Book review

The Appeal To Non-Authority Fallacy — Excerpt From Everything You Believe Is Wrong

Today, an excerpt of Chapter 6 from Everything You Believe Is Wrong. This again is only a brief excerpt from a long chapter which investigates our fascination with celebrities, ignorant children as oracles, and misplaced adoration.

You may also download a PDF of the entire first chapter (with Table of Contents).

Get the book at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble (paper and nook), Alibris (link), ABE Books (at a slight premium).

More about the book here.

Stars In Our Eyes

An Appealing Authority

Every kid learns what seems to be, but isn’t, the Appeal to Authority Fallacy early when he asks “Why should I?” and is told “Because I said so.” Only this isn’t a proper fallacy because kids should listen to and honor their parents, and because parents, besides having authority over their children, typically know what’s best for them, and what’s best is in the command, but unspoken. What’s best is in tacit premises behind the father’s “Because”, which turns what might be a fallacy into wisdom.

[Much cutting…]

People are fooled by this simple fallacy, but they are just as easily disabused of it when it is pointed out. Because of this, there is no chapter in this book specifically devoted to the Appeal to Authority. There is another, far better, reason for skipping it, though. That is the existence of a far worse, far more pernicious, and far more destructive fallacy which is a kin to the Appeal to Authority.

This is the Appeal to Non-Authority Fallacy.

A Hole In Many

I shiver when thinking of it. No fallacy is good, of course, but not all fallacies are equal in their pestilential powers. The Ultimate Fallacy has the worst individual consequences, but the Appeal to Non-Authority is the most annoying.

Modern advertising, and, more depressingly, our entire media and governmental apparatus, relies on and seeks out this fallacy. We could even say it is worshiped.

In my Stats 101 class notes Breaking the Law of Averages (a free pdf on my website), I asked this Chapter One homework question (stick with me, here): “Stanford Financial took out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal with a picture of golfer Vijay Singh listing his enormous number of tournament wins with the words ‘Vijay Means Victory.’ Given this evidence, what is the probability Stanford Financial won’t lose money on your investment?”

The obvious answer is that you can’t know. Singh’s golfing prowess is irrelevant, inconsequential, incidental to whether gambles (i.e. “investments”) with Stanford Financial will lose or win you money. Logically, they may as well have touted my golf scores, or yours. They may as well in their ad featured a pretty actress and printed the words “This is a pretty actress and we are Stanford Financial”. The logical content would be the same. Which is to say, it would have had none at all. Singh, God bless him, is a Non-Authority on financial matters. Listening to him, as it were, on investments because he is an authority in some sport is insane.

Beer commercials use the same ploy with beautiful girls, though everybody knows beautiful girls have nothing to do with fermented rice (some breweries still use barley) and hops. The technique works and does sell beer. Well, the Wall Street Journal is aimed at well-educated elites and golf is a rich-man’s game. Which proves that even those who think themselves sophisticated and well educated are as prone to the fallacy as unlettered beer swillers.

Actors Are Good At Lying

Our culture worships celebrity, and has done so for quite some time, at least a few generations, so that we no longer see it as odd or unsightly. It is strange, this worship, and a sure sign of decadence.

Lieutenant General Sir John Bagot Glubb, the respected founder and leader of the famed Arab Legion, wrote an essay, now remembered only by a few, entitled “The Fate of Empires” in which he discovered a common end to civilizations. “The heroes of declining nations are always the same,” he said, “the athlete, the singer or the actor. The word ‘celebrity’ today is used to designate a comedian or a football player, not a statesman, a general, or a literary genius.”

In the latter half of the Ninth Century the cultured remnant in Baghdad, Glubb said, “commented bitterly on the extraordinary influence acquired by popular singers over young people, resulting in a decline in sexual morality.” Pop singers “accompanied their erotic songs on the lute”, and “much obscene sexual language came increasingly into use”. The singers were often banned, but just as often returned.

