Logic Me This: Ad Populum
Logic Me This is a regular series on Teen Skepchick where we examine various logical fallacies in an attempt to help you think more like a skeptic.
Ad Populum, or Argument from Popularity is the fallacy this week. Which is, um, easy. Just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s right. I’m going to throw around a few examples.
*Just because lots of people are racist, does that mean racism is right? Or homophobia is popular, so it is right to be a homophobe.
*Lots of girls at my university wear black puffer-jackets and their hair in a top-knot. It is very popular. Does not necessarily mean it is a good thing to wear. In my opinion, anyhow.
*Historically speaking, in the 1800s bloodletting was thought by most a very good thing to do. Well, we know quite conclusively nowadays that this is not true. Or once upon a time everybody thought that the sun revolved around the earth. Or a whole host of other funny notions that we now know are not true, but were once considered fact because, well, lots of people believed in them.
*I have a friend who likes to say that because so many people believe in Christianity, and it has lasted so long, then it must be true, and the bible must be the Word of God. Well, no, sorry. You’re going to have to give me a bit more evidence than that. To quote Tim Minchin, “I don’t believe that just because ideas are tenacious, it means that they’re worthy”
And actually, Rebecca Watson pretty much explained this fallacy awesomely a little while ago: