Argumentum ad Populum
It has been a very interesting past few weeks in the world of professional wrestling, to say the least. Marquee names from the past, present, and somewhat distant future have been turning on their computers, realizing they have the ability to type more than 140 characters, and have laid their opinions out on the table for all to see.
What is so intriguing about all of the points and arguments put forth by all that are involved with professional wrestling, including fans and not just current talents or bookers, is that all of these arguments and points for debate are… well… flawed.
Look, I love having a good-natured debate or conversation like anyone else within this internet wrestling community-thingy (I’m still having a hard time understanding that I may be a part of this thing). However, there is a difference between thought-provoking debate and character-damaging attacks or broken record-like counterpoints.
The point of debates within this internet wrestling community-thingy is to realize different points of view, better understand one another, and obtain a much-larger grasp of this genre of entertainment we grew up to love.
Debates and conversations within this society are never meant to have an inherent winner or loser. Awards and titles are not given out to those who win ‘x’ amount of debates or conversations on as many message boards as one can find or through the comfortable confines of one’s own blog.
Such competitions are not just immature or unsocial but they also hurt in the building of the professional wrestling community as a whole. Instead of listening to one another, we yell over one another. Instead of understanding one another, we ignore one another. I know this sounds very wishy-washy and about as cheesy as a stuffed crust pizza, but look back to all those podcasts you listened to or all those message board threads you replied to with regards to Nielsen ratings.
It’s not just the television programs and live shows themselves that help bring new fans to the entertainment genre, it’s us the community.
With all of this said, I thought this would be as good a time as any to point out a way of identifying when one wrestling fan maybe be more than likely hurting the growth of the wrestling community than helping. It is called the ‘logical fallacy’.
In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning in argumentation. By mistake or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or the interlocutor, or take advantage of social relationships.
Fallacious arguments are often controlled using rhetorical patterns that mask the logical argument, making fallacies more difficult to diagnose. Also, the components of the fallacy may be spread out over separate arguments.
Provided are some common fallacies used in argumentation and some examples I’m sure we all have stumbled upon at some point and time as professional wrestling fans:
Base Rate Fallacy: This is an error that occurs when the conditional probability of some hypothesis (H) given some evidence (E) is assessed without taking into account the ‘base rate’ or ‘prior probability’ of H and the total probability of E.
Example: TNA Impact earned a 1.1 cable rating on 8/26 – .83 in M18-49 a .72 in M18-34 and an average audience of 1.4 million viewers. This tabulation by Nielsen Media Research however is flawed as the result is from estimating the viewing habits of only 25,000 households in relation to 115 million.
Through simple algebra, 304 out of 25,000 households in the United States watched TNA Impact. It is very unrealistic to say that 304 households have the same viewing habits as 1.4 million.
Argumentum ad novitatem (Appeal to novelty): This is a fallacy in which someone hastily claims that an idea or proposal is correct or superior, entirely because it is new and modern. In a disagreement between status quo and new inventions, an appeal to novelty argument isn’t in itself a valid argument.
This fallacy may take two forms: overestimating the new and modern (TNA), prematurely and without investigation assuming it to be the best case, or underestimating the status quo (WWE), prematurely and without investigation assuming it to be worst case.
Argumentum ad hominem (Appeal to the man): This fallacy is an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.
Abuse of this form of logic usually involves insulting or mocking one’s opponent in order to invalidate his or her argument. This can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent’s argument. This tactic is logically deceptive because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent’s personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent’s arguments or assertions.
Example: “Doug’s an idiot not to like TNA. He makes fun of them too much; why does he even try to bring them up at all if he can’t say anything positive about them?”
Argumentum ad populum (Appeal to the people): This is an erroneous argument that concludes a suggestion to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges: “If many believe so, it is so.”
This type of argument is also the basis of a number of social phenomena, including communal reinforcement and the bandwagon effect, the spreading of various religious beliefs, and of the Chinese proverb “three men make a tiger”.
Example: “All wrestling fans watch Ring of Honor, TNA, and anything involving Japan on YouTube. If you don’t watch any of this, you have no right to call yourself a wrestling fan.”
If you have not run into one of these fallacies within the past week in some form in regards to professional wrestling, then I would consider you one lucky wrestling fan. But watch out though, someone might think you are not one and cast you out of the community.
Logical fallacy is the most common ammunition used by those within the wrestling community to fire upon each other, thus shrinking the population, and threatening extinction. Listen to the arguments and discussions, don’t shoot them down.
Until next time, mouth-breathers!
Annoy me with your assumptions and affronts… adore me with your adulation’s and acknowledgments: firstname.lastname@example.org
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