Appeal to Ridicule
- Appeal To Mockery
- The Horse Laugh
- Reductio ad ridiculum
A simplistic fallacy in which it is suggested an argument is false by presenting it in a way in which it appears silly and/or trivial. This often dovetails into Strawman Fallacy
or Appeal to Ignorance
The way it's been employed by US forces involved in anti-partisan campaigns
"Queen Alice is using what some may call a cruel and unusual tool
to break the resistance of rebel prisoners. I bet many parents would agree! Some are being forced to listen to Barney & Friends
sing the "I Love You" song. I think after an hour of that they’ll spill the beans, don’t you?"
is to lock the victim in a completely dark room and play it as loudly as possible
below the point at which they will lose their hearing over time. The darkness is often spiced up with non-stop blinding flashes of light at (ir)regular intervals. The use of 'quiet rooms' (like the ones used in recording studios) is interesting, as (ir)regular bursts of not-quite-deafening music can be contrasted with deafening silencenote
. It's done until they inevitably have a mental breakdown or, eventually, go insane. While the wording of the example above suggested just an hour, in practice months or even years aren't unheard of. In summation it's just as if not more painful than regular torture, removes the need for dedicated Torture Technicians, and leaves no trace on the victims so you can more easily deny having tortured them if anyone asks.
As this example illustrates, stating something in a way that makes it seem silly and/or trivial does not necessarily mean it is (just/only)
silly and/or trivial.
This fallacy differs from reductio ad absurdum
, a legitimate debating technique; there, it is demonstrated that an absurd conclusion naturally follows from the underlying logic of an opponent's argument, therefore showing the argument as invalid. However, an attempt at reductio ad absurdum
that itself uses faulty reasoning can leave you with this.
Also, just because an argument uses ridicule does not mean it runs afoul of this trope. A person who delivers a withering, logically sound counterattack in a mocking, rude manner is being a jerk. If the argument is still sound, it stands regardless of how insulting the phrasing is.
In terms of tropes, this fallacy often coincides with Too Funny to Be Evil
, where an evil character can use this fallacy to get a laugh out of the uneducated masses while dismissing the hero.
Looks like Appeal to Ridicule—and *is*
- Any argument that the opponent's views are so ridiculous that they deserve only ridicule. Note that such a claim can be used to justify ridiculing views that are perfectly true.
Looks like Appeal to Ridicule—and *is not*
- When an argument or counterargument is presented with some ridicule thrown in for good measure. The validity of the argument is independent of how courteously (or not) it was delivered. For example, Bob says, "I could be a professional basketball player." Alice says, "You? Don't make me laugh. You're a lazy, overweight slob who doesn't exercise and has no discipline for taking care of your body. You're much too old, less than five feet tall, clumsy, and blind as a bat. You're too arrogant to listen to coaches and too lazy to practice. And I don't think you've done anything athletic in your life." If Alice is telling the truth, her arguments for why Bob could not be a professional basketball player are valid, even if she is ridiculing him.