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Relevance Fallacies of Authority

 

 

Whenever a logical fallacy is committed, the fallacy has its roots in Agrippa's trilemma which is simply the fact that the foundation of all human thought (without Divine revelation) is one of three unhappy possibilities. These three possibilities are infinite regression, circular reasoning, or bare assertions without any evidence.

 

Relevance Fallacies of Authority (using authority as evidence when the authority doesn't prove the point)

  • Logical Fallacy of Faulty Appeal to Authority / Argumentum Ad Verecundiam / Argument from Authority / Argument from False Authority / Ipse Dixit / Testimonials / False Attribution (type of) / Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Improper Authority / Appeal to Unqualified Authority / Unqualified Source: occurs when a truth claim is made based on a person or other source (movie, publication, book, etc.) making the claim rather than on a true premise, which is a fallacy unless the source is qualified to make this assertion and cannot be wrong. No one is qualified to make an assumption as if it were a fact. No group of people can make assumptions or make-up stories that then facts. If a person does have vast knowledge in an area of expertise, that doesn't allow the person to simply say, "Take my word for it." Any knowledgeable person can explain his or her position and why he or she believes it to be true. If the authority is all-knowing and never lies, (God) then there is no fallacy of faulty appeal to authority. There is only One like this, God. Knowing that God speaks to us through Scripture and that God cannot lie and is all knowing, it is not faulty appeal to authority to quote Scripture when the Holy Spirit brings it to your consciousness. Of course, we humans can misunderstand God, just like we can misunderstand other human beings. “Amazing! I gave you the actual paper of Mary Schwarzer. Add 'logical fallacy' to the list of terms you don't understand.” Note that this is not only an example of the fallacy of question-begging epithet, but it is also an example of the logical fallacy of faulty appeal to authority. This is in response to a statement that there was a logical fallacy in Mary Schwarzer’s paper. The implication is that Mary Schwarzer is the very Oracle of God and cannot make logical fallacies. "My teacher is a Christian. My teacher says it’s OK to believe in evolution. Therefore, it is OK to believe in evolution." Just because a person is a teacher and also a Christian does not make that person infallible. "Mr. Big is a famous theologian. Mr. Big believes that evolution and billions of years are both compatible with Scripture. Therefore, evolution and billions of years are both compatible with Scripture." "Ms. Big is a famous biologist." Being a famous biologist makes a person a legitimate authority on living things today, but not on how living things originated." Being a biologist doesn’t mean the Ms. Big isn’t biased or that she doesn’t have an inner paradigm/fake-reality. Being an expert in biology doesn’t make Ms. Big infallible or all-knowing. "Every biology text book I have every read says that molecules-to-man evolution actually happened. Therefore, molecules-to-man evolution actually happened." Unless they are Divine revelation, what books say holds no weight. There must be reason given and credible, conclusive evidence without dependencies on assumptions or stories. There is only one Divinely inspired book. That is the Bible. Yet, even the Bible, unless it is made alive by the Holy Spirit as it is being read or heard, does not have authority. The dead letter can be misleading. Rationalizing the meaning of Scripture through the filter of the natural human mind is a major cause of division (denomination) in the Church. "The consensus of the scientific community believes this." First, a consensus includes every person in the group, but thousands of scientists disagree openly, and it's impossible to know how many scientists disagree silently for fear of coercion. Second, if every person on the planet believes something, that doesn't make it true. A consensus is a false authority when there is no real proof.
  • False Attribution: occurs when a quote or opinion is attributed to a source that is not the true source in order to lend false credibility, false authority, or ad hominem attack. EXAMPLE “Mom said you should give me five dollars so I can go to McDonald's." EXAMPLE “The Bible says that Iraq will be the center of the economic world in the end." The Bible doesn't talk. God speaks through the Bible. This isn't in the text, so it is either extra-Biblical Divine revelation or human speculation. Denominations are formed because people get into the habit of saying that the Bible says what is not written in the Bible. The Bible can say anything you want it to say if you allow yourself even a single assumption. EXAMPLE “Science says that evolution [molecules-to-man] is a fact." Science doesn't talk. EXAMPLE The hoax email falsely attributes a statement