"Don’t read the New York Times; it's filled with liberal propaganda." What type of fallacy is the previous statement? Is it ad hominem (poisoning the well), straw man, false dilemma, misplacing burden of proof, begging the question, appeal to emotion, or irrelevant conclusion?

Expert Answers

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The most likely answer is that this is an example of A, an ad hominem attack. This is because the argument does not offer any proof of what it is saying.  It just denounces the characteristics of the New York Times.

An ad hominem attack does not focus on the things that the other person says.  Instead, it focuses on characteristics of that person.  It “poisons the well” by telling you that you should not believe anything that person says because of these personal characteristics.   When you say that the New York Times is full of liberal propaganda, you are not giving any evidence based on what that newspaper actually says.  Instead, you are smearing it with an unsubstantiated allegation.  You are simply asserting that it cannot be trusted because it is a liberal paper.

To avoid having this statement be fallacious, you would need to give proof of the incorrectness of a given New York Times article or statement.  Then you could say that we should not read the Times and you could give evidence that it had said something untrue because of its liberal bias.


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