Appeal to Authority
Michael James Scharen

michaelsbookcorner.com
June 2, 2021

Appeal to Authority is a baseline logical fallacy -- yet we fall for it every day.

The title of this blog -- Appeal to Authority -- is the name of an incredibly popular logical fallacy. Yes. This is a logical fallacy, meaning that it is an invalid argument for any debate, courtroom proceeding, or any other venue for the determination of truth. This logical fallacy is part of our daily lives. We must all be able to identify it when we see it, yet most are unaware of such fallacies since they are not taught in school. After -- or better -- while reading this blog -- I urge everyone to do a search for logical fallacies. Appeal to Authority is usually in the top 5.


Fig.1 - A sheepskin from a prestigious univesity does not make one an expert.

For those not consulting an authoritative treatise right now (irony intended), Let us describe simply what this fallacy is and why it is so dangerous. Appeal to Authority is simply stating that some statement must be true simply because an authority figure, i.e. cop, scientist, professor, politician, or some cooked up expert says so.

Let's look at some examples from the most benign to those that have wreaked havoc on the society itself. Most people can relate to the commercials on TV or radio where some expert is quoted or gives a testimonial to the value of Product X. Since we are conditioned since preschool to a) initially believe the spokesman that such and such a person is actually an expert (of course we have no way of knowing). Why should we not believe? To be on TV one must have some sort of bona fides, right?

Yet, how many of us have purchased products based upon such testimony and been severely disappointed if not outright ripped-off?

It is understandable why children or younger adults might fall for such an approach, but this is due to our veneration of the Prussian modelled education/indoctrination process in effect since the 1840s and 50s. However, simple everyday experience in the process of being duped time and again by these appeals should make us all wary -- yet it does not. Perhaps it is the relentless bombardment of this fallacy along with so many others -- the bandwagon effect (all the kids are doing it!), argumentum ad baculum (appeal to force -- literally appeal to the stick -- or if you don't believe me, I or my thugs will do bad things to you like beat you or lock you up. The Prussians were so impressed with their military organization and prowess that they decided to transfer their training methods to the general population -- specifically children. The great education system adopted by most of the Western World, and now Eastern was designed to mold obedient tools of the State with some practical skills thrown in on top -- as long as they serve the State. (See John Taylor Gatto -- The Underground History of American Education).

Getting back to our discussion, the advertising schemes have gone much farther into some truly horrific areas such as our health. Pharmaceutical companies and doctors, while often doing great things delve into the use of hucksterism and abuse of trust. So many so-called medications have been pushed on us as must have solutions to problems the researchers barely understand. The worst cases go from the massive use of amphetamines by the pre-war German public to the post war nightmare of Thalidomide prescribed for minor conditions. Then there is the century old pushing of addictive substances by the medical community itself -- see recent opiate addiction epidemic.

The 1920s and 30s also saw the testimony of so many experts in the highest level of academia , courts, and legislative bodies citing the scientific truths of eugenics and the need to cleanse the population of undesirables. We all know where that lead. Yet, in the State of California, only recently, women in prisons were being sterilized by force. This complacency always leads to abuse and ultimately to horrific consequences.

The insidious nature of this indoctrination spreads like wildfire by design or by copycat desire for inclusion into grade schools, film and tv production in even the science programs, politics, and right up to our very doorsteps. The idiotic and vastly overblown Corona Virus scare, terrorist FBI sponsored bombings, Climate Change Hoax, and so many more make up a ubiquitous rain of lies that cause so many to simply shut down and hope for the best.

Not questioning the relentless lies showered upon us every day is dangerous. We must welcome questions that have no answers and not accept answers that invite no questions. Accepting all of it only leads to our being enslaved by our own complacency.