single idea and share its message by comparing two or more items. The main task is to identify the differences between subjects, people, or events and use this material to support the chosen idea, even if it is inappropriate.
Fallacy in the Ad
In this ad, the representatives of PETA introduce one of the main challenges for modern society that is to stay at home due to the COVID-19 situation. The image of a person behind the window, wearing a mask, is an outcome of social isolation, either wanted or not. On the one hand, this ad contains a serious message and motivation for people to stay at home, have enough protective means, and not challenge their health because of the unknown danger outside. On the other hand, the comparison between people who should stay at home because of the circumstances and animals that stay at home and need protection on a regular basis is implausible.
The false analogy fallacy in this case is evident because pets who are in the cage and people who are at home are two different situations. This world is based on interactions between humans, and if the coronavirus disease makes people stay at home, multiple social changes are expected. To compare animals and humans is irrational, but the ad is directed to similarity of the captivity idea in society. In fact, to be in the cage for an animal is never the same to be in the cage for a person.
Democratic National Committee. (2020). DNC launches ad campaign in black newspapers across five battleground states. Democrats. Web.
Marvel: Stay at home. (2020). Ads of the World. Web.
PeTA awareness campaign: In captivity. (2020). Campaigns of the World. Web.