Flattery Will Get You Nowhere

Since I had to write a brief article for a newspaper I’m applying to, I thought I’d post it for your enjoyment as well.

Today’s logical fallacy is called Appeal To Flattery. This fallacy has the following form:

1) Person A is flattered by person B.

2) Person B makes claim X.

3) Therefore X is true.

A real life example looks something like this:

1) A job applicant (Person B) claims the following while applying for a position with The Examiner: The Examiner.com (Person A) is the best online news magazine EVER! (Claim X) It deserves a Pulitzer!

2) The claimant is applying for a writing position with the magazine.

3) Therefore the claimant feels they deserve the job.

The basic idea behind this fallacy is that flattery is presented in the place of evidence. This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because flattery is not, in fact, evidence for a claim.

In other words, the claimant is not necessarily the best person for the job based solely on the applicants use of flattery. The claimant is using a logical fallacy as a basis for their qualifications for hiring.

Let’s break this down further. The job applicant (Person B) is making a statement designed solely for flattery. Claim X would be that the magazine is the best ever and deserves a Pulitzer. Simply because Person B made Claim X, the claimant then posits the argument that they deserve the job because they offered some form of flattery: In this case, the claim that the magazine deserved a Pulitzer.


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