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Red Herring Examples

Red herring is an idiom that refers to a logical fallacy that misleads or detracts from the actual issue. It is also a literary device that leads readers or characters towards a false conclusion, often used in mystery or detective fiction. s an informal fallacy, the red herring falls into a broad class of relevance fallacies. The red herring in a story can take the form of characters that the reader suspect, but who turns out be innocent when the real murderer is identified. It aims at keeping the readers guessing at the possibilities until the end and therefore keeps him interested in the story. The readers enjoy solving the mysteries created by red herrings in the story.

Unlike the strawman, which is premised on a distortion of the other party's position, the red herring is a seemingly plausible, though ultimately irrelevant, diversionary tactic. In politics red herring comes handy as they use it frequently to dodge difficult query in a discussion or an argument. For example, "I think that we should make the academic requirements stricter for students. I recommend that you support this because we are in a budget crisis and we do not want our salaries affected." The second sentence, though used to support the first sentence, does not address that topic. They do it by referring to a different issue, which of course is irrelevant, to sidetrack the original issue under discussion. The expression is mainly used to assert that an argument is not relevant to the issue being discussed.
I do not believe that taxes should be higher. Higher taxes often lead to lower salaries and socialist entitlement programs.
Meaning: In truth, higher taxes do not have a direct relationship to salaries or entitlement programs. However, associating these three things is designed to make each seem equally unpalatable to the audience.
List Sentences
Sarah: Mom, can I go to a party tonight?
Mom: How can I be sure you won't drink alcohol?
Sarah: Oh mom, how can you even think that when I've been doing homework all day!

Meaning: This is a red herring fallacy because Sarah doing homework has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not she will drink at a party, but she tried to change the focus of the conversation by making it sound like it does. Therefore, her comment about the homework is a red herring.
Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Priory School.
Meaning: In the Sherlock Holmes adventure "The Adventure of the Priory School," a fruitless lead in the disappearance of a young aristocrat distracts the authorities and leaves Holmes to start with a cold trail.

- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Book: The Adventure of the Priory School)
List Literature Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Augustus Quiffen in The Withdrawing Room.
Meaning: Augustus Quiffen, a lodger at Sarahs Brownstone home, is killed falling under the train. Seemingly, it was an accident until Mary Smith tells Sarah that it is a murder but she cannot identity the murderer. Sarah and Max Bittersohn investigate the matter and find that the killer has planned the death beforehand and that he was well-prepared to conceal it with a convincing red herring.

- Charlotte Macleod (Book: The Withdrawing Room)
List Literature Charlotte Macleod
Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of the Baskervilles
Meaning: The readers are thrown off the real murderer and start suspecting the escaped convict and Barrymore. In the end, however, the mystery is resolved by the unexpected confession of Beryl that her husband Stapleton was the real culprit and was behind the whole mystery of the killer Hound.

- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Book: Sherlock Holmes: Hound of the Baskervilles)
List Literature Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Bishop Aringarosa in the Da Vinci Code.
Meaning: The character is presented in such a way that the readers suspect him to be the mastermind of the whole conspiracy in the church. Later it was revealed that he was innocent. This example of red herring in the novel distracts the readers from who the real bad person is and thus, adding to the mystery of the story. Interestingly, the Italian surname of the bishop Aringarosa translates in English as red herring.

- Dan Brown (Book: Da Vinci Code)
List Literature Dan Brown
Mother: Its bedtime Jane
Jane: Mom, how do ants feed their babies?
Mother: Dont know dear. Close your eyes now.
Jane: But mama, do ant babies cry when hungry?

Meaning: This conversation shows how a child tries to distract her mother so that she [Jane] could stay awake a little longer.
List Common
Red Herring Meaning
Red herring is an idiom that refers to a logical fallacy that misleads or detracts from the actual issue. It is also a literary device that leads readers or characters towards a false conclusion, often used in mystery or detective fiction.
Red Herring Examples
That dolphin? He don't know nuttin' bought swimmin. He's a mammal, not a true fish.