Fallacies – Argument From Authority (Appeal to Authority or Argumentum Ad Verecundiam)

A claimed authority’s support is used as evidence for an argument’s conclusion.

Example: Most psychologists assert that mental illness cannot be improved or cured with vitamins or nutritional treatment/supplementation. Therefore, there must be no “natural” cure for mental health issues.

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. – Galileo Galilei

Just because someone in a position of “intellectual” authority claims that something is true doesn’t necessarily mean it is.

No one is entirely liberated of personal motives or biases.

It’s important to remember that people with scientific (or other academic) authority aren’t necessarily also entirely ethical (or informed). Often, power, influence, and academic “authority” end up in the hands of the wrong people.

We shouldn’t automatically trust people in prestigious positions within the scientific, medical, political, educational, or psychological/social fields.

Everything merits examination.

dangers of using argument from authority - illustration

An authority on a subject may very well be speaking only truth and facts. However, accepting or discrediting an argument on the basis of someone’s title and education – or lack thereof – is a logically fallacious approach to understanding or advocating a matter.

The strength and logic of the case – not the eminence of the title – should support the argument.


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© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

2 thoughts on “Fallacies – Argument From Authority (Appeal to Authority or Argumentum Ad Verecundiam)

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