What are some examples of a red herring?

Examples: Son: "Wow, Dad, it's really hard to make a living on my salary." Father: "Consider yourself lucky, son. Why, when I was your age, I only made $40 a week."

One of the numerous logical fallacies you may come across in essays, speeches, opinion pieces, and even casual conversations is the red herring fallacy, which is an effort to divert attention from the issue at hand and place it on something unrelated.

You've undoubtedly heard of red herrings being used in debates. You may have even used them yourself, consciously or unconsciously. Since they are so prevalent in human communication, logical fallacies can be simple to overlook. However, if you are aware of them, you can see them in your work and correct them before they weaken your arguments.


The red herring fallacy is similar to a few other fallacies. One similar fallacy, avoiding the issue, similarly moves an argument away from its original topic by introducing an irrelevant statement. Here’s an example: 

Person 1: “All restaurants should be required to list the calories of each dish on their menus.”

Person 2: “Most of the restaurants in our city have low-calorie options.”

The difference between avoiding the issue and a red herring is that with a red herring, the arguer deliberately tries to guide the conversation away from its initial topic, whereas with the avoiding the issue fallacy, the arguer simply avoids engaging with the argument. 

Whataboutism is another fallacy that has a few similarities to the red herring fallacy. Here’s an example of whataboutism:


The purpose of a red herring is to distract the reader or listener from the actual issue being discussed in a conversation or piece of writing. This isn’t always for nefarious purposes—sometimes, it’s a literary strategy used to keep readers in suspense. But for the purposes of this post, we’ll be focusing on the red herring fallacy as it’s used in rhetoric. You can also download our app from the playstore or visit our website.