Sound familiar? If not, then look at the lyrics of today’s most popular songs. Listen to the “music.” All of attributes discovered by Glubb are shared in our declining age.

Infamous

Except it’s worse with us, because we have invented the category famous-for-being-famous. Singing and running with a ball requires at least requires talent, but being noticed requires nothing except the ability for self-promotion. Which we reward with all manner of riches—and attention. That we listen and heed these mush-minded non-entities on any matter is, I consider, sufficient proof of our impending doom.

Instead of being scorned and ridiculed, celebrity endorsements of any kind are welcomed and praised. When have you ever heard anybody laugh at a Congressman who invited, say, a football player to give testimony on a subject in which the celebrity is a Non-Authority? The celebrity himself may be teased by those on the other side of the question for his ignorance, but that he was invited in the first place seems to no one idiotic.

Actors, singers, and sports players are used by our elites to lecture us on every imaginable subject. Except the subjects of acting, singing, and playing ball. Celebrities, with vanishingly rare exceptions, which occur when celebrities become ex-celebrities and learn some new skill, are always non-authorities. They should therefore never be listened to.

Unslakable Thirst

They are, though. People hunger for celebrity and identify with celebrity so strongly that every time it is learned a celebrity has adopted a viewpoint similar to one’s own, there is a (forgive the word) celebration. It makes us happy to learn a celebrity, a vapid nothing and Non-Authority, has agreed with us. We also don’t want to disappoint our celebrities, and so we are willing to be persuaded by their non-authoritative arguments. This is pathetic.

[Much cutting…]

Our Children Are Our Future

[Cutting…]

Raising Idiocy

Everywhere children are employed to “raise awareness” on those subjects most interesting to our leaders. The explanation why this is done is simple. Children are innocent, they are pure. Their morals have not yet been corrupted. If they are concerned about a thing, because they are pure, the thing itself must be pure. And if things it must be that the thing should be investigated. This chain of reasoning is almost too obviously fallacious to bear mentioning. That we have to mention it is proof of how far gone we are.

If these wee brats are anxious and exercised to great degree, if their passions run hot, if they weep for “the cause”, because we love them we take them seriously. Even though in cases like global warming they should be spanked and sent to bed without dessert. Rather, it is their parents and authorities that need spanking. It was they who put the kids up to this, knowing the kids were unschooled and would be used as political pawns.

[Much much cutting…]

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Categories: Book review, Culture

42 replies »

  1. One problem: you’re not an authority on most of the subjects you post about, and when you link to a supposed authority, it’s usually a conspiracy theorist or some other loon.

  2. swordfishtrombone: God you’re a venal little man, Brigg’s is just trying to keep the ball in the air.

  3. Great stuff, Briggs: clear and concise, wise and witty. Makes watching The Doom’s Progress fun and educational. And there’s always the extra delight of discovering typos, in which you display creative skill and cunning placement, so as to lead the reader happily along, egg basket in hand.

  4. Venal means easily purchased, swayed or influenced by money or power or influence.
    Perhaps this is the topic in hand. People obsessed with being famous might be said to be venal.

    If someone says something true, it doesn’t matter if people don’t like them. It’s just as true. So whether Biden or Trump says it, makes no difference to the essence of truth in the statement.

    I note a lot of blaming of Trump for what he didn’t do.
    If the far right aren’t careful they’re going to influence Trump’s success by ending up with the anti vaccine sentiment being pinned on Trump. A definite ploy that is already being used on left wing media.

    Don’t keep giving ammunition to the left.
    Celebrities, since Bob Geldof, have always been using their fame to “do good” or whatever.
    Social media gives each person a place where they can be a leader whether or not they’re equipped to lead.
    Many false prophets and charismatic people to follow. Much kudos for having tons of “followers”.

    The truth doesn’t need help. People need help.

  5. Little fishy being: Please crawl back under the slime encrusted rock from whence you emerged. Your blatting holds no more content than a dog barking because it heard another dog bark.

