Manipulation 101: Frame the Discussion Around a Minor Point

There is a tendency by manipulators, by both the conscious and unconscious variety, to focus on a minor point and make their entire case and argument from that minor point, as a means of getting their way for the entire discussion. Focusing on a minor detail and statistical anomaly is a red herring intended to distract people from the main discussion, and is often used as a means by manipulators to get their way, just because of the exception they re-framed the discussion around.
An example of this is discussing the abortion issue within the framework of the safety of the mother or because of rape, which are both statistically insignificant in comparison to the amount of abortions that occur due to matters of convenience and preference. To put it into perspective, all abortions due to rape, incest, and the health of the mother are less than one half of one percent, while just above 98% of all abortions are purely elective and unnecessary. Framing the entire abortion discussion around the health of the mother and/or rape is disingenuous at the least, and predatory at the worst.
The real discussion about abortion should be around morality, the definitions of natural rights vs civil rights, the definition of liberty, such as the freedom to be responsible vs the freedom from responsibility, the liberty of the child, the liberty of the mother, how it relates to natural and common law vs civil law, and the philosophical underpinnings that are infused within each side’s argument. Instead, we’re too busy allowing manipulators to frame the debate around statistically insignificant exceptions as if they were the general rule. Such exceptions can and should be discussed eventually, but only after the reasoning, philosophy, and empirical evidence has been weighed for the actual issue being worked through, and only after a final verdict on the main topic has been reached.

*Graphic excerpt from the book “The Thinker’s Guide to Fallacies: The Art of Mental Trickery and Manipulation (Thinker’s Guide Library)” by Richard Paul and Linda Elder.

Red Herring graphic taken from Wikipedia.

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