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Appeal to celebrity

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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.


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



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.

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