Monday, February 29, 2016

Three Men Make a Tiger

The “three men make a tiger” fallacy comes from an old Chinese proverb.  Two and a half millennia ago, Pang Cong, a high-ranking official and one of the king’s most trusted advisors would be away for quite some time to serve as an escort to a prince.  Pang Cong knew that the people of ancient China really liked to gossip and he was worried that jealous people would trash talk him and ruin his reputation with the king.  So before Pang Cong left, he told the king a story:

Pang started by asking the king a question, “If someone were to tell you that there was a tiger roaming the markets of our capital city, would you believe it?”
The king replied by saying no.
Then Pang asked, “What if two people told you there was a tiger in the market?"  The king replied by stating that he may be suspicious but he still would not believe that there was a tiger in the market.
Finally, Pang asked the king, “What if three people told you there was a tiger in the market?”
After some thought the king decided that yes, if three people told him there was a tiger in the market then he would believe it.
Pang Cong went on to make that point that it’s obvious that there isn’t a tiger in the marketplace yet when three people say there is, he believes them.  The journey Pang is going on is long and there are more than three people that would slander him while he’s away.
The king said that he understood Pang Cong’s circumstances.
However, Pang Cong’s worst fear was realized.  While he was away many people slandered him and when he returned the king refused to see him.

There are so many examples of the “three men make a tiger” situation happening in our everyday lives. 
One example is that so many parents refuse to get their children vaccinated because enough people have said that they cause Autism and other disabilities.  Scientists have proved this false time and time again but the conflict still exists.
Another example that is just as serious is bullying, especially with adolescents.  Bullies will make something up about another student and say it enough times, then enough people will believe it, and suddenly everyone believes that this (usually horrible) thing is true.  This has led many young adults to take their own lives.

This is a flaw in reasoning because people ignore facts and what is right in front of them and instead go along with what others say no matter how far fetched.

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