Exodus 23:2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.”
This is another fallacy that we often see being used. “Appeal to the people” is when we claim that our viewpoint is correct because many other people agree with it. This is very similar to the faulty appeal to authority. The only difference is appealing to authority figures while the other is to the people in general. The general public is very seldom a proper authority on anything.
For example: We hear often about abortions, gun control, etc. that the reason we are for or against is because of what public opinion might or might not be. For example, some will say that abortion is murder although public opinion might be that 76% of the people do not believe that. We need to keep in mind that murder is murder no matter what the public says or thinks.
Another example: I will hear that someone’s book is one of the best because it has been on the best-seller list for months. This might or might not be true, but it is also another appeal to the people.
One of the things that we often hear today in these uncertain economic times is that we should not be concerned because the majority of people believe that the economy is improving. Again, this is an appeal to the people.
Along with this fallacy is what is known as the ‘bandwagon.’ This is where we jump on the bandwagon and do what everybody else is doing. This is where peer pressure comes in for us to conform or do what others are doing.
We see this type of fallacy coming out in advertisements. We need to buy this or that article or thing because we are told millions are buying it and we need to join the millions. In other words, get on the bandwagon.
When it comes to the nightly news we might be told that majority of people get their news from the ABC, but does that mean that ABC gives us the best news??
We will often hear our teenage child asking to go someplace or to see something (like a movie) and when the parents say “no” they will come back and say, “But everybody is doing it or seeing it.” This is again that bandwagon fallacy.
The issue in this is not whether everybody is doing it, but the real issue is: Is it right or wrong? Is this a good movie to see and is ABC actually the best source of the news or guidance?
In other words, if all of the people in the world are going to the same place or doing the same thing it is no reason for us to follow suit. The important issue is: Is it right, or wrong?