We have seen that rhetoric (both marketing and propaganda) is irrational to the degree that it violates one or more of six criteria: evidence based; truthful; logical; targeted rightly; not coercive; and transparent. In our handout, we said that by “not evidence based” we mean cases of mere repetition of the message, plus loaded question, question-begging (loaded) language, pooh-poohing, shifting the burden of proof, and purely pictorial appeals to hate, pity, fear (scare tactics), and the crowd. That is, we include the fallacies where not even a small amount of evidence (information) is offered. On the other hand, we mean by “not logical” cases where some evidence is given, but it is woefully insufficient, including: hasty generalization; false analogy; accident; bad appeal to authority; false cause; composition; division; equivocation, and verbal appeals to hate, pity, fear, and the crowd. We include as “coercive” appeals to fear that are direct threats (though there are many other ways for coercion to be used). And we include as “not transparent” cases of accent (though there are other ways ads can fail to be transparent).

This means that as a practical matter, most irrational marketing in America (which does have a truth in advertising law) will be failures to give evidence or giving evidence that is logically flawed. Less common, though still common, are failures to be transparent. Direct threats are rare, so coercive ads are relatively rare. Again, since major lies are illegal, untruthful ads are relatively rare.

For each of the following ads/sales tactics below, say why it shouldn’t persuade you to buy and what rule (or rules) of rational rhetoric is/are broken.