Yesterday's New York Times ran an ad for the new movie "Jason X" with two quotes from critics. Here's the second as it appeared in the ad:
" Stylish And Visually Spectacular."
Jonathan Curiel, San Francisco Chronicle
This is the complete context concealed by the ellipsis, " ":
"'Jason X' is the 10th movie to feature the character, which made its Hollywood debut in the 1980 bloodbath 'Friday the 13th.' This adaptationthe first in nine yearsis certainly the most stylish and visually spectacular."
In other words, the critic is saying that the movie is the "most stylish and visually spectacular" of the "Friday the 13th" series, not absolutely as the quote taken out of context suggests. Beware those three little dots!
The first quote in the ad is:
"WELCOME BACK JASON! A Broad Slash Of Scary, Sci-Fi Fun. The Phenomenon Is Still Twitching!"
Gregory Weinkauf, New Times, Los Angeles
Here, at least the quotes are not taken out of context, but the capital letters and exclamation points are not in the original, which makes the quotes seem far more enthusiastic than they really are. This kind of misleading use of emphasis is often called the fallacy of Accent. Beware exclamation points in movie ad review quotes! They're almost always added by the copywriters.
A Resource for Hasty Generalization. This is a paper by Douglas Walton, a prolific and influential writer on fallacies. Walton has made available in PDF format over thirty of his papers on fallacies and informal logic. His papers are sophisticated and technical, so they are not for beginners, but they provide a rich source of ideas about fallacies. If you are looking to dig deeper into a specific fallacy, Walton has probably written something worthwhile about it.
Moore ad Hominems
Michael Moore continues to engage in personal attacks against critics of his book, instead of answering the criticisms, according to a report of a recent college talk he gave.
Update (10/21/2007): Sorry, this article is no longer available.
Name that Fallacy
In a recent press conference, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had the following to say:
"The whole world is demanding that Israel withdraw. I don't think the whole world, including the friends of the Israeli Government, can be wrong. So, I appeal to Prime Minister Sharon to heed the call, and move ahead with the implementation of the resolutions."
Left-wing humorist and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who has been under attack for factual errors and alleged plagiarism in his latest book, strikes back in an interview with Lou Dobbs:
Moore: Actually, the only attacks on the book have come from liberals.
Dobbs: Is that right?
Dobbs: Perhaps that's because, again, just dealing with what they know.
Moore: Yes, maybe. Or maybe they're justsome people get a little jealous. That's what you do. "How come he's on TV? He's on Lou Dobbs! What's going on?"
In other words, liberals criticize Moore just because they're jealous. This is a textbook example of an ad hominem, designed to distract the audience from the criticisms of Moore, against which he apparently has no defense. Here is a transcript of the interview.
A Venn diagram for the syllogistic fallacy Negative Conclusion from Affirmative Premisses.
A Venn diagram for the syllogistic fallacy Exclusive Premisses.
An article today by Ronald Radosh, available at National Review Online, accuses some critics of Israel of a "false analogy" for comparing Israel to the former, apartheid-era South Africa. Radosh describes some of the relevant dissimilarities between the two regimes.
Update (2/15/2017): Sorry, this article appears to be no longer available online.
( 1:40 AM )
There is now a new Example, and a Counter-Example, to Affirmative Conclusion from a Negative Premiss, together with a Venn diagram.
This, the Fallacy Files Weblog, is. I am simplifying the F-Files website by rolling the "What's New?" page, the "Fallacy Watch" page, and the "Many Questions" page, all into one weblog. This is where I will now post notices of updates to the site, email from readers, and information on fallacies in the news.