What is a Red herring ? how to use it / douglasleethompson blog

douglasleethompson

A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue. It may be either a logical fallacy or a literary device that leads conversation or audiences towards a false conclusion. A red herring might be intentionally used, such as in mystery fiction or as part of a rhetorical strategies (e.g. in politics), or it could be inadvertently used during argumentation or investigation.

The origin of the expression is not known. Conventional wisdom has long supposed it to be the use of a kipper (a strong-smelling smoked fish) to train hounds to follow a scent, or to divert them from the correct route when hunting; however, modern linguistic research suggests that the term was probably invented in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, referring to one occasion on which he had supposedly used a kipper to divert hounds from chasing a hare, and was never an…

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