Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Fallacy of Accent

The fallacy of accent is a favourite of connoisseurs of informal fallacies. The classic example runs as follows.

It is the story of the captain and the first mate. The captain, a stout teetotaler, and the first mate, an inveterate old toper, got along miserably on board. Exasperated with his bibulous subaltern, the captain entered the following in the log: ‘The mate was drunk today’. The mate discovered this and got his own back by recording, when it was his turn to enter the log: ‘The captain was sober today’.

More sinister is the caption under a photograph of two women in chador and sunglasses, laughing at the camera: Not gloom and doom all the time. The implication of gloom and doom almost every living second (except when photographed by a western journalist) in a Muslim country is artfully suppressed.
The most recent example I’ve found is from the inside pages of The Economist (25th April 2009):

“Globalisation, of course, requires global news. But Sir John[Maddox] was equal to that. Henry Gee, another protégé, recalls a trick that Sir John called the “Afghanistan Effect”. “You write a little news story that says that nothing much has happened in Afghanistan, and people think ‘Goodness! Nature has coverage of Afghanistan’.”

If the reader finds any other instances of the fallacy of accent, please do let me know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello,nice post thanks for sharing?. I just joined and I am going to catch up by reading for a while. I hope I can join in soon.