Saturday, February 25, 2017

Three Men Make a Tiger

     In today’s society with constant news outlets and magazines always printing new information it is hard to distinguish what is true and what is a lie. This idea is similar to the three men make a tiger fallacy. This fallacy states that if someone hears ridiculous information by enough people they will believe it. This fallacy comes from a Chinese idiom when Pang Cong, a minister, asked a king if he would believe there was a tiger in the city if two people told him. He said he would not believe them but if three people told him there was a tiger he would believe them. Pang Cong applied this idea to people speaking ill of him while he was away. The king said he would not believe what people were saying about the minister but he was soon persuaded when he heard three people talking unpleasantly about the minister. This idiom is used to stress the power of this fallacy and what it can do to people's opinions of people/ ideas.
            We can see this idea today when we look at the media around us. When looking at magazines about celebrities we will believe anything we see on the magazine, television, and internet. For example, there was much speculation in 2016 that Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) regretted her sex change. This gossip was spread on the internet, social media, television, and magazines. These sources served as people reinforcing that idea into people’s heads. Later reports concluded that this was not true and was all a complete lie made up by the tabloids. While this is not a completely absurd idea it still demonstrates how multiple sources can strengthen a claim that is not true.
            Looking at the Chinese idiom and the Caitlyn Jenner example we can see several flaws in this fallacy’s reasoning. The first flaw we see is the lack of evidence behind these lies. Just because people say something is true does not automatically make that idea true. While I would like to say I would be smart enough to catch this fallacy I believe I have fallen victim to it many times. With the media in our society, it is hard to not believe everything we heard. That is why it is important to always question everything we see and look at the rhetoric being used. As we have learned so far in the course you cannot believe everything you see or hear because often people are trying to get you to side with them. This is not always a bad thing but rhetoric can be used to trick you into believing something that is simply not true, similar to this fallacy. Rhetoric definitely has its strengths but similar to Socrates idea of rhetoric it can be used in hateful ways to turn people against a worthy cause and create division. For this reason, I believe it is very important to study rhetoric and learn how to analyze the media around us. The idea that someone can hear something three times and believe it to be true shows how much power we put into other people and their opinions. As citizens in this media age, we must be able to analyze the rhetoric being used around us and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong.

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