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This is more of a persuasion/manipulation tactic I see mostly media outlets employ. Linking is the name I came up with to describe when something is intentionally associated with something else to change your perception of one of those things. This isn't an association fallacy where someone says that a quality of one thing must apply to another just because they both share a similar quality or belief. An example of an association fallacy would be that Jim has a mustache, Adolf Hitler also had a mustache, therefore Jim's a Nazi. It's a fallacy because it doesn't logically follow that mustaches are the connecting source of Nazism. No, the "Linking" trick is more of an irrelevant but true association to shift your judgment or perceptions on one of both of the things associated with each other. For example, saying Jim has a Hitler-style mustache. In this case Jim isn't explicitly being called a Nazi, he's just being associated with the founder of Nazism. Ultimately this is different from an association fallacy because an association fallacy is attempting to make an argument. Whereas "Linking" is simply stating it as a non-argument, usually in the form of an adjective or prior description, but with the hopes that others change their views on the subject, hence Jim being a Nazi.

For real world examples I'm going to have to jump into the world of media and politics. Please, let's not turn this into a political pow wow, let's keep it civil.

For example, CNBC had an article titled "Trump-endorsed 'Sound of Freedom' has outgrossed 'Mission: Impossible,' 'The Flash'"

The key words being "Trump-endorsed". Although it's true that Trump did endorse the movie after its July 4th release, it wasn't necessary to mention that. By associating the movie with Trump, this would change how Democrats or non-Trump supporting Republicans and Independents would judge this movie. This is almost certainly being done on purpose. This is not an association fallacy because it's not attempting to connect dots where they don't exist. They are simply slapping one party-affiliated figure's name next to a movie so that members of the opposite party don't want to watch it.

Imagine if Fox News wrote a piece called "the viewership rate of the Clinton-backed Madam Secretary TV series" or "the success of the Biden-watched Tiger King documentary." Hillary Clinton does like Madam Secretary and the Biden's did watch the Tiger King Documentary, but linking them to these forms of entertainment, when you're supposed to be covering the views or success of the show instead, will lead Republicans to mentally associate it with Democrats and not want to watch.

What I'm looking for is if there is a name for this persuasive/manipulation trick I've described. Also if any research has been done on it. I know this is a bit of a long shot with this example, but I see this implemented by almost every media outlet in this country. So I'm curious.

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  • Broadly referred to as framing.
    – g s
    Aug 8, 2023 at 21:19
  • This is not necessarily a manipulation trick. What is or is not "necessary" to mention is in the eye of the beholder (up to editorial discretion), omitting some (true) information can be seen as manipulative just as well. When it is intended to produce "guilt by association", it is just the association fallacy. That the conclusion is only insinuated and not spelled out does not make any material difference. Insinuation by loaded wording in political messaging is sometimes called dog whistle.
    – Conifold
    Aug 8, 2023 at 21:40
  • i suppose it falls under uses and misuses of oratory language
    – user67155
    Aug 9, 2023 at 11:47
  • Propaganda is the word.
    – user64314
    Aug 9, 2023 at 16:22

2 Answers 2

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The "Linking" trick looks like a form of "framing" or "association bias."

Framing refers to the way information is presented to influence perception. In your examples, the media outlets are framing the movies or TV shows in a specific context (i.e., endorsed or watched by a particular political figure) in order to shape the audience's perception of the content.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_(social_sciences)

Association bias, or the "halo effect" and "horns effect," refers to the human tendency to allow one trait, such as a political affiliation, to overshadow other traits, behaviors, actions, or beliefs. For instance, if a viewer has a negative view of Trump, they might form a negative view of a movie he endorsed, even if the movie itself has no political content or bias (horns effect). The same can be said about the halo effect.

https://www.simplypsychology.org/halo-effect.html

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"Jim has a Hitler-style moustache" can still be seen an informal association fallacy.

In casual speech, people tend not to make formal arguments, and they frequently make use of implication to make points. So implying a fallacious argument would still be fallacious.

It might also not be an association fallacy, depending on what exactly it's trying to imply. One could say something similar to imply that Jim has an odd fashion sense, or just as a shorthand to describe Jim's appearance: Hitler has a very distinctive moustache and is very well-known, so that is an easy, if not all that flattering, way to describe such a moustache.

That said, given that implication is not-rarely open to interpretation, it can be hard pin someone down on such an implication, and it may make more sense to get them to just explicitly clarify why they're making that association and have them explicitly admit that it has nothing to do with Jim being a Nazi or Nazi-like (or they might explicitly commit to claiming that Jim is a Nazi, at which point you can clarify what this is based on, aside from the moustache, and take it from there). Side note: naming fallacies would typically not be all that effective in casual conversation, and it's better to point out why whatever fallacy they're committing is a problem.


"Trump-endorsed Sound of Freedom" doesn't sound all that similar to "Biden-watched Tiger King". There isn't really an association between Tiger King and political views, as far as I know. Whereas the idea of the former is a shorthand to point out that the movie features political ideas proclaimed by and associated with Trump (e.g. QAnon), in addition to being made by people with such ideas, and presumably for being endorsed by Trump (through, e.g., hosting a private screeing) largely or specifically for this reason. See, e.g., Wikipedia:

While the film does not mention any QAnon conspiracy theories, some critics and anti-trafficking experts have opined that the film embellishes the reality of child exploitation and stokes QAnon conspiracy theories, referring to a "belief that a core group of devil-worshiping elite run the world". Both Ballard and star Caviezel have been public about their belief in conspiracy theories of the QAnon movement.

On NPR's All Things Considered, Mike Rothschild, author of The Storm Is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything, argued that the film is "being marketed to QAnon believers, it's being embraced by this community, and its leading actor is a huge part of the QAnon community".

Disclaimer: I have not seen the movie, nor have I listened to any review, one way or the other, from a trusted source (or from any source, really). So I can neither endorse nor refute this view. I'm merely pointing out why people seem to be calling it "Trump-endorsed".

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    As an intellectual exercise in exactly what the op is referring to, I would suggest reading your own quotation, slowly, and considering whether the exact same statement could have been written about any other movie with any pertinence whatsoever to child exploitation.
    – g s
    Aug 9, 2023 at 16:35
  • @gs I did say I can't endorse nor refute that view. Also, if other movies have similar plots, that would probably be cherry picking rather than a fallacious association. In any case, while many action movies embellishes reality, and a handful involve ultra-powerful secret organisations, I can't think of one movie off hand featuring devil-worshippers running the world (never mind that most movies involving devil-worshippers are fantasy/horror, rather than action), and it really depends on what is being embellished and how. Much of the quote also mentions more direct links to QAnon.
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 9, 2023 at 17:02
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    Read it again. Do a 9th grade sentence diagram if you have to. The antecedent of the devil worshipping is the belief which, per the quote, the movie does not mention, but which "some have opined" that the film "stokes".
    – g s
    Aug 9, 2023 at 17:21
  • @gs If you don't think that sentence has a valid interpreted of "stokes QAnon conspiracy theories by referring to...", then you're arguably the one who needs to work on their reading comprehension. To work with your interpretation, I'd argue that "which refer" or at least removing the comma would make far more sense. Although semantically, your interpretation would be odd, given the double-indirection that is "referring to a belief". So your condescending attempt to teach me English fails in every way. Although you could've just pointed to the cited reference to support your case.
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 9, 2023 at 18:41

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