Monday, February 29, 2016

Three Men Make A Tiger Fallacy

The three men make a tiger fallacy derived a long time ago in China. China used to be split up into territories and the territories had separate Kings that would often war with each other to gain more power or resources. The only trustworthy ally was if the Kings made a treaty and then sent their son (a prince) to the other King for leverage. This way, if one King crossed the other, the other would have the opportunity to kill the sin, therefore, no King would want to break the treaty. 
One day a trusted official of King Wei, Pang Cong, was sent to another territory in China. Pang Cong was very hesitant to leave his own territory because he was afraid many people would slander behind his back when he was away. At this time, China was very bad about gossip. To try and prevent this from happening, Pang Cong spoke to the King before he left. 
"Your majesty, if one man were to come to you and tell you there was a tiger in the market, would you believe him?" The King scoffed and assured him he would not believe such nonsense. So Pang Cong spoke again, "If a second man were to come to you and tell you there was a tiger in the market, would you believe him?" The King took a second longer to think about this, but he still offered his answer as no, he would not believe him. So Pang Cong took it a little bit further, he asked, "But your majesty, if three people were to come to you and tell you there was a tiger in the market, would you believe them now?" Here, the King finally changed his mind and agreed, yes he would believe them. 
After sharing this story to the King, he elaborated how it came into play within their own relationship. He told him how people would slander behind his back, but just because there may be a lot of them, does not mean it is actually true. The King agreed with him and so Pang Cong left. Unfortunately, Pang Cong was right and when he came back, enough people had gossiped about him to sway the King's mind. The King would no longer see or talk to Pang Cong, even though he had warned him that this was going to happen.
The moral of the story is that when enough people come together and share one rumor, the others eventually adopt this rumor and take it in as the truth

Resources for an explanation for this article can be found at both of these URLs:

I believe the main flaw in this reasoning is conformity. Pang Cong was correct that if enough people spread the same rumor, others begin to follow in pursuit. Today's world is very self-centered and it is a type of dog-eat-dog world. I have met too many people to this day that are willing to throw anyone else under the bus to make themselves look better or to succeed in any other way. Gossip is a dangerous game that reels in not just teenagers, but college students and adults as well. Humans feel the need to be accepted and wanted, when they catch someone's attention, they bask in the adornment. Therefore, if they notice that what they are saying sparks someone's interest, they will continue to say it to keep their attention. Gossip does this to people and so it is easily spread. Since people like being part of a group, they conform to social norms and generally do not disagree to the norm, in fear of being shunned to the outside. This is a gossip culture that, unfortunately, sheds some truth to the Three Men Make a Tiger Fallacy
A prevalent flaw in this reasoning is the flaw of being unskilled and unaware. Those who choose to accept rumors and continue to spread them, are obviously unaware of the actual truth. Most people are too lazy to research and find out the actual truth, but some enjoy the more thrilling story over the truth anyway. Being unknowledgeable  in what your speaking about is one of the biggest mistakes a communicator can make because it can make them unreputable and unethical. Another flaw would be subjective validation. The gossiper could very well only be going off of their perspective, which may be bias and may not have the entire truth. This causes the actual truth to become distorted and interpreted in ways that does not portray an entire truth. Along with this, it could be a flaw in the use of language and misusing meaning. Again, the interpretation may be used differently, or if the terms are framed in a different light, they may be negative when they were originally positive. 

There are many different types of logical flaws in reasonings and here is a URL that covers these flaws more in depth:

A more Comm 250 related flaw in argument can be found at This pdf has many different flaws in argument and the one that compares most to this fallacy would be the Bandwagon. It states, "Appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation." It uses an excellent example along with it as well about the Earth. If conforming to rumors and popular belief made the story true, the Earth would have made itself flat for the many centuries that popular belief said that it was flat.

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