“A logical fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. Logical fallacies are like tricks or illusions of thought, and they’re often very sneakily used by politicians and the media to fool people.”
Source: Your Logical Fallacy is…
Appeal to Authority
argumentum ad verecundiam
(also known as: argument from authority, ipse dixit)
Description: Insisting that a claim is true simply because a valid authority or expert on the issue said it was true, without any other supporting evidence offered.
Source: Logically Fallacious
This is Snopes founder David Mikkelson and his ex-wife Barbara. Their cat is pretty smart too, and knows all there is to know about the science, art and history of licking its balls. He’s the most honest one there.
These are, according to Facebook, the final arbiters of what is true, and what is false. Sadly, what these almighty Mount Olympus denizens have failed to see, despite their godlike wisdom, is that their entire model behind the “fact check” is based on a common logical fallacy: the appeal to authority. What authority? You wouldn’t guess it in a million years, and since we don’t have that much time to wait, I will tell you: it’s them. Perhaps they are more wise than Socrates, who said “the deepest wisdom is to know that you know nothing.” Impressive!
Except it isn’t. It’s actually pretty sad.
That said, when you hear someone say something is true or false because they read it on Snopes implies they are an authority that requires no evidence outside of what is offered by Snopes. You can therefore safely come to the conclusion they are cruelly misled and manipulated. We all want a final authority to make reality simple, but that never existed and won’t. In the end, we must use critical thinking to the best of our abilities, and consider uncomfortable facts that disturbs our world view.
Or you can assume Snopes is reliable, and that they did all their homework, and that out of all the seven billion people in the world, these two plebeians have no bias in their perception of reality, and neither does anyone that works for them.
Isn’t that amazing, how they managed to find those ridiculously talented individuals from all around the world, through perhaps, a Craigslist ad?
Snopes has had a notorious past when it came to their own transparency, but what we do know is that they are particularly unreliable on issues pertaining to politics. In 2016 it became deeply partisan, and essentially became an asset for the Clinton campaign by offering to decide what is fact versus fiction in terms of stories that could be disastrous to her campaign. That won’t last for long, as with every change in administration, they will toe the line and fall in place behind those powers that can take them off the net, and that administration is only biding its time.
David Mikkelson told the Dailymail.com that Snopes… has no set requirements for fact-checkers because the variety of the work ‘would be difficult to encompass in any single blanket set of standards.’
‘Accordingly, our editorial staff is drawn from diverse backgrounds; some of them have degrees and/or professional experience in journalism, and some of them don’t,’ he added.
Now for you real journalists and actual scholars out there, how does it feel to know your work will be judged, and possibly censored, by partisan hacks that are not even trained in your field? Kinda makes your Columbia University journalism degree seem kinda useless, no? These unqualified miscreants will decide the fate of your hard work, and its ability to be shared and publicized on Google and Facebook, which hits you right in the pocketbook.
Yeah, I said Google. They’re doing it too.
In other words, some of their staff’s editorial board aren’t even trained researchers or journalists, yet they are supposed to be more credible than even scientific, peer reviewed journals. It’s like having a team of mechanics, basketball players, and prostitutes leading an editorial meeting at the New York Times.
The Snopes editor is openly liberal, which is the same as being openly conservative: which is to say, you are subject to confirmation bias: our tendency to only accept facts that fit our world view. They should strive to be openly NEUTRAL, as arbiters of truth they claim to be, but they are not. Snopes’ main political fact-checker is Kim Lacapria. That she’s a Democrat is all fine and dandy, but confirmation bias tends to affect all political stripes. She sees the world through blue lens, while a conservative sees it through red ones.
Given what we’ve discussed now, here’s an interesting experiment:
- bend your arm near your chest
- gently rock to and fro
- steadily beat the back of your hand against your chest, palm outward
This is what you look like when you quote Snopes as an authority. Don’t do it. Don’t let them use you, ever.