Appeal to wealth

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Appeal to wealth, also known as the argumentum ad crumenam or the argument to the purse, is the fallacy of concluding that because someone is more wealthy, they must be better, smarter, more moral, or more likely to be correct. Therefore, by corollary of this fallacy, the poor must be somehow inferior to the rich.

This is the opposite of the appeal to poverty.

On Wealth

While there are those that have, through luck and some talent, become the hallowed "rags to riches" tale (e.g. Andrew Carnegie), they are the exception rather than the rule. Usually wealth is made through inheritance and/or an by education given by rich parents. The socioeconomic factors in which you are raised have more effect on your income and lifetime than your intelligence (see George W. Bush).

Examples

  • "Pat Robertson is a Christian minister, look how much money he has! He's obviously doing something right."

Not only does he not tell "true stories", but he is the son of a conservative politician, A. Willis Robertson, and has made much of his $200 million to $1 billion net worth through sucking money out of the fundamentalist Christian population, inheritance from his father, and selling television evangelism stations. The only thing that he's doing "right" is telling a certain part of the population about "problems" and requesting money to "fix" the problem (e.g. homosexuality, baby-eating, secular humanism, etc.).

  • "Many of the richest people in America are Christians-are you telling me they're all wrong?"

A counter-example is Bill Gates, one of the richest people in the world, who also has no official religious affiliation. Beside that, just because someone is wealthy does not mean that they are clear-headed, rational, or anything other than they have a lot more money than the majority of the populace.

Notes

This is a modified argument from authority-someone is important, therefore you should pay attention to them. This principle of argument to the purse is also used in advertising (movie star X is rich and likes product Y-use product Y and you'll become like movie star X).


v · d Logical fallacies
v · d Formal fallacies
Propositional logic   Affirming a disjunct · Affirming the consequent · Argument from fallacy · False dilemma · Denying the antecedent
Quantificational logic   Existential fallacy · Illicit conversion · Proof by example · Quantifier shift
Syllogistic   Affirmative conclusion from a negative premise · Exclusive premises · Necessity · Four-term Fallacy · Illicit major · Illicit minor · Undistributed middle
v · d Faulty generalisations
General   Begging the question · Gambler's fallacy · Slippery slope · Equivocation · argumentum verbosium
Distribution fallacies   Fallacy of composition · Fallacy of division
Data mining   Cherry picking · Accident fallacy · Spotlight fallacy · Hasty generalization · Special pleading
Causation fallacies   Post hoc ergo propter hoc · Retrospective determinism · Suppressed correlative · Wrong direction
Ontological fallacies   Fallacy of reification · Pathetic fallacy · Loki's Wager
v · d False relevance
Appeals   Appeal to authority · Appeal to consequences · Appeal to emotion · Appeal to motive · Appeal to novelty · Appeal to tradition · Appeal to pity · Appeal to popularity · Appeal to poverty · Appeal to spite · Appeal to wealth · Sentimental fallacy · Argumentum ad baculum
Ad hominem   Ad hominem abusive · Reductio ad Hitlerum · Judgmental language · Straw man · Tu quoque · Poisoning the well
Genetic Fallacies   Genetic fallacy · Association fallacy · Appeal to tradition · Texas sharpshooter fallacy
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