Saturday, September 30, 2006

Logical Fallacies, Part 13: Misplaced Authority

The fallacy of misplaced authority arises whenever attributing authority to a source that does not merit the authorty. This fallacy is a particular problem in celebrity cultures. We want to hear entertainers’ opinions on politics, athletes opinions on soft drinks, and artists’ opinions on the environment. Here is an obvious example:

The AFL-CIO, AFT, and Sean Penn have endorsed Senator John Kerry’s candidacy for President of the United States.

Sean Penn, an award-winning actor, does not have the same credibility or clout as do the AFL-CIO (a 9 million member union) or the AFT (a 1.3 million member union).

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