A "bandwagon" argument says that because "everyone is doing it (or thinking it or saying it), you also should".
The logical argument here is:
- Everyone (the majority) is doing it.
- The majority is always right.
- If I do it, I will be in the majority, and therefore right.
The argument is problematic because unfortunately, the premise "the majority is always right" may not be true. When phrased like this, few people would say that they'd fall for such a stupid thing - but it's still a remarkably easy trap to fall into, precisely because people don't realise that it's a bandwagon that they're jumping on. In a manner similar to the Matthew effect[wp], something that gains attention (legitimately or otherwise) will attract more interest. This interest generates more interest, like an internet meme circulating around internet forums, and before you know it everyone is on the bandwagon shouting "yee haw!!" While this is merely just how information tends to propagate, the bandwagon argument truly becomes fallacious when people use it as an excuse to say that an issue is important or that the circulating opinion must be correct.
Jumping on the bandwagon is the seizing of current events or taking on board of recent popular opinion, by politicians or political parties in order to attract popular support.
In the UK the tabloid press (red tops) are sometimes accused of 'rabble rousing' (e.g. paedophilia hysteria), leading to much public debate and political posturing. Politicians are forced to take a position on such events and the opposition, of whatever party, 'jumps on the bandwagon' by condemning the Government's record and their legislative plans. An recent example was widespread flooding in South-West England caused by heavy rain and the political reaction to it; the opposition parties made great capital of the state of flood defences, the preparedness and financing of the emergency services and building of homes and businesses on flood plains.
It should be noted that it is not necessary for the facts to get in the way of a good argument, the bandwagon has its own momentum and will carry its passengers whether true or not.
Sometimes, when events are due to external causes, both political sides will jump onto the same bandwagon and each will accuse the other of doing so (e.g. Terrorism).
 See also
- ↑ Glenn, Cheryl; Loretta Gray. Hodges' Harbrace Handbook. 16th ed. Thomson: Boston, 2007: p. 479.