Red Herring Examples

Red Herring

In literature, a red herring is an argument or subject that is introduced to divert attention from the real issue or problem. Red herrings are more common in persuasive writing and speech than in fiction.

Examples of Red Herring:

1. When your mom gets your phone bill and you have gone over the limit, you begin talking to her about how hard your math class is and how well you did on a test today.

2. When you are late getting home-past curfew-you distract your parents by talking to them about the weather-how cold it is, or how rainy it is.

3. The mother of a young child tells him to go to bed, and he begins to ask questions, say that he is hungry, or say that he needs to go to the bathroom-all to avoid bed and distract mom.

Examples of Red Herrings in Speech and Literature

The U.S. would not actually "default" on debt, as President Obama states in this speech, designed to divert attention from a discussion the debt ceiling:

I am not going to have a monthly or every three months conversation about whether or not we pay our bills because that in and of itself does severe damage. Even the threat of default hurts our economy. It's hurting our economy as we speak. We shouldn't be having that debate.

Regulation, in reality, was only a small factor in layoffs across the country, but in a campaign speech, Mitt Romney suggests otherwise:

We heard today about fishing regulations. I'll continue to learn more about those regulations as they affect this industry. But across America, regulators [are] just multiplying like proverbial rabbits and making it harder for enterprises to grow and to understand what their future might be."

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