"Look! A Distraction!"

AKA: Red Herring, Derailment

Some people don't even try to respond to their opponents' arguments, but instead throw out something completely irrelevant in order to derail the discussion. Distraction topics can range from subtle to glaringly obvious. Here are a few examples of assorted diversion tactics:

"I don't like your tone!" Good ol' tone policing - the opponent of the argument focuses on the perceived tone of the message instead of its actual content, turning the debate away from the topic supposedly being discussed toward the other person's method of expression. NOTE: Just because this is a derailment tactic does not mean you should consider it a free license to use type in all-caps and call your opponent names!

"Aren't there more important things to worry about?" Again, another distraction tactic to try and shift the focus away from the topic at hand, added with a side of patronization and possible guilt-tripping. As an example of this in action, let's say that Aisha points out that the roof is leaky and needs to be fixed, and that Lorrie still hasn't fixed it like she promised to do months ago. Lorrie counters, "well, who cares about leaky roofs when some people don't have roofs at all?!"

"You do it too!"/"You're just as bad!" That may be technically true, but it doesn't change the fact that the user of this argument is throwing out a diversion from the core argument. NOTE: It is a very good idea to stop and examine your beliefs and practices now and then and ask yourself if they really are just as bad as your opponent's, and if so, do something about them. Otherwise, you may find yourself wandering into Special Pleading territory.

"That isn't how the dictionary/I/my demographic defines that word!" It's one thing to make sure everyone's on the same page with what they mean by their words, but to completely ignore and/or invalidate someone's argument based on the fact that they're using a word differently from how the dictionary or how you use the word is an example of this fallacy.

Some people will try to pass off diversions as being relevant to the core issue. Many who oppose the existence of evolution argue that if evolution were real and true, then forced eugenics would be justified - and therefore, we should not consider the possibility that evolution exists. Aside from the fact that the existence of evolution would not inherently justify forced eugenics, whether or not it would has no bearing on whether or not evolution is real.

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