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Appeal to flattery

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Part of the series on
Logic and rhetoric
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An appeal to flattery is a logical fallacy that occurs when a debater tries to compliment people into an opinion.

The fallacy is an emotional appeal and an informal fallacy.

Alternate names[edit]

  • appeal to vanity
  • argumentum ad vanitatem
  • apple polishing
  • sucking up

Form[edit]

The argument takes this form:

  • Person A tells a premise person B doesn't like.
  • To make person B more favorable towards this premise, person A attempts to flatter them by telling they are intelligent/attractive/otherwise desirable.
  • If person B falls for this, they agree with A.

Explanation[edit]

Someone toadies someone else in order to appeal to them and make them more favorable towards a premise that they would not like otherwise. This kind of argumentation makes use of the Dunning-Kruger effect among other things if used successfully. It is virtually always fallacious, because it never looks into facts, but only exploits the basic human need for appreciation.

Examples[edit]

Examples of argumentum ad vanitatem:

  • You are a smart kid, you should know you shouldn't be smoking.
    • While this is an attempt of making a valid point (smoking is unhealthy, and smoking when underage is even worse, we know that!), this argument fails to mention why smoking is actually bad, instead saying "if you are smart, you don't smoke; if you smoke, you are stupid".
  • Pretty women deserve the best, let's make out!
  • Doctor, as you clearly are a sharp and intelligent person, you should know that the resonanse cascade allowed us to to teleport those caprian aliens to Earth's ignosphere on quasi-quantum level through pores on cheese.

External links[edit]