Appeal to Flattery

Appeal to Flattery:

Also called:

  • Appeal to Vanity
  • Emperor's New Clothes

Another simple fallacy in which it is suggested that accepting a particular conclusion speaks well of the person who accepts it. This is a variant of Appeal to Consequences, since the unstated suggestion is that if someone does not accept the argument, the flattery is untrue. Very, very popular in advertising.

"Surely an intelligent, sophisticated reader such as yourself doesn't need an example or demonstration to recognize an Appeal to Flattery?"


  • This is one of many techniques Palpatine uses to manipulate Anakin in the Star Wars prequels. He tells Anakin that he is the most awesome Jedi ever and that he is just way too awesome to take orders from that silly Jedi Council, who are clearly Just Jealous if they don't treat someone as awesome as Anakin with the proper reverence. This works extremely well because it's exactly what Anakin wants to believe.
  • Anytime an advert implies that only intelligent, strong or popular people buy its products.
  • When someone begins a sentence with "Surely even an idiot cannot deny that ..." or "Obviously, it is true that ...", this trope is likely (but not always) being used. The implication for the first one is that a person who denies the claim is worse than an idiot; the second implies that, if you don't think it is true, you are missing the obvious.
    • Often used by conspiracy theorists. For example, "Don't tell me ur 2 stupid to realize 9/11 was an inside job lol."
    • The Democratic political party in the US claimed that, on average, Democrats were more intelligent than the opposing Republicans.
      • This also serves as an example of the Fallacy Fallacy. There is some evidence that those who identify as "very liberal" in the United States have a mean IQ about ten points higher than those who identify as "very conservative." The Democrats are using a fallacious Appeal to Flattery, but that does not mean the results of the General Social Survey or the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health - the sources of these claims - can be dismissed just on those grounds. It gets more complex because intelligence correlates best with the philosophy of classical liberalism, a belief that has ties both to left-liberalism and to libertarianism. The former is very close the Democrat's position, but neither party reflects the intellectual tradition of classical liberalism via libertarianism very well.

Appeal to Flattery has a flip side. It is known as "blocking disagreement" and usually involves a personal attack. Of course, only an idiot would fail to recognize this for a fallacy.

In a variant, one can appeal to perceived positive qualities of a group and a course of action, without ever establishing a link between them or even demonstrating that the group has those qualities. "Surely loyal, patriotic soldiers like yourselves would be willing to put up with the mild inconvenience of public, mandatory cavity searches of all passengers embarking on a plane in order to make sure terrorists don't threaten our civil liberties."