    Briggs: Well said, sir. The only thing dumber than an ‘Expert!’ is a non-expert lauded for their non-expertise.

  6. Don’t mind the Trombone, he always hits those stinky notes. I think it may be genetic. Back when we had the band and we were playing all the jazz clubs along 52nd street, when the owner wanted to clear the patrons out after last call we’d put Swordfish up to solo, nonstop, until they fled. Worked like a charm, only in reverse.

  7. Swordfish, you are correct, ironically
    Here’s another link which illustrates many of the points people have been making about the debacle.
    See Trump getting the. blame, even though he is absolutely behind the vaccines.

    Hope he stops listening to the extreme end and takes note of what Farage said.
    A lot rides on Trump’s every word. Going back to the topic. Influence counts more than what’s true sometimes and both sides of the war are using everything at their disposal.

    All of this articles excluding the ant Trump bias seems spot on.
    Far right and far left now look the same.
    You can only tell by the sandwich boards , what they’re up to. Sad that Jesus’s name is often printed on banners claiming to be telling the truth and being on the side of peace and reconciliation.
    They’re experts on nothing.
     
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/14/the-virus-is-painfully-real-vaccine-hesitant-people-are-dying-and-their-loved-ones-want-the-world-to-listen

  8. The Congressional testimony example is excellent – this has always pissed me off. But not so much when a football player is called to testify on something his is Not An Authority for. (Does that happen?) What really really ticks me off is when an actor or actress is called to testify on something that is related to a CHARACTER THEY PLAYED IN A MOVIE. Which used to happen quite regularly. In addition to the Not An Authority fallacy, doing that shows something worse which I don’t have a name for: a fundamental lack of understanding the difference between reality and make believe.

    (It is of course entirely reasonable for politicians to have this confusion as most often they’re unclear on the difference between what they themselves are and what they’re pretending to be: a statesman, a leader, a visionary, a person of consequence.)

  9. A note to the sword and fish fellow: Concerning authority and expertise…

    Albert Einstein is the person who figured out how rivers meander by observing tea leaves in a cup.
    https://www.ias.ac.in/article/fulltext/reso/005/03/0105-0108

    And, along with his buddy Leo Szilard, he helped invent a refrigerator that went into pilot plant production until making panzers became more important.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein_refrigerator

    Einstein was not a geologist and neither Einstein nor Szilard were experts in refrigeration.

    A good scientist can contribute to many different fields when well-grounded in basics. In the past when science used to exist, real world problems would be solved by gathering together many scientists and engineers with many different skills and expertise. Countless discoveries have been made by non-experts because the experts often tend to think in a box and are unable to see other possible solutions.

    Sophistry is the stuff that makes politics and debates so easy to use instead of measurements and observations when solving problems.

  10. “… requires at least requires …”

    “… And if things it must be that the thing …”

    Your insidious enemies are inserting typos again. Or it could be gremlins in your keyboard. Try spraying it with lysol.

    My favorite celebrity nincompoop is Abortion Queen Alyssa Milano, a tub-thumping moron if there ever was one, cute as a child actress but whose looks went south, and who frequently testifies before Congress on the joys of abortion. She’s had four or five herself, so ought to know, and God help us all if she births an offspring, so she has some logical clout in the matter. The problem with Alyssa is that she advocates for aborting other women’s babies, not her own, revealing her to be a Satanic succubus. I wish somebody would spray her with lysol.

  11. Indictadus
    You don’t know me, nor do you know Swordfish, or the meaning of the word venal.
    Joy is where you find it and where you feel it.
    Little things please little minds and my mind is small. It travels at five feet seven above the ground in three inch heels, and I’m so far from venal that it’s not even funny any more!

    So little Joy is closer to the truth. Blessed and contented with what God gave me and the name that was chosen for me. It doesn’t alter what’s true though and if the news is negative to your ear, then no wonder you think I’m unhappy. I’m incredulous at how the mighty have fallen…partly what is so curious.

