Friday, April 1, 2011

Are All Attack Ads The Same?

In yesterday's Star, Bob Hepburn had an interesting article entitled Harper the king of nasty attack ads, an article well-worth reading. It got me thinking about fallacies of reason and the importance of critical thinking, subjects about which I have previously written.

So I decided to make a brief post here on one of the most common fallacies, the ad hominem, followed by video of two attack ads, one from the Liberal Party and one from The Conservatives. I will then leave you to consider whether one or both of the ads fall under the ad hominem label. offers some interesting insight on the purpose served by the fallacy known as the ad hominem, which means the attack on the person rather than on his/her arguments:

The abusive ad hominem is not just a case of directing abusive language toward another person. . . . The fallacy is committed when one engages in a personal attack as a means of ignoring, discrediting, or blunting the force of another's argument.

An example of an ad hominem would be the following statement:

I can't believe a word that Al Gore says about climate change because he couldn't even keep his marriage together.

You will notice the fact that Gore's marital status has nothing to do with the facts that he has been promoting for many years on global warming, yet the purpose here is for you to dismiss those facts by cultivating a disdain for those who experience marital failure.

Enjoy the videos: