12: Bandwagon & Ad Hominem

Informal Fallacies

Key Terms

Modus Ponens
Modus Tollens
Disjunctive Syllogism
Reduction Fallacy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
False Dilemma
Straw Man
Special Pleading
Slippery Slope
Weasel Words
Meaningless Jargon
Argument from Authority
Argument from Tradition
Ad Hominem Attack

  • Not logical
  • Pseudo-reasoning (false reasoning)
  • Unsound arguments

Fallacies of Relevance

  • Deny, confuse, or falsify an argument by focusing on the origin of an argument
  • Appeal to opinions outside of oneself rather than critical thinking or analysis
  • Five types:
    • Appeal to Authority
    • Appeal to Tradition
    • Bandwagoning
    • Ad Hominem Attacks
    • Appeals to Emotion (including Pity, Fear, and Flattery)


  • Also called Ad Populum Fallacy
  • Origin in the 1800s when politicians would travel with a band
  • We should accept an opinion because it is popular


  • Bill: I like classical music.
  • Friends: Classical music is for old people.
  • Bill: Oh, I mean, classical music sucks.

Ad Hominem Attack

  • Literally "to the man"
  • Also called appeal to personal attack and poisoning the well
  • Focus on the messenger instead of the message
  • Personal attack

Three Different Forms of Ad Hominem Attacks

  • Abusive
    • Only a cold hearted Scrooge would cut this program’s funding.
  • Circumstantial - position is based on a person's circumstances
    • You’re a priest; of course you say abortion is wrong.
  • Practice What You Preach
    • But you put your elbows on the table during dinner all the time.


  • Do not speak to the content of the argument
  • Just because something is popular doesn't make it right
  • Reduces the argument such that it is not based on relevant facts and reason
  • Distracts from the important issues at hand