  12. Joy: “or the meaning of the word venal”…I think he gets paid by the comment but not
    very much.

  13. Swordfish’s schtick: reducing everything to appeals to authority, where all authorities that disagree with him are illegitimate. The one exception is on theological matters, where his hatred of God will cause him to declare himself an expert and dismiss the words of all theologians.

    Joy’s schtick: Usually just a stream of consciousness, rapidly posting disconnected thoughts on multiple unrelated issues. However if she thinks that she has found a minor error she will harp on it again and again and again.

    You can get some amusement from them by pushing their buttons to get the predictable responses, but as tempting as doing that is, it isn’t worth it in the long run.

  14. Isn’t that a venal thinkers view of the world?
    People only do things for money or power?
     
    Rudolph H,
    “again and again and again”. If people can’t face the smallest truths and admit error, they can’t be trusted on much else. At least that’s a rational way to proceed.
     
    That you think it’s a stream of consciousness says something about your comprehension and relative understanding.
    In the long run, it’s best to take, or skip, the actual argument made, rather than presenting false ones as you always do. I suggest skip it

  15. You’re right RH: I shouldn’t have said that about Joy and I’m sorry; it might get her started
    up and I can’t bear anymore of those long winded I’m a nurse and know everything there is to
    know about covid screeds, or anything else even remotely pertaining to medicine.
    God bless her little heart in that five foot seven inch frame and those lovely three inch heels,
    I’d be willing to bet they’re red.

  16. indictadus
    No I’m a pink or pastels girl, wrong again!
    Not a nurse either, a Chartered physiotherapist.
    If you don’t know what you’re talking about because you’ve never been working in a clinical setting, let a one with respiratory patients, then it’s hardly surprising that you’re in deep water when it comes to appeals to “authority”.
    Some know more about physics than me, some know more about quantity surveying. That’s life.
     
    What I have said is true, ‘know it all’ or not and I’ve never claimed to know it all. So there’s another fallacy, straw man, right there.

  17. You’re right about one thing though. Physiotherapy is considered officially, a “profession allied to medicine”. PAM.
    Sometimes ‘supplementary’ to medicine.

    I suppose if the topic matter that much, then it’s worth doing it properly.
    Sloppy inaccurate conjecture about already known facts in medicine are bread and butter in conversations at bus stops, on trains, and amongst lay people.
    If you don’t like long comments don’t read them. Mine are shorter than most. Be picky.

  18. swordfishtrombone… the guy who ROUTINELY appeals to non-authorities ALL THE TIME! They are called Fak-Chekars! Interns hired to misread and deliberately misinterpret actual authorities and data and debunk carefully crafted statements that nobody actually made. In fact, not even he reads them! The headline and opening sentences are enough!

    Joy – the typical fallen female of the species that’s precisely the target audience for celebrity puff pieces and weepy so-sad so-tragic stories designed to program her emotional outbursts and responses that further encourage her to go out there like a good little wind-up doll and annoy the general public into compliance.

    In other words, both dopes are even worse than the fallacy that Briggs is stating… they appeal to BRANDING!

    CNN! BBC! CBC! TWITTER! FACEBOOK! FAK-CHAK ORGANIZATION! THE WHITE HOUSE! BLACK LIVES MATTER! ANTIFA! LGBTQ2P$$$! THE SCIENCE ™!

    Oh such grand institutions! How could they ever be wrong with all the approved experts and former intelligence agents and people of the alphabet variety hour that work for them?! Why, some would even throw their own grandma under the bus to uphold and defend their fascination of these!

    The age of the individual celebrity is done! We are now in the age of the GROUP CELEBRITY! THE HOARDES OF SACRED CALVES LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO DEVOUR! Even the celebrities and authorities fear them! You ever see them being fak-chacked? Exactly!

