Appeal to fear

From Academic Kids

An appeal to fear (also called argumentum ad metum or argumentum in terrorem) is a logical fallacy in which a person attempts to create support for their idea by playing on existing fears and prejudices. Some examples are:

  • "We must raise taxes or else even more hospitals will be closed"
  • "You should stop drinking unless you want to die young like your father."
  • "If you don't graduate from high school you'll always be poor."
  • "The suspension of certain civil liberties is a necessary measure to combat terrorism"
  • "If we allow immigrants to move into our country they'll rob us of our jobs/drain our welfare system"
  • "Believe in God or burn in Hell."

Existing fears are exploited to create support for the speaker's proposal. Neither fear is necessarily directly tied to the proposal in question however, and therein lies the fallacy.

The appeal to fear fallacy is closely linked to the false dilemma fallacy, in which a scary situation is often provided as a proposed idea's sole alternative.

It is an appeal to emotion.

External links

zh:訴諸恐懼 he:אד_מטום

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