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Peter's logical fallacies
- Subject: Peter's logical fallacies
- From: email@example.com (Yuri Kuchinsky)
- Date: 20 Jan 1997 20:08:42 GMT
- Distribution: world
- Followup-To: sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology,sci.anthropology
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Peter van Rossum (email@example.com) wrote:
: Marc, Yuri has already been invited on two separate occasions by
: archaeologists (myself and Paul Pettennude) to join us in the field.
: He never responded which I take to be a clear sign of his unwillingness
: to accompany anyone. Its very clear that Yuri has no intentions of
: finding out about how real archaeologists do their work. That would
: simply take too much time away from lounging in an easy chair
: whining about how people just don't understand him. If he actually
: went to the field he'd realize just what a complete buffoon he makes
: of himself when he talks of archaeologists missing/covering up
: corn cobs and chicken bones. On second thought I think I'm mistaken
: I don't believe Yuri would ever realize what an ass he's made of himself
: with such tripe - he's too deluded to ever let reality slip in.
How nice of you, Peter. I know you like me so much.
What Peter trots out here are obvious logical fallacies -- more than one.
The main one is _argumentum ad populum_, also known as the "bandwagon
fallacy". "Us, the professional archaeologists vs. them the ignorant, who
should shut up immediately".
Also Peter plays up the "appeal to emotions" fallacy. "Us, the
professionals, are insulted by the unprofessionals who are casting doubt
on our professionalism". The enemy must be attacked by all the
professionals who need defend their honour. These rhetorical tricks are
I am generally not interested in the question whether or not
archaeologists as a group are good or bad or honest or dishonest or
professional or otherwise. This way silliness lies. How can one
generalize in such a way?
Also, I'm far -- very far indeed -- from making a claim that just because
certain evidence was not found by archaeologists, therefore we can make
such and such conclusions -- either about the archaeologists as a group,
or about the theories that the above evidence was meant to prove (or
disprove). This is a mistake in logic that 1st year students should know
about. Apparently Peter hasn't yet progressed to that stage...
Meanwhile, the substance of the argument is ignored through obfuscation.
Good work, Peter. You proved once again that propaganda does work. And
yet, in the hope that you still have some honesty left in you, I post the
following helpful file that analyses the above fallacies in detail.
The following file is available on the WWW.
Fallacy: Appeal to Popularity
Also Known as: Ad Populum
Description of Appeal to Popularity
The Appeal to Popularity has the following form:
1. Most people approve of X (have favorable emotions towards X).
2. Therefore X is true.
The basic idea is that a claim is accepted as being true simply
because most people are favorably inclined towards the claim. More
formally, the fact that most people have favorable emotions
associated with the claim is substituted in place of actual evidence
for the claim. A person falls prey to this fallacy if he accepts a
claim as being true simply because most other people approve of the
It is clearly fallacious to accept the approval of the majority as
evidence for a claim. For example, suppose that a skilled speaker
managed to get most people to absolutely love the claim that 1+1=3.
It would still not be rational to accept this claim simply because
most people approved of it. After all, mere approval is no substitute
for a mathematical proof. At one time people approved of claims such
as "the world is flat", "humans cannot survive at speeds greater than
25 miles per hour", "the sun revolves around the earth" but all these
claims turned out to be false.
This sort of "reasoning" is quite common and can be quite an
effective persusasive device. Since most humans tend to conform with
the views of the majority, convincing a person that the majority
approves of a claim is often an effective way to get him to accept
it. Advertisers often use this tactic when they attempt to sell
products by claiming that everyone uses and loves their products. In
such cases they hope that people will accept the (purported) approval
of others as a good reason to buy the product.
This fallacy is vaguely similar to such fallacies as Appeal to
Belief and Appeal to Common Practice. However, in the case of an
Ad Populum the appeal is to the fact that most people approve of a
claim. In the case of an Appeal to Belief, the appeal is to the
fact that most people believe a claim. In the case of an Appeal to
Common Practice, the appeal is to the fact that many people take the
action in question.
This fallacy is closely related to the Appeal to Emotion fallacy,
as discussed in the entry for that fallacy.
Examples of Appeal to Popularity
1. "My fellow Americans...there has been some talk that the
government is overstepping its bounds by allowing police to enter
peoples' homes without the warrants traditionally required by the
Constitution. However, these are dangerous times and dangerous
times require appropriate actions. I have in my office thousands
of letters from people who let me know, in no uncertain terms,
that they heartily endorse the war against crime in these United
States. Because of this overwhelming approval, it is evident that
the police are doing the right thing."
2. "I read the other day that most people really like the new gun
control laws. I was sort of suspicious of them, but I guess if
most people like them, then they must be okay."
3. Jill and Jane have some concerns that the rules their sorority
has set are racist in character. Since Jill is a decent person,
she brings her concerns up in the next meeting. The president of
the sorority assures her that there is nothing wrong with the
rules, since the majority of the sisters like them. Jane accepts
this ruling but Jill decides to leave the sorority.
The Nizkor Project
Content © Copyright 1995 Michael C. Labossiere
July 18, 1996
=O= Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto =O=
--- a webpage like any other... http://www.io.org/~yuku ---
*** PLEASE NOTE *** my Address and Webpage Location to change soon ***
this address will remain valid: firstname.lastname@example.org
We should always be disposed to believe that that which
appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the
Church so decides === St. Ignatius of Loyola