Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Three Men Make a Tiger

Three Men Make a Tiger

Hannah DePriest

If one person told you there was a tiger in the street would you believe them? Probably not. What if two people told you they saw a tiger? You still might not believe them but perhaps you become a little suspicious. Now say three people came and told you they saw a tiger in the street, would you believe that indeed there was a tiger? You probably would.

This is a fallacy that originated when Pang Cong, a Chinese official, proved the power a large group of people can have regardless if they are right or not to China's king many many years ago. He used the tiger example to prove how easy it is for people to slander him and have his reputation suffer as a result. It proves that when many people say something, more people are then likely to believe it.
This kind of fallacy is more present than ever with the existence of the internet and especially the popularity of social media. There is such a large group of people that express their thoughts and beliefs on social media that "three men make a tiger" instances occur too often. If one person makes a false statement that they believe is true, then other people who may view it can dismiss it easily. However, if that one post gets shared and reposted over and over so people can see how many people agree with the original statement, then people are going to be slower to question the position of the statement. With so many of these types of instances on every topic, it has become difficult to set them apart from truthful/factual statements. 

One example of this that is serving as a problem in this current post-election season is fake news. People create a false or partly false statement with the intent of having a large number of people share it and agree with it to then convince even more people. This doesn't prove that the original statement is true, it just makes it easier to believe. 

The only way to efficiently refute this fallacy is to simply prove that the statement is false. No matter how many people side with it, it could be still be proven that it isn't true.

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