  19. Nah, not remotely you just have a venal track mind.
    Pastel colours are best.
    Thinking about it my three inch shoes are boots and they’re brown, Green, Black, taupe. No pink shoes.
    Most of the time I wear trainers or outdoor boots of various descriptions.
    Pink is still the best colour though.
    Red? You’ve lead a sheltered life. The Queen *Elizabeth, wears Red fairly often. I don’t have a lot of red things.
    This is you this is:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfmAzoILaK8

  20. “The typical fallen female”
    Excuse me? what precisely do you mean?
     
    Swordfish made an accurate statement.
    Stick to the argument presented.
    Appeals to authority are not necessarily without merit and are not fallacies which defeat the opponent’s argument.
     
    It is rational to use authorities or experts on any given topic. Unless you happen to know something of the subject yourself or the point in question is a simple logical point, then in which case it’s open for anyone to see the fallacy of the statement. Courts use it all the time. Along with all wise counsellors or responsible entities.
    Stop pretending you’re protecting Briggs. He can look after himself.
    Tell the truth.

  21. Oh no, I lied,
    I do have a pair of bubble gum pink baseball trainers.
    A pair of lilac baseball trainers…
    hmmm, trying to think,
    No pale pink shoes! the horror!
    Navy, teal, beige, tan…
    My mum gave me a harris tweed pink checked work bag for christmas though, does that count? Told you I was blessed.

  22. Very true Mr Briggs, one only has to look at the popular television shows to see what a state Western society is in.

    In Australia you have Goggle Box where people watch others watching tv?

    Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, where people watch Celebrities talking dribble while dealing with living without the usual creature comforts?

    Etc, etc….the end is nigh!

  23. Cookie: ”…the end is nigh!

    Yes, and by God, so is the Beginning. A glorious time to be alive.

  24. It’s lovely and was a complete surprise
    https://www.houseofbruar.com/spey-tote-bag-pink-check/

    Venal, according to the dictionary, which is another appeal to authority, has. a clear definition.
    I admit I thought it meant something else more non specific.
    Kind of like vain. It’s because only Catholics use the word. Being a Protestant or an anglican, I’d only heard it vaguely in passing. It doesn’t happen to us, it’s all the others

  25. …and celebrity shows are rubbish but it’s STILL not the end of the world. Never watched a single episode of I’m a Celebrity… or the other one, we have over here ‘TOWIE’, even though it’s filmed in this county. Somebody the other day missed the pun.

  26. Excuse me? what precisely do you mean?

    I meant you are an Anglican.

    Swordfish made an accurate statement.
    Stick to the argument presented.

    He did??? Well then, I also made an argument! I called you a typical fallen female of the species. How do you counter?

    Appeals to authority are not necessarily without merit and are not fallacies which defeat the opponent’s argument.
    It is rational to use authorities or experts on any given topic. Unless you happen to know something of the subject yourself or the point in question is a simple logical point, then in which case it’s open for anyone to see the fallacy of the statement. Courts use it all the time. Along with all wise counsellors or responsible entities.

    True! And who cam argue with such expert intelligent advice?

    CNN Expert: Deny the unvexxed health insurance!
    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/watch-cnn-medical-ethics-expert-calls-denying-health-insurance-unvaccinated-jerks

    But this is about appeals to non-authorities! Which often is squidfish appealing to either himself, or a lay social media censor fak-checka, or AtheistRaptor1735rulez in order to dismiss actual authorities as “loons” because he can’t counter what they say except to toss out a link to sime article that is either defamatory ad hominem and doesn’t even address what the authority said!

    But even worse than that! There’s you! You appeal to a no-name commenter in Brigg’s comment section as having an argument! Then rush to his defence!

    Stop pretending you’re protecting Briggs. He can look after himself.
    Tell the truth.

    So can swordsy! Well, he just runs away after his little drive-bys! So why are you so keen to defend him? Tell us the truth, are you in luuuuvvv with him????

  27. Another question to be asked!

    What about non-authorities DISGUISED and TREATED as authorities?

