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Spin Doctoring

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(also known as: spinning)

Description: Presenting information in a deceptive way that results in others interpreting the information in such a way that does not reflect reality but is how you want the information to be interpreted.

Logical Form:

X represents reality.

Information is presented in such a way that Y appears to represent reality.

Example #1:

Senator Elizabeth Warren was recently under attack because it was discovered that the men on her staff were paid, on average, considerably more than the women on her staff—an issue that Warren has campaigned on many times. While the facts are true (men are paid more on her staff), in many analyses, relevant data was excluded such as the criteria necessary to prove the claim that women on Senator Warren's staff were paid less than their male counterparts for equivalent work [1]. In fairness to some conservative outlets that reported this story, some used this as an example to show that there is more to the story than just raw numbers.

Example #2:

Simon: It is pretty darn clear that God is against homosexuality. According to Leviticus 20:13, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.”

Bret: You don't understand. This was before Jesus. After Jesus, God was okay with it. Besides, these were specific instructions to a specific people during a specific historical period.

Explanation: Very often, people's ideas of God are a result of their values, not the other way around. This is made clear by the cultural shifts on moral issues that correlate with people's interpretation of the Bible (one example being Christian's views on homosexuality). Bret may genuinely believe his narrative, but it was most likely a result of the spin doctoring of another person or organization.

Exception: They are situations where there is no objective truth to a view and data can be looked in multiple ways, such as the classic "is the glass-half-full or half-empty" question.

Tip: Consider the source's biases. This will help with detecting spin doctoring.

References:

This a logical fallacy frequently used on the Internet. No academic sources could be found.

1 Elizabeth Warren Pays Female Staffers Less Than Their Male Counterparts? (2017, April 6). Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://www.snopes.com/elizabeth-warren-staff-pay/



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