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Appeal to Anger

argumentum ad iram

(also known as: appeal to hatred, loathing, appeal to outrage, etc.)

Description: When the emotions of anger, hatred, or rage are substituted for evidence in an argument.

Logical Forms:

Person 1 claims that X is true.

Person 1 is outraged.

Therefore, X is true.

 

Claim A is made.

You are outraged by claim A.

Therefore, claim A is true/false.

Example #1:

Are you tired of being ignored by your government?  Is it right that the top 1% have so much when the rest of us have so little?  I urge you to vote for me today!

Explanation: This is a common tactic to play on the emotions of others to get them to do what you want them to do.  The fact is, no evidence was given or claim was made linking your vote with the problems going away.  The politician will hope you will make the connection while she can claim innocence down the road when the people attempt to hold the politician to a promise she really never made.

Example #2:

How can you possibly think that humans evolved from monkeys!  Do I look like a flippin' monkey to you?

Explanation: Ignoring the fact that we didn’t evolve from monkeys (we share a common ancestor with modern African apes), the fact that the arguer is obviously offended is irrelevant to the facts.

Exception: Like all appeals to emotion, they work very well when used, in addition to a supported conclusion, not in place of one.

Are you tired of being ignored by your government?  Is it right that the top 1% have so much when the rest of us have so little?  I urge you to vote for me today, and I will spend my career making America a place where the wealth is more evenly distributed!

Tip: The great Yoda once said, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” With all due respect to the cute, little, green guy, anger can be very powerful and effective, as well as lead to great things.  Think of Martin Luther King, Jr.

By the way, Yoda’s statement actually commits the slippery slope fallacy.

References:{apa}

Whately, R. (1854). Rhetoric. Griffin.
{/apa}

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