Friday, February 27, 2015

Three Men Make Tiger 三人成虎 (Pinyin: sān rén chéng hǔ)

The link above is a cartoon about the story of “Three Men Make Tiger.”  (Confusion Institute Online)

Three men make a tiger, which is also a Chinese proverb, named 三人成虎 (Pinyin: sān rén chéng hǔ.) It says that if three people in the city all say there is a tiger around, you are inclined to believe that it is so. People used it as a metaphor for the possibility of a rumor becoming credible and accepted as truth if repeated again and again.

 It's also a common social phenomenon. For example, a couple years ago, there was a Japanese actress announced that she would retire; some Chinese fans felt regrettable. So, someone even said that if she retired, it felt like she was dead in his mind. This fan said it for showing his love for the actress, but what he said was spread. At last, people believed the actress who was enjoying her retirement, was dead. That is a typical example of "Three Men Make A Tiger." Because many people say and believe a thing, it becomes real. 

This proverb is based on a type of argument named appealing to people. It's a fallacious argument that explains, "if many people believe so, it is so." This fallacy is sometimes used to convince people that a popular theory (or belief, or thought) is true. That reminds me what my classmates always did when I was in the middle school. Boys like playing tricks. Once boy A said to B that our teacher wanted to meet him because of some serious things he did. But B did not believe him immediately. Then boy C told B the same thing, and some others as well. So B went to meet teacher, our teacher of course said she did not do that. There were many similar things I could tell. But most of them were tricks or were not so serious. Things like that are still happening every day. 

Fortunately, they did not cause harmful consequences. But what if they did? That is an alarm for us to do communication. For people who create the tiger, they should realize the consequences whether they do it on purpose or unintentional. For people who are told the tiger, they should think carefully before act. Sometimes, if a lie is said again and again, people would not believe it when it really happen.               

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