Media War

exposing media bias in Thailand

Fallacies used in Thai media and by academics

Update  Apr 26th 2009

PPT  has a post about Abhisit’s interview to FT.  It is  very interesting to observe how Abhisit himself  employs a lot of fallacies  in this interview !  🙂


It was mentioned time and again about Thai media using all sorts of  fallacies in their  articles.  from Wiki:

Fallacies are also often concerned with causality, which is not strictly addressed by logic. They may also involve implicit (or unstated) assumptions.

Fallacies often exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor.   For example, an argument may appeal to patriotism or family or may exploit an intellectual weakness of the listener. Fallacious arguments may also take advantage of social relationships between people. For example, citing support of important individuals to encourage listeners to agree with a conclusion. [Argumentum ad verecundiam / Appeal to authority fallacy !  For example Thai media and TV always use academics / ajarns to opine on ALL sorts of issues, although most of these ajarns are highly partisan as well as themselves use many fallacies and rethorics.]

Considered by themselves, fallacies can often seem obvious. However, arguments are often structured using rhetorical patterns that obscure the logical argument – deliberately or not – making observing fallacies difficult. Also, the component parts of the fallacy may be spread over a large period of time.

In one of latest columns on Bkk post “EDITORIAL: Debate drives wedge deeper

It is widely known [shameless undisguised  fallacy called Appeal to Masses or  Argumentum ad Populum ] that Puea Thai and the red-shirted supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra have a very different definition of constitutional reform and reconciliation. In a nutshell, and as the course of their actions have amply demonstrated, all that these people care about is seeing power and the seized assets returned to their fugitive boss, and the political rights restored to the 200-odd executives of disbanded parties currently serving a five-year ban from politics for electoral fraud. [typical fallacy called  “Straw man” – because it is total misinterpetation of what actually UDD  protesters demand ]

With this unspoken but widely known [again  Appeal to Masses ] agenda looming in the background, Parliament’s task of achieving meaningful constitutional change and reconciliation looks to be a very difficult one. Let us hope that wisdom will soon dawn on these politicians and leaders of the red shirts, and they realise that real democratic change and reconciliation cannot be achieved by sowing the seeds of violence and hatred among the populace.  [here is irrelevant conclusion fallacy – “an argument, given in reply, that does not address the original issue. Critically, a red herring is a deliberate attempt to change the subject or divert the argument. ]

This is a good example of “Appeal to masses”  fallacy:  impliying that “everybody knows” , or “many people know”  etc.  which is not necessary true (there si no evidence of how many people even know that, what to speak – agree with that)  and also it doesn’t necessarily make the conclusion true  (if everyone will commit suicide by jumping from the roof – does that mean I also have to do the same because everybody / many do that ?)

There are also many other fallacies regularly employed as :

Argument from ignorance (or argumentum ad ignorantiam /”appeal to ignorance”) –  is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false, or is false only because it has not been proven true.

Special pleading – a form of spurious argumentation where a position in a dispute introduces favorable details or excludes unfavorable details by alleging a need to apply additional considerations without proper criticism of these considerations themselves. Essentially, this involves someone attempting to cite something as an exemption to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exemption. [as  very beloved by Thai media and academics argument about “Thainess” – that Thailand is very unique and can’t be properly understood by foreigners; or another favorite argument, especially by PAD, that real Democracy is not fit for Thailand ! 🙂 ] The lack of criticism may be a simple oversight (e.g., a reference to common sense) or an application of a double standard. [oops ! this last one is too familiar ]

Appeal to tradition (Argumentum ad antiquitatem) – I think this one doesn’t need special introduction, it is too evident and too oftenly used !

Appeal to Masses (Argumentum ad populum) – a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges that “If many believe so, it is so.”  This type of argument is known by several names[1], including appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people, argument by consensus, authority of the many, and bandwagon fallacy, and in Latin by the names argumentum ad populum (“appeal to the people”), argumentum ad numerum (“appeal to the number”), and consensus gentium (“agreement of the clans”).

Appeal to emotion –  Appeal to emotion is a fallacy which uses the manipulation of the recipient’s emotions, rather than valid logic, to win an argument. This kind of appeal to emotion is a type of red herring and encompasses several logical fallacies, including:

also there are few other “Appeal to … ”  fallacies.

Misleading vividness –  The logical fallacy of misleading vividness involves describing an occurrence in vivid detail, even if it is an exceptional occurrence, to convince someone that it is a problem. Although misleading vividness does little to support an argument logically, it can have a very strong psychological effect because of a cognitive heuristic called the availability heuristic.  [this one was often seen on Nation newspaper – like last week their starting page had too overly dramatic  posters-like titles as “Bloodshed …” etc.]  This fallacy is a kind of hasty generalization when an inductive generalization is a necessary premise and a single (albeit vivid) example is not sufficient to support such a generalization.

Attack on person”  doesn’t even requires to be mentioned at all – all Thai media, government PR stunts and  especially PAD  propaganda are full of it.

Of course, fallacies are very much used  by many people and not only by Thai media – forign media is also full of it.  However present “Media war” by Thai government, along with rigid censorship and Propaganda  – all of this magnifies  those fallacies  many times, and their usage has become something like a norm to achieve the goals of  all these efforts  !

Fortunately more people start being aware of these fallacies and expose them. I see quite often on many blogs some comments  mentioning one or other fallacy.  let’s hope that more and more honest reporters, intellectuals,  academics and citizen journalists will emerge to confront such shameless purposeful twisting of truth through such fallacies.

Perhaps someday someone may establish some sort of   “Fallacy Watch”   – to  examine all the fallacies  in Thai Media.  Meanwhile  it is up to individuals to watch out for such misleading fallacies and  avoid being fooled by them.


April 25, 2009 - Posted by | Ajarns-watch, Fallacies in Thai Media, Media Control, Propaganda, Thai MSM | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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