to a famous person or a publication that never published such a thing. EXAMPLE Washington Irvin, Auguste Comte, Antoine-Jeane Letronne, and Andrew Dickson White used their combined influences to perpetrate a hoax complete with false attribution of something that never existed: the flat Earth belief. There was never a general acceptance of a flat Earth. Not only did they make up the idea that it was generally believed that the Earth was flat, but they also attributed this belief to the Church. This is now known as "the flat Earth myth." Using the false attribution fallacy, some teachers and textbooks that are in existence today are educating people into ignorance using this is also a hoax, made up by a few people in the 1800s and 1900s. They attribute the claims of the hoax to the Christian Church, to the Bible, and to anyone who won't believe whatever hoax they are currently trying to perpetrate. When you hear a slur using the term, "flat Earth," it is a signal to be very skeptical of the claims of the person using the slur.
  • Pretentiousness: occurs when more knowledge, authority, understanding, etc. is claimed than is warranted. Claims may be made that would require omniscience. There may be the implication (innuendo) of speaking for the entire human race. EXAMPLE “All we want, and I speak for the entire human race here, is . . .” Can this person really speak for the entire human race? By Divine revelation, there are some things that can be known about the entire human race; for instance, we know that there is not a just person upon the Earth who does what is right without sinning. Yet, could we possibly speak for the entire human race on anything? EXAMPLE “We know that the Big Bang took place.” Who is "we?" All scientists? All human beings? This person and some close friends? How do these people know this? Were they there? Can they demonstrate the truth of the statement without any assumptions or stories or fallacies?
  • Ad Verecundiam Fallacy: occurs when tactics are used to make someone feel shame or lack of confidence because they are not qualified to speak on a subject. It’s good to know what you are talking about, but a certificate doesn’t guaranty that you know what you’re talking about. And the lack of a certificate doesn’t mean that you are not qualified. EXAMPLE “How can you talk about this? Are you a biologist?” This is different from pointing out that someone is basing his or her argument on the testimony of others. For instance, it is legitimate to ask, “What evidence have you personally seen that you think proves molecules turned into people over long periods of time?”
  • The Semi-Attached Figure / Superficially Convincing Fog: occurs when a true premise is given, but the implication is not true. In statistics, a semi-attached figure/number is a number that appears more relevant than it is. EXAMPLE "Certs with Retsyn!" Retsyn is there, and it sounds important, but it's just a bonding agent. It doesn't make your breath smell better. "Certs with mint" just doesn't sound as exciting.
  • Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Biased Authority: occurs when someone insists that a biased source of information is the only legitimate source, when an expert is given as the source but not all experts in the field agree, or when a person is quoted who is not an expert in the field. Appeal to authority is always somewhat subjective unless God is given as the authority. Even in giving God as the authority, we must not become so sure that we know God's will that even He can't correct us, but there are many things we can know--just not completely. When claiming that all experts agree, that would offer a fair amount of certainty if we can be certain that all the experts do, indeed, agree and that all the experts have complete knowledge. Eliminating the experts who disagree on the basis that they can't be experts if they disagree, as in saying that real scientists all support evolution/global warming/billions of years/big bang, and those who don't support these are not real scientists, is not legitimate.
  • Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Anonymous Authority: occurs when the source of an authority is not mentioned. All appeal to authority as a final word is fallacious unless the authority cannot be wrong. The fallacy of appeal to anonymous authority uses words like, "a wise person once said," "scholars tell us," "scientists say," "it has been said." If the source is unimportant to what is being said, then this is not a logical fallacy. Appeal to authority is usually not valid anyway unless the authority is God. This is a fallacy of missing information that makes it more difficult to evaluate a claim. EXAMPLE "Science says there is no God."
  • Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Self-Declared Authority / Self-Sell: occurs when a claim is made by a person that he or she is an authority, but no legitimate reason is given to take the person's word. There is no one, other than God, who can declare himself or herself an authority and be rational in doing so.
