Appeal to Information. This fallacy is related to the appeal to questionable authority, and may be best remembered as an appeal to questionable information. The fallacy functions by getting you to assume the information presented is creditable, when that may be in question. You have already read about some forms of an appeal to questionable authority, in the section on statistics


Exercises

1. Which of the following is probably not a fallacious appeal to authority?

I'm becoming a vegetarian. I.B. Singer said it is the ethical thing to do, and he won the Nobel Prize!

I'm buying a Bumpster mountain bike. My critical thinking instructor says they're the best, and she is so logical!

I'm going to see that new movie. My best friend said it was very good, and we always like the same things!

I'm practicing safe sex. My accountant said it's important, and he was honored as the San Jose CPA of the year.

1. Which of the following is probably not a fallacious appeal to authority? You answered:

I'm becoming a vegetarian. I.B. Singer said it is the ethical thing to do, and he won the Nobel Prize!

It may well be true that vegetarianism is ethically justified, and Singer himself was a vegetarian. But he won the Nobel Prize for his literature, not his ethics. There's no reason to believe that the issues here are so specialized as to warrant reliance on expert opinion, or even if so that Singer was especially qualified to render that opinion.

1. Which of the following is probably not a fallacious appeal to authority? You answered:

I'm buying a Bumpster mountain bike. My critical thinking instructor says they're the best, and she is so logical!

There is a big difference between saying you like something and saying it's the best. If the basis for the decision to buy a Bumpster is simply that you know someone (in this case, an instructor) who has one and recommends it, that may be somewhat limited, but no fallacy. On the other hand, if you are seriously relying on this instructor's claim that a Bumpster is the best bike of its kind, and that instructor has no particular expertise in the field of bicycles (however "logical" she may be), then this would be an example of a fallacious appeal to authority.

1. Which of the following is probably not a fallacious appeal to authority? You answered:

I'm going to see that new movie. My best friend said it was very good, and we always like the same things!

Correct!

Since the decision is based only on a friend's evaluation on a subject of taste not usually complex enough to require expert opinions to aid our decisions, this is not a fallacious appeal to authority.

1. Which of the following is probably not a fallacious appeal to authority? You answered:

I'm practicing safe sex. My accountant said it's important, and he was honored as the San Jose CPA of the year.

Important how? Practicing safe sex is an important health concern and everyone should promote responsible behavior, but there's no reason to treat an accountant as a particular authority on this subject, unless financial concerns somehow enter into it, which certainly would not be the usual case.

Congratulations!

You have completed the exercises for fallacious appeal to authority.