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Appeal to celebrity

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Appeal to celebrity could use some help. Please research the article's assertions. Whatever is credible should be sourced, and what is not should be removed.

An appeal to celebrity is a fallacy that occurs when a source is claimed to be authoritative because of their popularity. It is the bastard child of an appeal to authority and an argumentum ad populum. The appeal to celebrity is especially common in advertising.

The fallacy is an appeal to authority and thus a conditional fallacy.

Form[edit]

P1: Famous person X supports Y.
P2: (unstated) Famous persons are correct.
C: Y is correct.

Examples[edit]

  • A large part of the appeal of fascism and other right wing populist movements relies on the idea of the “will of the people” usually centred around a charismatic figure[1] In other words, the celebrity style politician/dictator must be right — they draw huge crowds, so therefore they represent the ‘will of the people’. To reduce it to the absolute level of absurdity — Hitler had 66 million fans; who am I to disagree?
  • Jenny McCarthy’s use of celebrity to spread pseudoscientific ideas[citation needed]
  • Gwyneth Paltrow using her celebrity to sell ridiculous ideas such as vaginal steaming[citation needed]
  • Vani Hari
  • Pundits using their large celebrity platform to shift the political narrative and conversation[citation needed]

Problems[edit]

Popularity is irrelevant to truth. The only minor exception occurs when the cited celebrity is popular because of their expertise (e.g., Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and Neil deGrasse Tyson in their respective fields), which merely shows (in this case) that said persons are good at explaining science, not necessarily doing it. It also doesn't follow that, for instance, Dawkins's expertise in biology gives him any particular authority in questions of religion, or for that matter other branches of science such as physics or astronomy. Similarly, Michael Jordan may be an authority on basketball shoes, but because of his expertise at basketball, not because of his popularity.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. Eco, U., 1995. Ur-Fascism