Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Three Men Make a Tiger Fallacy

According to, a fallacy is defined as "a deceptive, misleading, or false notion, belief, etc." ( The "Three Men Make a Tiger Fallacy" refers to a person / people who believe information that is completely preposterous because it has been repeated by many people. In other words, this fallacy refers to a story you may hear that you know in the back of your mind is impossible to be true, but once you hear multiple people telling you this same story you begin to believe it is true since so many people are telling you the same thing, even though it is not.

The "Three Men Make a Tiger Fallacy" originated in the state of Wei during the Warring States Period (475 BC - 221 BC). According to the Warring States Records, this fallacy originated from a speech given by a high ranking official, Pang Cong to his King. Cong was setting out for a trip and was trying to make a point to his King that even though the same story is told by multiple people that does not make the story true. The example Cong gave to his King involved a story of a tiger. He asked the King if he would believe one person who came to him claiming to have seen a live tiger wondering around in the town's market. The King told Cong he would not believe that one person. Next, Cong asked if the King would believe that same story if two different people told him they saw a live tiger wandering around, to which the King said he may begin to wonder if the story were true or not. Finally, Cong asked the King if he would believe that story if three different people told him the exact same thing, the King said he would then believe the story if three people told him the same thing. Essentially in this story, three men made a tiger. Since three different people held the power to tell the King they saw a tiger, even though that story was not true, they still made up a tiger since the King would have believed that tiger existed and the story was true. 

Cong's reasoning behind this speech was to teach the King that you can not believe everything you hear, no matter how many people tell you the exact same story, that does not mean the story is true. Cong wanted to get this message across to his King so he would not believe any slanderous stories he was told about Cong from separate people while he was away on his trip. 

In today's world with the use of technology, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing a fallacy. Even though we know it is impossible for a chimp's head to be put on a human's body, for the procedure to be successful, and for the "half chimp, half boy" to be healthy and alive, we almost want to believe the story is true because it is interesting and is published in a magazine. And to the fault of many people, a lot of people like to believe a story is true because it is printed in a newspaper or a magazine. 

This fallacy is flawed in reasoning for many reasons. First, it lacks any evidence to support the claim as being true. It is strictly gossip or a case of 'he said, she said.' Second, if random people are telling you a story, how do you know if they are a credible or reliable source? You do not know if these people are trustworthy, ethical and honest people. Third, it lacks logical thinking. If the story is something you know is absurd, why believe it simply because other people are saying it is true? 

In conclusion, just because you hear the same absurd story from multiple different people, it does not mean the story is true. 


No comments:

Post a Comment