This past week in class we have been learning about all types of fallacies that work themselves into everyday life. A couple of the examples of fallacies we have studied are the true Scotsman fallacy, the straw man fallacy, and the ad hominem/attack of the man. I enjoyed learning about these fallacies, especially when they are used in arguments against me, but I think there is a lot of functionality behind learning more about other fallacies. Understanding and drawing attention to common used fallacies is a simple way to become a stronger rhetorician. The fallacies I am expanding on is the fallacies that three men make a tiger.
Three men make a tiger stems from a Chinese proverb pointing to an individual’s tendency to accept ridiculous statements and information if repeated by enough people. Imagine yourself positioned just outside a small village marketplace. It is a normal day until one person says that there is a tiger in the market. You certainly do not see this tiger and disregard the information that the man has presented about there being a tiger. Now there is another man that comes out of the market claiming to have seen a tiger. Your suspicion grows, but you have yet to fully commit to the idea of the tiger. Finally, a third man exits the market and claims to have seen a tiger. At this point, three people came out of the same market saying there is a tiger and you finally claim this to be true. The fallacy lies within the thought process that just because a few people claim something to be true does not mean there is data (or a tiger) supporting the original claim.
One problem with this fallacy being accepted as true is that it is a popular tactic within news and media today (just look at the presidential debates). The debates are filled with all sorts of fallacies; particularly three men make a tiger. Many candidates will point to a particular fact or “facts” that is believed to be true due to the amount of people saying this to the media. Many times the facts being presented by the candidates cannot be backed by factual data; it is simply supported using this fallacy. A major problem with this fallacy is that students who see the debate will then incorporate these “facts” into their own presidential argument in turn defining who they will vote for come election day.
I would encourage everyone to lookout for the three men make a tiger fallacy in both the Republican and Democratic debates within the following months.