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Irrelevant Authority

The fallacy of irrelevant authority is committed when you accept without proper support for his or her alleged authority, a person's claim or proposition as true. Alleged authorities should only be used when the authority is reporting on his or her field of expertise, the authority is reporting on facts about which there is some agreement in his or her field, and you have reason to believe he or she can be trusted. Alleged authorities can be individuals or groups. The attempt to appeal to the majority or the masses is a form of irrelevant authority. The attempt to appeal to an elite or select group is a form of irrelevant authority.

Examples:

  1. Brad Pitt was seen wearing Designer Bob's sunglasses, so they must be the best sunglasses to wear.
  2. There is nothing to be learned from the East, for Gilbert Ryle, the great British philosopher once said, nothing but the sun rises in the East.
  3. Nobody is a better judge than public opinion.
  4. Pacifism is a good idea because the brilliant scientist Einstein advocated it.
  5. Mom, why can't I get my tongue pierced? Everyone else is doing it.
  6. Most of my friends say they stopped thinking about philosophy the minute they got through the semester, so I know this class is worthless.
  7. Everyone loves the Danger Kitty album; they must be a great band.
  8. I agree with Alec Baldwin's stance on global warming. He must know what he's talking about, being a famous celebrity and all.