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Selective Attention

Description: Focusing your attention on certain aspects of the argument while completely ignoring or missing other parts.  This usually results in irrelevant rebuttals, strawman fallacies, and unnecessarily drawn-out arguments.

Example #1:

News Anchor on TV: The Dow Jones was up 200 points today, NASDAQ closed up 120 points, unemployment is and has been declining steadily, but foreclosures have not budged.

Jimbo: Did you hear that?  Our economy is in the crapper!

Explanation: While there are many problems with the reasoning of Jimbo, due to his selective attention, and possible pessimism when it comes to the economy, he did not let the good news register and/or did not take that information into consideration before concluding that our economy is still in the “crapper”, based on that one piece of news on foreclosures.

Example #2: Most of us are guilty of selective attention when the information is about us.  We tend to embrace the information that makes us feel good and ignore the information that does not.

Exception: Ignoring irrelevant information is a good thing when evaluating arguments.  The key is to know what is irrelevant.


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

Registered User Comments

Krista Neckles
Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 08:19:02 PM
Hello Sir,

What is the difference between the selective attention fallacy and the cherry picking fallacy? I notice similarities.

Thank You Sir

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, June 01, 2018 - 06:23:55 AM
Selective attention is generally an automatic/unconscious process where one party is involved (the one who perceives of the information). Cherry picking is generally deliberate with two parties involved.

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Krista Neckles
Friday, June 01, 2018 - 06:48:31 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thank you Sir.

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