Appeal to ridicule

Appeal to ridicule, also called the Horse Laugh [ [ Nizkor Project - Appeal to Ridicule] ] , is a logical fallacy which presents the opponent's argument in a way that appears ridiculous, often to the extent of creating a straw man of the actual argument. For example:

* If Einstein's theory of relativity is right, that would mean that when I drive my car it gets shorter and heavier the faster I go. That's crazy! (This is, in fact, true, but the effect is so minuscule a human observer will not notice.)
* If the theory of evolution were true, that would mean that your great great great grandfather was a gorilla! (False, since the theory does not state humans evolved from gorillas, and clearly states evolution took many more than 5 generations.)

This is a rhetorical tactic which mocks an opponent's argument, attempting to inspire an emotional reaction (making it a type of appeal to emotion) in the audience and to highlight the counter-intuitive aspects of that argument, making it appear foolish and contrary to common sense. This is typically done by demonstrating the argument's logic in an extremely absurd way or by presenting the argument in an overly simplified way, and often involves an appeal to consequences.

Appeal to Ridicule is often found in the form of challenging one's maturity;

* Nobody believes in socialism after college! Grow up.

The argument is ridiculed on the basis that having a view commonly associated with youth is somehow invalid.

Although they appear very similar, this fallacy should not be confused with "reductio ad absurdum", which is a valid type of logical argument. It should also not be confused with ridiculing the person making the argument, which is a form of the "ad hominem" fallacy.


ee also

*Red Herring

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