Political Campaign Ads

Writing Assignment

Ethics and Critical Thinking

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1. Choose three political campaign ads.

a. You may use any ad you like, but you must cite the source properly.

b. This website is a good starting place (feel free to use any from this list of ten, aside from the Daisy ad that I use in the example below). https://www.nj.com/politics/2016/05/from_a_little_girl_to_a_big_bird_10_great_political_attack_ads.html

2. For each ad, do the following:

a. Describe what’s going on in the ad.

b. Explain what the ad’s conclusion is, either explicitly stated or implied.

c. Identify the “reason” given by the ad for this conclusion.

d. Show how this reason qualifies as a logical fallacy according to the various definitions of logical fallacies contained in our lecture.

3. You must identify three different fallacies (i.e. all three ads can’t be appeal to emotion).

Basic Requirements:

1. 12-point, readable font.

2. 1-inch margins.

3. Double-spaced.

4. 600-900 words (about 200-300 words per ad).

5. .docx format (the standard Word format).

A few notes:

1. I will be on the lookout for plagiarism, and will fail anyone who plagiarizes even a small amount of material.

2. Make sure you cite your sources as I have in my example.

3. Check carefully for spelling and grammatical errors. You will be penalized for lack of clarity.

4. There’s no need for an introduction or conclusion – what I’m interested in is not a narrative but rather a point by point breakdown of the ad and how it qualifies as a fallacy.

5. Remember that simply saying something false does not constitute a fallacy – it must be a bad pattern of reasoning, where the ad gives you some bad reason for its conclusion.

6. I will grade this paper based on three criteria:

a. The clarity of your writing.

b. How well you demonstrate an understanding of the fallacies.

c. How well you demonstrate the ability to apply this understanding to the ads you’ve picked.

7. See the next page for an example analysis of one ad.

Three Fallacies in Three Ads

Daisy (just for reference)

The Daisy ad begins with a slow pan toward a small child counting petals as she rips them from a flower. Birds chirp in the bucolic background, establishing her innocence and vulnerability. Halfway through the ad, her voice is replaced by the countdown for a nuclear test, booming through a loudspeaker. The screen freezes as she looks up, and rapidly zooms in on a still image of her eye. As the nuclear countdown reaches zero, the ad cuts to a nuclear explosion and the resulting fallout. Lyndon Johnson’s voice is heard over the destruction: “These are the stakes. To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.”

This iconic ad states its conclusion quite plainly at the end, as another voiceover tells the viewer directly that they should “vote for President Johnson on November 3rd.” The reason for this conclusion is also directly stated in the ad: “[t]he stakes are too high for you to stay home.” Given the ad’s content, however, the most compelling support for this conclusion is not simply the rational point that the stakes are too high to sit this election out. Including an image of a vulnerable child and a nuclear explosion is aimed at arousing the viewer’s emotions—in particular, fear. The ad preys on the natural feeling of protectiveness we have toward young children rather than giving us rational support for the claim that we ought to vote for President Johnson. As a result, this ad commits the fallacy of appeal to emotion, as it provides an argument that “appeals to one’s feelings, rather providing reasons for its conclusion.”

Ad Name #2

[Description of ad, identification of ad’s conclusion, identification of ad’s reasons for conclusion, demonstration of how these reasons constitute a given fallacy.]

Ad Name #3

[Description of ad, identification of ad’s conclusion, identification of ad’s reasons for conclusion, demonstration of how these reasons constitute a given fallacy.]

Bibliography [No need to cite my lecture]

Salant, J. (2016, May 12). 10 of the nastiest political attack ads of all time. Retrieved June 24, 2020, from NJ.com website: https://www.nj.com/politics/2016/05/from_a_little_girl_to_a_big_bird_10_great_political_attack_ads.html. For more information on Political Campaign Ads checkout this: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Daisy-campaign-advertisement

Political Campaign Ads

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