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Everybody Knows… Beth Herold
Argumentum ad populum • Translates to : Appeal to the people • “If many believe so, it is so”
About appeals to popularity • This fallacy is used when we urge somebody to accept a claim simple based on the grounds that all of most people believe it. • Just because most people believe in a God, this is not evidence that God exists. Likewise, if most people didn’t believe in God it wouldn’t be evidence that God didn’t exist. • The statement itself could be true or false but if you state it in this way then chances are it won’t lend any credibility to your argument. • In general, when “everyone” who thinks that X is true includes experts about X, then when they think is a good reason to accept X. • Ex. If you are in Boston and several Bostonians tell you that it is illegal to drink beer in their public parks, then you have some reason for think it is true • That being said, it would be incorrect to label as a fallacy any instance in which a person cites people’s belief to establish a point.
Appeal to common practice • Trying to justify or defend an action or practice on the grounds that it is common; • “I shouldn’t get a speeding ticket because everybody drives over the limit” • Although, this could be used as a plea for equal treatment. If a person were to say: “I know this is wrong but it would be unfair single me out”
Appeal to tradition • People do things because that’s the way things have always been done. • You cannot prove that a claim is legitimate on the basis of tradition. • For Example, Hazing in Fraternities • There has not been a defense for this practice that amount to anything more then an appeal to tradition.
This could be compared to… • Groupthink – substituting pride of membership in a group for reason and deliberation in arriving at a position on an issue. • “As any red-blooded American patriot knows…”
Example 1: • Bud: So, Here’s the deal. I’ll arrange to have your car ”stolen”, and we’ll split the proceeds from selling it to a disposer. Then you file a claim with your insurance company and collect from it. • Lou: Gee, this sounds seriously illegal and dangerous. • Bud: Illegal, yeah, but do you think this is the first time an insurance company ever had this happen? Why, they actually expect it – they even budget money exactly for this sort of thing.
Example 2: • Former presidential chief of staff John Sanunu was charged with using Air Force executive jets for frequent trips to vacation spots. In a letter to a newsmagazine, a writer observed, “What’s all the fuss about? If everybody is doing it, why get excited about Sununu?” • Appeal to Common Practice
Example 3: • “Smoking a cigarette takes seven minutes off you life”