Nov 23, 2011

Posted by in Fallacy of the Week | 0 Comments

Fallacy of the Week – Faulty Appeal to Authority

Faulty Appeal to Authority _ the endorsement of a position or statement simply based on the social stature of the person making it.

(Opposite of the ad hominem fallacy)

Example:

“My uncle says the earth is flat. He has a PhD in geophysics”.

Not every appeal to authority is faulty. Credible experts in almost every field have proven theories by research and diligent study. However, credentialing by itself doesn’t have bearing on the factual status of a claim.

Some experts are well versed in their area of research, but not in others. For example, it would be unwise to take serious medical advice from someone who never studied it but was highly credentialed in another field.

It’s also wise to take into consideration the worldview of the person stating the claim. What a person thinks is directly connected to how they think. Strong evidence can be pushed aside when it conflicts with one’s worldview.

Usually, with a faulty appeal to authority, the opponent doesn’t have a well informed grasp of the subject at hand and thus you encounter some mention of a “higher” power. Since the “expert” isn’t there to give his evidence and the premise is lofty; the argument becomes moot. This really should be classified as a red herring attempt.

You don’t need alphabet soup behind your name to know the truth. Stay informed and don’t get distracted by a false appeal to authority.

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