As a person who has always been interested in science, and one who has only relatively recently taken an active interest in politics, it has become very clear to me that what we lack, as a voting public, is a respect for critical thinking.
Political issues differ from scientific issues in that scientists always hold out for the possibility that they could be wrong. Politicians and pundits latch on to a set of ideas and ride it into oblivion like Major Kong riding the bomb in "Dr. Strangelove". When faced with evidence that an accepted theory may be wrong, or may have shortcomings, scientists mobilize to find more evidence - not just in the affirmative, but evidence that would negate what they believe. Politicians and pundits suffer from confirmation bias to an extreme degree, looking only for the rhetoric and semantic distortions that support their cause.
I've had a book for years now called "Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine. I read it once, back then, but as of late have been re-reading it, but this time with political thought and rhetoric in mind.
Dr. Shermer doesn't write about politics. His focus is more on understanding why people are so gullible. Shermer writes about 25 types of fallacy, and explains each one, giving an example of how this is seen in popular culture.
Since writing an article months ago on the relatively new phenomenon of ionic foot baths to remove "toxins", I must say that I've either seen or unwittingly participated in nearly every type of fallacy.
Since the days of Aristotle, people have tried to classify types of fallacy. Depending on who you ask, there are up to 32 common types of fallacy.
I won't list all of the fallacies here at this time, but here are a few links:
The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe Top 20 Logical Fallacies
Colorado University: 18 Types of Fallacies for Writers
The Nizkor Project: 32 Types of Fallacy
Critical Thinking on the Web: Fallacy Directory
Nearly all of the types of fallacy apply not just to science, but to politics, consumer choices, and just daily life.
Honestly, I feel fortunate to have come upon this book once again, and to have been reminded of the obstacles to truth-seeking. It's awful hard to find good answers to anything these days. You can be sure that almost everything that you think you believe has intense proponents and detractors ready to sway anyone who will listen. It's good to have a toolset to help you pinpoint why it is that something you're reading or hearing just doesn't sound right.
Having read all this, and planning to study more, I know already that my editorial-writing will improve. Dear readers, I hope that you'll take some time when you get a chance, grab a cup of coffee, and pick one of the links above to read about fallacy. You'll begin to view ads and political speech in a new light.