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Inappropriate Appeal to Authority Fallacy

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on 16 November 2013

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Transcript of Inappropriate Appeal to Authority Fallacy

Inappropriate Appeal to Authority Fallacy
By Manzurul Haque

Inappropriate Appeal to Authority Fallacy
Definition: The Inappropriate Appeal to Authority Fallacy occurs when an arguer uses a person of authority as evidence for a claim to be true.
Person A is an authority on Subject S.
Person A makes claim C, about S.
Therefore C is true.

“My cousin, Jake is a doctor at St. Barnabas hospital.”
“Jake said that there is a cure to cancer”
“Therefore, it is true that there is a cure to cancer”
Why is it Incorrect?
Relying on what another person's claim is on a particular subject (regardless of whether they are an authority or not) does not provide substantial evidence that the claim is true.
Even if Person A is truly an authority on subject S, that does not mean that they are exempt from making mistakes
McGraw Hill Higher Education Critical Thinking A Student's Introduction text book

What is a fallacy?
Lexical Definition: a mistaken belief, esp. one based on unsound argument.
A logical fallacy is a misconception which results from incorrect reasoning.
When is it incorrect?
Inappropriate Appeal to Authority occurs when Person A, is wrongful deemed an authority of Subject S
For Example
The Appeal to Autority can be considered sound and correct if Person A is truly an authority.

My mother is a Led Zeppelin fan, and she said that the Rolling Stones released Some Girls in the late 1960's."
This is incorrect, becuase being a Led Zeppelin fan, does not make one an expert on The Rolling Stones discography.
Why are people tempted to use this fallacy?
Because the person who is citing Person A, actually believe the claim to be true
Because the person who is citing Person A wants to increase their credibility.
Everyone wants to be right, and citing that someone else agree with a claim, means that you have more people supporting your opinion.
For example
"Maria owns a lot of horses. She says that kicking a horses belly makes the horse speed up. This must be true"

While, Maria's claim may be true, her testimony is not enough evidence to prove it true. Proper evidence would consist of a person actually kicking the horse themself, or watching someone do it. Hearsay cannot be used a substantial evidence.
Another Example
My mother who is a dentist says that all people lose their teeth by the age of 50.
While, dentists tend to be authorities on teeth, Person A in this example still made an incorrect claim, although they truly were an authority.
Examples in media
Full transcript