Appeal to Belief (Ad Populum)

Aurora Australis

Appeal to Belief (Ad Populum)

According to Conway and Munson, this fallacy consists in asserting that a claim is true because people generally believe it is. This type of inference is in error because there is no reason to take what most persons believe as a reliable indicator of what is true. Conway and Munson (1997: 127). The authors note that the most common use of this fallacy is to have the premise that most persons in the world believe in God. The conclusion being that it must be true that God exists. Conway and Munson (1997: 127).

Even if it is true that most persons in the world believe in God, it does not suffice for evidence for God’s existence. I can ask; ‘Which God'? Revelation from God in our actual world can serve as one indicator of God’s existence, and natural theology and philosophical deductions concerning God can serve as another indicator of God’s existence. These two indicators could serve as premises in a formulation of an argument with a conclusion that God exists, and these are not merely appeals to popular opinion. Within Christian tradition an appeal to revealed Scripture is an appeal to documented historical interaction between God and persons, and with natural theology and philosophy, the existence of God is reasoned through deduced concepts concerning reality, which are reasoned to point toward the existence of a first cause creator.

CONWAY DAVID A. AND RONALD MUNSON (1997) The Elements of Reasoning, Wadsworth Publishing Company, New York.

From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, California State University

Appeal to the People

If you suggest too strongly that someone's claim or argument is correct simply because it's what most everyone believes, then you've committed the fallacy of appeal to the people. Similarly, if you suggest too strongly that someone's claim or argument is mistaken simply because it's not what most everyone believes, then you've also committed the fallacy. Agreement with popular opinion is not necessarily a reliable sign of truth, and deviation from popular opinion is not necessarily a reliable sign of error, but if you assume it is and do so with enthusiasm, then you're guilty of committing this fallacy. It is also called mob appeal, appeal to the gallery, argument from popularity, and argumentum ad populum. The 'too strongly' is important in the description of the fallacy because what most everyone believes is, for that reason, somewhat likely to be true, all things considered. However, the fallacy occurs when this degree of support is overestimated.


You should turn to channel 6. It's the most watched channel this year.

This is fallacious because of its implicitly accepting the questionable premise that the most watched channel this year is, for that reason alone, the best channel for you.


Some fun paraphrased statements

From a church acquaintance friend in the church eating area:

She: I am really concerned about you. If you do not %#@%&^ buy that CPAP machine soon for your sleep apnea, and you die, I will be angry with you forever in heaven.

She had asked me out for lunch a couple of times previously and I had said sure, but I did not follow up with it. I think I was on to something…

Two women my friend and I met in Manhattan on a date via Christian Cafe:

She: You (me) are quite normal, but your friend (Documentary Man from England) is like a talking Encyclopedia.

Chatting with a woman on Yahoo Messenger from Asia:

She: I want to spend more time with you.

Me: Sorry this is Yahoo Messenger and I have a PhD to finish, but I do like being friends.

Chatting on Yahoo Messenger and MSN with a woman in Africa:

She: You should move to my African country (she has asked me more than once over the years), as you will be treated like royalty here.

Me: Sorry, I am strictly a first world type of guy, especially after four degrees as a full-time student without full-time income. I am not going to live in the third world, God willing.

Chatting with a woman on MSN after one local date:

She: Now I require that you tell me five things you remember about me from our date. You must get these right.

Me (thinking): You are out of here…

On a date from someone from Vancouver Island :

Me: I collect some live bootleg albums of live performances.

She: I really hate more than one version of one song, ever.

She makes a big deal of this issue.

Me (thinking): We are done…hooray.

An email from a Eastern European scammer:

She (after I blew the whistle): I love you.

Me: Boy, I must be really special!

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