  • Authority of the Select Few: occurs when the evidence is said to be best interpreted by a group that is said to be elite or in the know. It may be true that there is a select group that is in the know; however, if they are in the know, then they can surely show the process by which they think that they know. EXAMPLE “The majority of secular scientists believe in Darwinian evolution.” OK, but that is not proof of anything. It is a claim about what happened in the past. Fossils don’t reflect minute changes between families/kinds of living things. No one has ever observed this happening. Where is the evidence beyond assumptions and storytelling?
  • Invincible Authority Fallacy / Appeal to Invincible Authority:  occurs when a false claim is made that a source of information cannot be questioned. The only invincible authority is God. All others must prove their statements. If God reveals something, He is the Invincible Authority, and the fallacy has not been committed. EXAMPLE Sandy: "The scientists [What is unspoken is that this term, the scientists, only includes those scientists who buy into the Big-Bang-Billions-of-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man story] agree that the Big-Bang-Billions-of-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man story is a scientific fact." Rocky: "Have you personally examined the evidence?" Sandy: "I have no access to it. Besides, the evidence is vast. No one person could personally examine it all. And, it requires expertise that I don't have. But I trust the scientists." Rocky: "So you base your belief in the Big-Bang-Billions-of-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man story on a kind of rationalized faith and trust in these particular scientists?" Sandy: "I guess so, but they can't be wrong. Are you suggesting a conspiracy theory?" This is probably the main fallacy that is taught at the Secular Humanist, government-run schools. No one gets to check all the actual evidence. Most of the presuppositions, assumptions, and fallacies are hidden from the students. It's like taking candy from a baby to fool them. EXAMPLE Sandy: "There is no God." Rocky: "What makes you think so?" Sandy: "My professor at school says so." Rocky: "What if your professor is wrong?" Sandy: "That isn't possible." How easy it is to look at professors as invincible gods. When you have many in a phony consensus, it's even easier to put them on this pedestal. FALLACY ABUSE Rocky: "I know that God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days because God reveals that fact to me. I know it by Divine revelation." Sandy: "How does He reveal it? Does He text you a message?" Rocky: "He reveals to my innermost mind that the Bible is His Word and that it is without error. Then, He speaks to me through the Bible. He confirms this through His creation, through science." Sandy: "So, you are claiming that the Bible is an invincible authority. That is a fallacy." Rocky: "That is a straw man argument. In fact, God is the only invincible authority. He wrote the Bible through holy men of God. He preserved it to us through His power. He reveals to us that it is His Word without error. He speaks through it. He is the invincible authority, not the letter of the Bible." Sandy is committing fallacy abuse in accusing Rocky of having unwarranted trust in the Bible. In fact, since God wrote Bible, preserved the Bible, and speaks through the Bible, what He says can be trusted. He doesn't play word games with the Bible. What He says through it is what He means. But we don't have faith in the Bible. We have the faith of God that comes by hearing His rhema (utterance).
  • Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Celebrity: occurs when the celebrity status of a person or thing is used as a premise, either implied or stated, for some conclusion. This is a form of the logical fallacy of false appeal to authority.
  • Logical Fallacy of Argument by Personal Charm / Style over Substance: occurs when it is assumed that just because a person is liked or respected, whatever he or she says must be true. EXAMPLE Article on scienceblogs.com: "During the few moments when we were allowed to see the evangelical audience during Bill Nye’s presentation they looked, frankly, charmed. And how could they not be, Bill Nye is a charming guy!" It's interesting that a site that claims to deal with facts and science could be so lacking in recognizing this fallacy, along with the many others that Bill Nye presented.
  • Appeal to the Exotic: occurs when something is seen to be better or more to be trusted because is comes from a distant place. Often this fallacy is coupled with the fallacy of misleading vividness to create a false aura of believability. EXAMPLE A prophet is not without honor except in his own country. EXAMPLE There is something called the expert from afar syndrome, where someone who is flown in from a distance is seen to be more authoritative. EXAMPLE "The wood for this table was imported from the forests of Brazil." Why is that better?
