Red herring

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important question.[1] It may be either a logical fallacy or a literary device that leads readers or audiences toward a false conclusion. A red herring may be used intentionally, as in mystery fiction or as part of rhetorical strategies (e.g., in politics), or may be used in argumentation inadvertently.

The term was popularized in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, who told a story of having used a strong-smelling smoked fish to divert and distract hounds from chasing a rabbit.

In the mystery story “A Study in Scarlet“, detective Sherlock Holmes examines a clue which is later revealed to be intentionally misleading (i.e., a red herring).

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