What is the purpose of a red herring?

This isn't always for nefarious purposes—sometimes, it's a literary strategy used to keep readers in suspense.

A red herring is a deceptive remark, query, or argument used to divert attention from the subject at hand.

A red herring is not a true fish species. For a very long time, the most typical explanation for this expression was that kippers, which are cured herrings with reddish flesh and a strong flavour, were used to educate hunting dogs to follow scent trails. Etymologists Gerald Cohen and Robert Scott Ross presented their findings in 2008, demonstrating that the phrase's early uses were in a way for teaching horses—not dogs—to become used to the confusion and conflicting aromas that surround a hunting party.


Red herrings are used to divert attention away from the main topic being discussed in a conversation or written work. This isn't always done for bad reasons; on sometimes, it's just a literary device to keep readers guessing. But in this article, we'll concentrate on the red herring fallacy as it applies to speech.

Formal and informal fallacies are the two basic categories into which logical errors can be categorised. Formal fallacies are assertions that are false because their very structure is false. A formal fallacy is one in which the conclusion does not logically follow the premise, such as the non-sequitur fallacy.


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. You can also download our app from the playstore or visit our website.