  • Appeal to Gravity: occurs when personal seriousness or conscientiousness is given as proof. EXAMPLE “Look! I’m serious about this.” Personal gravity will cause more people to believe you, but it doesn't make your case. You must know why you believe what you believe, and it must make sense.
  • Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Accomplishment: occurs when someone uses his or her level of accomplishment as a premise rather than presenting a valid premise to support a conclusion. This premise is not true in support of a conclusion, but this premise may be true in support of a premise.
  • Appeal to Control of Scientific Journals: occurs when the lack of related articles in scientific journals is used as evidence against any who threaten that are sacred cows of those who control the scientific journals. This is a form of circular reasoning. Those who control the journals will publish only those articles with which they agree. That proves nothing about either the articles with which they agree or with which they disagree.
  • Appeal to Control of Scientific Funding: occurs when the lack of government scientific funding is used as evidence against any who threaten that are sacred cows of those who control the funding. This is a form of circular reasoning. Those who control the funding will fund only those projects with which they agree. That proves nothing about either the projects with which they agree or with which they disagree.
  • Appeal to Control of News Media: occurs when the preponderance of news articles in a tightly controlled news media are used to defend the same opinions that are sacred cows of that news media.
  • Spotlight: occurs when it is assumed that all members or cases of a certain class/type are similar to those that receive the most attention or coverage in the media. This could be events, people, organizations, or just about anything else. Some of the spotlight effect happens in the news media, and is not without bias. However, the entertainment industry does at least as much to mold public opinion.
  • Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Age / The Wisdom of the Ancients: occurs when a person's age is given as a premise in support of a certain conclusion. It is true that experience is important, but what has the person been experiencing during his or her lifetime? Is this a person who has walked with God? If so, that person will also be able to give a reason for any conclusion.
  • Logical Fallacy of Argument to the Purse / Appeal to Wealth / Appeal to Money / Argumentum Ad Crumenam / Appeal to Poverty / Argumentum ad Lazarum: occurs when a conclusion is said to be true because a person who endorses it has money or possessions. This wealth could include such things as tenure at universities or government grant money. "If you're rich they think you really know."
  • Logical Fallacy of Halo Effect / Honor by Association: occurs when one or more desirable traits of a person influence opinions of that person for traits that are not actually known. There is also a reverse halo effect or a devil effect. Appearance is very powerful at creating a halo effect, but it could be any trait. A smooth speaker is thought to know what he or she is talking about. The attempt is to make the thing, whether a product, a story about a Big Bang, a story about molecules turning into people, or some other thing, seem more credible. EXAMPLE Bill Nye, arguing against Creation Science: "and I look like nobody, but I attended a lecture by Hans Beta who won the Nobel Prize for discovering the process by which stars create all these elements." By associating himself with a Nobel Prize winner, Bill is hoping for a little halo effect. EXAMPLE The halo effect is used whenever something that cannot be known by observation is called "science" to gain the halo effect of the word, "science." EXAMPLE Charles Lyell used the halo effect when he told his stories about an old Earth.
  • Reverse Halo Effect / Devil Effect: occurs when a negative association is made between a negative thing and a second thing, and the attributes of the negative thing are attributed to the second thing. EXAMPLE When the Muslims began their jihad against the U.S., the majority of sources in the news media began to use the same word, fundamentalist, for Christians who believe the Bible as written and for violent Muslim terrorists. Often, they run two stories back to back, one that mentions a fundamentalist Christian group and another that uses the same word, "fundamentalism," to describe terrorists. The word, "fundamentalist," was coined by Curtis Lee Laws of the unofficial Baptist publication, Watchman-Examiner, as a term for those who believe the fundamental truth of the Bible. It later came to refer to anyone who believes what God is saying through Scripture. During the period from 1910-1920, two separate movements, known as fundamentalism, were developed. Both of them attempted to bridge denominationalism (the separations in the Church) by identifying the fundamental elements of the faith in Scripture. These fundamental elements were then presented as the basic theologies that one must believe to be born again. People who identified themselves are fundamentalists opposed modernism's attempt to disconnect the Church from Biblical truth. They also unsuccessfully tried to oppose the indoctrination into the dogmas, such as evolutionism, of Secular Humanist religion through the public schools. It was a way to try to discern who was part of the Church Universal and who was not, without reference to the confusing denominational lines.
