I see this a lot on the internet, especially as of late with what's trending in the news:

You're a man, so you're not allowed to comment on women's issues.

You're a woman, so you're not allowed to comment on men's issues.

You're white, so you're not allowed to comment on black issues.

Now of course, the people utilizing this train of thought only say this when it's criticism of the ingroup, not when it's praise of the ingroup. It's a fallacy because it does not matter how educated or intellectual an individual's opinion is: if that person does not belong to the ingroup, the opinion is invalid.


4 Answers 4


There does not seem to be a specific name for this particular fallacy, see related discussion:

"The other person's response was that I have never had to live on my own therefore my opinion on the subject was invalid. I feel like this is wrong, I'm using data given on federal websites to make my assertions so I feel like personal experience is irrelevant".

But it falls into a broad group of fallacies known as ad hominem, literally "to the man", which attack traits of opponents instead of addressing their arguments. These traits are not restricted to a group an individual belongs to, and often include character traits and behavior. A subclass referred to as ad feminam, "to the woman", is in use since 1963, and is directed against arguments made by women.

Perhaps the closest named subclasses of ad hominem are They Are Not Like Us dismissals in the spirit of "they don't think like us", and ergo decedo, "therefore leave", where a criticism is dismissed based on affiliations of the critic. However, it is usually applied in contexts of questioning critic's loyalty rather than competence, as in "if you don't like it here why don't you go somewhere else".

Somewhat more remote is the genetic fallacy/fallacy of origins: judging a claim based on its source rather than its merits. However, in some cases lack of personal exposure may in fact devalue the person's argument, especially when ethical and cultural issues are involved.


The specific examples seem to be about identity politics; and intellect and education doesn't change ones gender orientation or skin colour; so it might be better to examine where this is not an issue.

For example let's take an example from literature; say:

You're a native English Speaker, you can't speak or read German; therefore you can't possibly comment on Holderlins work.


You're a native English Speaker, with a command of German as second language with near native language facility; but though you know that Holderlin is highly regarded, you don't actually enjoy poetry, but you know it's politic on the circles you move in to say you have a passing familiarity with him; to say the right things, and make the right noises:

Thus where you say

it doesn't matter how educated or intellectual an individual is

It does matter; it matters in what direction they've been educated; whether it matches with their native talent, taste and intellect.

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    You misquoted me: it does not matter how educated or intellectual an individual's opinion is. I was referring to the merit of the opinion, not on the background of the individual. Now that I think about it, I'm arguing that the individual is attacking the person's credentials (even though they're ascribed), instead of attacking the merit of the opinion. That's a pretty clear ad hominem. Sep 30, 2015 at 17:17
  • I haven't misquoted you; the quote is exactly as it is in your question; I'm merely taking a different tack to the other answer - there's no point in repeating an answer; I'm adding a different perspective. Oct 2, 2015 at 22:36

This is an example of the Genetic fallacy.

I would say, if you include how methodologically that causes issue, we might have another discussion on our hands.

For instance, the method of history is more contextual and fair and balanced.

That is providing more warrants and reasons--and substance can help provide a way around the faulty versions of this fallacy.


It looks a lot like an argument from authority fallacy, except instead of claiming that someone's expertise entails that their statements on a topic are true, the claim is their lack of expertise on a topic entails that their claims on a topic are false. I'd call it an appeal to amateurism fallacy.

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