Do you watch the news? You know all those Medicare reciepients that are biutching about a government take over of Health care….or all those macho little pricks with their guns worn in public…or maybe elected officials that are spouting fears of socialism or out right lying to stir up the people in opposition to any Dem health care agenda coming out of Washington.
I know….I know all that is old hat….so what is new?
Since most schools have eliminated the teaching of Latin and I do not want my reader to have a brain aneurysm trying to decipher the title of this post….let me help out….”argumentum ad populum”…..In Logic, a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges, “If many believe so, it is so.”
Just where am I going with this? Right? Good question and hopefully you will get your answer.
The idea has many names: appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people, argument by consensus, authority of the many, and bandwagon fallacy,
See what I am saying? The GOP is plying this tactic in the health care debate. That is to use every tactic available to sway a mass amount of people that will make the case for them. It is a fallacious argument at best…but it is effective if one figures in the rational ignorance effect. (for definition, go to my page with the same name).
How about a little clarification?
The argumentum ad populum is a red herring and genetic fallacy. It appeals on probabilistic terms; given that 75% of a population answer A to a question where the answer is unknown, the argument states that it is reasonable to assume that the answer is indeed A. In cases where the answer can be known but is not known by a questioned entity, the appeal to majority provides a possible answer with a relatively high probability of correctness.
It is logically fallacious because the mere fact that a belief is widely held is not necessarily a guarantee that the belief is correct; if the belief of any individual can be wrong, then the belief held by multiple persons can also be wrong. The argument that because 75% of people polled think the answer is A implies that the answer is A fails, for if opinion did determine truth, there be no way to deal with the discrepancy between the 75% of the sample population that believe the answer is A and 25% who are of the opinion that the answer is not A. However small the percentage of those polled is distributed among any remaining answers, this discrepancy by definition disproves any guarantee of the correctness of the majority. In addition, this would be true even if the answer given by those polled were unanimous, as the sample size may be insufficient, or some fact may be unknown to those polled that, if known, would result in a different distribution of answers.
Thanx to wiki for the above definition.
Polls are used in this way….i.e. if the prez has 51% approval down from 56% then the people are losing confidence…..,good work, but that is not necessarily the case. The idea is to make it look as if more people believe in a thing and in doing so, that it is correct and true. Once again , not necessarily so.
People need to check everything they are told…most times it is either misinformnation, taken out of context or an outright LIE!