Logical Gal falls prey to Appeal to Authority Fallacy

30 Oct

The other day I entered into discussion with an acquaintance about a controversial topic.  I couldn’t really think on my feet to offer a substantive reason why I disagreed with him.  Automatically, without consciously making a decision, I found myself falling back on a fallacy!  I appealed to a respected and well-known pastor who shares my belief.  “You know that So-and-so believes the way I do.  And he’s a biblically-minded Christian!”   (” So there! ”  I almost added)

Whether the authority we appeal to is respected in the field or just famous (Oprah is an expert talk show host – she holds no PhD in nutrition), we weaken our position when we  bypass reasoned discourse.  Citing someone who shares our views is NO substitute for argumentation.  This practice does not advance our point of view.  We give the appearance of  having no reasons for our assertion.  Our opponent should push back gently and retort, ” So what if Nobel Prize winner Professor John Doe of Ivy League reputation agrees with you.  Why do YOU think that X is better than Y?????”

Plenty of companies earmark advertising funds to pay celebrities for promoting their products.  Name recognition undoubtedly  helps build consumer confidence.  After all, if a football player uses this cologne, or a big name relies on a particular cell phone service, then these items must be okay, after all.

Short of the cachet or approval that comes from celebrity transfer, how can we promote a product or our point of view?

The old-fashioned way  – with reason.

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