What does “appeal to popularity” (in Latin: Ad Populum) mean?
“Appeal to popularity” is when you make an argument that something is true, false, a particular way, etc. because everyone – “the majority” – thinks the same way. That is not doing real research. Instead that is letting other people do your thinking for you.
Many times, the majority is not correct. How do you know people did not give out misinformation (e.g., fake news, exaggerated scientific findings, etc.), and everyone else jumped on the “band wagon”, automatically believing what they read and repeating the same to others?
Sometimes this means you try it out yourself to verify. Other times it means going to someone you trust (e.g., going to a friend who has 30+ years working on vehicles, to verify information you read about vehicle maintenance), or you may end up using your gut feeling (common sense) to make the decision you think is best.
I have followed the majority before, and later (sometimes years later), found the majority was incorrect in what they believed. If I had done my research, I would have saved myself trouble and worry.
This applies to online comments. Up-votes and down-votes for comments are just people’s opinions on a matter. A comment with a ton of up-votes does not automatically make it correct, nor does a comment with a ton of down-votes automatically make it incorrect. I want to know if the information is factually accurate, regardless of what other people think about a particular comment.
Here is a good example of why everyone saying that same thing does not mean something is true: Cornell University – The Internet and the Spread of False Information
Summary: Facts are not made by consensus. Just because everyone agrees, does not mean it is true. You must always use common sense and verify information you receive.
Posted in General, Logical Fallacies, Society