  • According to the Rules Fallacy: occurs when it is asserted that an action is right or statement is true because it conforms to formal or official rules (laws, standards, protocols, or procedures); however the specific case at issue is an exception or not specifically covered by the rules. This is one that has to be watched very closely because of special pleading. Though there is a problem with special pleading, there are instances where the according to the rules fallacy is committed. EXAMPLE Sandy: “If God is good, why do babies sometimes die?” Rocky: “First, God looks at the death of a baby much differently. He is taking that baby to be with Him. In fact, God addresses that question directly, stating that He is sparing these little ones from having to go through all the evil that is in the world. Second, God has a right to take anyone home at any time. Third, God knows all things and is able to make those decisions. Fourth, there would not even be death if it weren’t for sin entering the world. God made a law regarding the taking of a life. He applies that law to restrict mankind. This law doesn’t apply to God for these reasons.” EXAMPLE OF SPECIAL PLEADING: Rocky: "No one has ever seen evolution occur. How can you then call it science?" Sandy: "Scientific conclusions are not limited to direct observation but often depend on inferences that are made by applying reason to observations." Rocky: "You stated, and I quote, 'But science cannot test supernatural possibilities. ... Because such appeals to the supernatural are not testable using the rules and processes of scientific inquiry, they cannot be a part of science.' Isn't that inconsistent?" Sandy: "No. Evolution is an exception to that rule." Rocky: "What makes you think it's an exception? This seems like special pleading." And it is special pleading hiding behind fallacy abuse of the according to the rules fallacy. This example is actually adapted from a book, Science, Evolution, and Creationism, which is critiqued by http://evolutiondismantled.com/special-pleading.
  • Word Magic: occurs when the existence of an entity, event, or concept exists simply because there is a word for it. EXAMPLE Events like the Big Bang, Molecules to Man, Abiogenesis, etc. are constantly spoken of as if they actually happened. EXAMPLE Atheism is spoken of as if there are really people who don’t know that God exists; however, God reveals that they know but choose not to acknowledge Him as God. God speaks this through the first chapter of Romans. FALLACY ABUSE A person who refuses to acknowledge God may say that reference to God is word magic; however, that claim is based on a presupposition. That presupposition is based on an assertion contrary to fact. Those who follow Jesus Christ know He exists because they know Him and are led by Him moment by moment.


Author/Compiler
Last updated: Sep, 2014
 
 


Logical Fallacy of Faulty Appeal to Authority / Argumentum Ad Verecundiam / Argument from Authority / Argument from False Authority / Ipse Dixit / Testimonials / False Attribution

Logical Fallacy of False Attribution

Logical Fallacy of Pretentiousness

Ad Verecundiam Fallacy

The The Semi-Attached Figure / Superficially Convincing Fog Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Biased Authority

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Anonymous Authority

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Self-Declared Authority

Logical Fallacy of the Authority of the Select Few

Invincible Authority Fallacy / Appeal to Invincible Authority

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Celebrity

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Personal Charm / Style over Substance

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to the Exotic

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Gravity

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Accomplishment

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Control of Scientific Journals

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Control of Scientific Funding

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Control of News Media

Logical Fallacy of Spotlight

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Age / The Wisdom of the Ancients

Logical Fallacy of Argument to the Purse / Argumentum Ad Crumenam / Appeal to Poverty / Argumentum ad Lazarum

Logical Fallacy of Halo Effect

Logical Fallacy of Reverse Halo Effect / Devil Effect

According to the Rules Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Word Magic



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