Appeal to Ridicule


Unfortunately I have seen this logical fallacy used on both sides of the skeptic/believer debate. It occurs when ridicule or mockery is used in place of evidence in an “argument”.

As usual I will substitute the X’s for something cute and fuzzy.

The Appeal to Ridicule has the following format where X equals puppies:

1) Puppies (X), as some form of mockery, is aimed at the claim (C).

2) Therefor Claim (C) is false.

This sort of “argument” is fallacious because ridiculing a claim is not provable evidence that said claim is actually false. An obvious example would look like this “1+1=2?? That’s the most patently ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!”

This argument is of course based in the idea that we are working with a Base 10 system of counting.

I have heard this fallacy used as an argument so many times even in my own household. A real world example looks like this:

“Evolution is absurd! I’ve never heard of a monkey giving birth to a human!”

The ridicule here occurs in both the use of the word ‘absurd’ and the dismissiveness of the concept of human evolution as a whole.  Usually that argument is made by Creationists who simply have not educated themselves or have chosen not to be educated on the current theory of evolution.

Another form of this argument is “reductio ad absurdum” or “reducing to absurdity”. This site http://bit.ly/2x6CEY has an excellent example of it. I’ll quote it here:

One form of this line of reasoning is known as a “reductio ad absurdum” (“reducing to absurdity”). In this sort of argument, the idea is to show that a contradiction (a statement that must be false) or an absurd result follows from a claim. For example: “Bill claims that a member of a minority group cannot be a racist. However, this is absurd. Think about this: white males are a minority in the world. Given Bill’s claim, it would follow that no white males could be racists. Hence, the Klan, Nazis, and white supremists are not racist organizations.”

Since the claim that the Klan, Nazis, and white supremists are not racist organizations is clearly absurd, it can be concluded that the claim that a member of a minority cannot be a racist is false.

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