Friday, May 26, 2017

Three Men make a Tiger

Tanner Townsend
Blog Post #2
COMM 250
May 26, 2017

            For Blog Post #2 I chose the fallacy ‘Three Men Make a Tiger’. This fallacy interested me more than the others because it made complete sense, and connected with me. I would never think twice about something/someone if multiple individuals came to me stating it was truth. It made me wonder about many things I may have believed, even though they had no veracity. In this fallacy, a Chinese idiom, there was a Warring States period, about 5th century BC. There included seven main distinguished states, who were often know to create alliances. One year, a state decided to ally with another and exchanged princes as hostages to ensure loyalty/trust. A minister of one of the states was to accompany its prince to the allied state. He became worried about the ill speaking of him to his king while he was away. It is said that the minister came to his king and asked, “if someone were to tell you that there was a tiger running in the street, would you believe it?" The king said no. Pang Cong (the minister) replied, "if two people were to tell you there was a tiger running in the street, would Your Majesty believe it?” The king admitted he may suspect it. Finally, Cong responds, "what if three people were to tell you that?" After a moment of thought the king confesses he would believe it. The minister assures the king that there is no tiger outside, while explaining to him that seeing a tiger in a busy place is absurd, but when multiple people made the claim the possibilities became real. Cong told the king that he would be leaving soon to escort his son, and asked him to refrain from believing the men speaking ill of Cong to the King. The king agreed to give his discernment. However, just as Pang feared, after he left the king believed the slanderous gossip about him and no longer trusted him. “The fallacy is used to describe cases in which when a lie is repeated enough, it will be accepted as truth. “What everyone is saying must be true.” This is directly correlated to Argumentum ad populum, as well as Appeal to the People. This can be a problem, and result in extreme flaw because there is no evidence to support the claims being made. No mayhem in the marketplace, no uproar of fear or devastation because of the tiger’s extraordinary appearance. There is nothing to show of the statements being made but those making them. And even then, how do you know they are a creditable, trustworthy, and ethical source? I may have believed some crazy things, but I also know when to filter what I know is bull. At that moment, this is strictly gossip, or as they call it, “he say, she say”. Also, the fallacy may also lack logical thinking. If what you’re being told is something that you know is preposterous, you accept it simply because it’s said? Our tendency to believe absurd info is rooted in motivated reasoning. Which is also a flaw. We are motivated to accept things that we believe “confirm our opinions”, this cognitive bias can result in a false social consensus over time. As well as social consensus reality. Which if you are a part of a high/noble society, like Pang, consensus is treated as facts – with no proof. However, beliefs with low consensus are then treated complete opposite. I still appreciate the fallacy, with respect to its origin. And I have taken a lot from its intended purpose – despite flaw.

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