Fallacy Friday!

Ad Populum

Definition: A fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges that “if many believe so, it is so”.

Have you ever had your parents say “If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you?” I’m sure that drove you nuts as a kid. I know I did for me. There is some truth to this as well. There is a bit of truth to this however. Just because a lot of people believe something to be true doesn’t make it true. First example I can think of is the shape of the earth. Up until about the time of the ancient Greeks people believed the earth was flat (sorry it was well established that the world was spherical when Columbus sailed). Everyone believed the earth to be a flat plane (because that’s how it appears to us from our perspective), that didn’t change the fact that the world was round.

This fallacy is easy to fall into because we want to belong. We want to be like other people so we can fit in. We’ll sometimes even believe things we know are wrong just so we don’t segregate ourselves from people. I know for me I did this for a long while. This is known as cognitive dissonance. It’s hard to break away from this mindset but in order to believe true things (which has become a new goal of mine) we need to watch for these types of mentalities. Logic and reason are some of the tools that I now use to decipher if what I’m believing is true or not.


Originally published at Godless Journey.