logic: false appeal to authority

In this error in logic, the writer quotes a recognized expert or celebrity–but on a topic outside of that person’s area of expertise. This strategy is often used effectively in advertising.


  • An actor who had played a doctor on a popular television series later appeared in television commercials for a health product. Interestingly, sales of this product increased significantly—possibly because viewers thought he was a credible spokesperson, on the basis of his role as a doctor, even though he had no actual medical expertise.
  • “It is unnecessary to examine the information in any depth since this well-known international organization is supporting the project.”
    [Does the international organization have expertise in this area? If not, this argument is a false appeal to authority.]

Search by related themes

Want to learn more about a theme discussed on this page? Click on a link below to see all the pages on the Language Portal of Canada that relate to the theme you selected. The search results will be displayed in Language Navigator.

Date modified: