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Argument from authority facts for kids

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Argument from authority or appeal to authority is a form of argument or reasoning that could become a fallacy if it is misused.

In informal reasoning, the appeal to authority is an argument of the form:

A is an authority on a particular topic
A says something about that topic
A is probably correct

The argument may be right in many cases, but it might be wrong in other cases. In cases where the argument is wrong, it would be a fallacy. Therefore, the appeal to authority is not a generally strong argument for proving facts.

An example of a poor appeal to authority is if someone says that "God doesn't exist. I know because Stephen Hawking said so." This is a poor example because even though almost everyone who knows about Stephen Hawking would agree that he was very intelligent man, his knowledge about physics (which he was a professor of) is not important to knowing about whether or not God exists.

An example of a good appeal to authority is if a someone says “I need to take my medicine. I know so because my doctor prescribed it,” This is believable because most doctors have a lot of knowledge and training in how to improve people's health, and it is very likely that the doctor has given similar prescriptions many times before.

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