Argumentum ad populum
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Argumentum ad populum ("argument from popular appeal", "appeal to the majority") is a logical fallacy whereby a proposition is claimed to be true because it is believed by large numbers of people.
- "Fifty million Elvis fans can't be wrong." (See also Wikipedia:50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong.)
- "All US presidents have been Christians. Maybe such a prestigious group of people is onto something."
- "90% of the people in the world believe in God. Are you saying that all of them are wrong?"
Argumentum ad populum comes in two varieties:
- The first is to argue from sheer numbers: "Everyone knows X, so X must be true".
- This argument is appealing because in many cases, what "everyone knows" is true: the Sun rises in the east, not the south; grass is green; and George Washington was the first President of the United States.
- This is effective because it pressures people to be "normal". People have a desire to be like their peers. Thus tactics involving alienation are often used to bully people into submission, this is often a sign of a bad argument.
- The second variety is "snob appeal": A proposition is claimed to be true because it is believed by an elite or distinguished group of people.
- This argument often appears in advertising, (e.g., "Z Cola: The official soft drink of the Big-Time Sports Event").