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Logical  Fallacy: a error in reasoning
  (adj)     (noun)

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Statement #123 Discussion

This Example Has Been Deactivated
2 comments (1 thead)
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Below is the statement as it appears with the fallacy marked as correct. You can see the totals of most frequent responses to this statement. And after reading the any discussion going on below, you can select your choice(s) for the correct answer. For now, whoever posts each statement can update corrections.
How could so many people believe in leprechauns if they're only a silly old superstition?
Appeal to Popularity
Ad Populum

Category: Fallacies of Relevance (Red Herrings)

The Appeal to Popularity has the following form:

  1. Most people approve of X (have favorable emotions towards X).
  2. Therefore X is true.
The basic idea is that a claim is accepted as being true simply because most people are favorably inclined towards the claim. More formally, the fact that most people have favorable emotions associated with the claim is substituted in place of actual evidence for the claim. A person falls prey to this fallacy if he accepts a claim as being true simply because most other people approve of the claim.

It is clearly fallacious to accept the approval of the majority as evidence for a claim. For example, suppose that a skilled speaker managed to get most people to absolutely love the claim that 1+1=3. It would still not be rational to accept this claim simply because most people approved of it. After all, mere approval is no substitute for a mathematical proof. At one time people approved of claims such as "the world is flat", "humans cannot survive at speeds greater than 25 miles per hour", "the sun revolves around the earth" but all these claims turned out to be false.

This sort of "reasoning" is quite common and can be quite an effective persuasive device. Since most humans tend to conform with the views of the majority, convincing a person that the majority approves of a claim is often an effective way to get him to accept it. Advertisers often use this tactic when they attempt to sell products by claiming that everyone uses and loves their products. In such cases they hope that people will accept the (purported) approval of others as a good reason to buy the product.

This fallacy is vaguely similar to such fallacies as Appeal to Belief and Appeal to Common Practice. However, in the case of an Ad Populum the appeal is to the fact that most people approve of a claim. In the case of an Appeal to Belief, the appeal is to the fact that most people believe a claim. In the case of an Appeal to Common Practice, the appeal is to the fact that many people take the action in question.

This fallacy is closely related to the Appeal to Emotion fallacy, as discussed in the entry for that fallacy.

Click For Fallacy Description

 164 Total Answer Attempts   35%
 58 Correctly Popped Fallacies
 106 Incorrectly Un/Popped
posted by wikiworldorder     
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Most Common Responses

 
58 - Appeal to Popularity
14 - Appeal to Ridicule
9 - Biased Generalization
9 - Appeal to Tradition
6 - Begging the Question
6 - Appeal to Novelty
6 - Peer Pressure
5 - Appeal to Belief
5 - Appeal to Spite
5 - Red Herring
4 - False Dilemma
4 - Appeal to the Consequences of a Belief
4 - Poisoning the Well
4 - Appeal to Common Practice
3 - Hasty Generalization
3 - Confusing Cause and Effect
3 - Post Hoc
2 - Fallacy of Composition
2 - Guilt by Association
2 - Genetic Fallacy
2 - Relativist Fallacy
1 - Middle Ground
1 - Fallacy of Division
1 - Misleading Vividness
1 - Ignoring a Common Cause
1 - Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
1 - Personal Attack
1 - Special Pleading
1 - Burden of Proof

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Appeal to popularity or belief?
I would say that this was a case of Appeal to Belief. I'm not sure I quite understand the distinction between the fallacies Appeal to Popularity (AtP) and Appeal to Belief (AtB), but they seem similar except for whether most people approve of X or believe in X. AtP: Most people approve of X, therefore X is true. AtB: Most people believe X, therefore X is true. As I read the statement, the implied argument is as follows: 1. Many people believe in the existence of leprechauns. (p) 2a. If leprechauns did not exist, so many people would not believe in their existence. (if not-q then not-p) (Or equivalently: 2b. If so many people believe in the existence of leprechauns, leprechauns must exist. [if p then q]) Therefore: 3. Leprechauns exist. (q) The form of the argument is sound, but the content of 2 is suspect. Now, the content of 2 is the fallacy, but is it AtP or AtB? (Of course, we could also discuss the reasonableness of the content of 1.) I would say that it was AtB. The appeal is to the alleged belief of the masses, not to their favorable attitudes towards this belief. As I see it anyway.

3.30.15 16:47 by StrangerLoop
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Good call, I think you're right on the money, StrangerLoop! It might also have an appeal to ridicule within it. I'm deactivating this one. ;)

3.31.15 07:16 by wikiworldorder
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