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Bandwagon Fallacy: What Is It & Why Should You Avoid It?

Making arguments is part and parcel of daily life for most of us. We hear and make countless arguments daily at school and work about things we’re interested in. 

So wouldn’t it be cool if you learned how to make strong arguments by avoiding common fallacies? One of the most common informal fallacies is the bandwagon fallacy, also known as argumentum ad populum. 

You may have heard of it before, but what exactly is it? And why should you take steps to avoid t? Let’s take a deeper look at the bandwagon fallacy.

Bandwagon Fallacy Definition 

The bandwagon fallacy, also known as appeal to common belief or appeal to masses, is the mistaken belief that something is likely to be true because it is popular. The bandwagon fallacy occurs when someone assumes something is true simply because many people agree on it. 

However, appeal to popularity is logically fallacious. Just because a lot of people are doing something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true or correct.

But why does it sometimes work? That’s because of a psychological bias known as the bandwagon effect. People tend to accept popular opinion just because a large group of people accepts it as well.

For instance, everyone in your class is wearing a certain brand of clothing. You might be tempted to buy that brand too, just because everyone else is wearing it. But just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it’s right. 

Let’s take a look at more examples of the bandwagon fallacy.

Bandwagon Fallacy Examples

Check out the following examples of the bandwagon fallacy in action. These will help you understand better how the bandwagon fallacy actually works.

  • The election is coming up, and everyone seems to be voting for the same candidate. It must be the right thing to do!
  • My favorite team is doing great this season. Everyone must be a good team if they’re winning!
  • I just read an article that says this new diet is the best way to lose weight. It must be true if so many people are following it!
  • Many people are buying this new product, so it must be worth it!
  • I heard that this band is really popular, so I should check them out.
  • Someone buys stocks without doing any research on their own about the stock in question because many people are buying it.
  • You’re considering trying a new restaurant. But then you find out that all of your friends are going to a different restaurant. You are tempted to just go along with them, even though you are interested in the new place.

Heard similar things in real life? Of course, you have! It is one of the most common types of argument you come across. Moreover, you might have encountered similar arguments in movies, literature, or other literary media. 

So, can you now spot a bandwagon fallacy the next time you encounter one?

Why the Bandwagon Fallacy is Problematic 

The problem with the bandwagon fallacy is that it can cause us to make bad decisions. If we accept something on the basis that everyone else accepts it, we might end up being wrong. We might also miss out on opportunities to try new things and explore different options. 

In addition, popularity is not a reliable indicator of truth or quality. In fact, many popular beliefs turn out to be false, and what is popular is often simply a matter of personal preference. 

How To Avoid The Bandwagon Fallacy 

Now that you know what the bandwagon fallacy is and why it’s problematic, let’s talk about how to avoid it. 

The next time you’re tempted to jump on the bandwagon, take a step back and think about it critically. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it’s true or good. 

Always question the reasoning and logic behind a choice or decision. Every decision or belief must be based on sound logical reasoning. Once you remember this, you will avoid using bandwagon in your arguments.

Likewise, it will also help you catch bandwagon arguments when others make them. You are less likely to be swayed by such a fallacious argument if you know how to identify it. 

In this blog, we covered everything from the definition and examples of the bandwagon fallacy to how to avoid it. So don’t blindly follow the masses the next time you make an argument!

Bob Hart
Bob Hart

An experienced author and writing professional who graduated from the University of North Carolina. He has worked as a ghostwriter, editor, and content creator for various academic sites.

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