    Example: this fella whom Rand Paul is grilling and whom all the trumpets and joyless ones regard as a herald and holder of THE SCIENCE ™!
    https://youtu.be/pxiQeZ21SFU

    Witness that witless one in action. He is whom the fak-checkas look to quote and whom the further witless follow! Which ones are the real loons?

  28. Speaking of fak-checkas (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cheka):

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2022-01-06/british-medical-journal-exposes-facebook-fact-check-scam

    For your bedtime reading:

    https://renegademind.substack.com/p/decoding-the-narrative

    My take is that WEF Clowns don’t know how to read scientific studies themselves, but since they justify their positions and wealth by thinking they know better than everyone else, they think no one else has better reading comprehension. Moreover, they think they can pay people to do it for them anyway. Unfortunately, the people they pay invariably tell them what they want to hear in order to continue being paid. And what they want to hear is more Eugenics/Malthusian bullshit, and, “oh, you’re so superior, your position is unassailable.”

    They do not take reality into account. For instance, simple things like Pfizer is not a trustworthy partner. Oh, I’m sure they thought they had Pfizer (as well as its little subsidiaries) and ModeRNA for that matter, not to mention J&J, completely in their pocket, but they failed to anticipate major adverse events and complete lack of efficacy because they don’t know how to read scientific studies themselves.

    They thought they weren’t marks because the easiest person to gull is the one who thinks everyone else, but not him, is the mark.

    As for Vanguard and Blackrock: well, they have assets under management, in other words, it is not their money. They can syphon off a little here and there for political contributions. Once in a while, they can hollow out a company. They have no interest in the current financial system going down. The financial system, such as it is, is their bread and butter.

    “In 2019 it was a paper authored by Blackrock and discussed at the Jackson Hole conference that year, that outlined how the Fed would have to ‘go direct’ when the next downturn hit. It did and they did.”

    “It did” I take it “it” refers to the 2020 downturn, but what is “they did”? Last I checked I didn’t get any distribution from the Fed and I’m not aware of any legal authority they have to pay money to the public. I got a check from the Treasury, but that’s under fiscal authority, and that’s not a new policy.

    Blackrock’s Larry Fink is heavily involved with the WEF. Blackrock is also a major player in ESG investing, which is a cover for carbon-ration trading. Additionally, I believe Blackrock is heavily involved in the Natural Asset Company agenda, which seems to be a new form of enclosure of the commons, with the end-game maybe that we pay through the nose for “environmental services” provided by NACs. Would you trust someone whose name is “Fink”?

    So, the people pushing for the vex-passports anywhere, anytime, are not your friends. They can inject you with anything they want.

    And for more creepiness:

    https://unlimitedhangout.com/2021/10/investigative-reports/wall-streets-takeover-of-nature-advances-with-launch-of-new-asset-class/

  29. “Joy you’re a pip and I’m C of E with Latin sympathies.”
    I think you’re just another on line person.

    Three or four God-incidences have happened since attending here.
    I’ve only read indicates your comment. Mostly private but on a trivial and humorous note, (to me),
    I found not one but TWO pairs of Pale Pink shoes yesterday on a totally unrelated mission which must remain secret. So I forsook my pink shoes. I’ve worn both pairs within the last year so lockdown must be getting to me.

     
    The other involves es a pamphlet of braille written by someone who it turns out, went to my Church at Christchurch Chorleywood. I had no idea where the pamphlet came from until reading the author and had to rack my brain to work out whoMr. M W was…We girls taught some of the youth leaders braille. So I read it and it seems y prayer was answered.
    A third involves the discovery of another probably famous Christian who says, that God ha s a sense of humour, which I believe he does, too. When describing the personality of God this man had him to a T. He’s a scientist astronomer.
    Just saying

  30. 45:20 is Question of personality of God in the above in
    Much of the rest is topical to what’s been discussed on this and recent posts, in identically.

  31. Children are innocent, they are pure.

    They are neither. They are born in darkness and ignorance and they require the Sacrament of Baptism to become children of God.

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