A fallacy is a type of argument that is similar to good reasoning though news readers find it not to be persuasive. Media fallacies are categorized into three levels, that is: top level, middle level and low level (Stonecipher, 1990, p. 5; Cohen, 2009, p. 88; Tindale, 2007)
The recent story of a car crash into a restaurant with people clearly had some fallacies. Deductions on media fallacies can be derived from the article regarding the Raleigh accident.
1. Generalization – this is where speakers conclude on an issue without sufficient evidence. This story has been generalized mainly to create an exciting experience to the reader.
2. False cause-this is where there are assumptions that one event follows another. In reference to the article, it is alleged that a parking miscalculation caused the accident. However, the actual victim claims that it was high speed that caused the accident.
3. Invalid equivalence- this is where two different cases are compared and they are unlike. In reference to the article, two counts of parking miscalculation triggered by high speed and driver carelessness have been attributed to the accident.
4. Red herring –this is where by an irrelevant issue is introduced to divert attention from the issues at hand. In reference to the article, the writer diverts the attention of readers from the victim to the person who caused the accident and the public in general. Perhaps this is done so as to slyly bring the aspect of safety improvements in the article.
5. Either- or fallacy- this is where the listeners are forced to choose between two alternatives though there are more than two alternatives that they can choose from. This is common where there are many news broadcasting stations but the news readers tend to be restricted to only one of their best because the time at which the news are read are at the same time hence the different information that the different stations have to cover is divided to different news listeners. The different alleged causes of the accident are a good example of this type of fallacy.
6. Lobby- this is where it is assumed that because something is popular, then it is good, right and desirable. The writer creates the assumption that the local administration is to blame due to poor planning. The fact that the saneness of the person who caused the accident is stressed further brings out this fallacy.
7. Slippery slope- this is where it is assumed that taking the first steps will eventually lead to taking into consideration the subsequent steps. In relation to the article, rearranging safety measures in the city will create a safer milieu for pedestrians. However, other numerous factors as causes of such accidents have been overlooked or simply ignored. This brings out this fallacy type.
Cohen, D. E. (2009). Critical Thinking Unleashed. Devon, UK: Rowman and Littlefield.
Stonecipher, H. W. (1990). Editorial and persuasive writing: opinion functions of the news
media. London, UK: Hastings House.
Tindale, C. W. (2007). Fallacies and Argument Appraisal. Critical Reasoning and
Argumentation. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from