The Texas sharpshooter fallacy refers to the idea that people refuse to focus on certain information while ignoring other information all together. It got its name through the idea of a Texas man shooting a side of a barn several times and then drawing a target wherever the most bullets clustered.
An example of this fallacy using communication is if Bill says something like, “I love Canada, but hate all Canadians” the Texas sharpshooter fallacy could work in two ways. It could either focus on the positive part of Bill loving Canada and using that to promote Bill by saying, “Bill says he loves Canada, therefore he must love Canadians.” This shows the person ignoring the second part of the statement and instead focusing on the first part and then making a conclusion because of it. It could also work by the same person saying, “Bill said he hates Canadians therefore he hates Canada.” In this instance the person is ignoring the first part of the sentence. This happens commonly in the real world in misquoting by various media quotes by taking a person’s words out of context. Most commonly and most relevantly to current events is the fallacy’s involvement in politics. The media might report that Donald Trump said he will lower taxes or that Bernie Sanders will increase taxes, when in reality Donald trump said that he will lower taxes on corporations and the rich while Bernie sanders said he will raise taxes on the rich and the large corporations. It is pretty obvious how this can be pretty problematic because of the misleading information. Yes, Donald Trump said he would lower taxes, but the givers of the information mislead the receivers by not saying who the taxes will be lowered for. The same thing goes for the Bernie Sanders example. He might have said that he will raise taxes, but it is misleading because the givers once again misled the receivers by not also releasing who was going to have higher taxes.
This fallacy can also come together with another fallacy; the three men make a tiger fallacy, to make the problem even more chaotic. The three men make a tiger essentially says that you may not believe one man, maybe not even two, but you will probably believe three if they all say that a tiger is in the market. In the same example as before, you might not believe one person that Donald Trump will lower taxes (while still not having the other half of the information), you may not even believe two, but if three people who have received this misleading information tell you the same thing you will probably start to agree. So when these two fallacies are stacked upon each other it can cause chaos and even slander in the political races. In this example, not only did three people believe the misleading information from the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy, but they influenced the opinion of another person using the three men make a tiger fallacy. This is a key insight into the problem that occurs during elections. Several people hear misleading information then try to persuade another person even though that person might have seen the incorrectness of the original statement. It is pretty much using peer pressure to influence what people believe, and in these instances the peer pressure is being used in order to make people believe false information. This is especially used by the political campaigns themselves. Campaign managers always try to turn their candidate’s responses positively, sometimes by spinning the information into something completely different than each other. It is quite clear how these fallacies can cause problems in the media.