What is the difference between Ad populum and Ad Verecundiam? I googled a lot but didn't find any discrete difference between them.


5 Answers 5

  • Ad Populum: "God exists because most people believe it" (that is, the proposition is correct because the majority takes it as correct).
  • Ad Verecundiam: "God exists because Aristotle, the most remarkable philosopher in all history, believed it" (that is, the proposition is correct because an authority on the matter takes it as correct).

A proper justification for the existence of God would be a scientific proof. Without it, any opinion is irrelevant. In both cases, the proposition is fallacious because it has no logical sustain, its sustain is always someone's opinion (which is fallacious: the existence of God is not justified due to any subjective opinion).

A common form of Ad Verecundiam is that on which the justification comes from the first person, me: "God exists because I am a philosopher, and I do believe it".

  • 1
    Is it even possible to conceptually formulate what a scientific proof of god would even look like? And wouldn't the proof require a fixed definition of a specific deity that many religions purposefully avoid?
    – haxor789
    Jun 16, 2022 at 8:41
  • @haxor789 1) this is out of the scope of the question 2) those propositions are examples of the fallacy, not real facts.
    – RodolfoAP
    Jun 17, 2022 at 2:28
  • Fair enough it's way off topic and not about the propositions. I was just curious that you said that "a proper justification of God would be a scientific proof". But it would actually be hard to even conceptualize what a scientific prove for god would look like.
    – haxor789
    Jun 17, 2022 at 13:57

I mean under the hood all fallacies are non sequitur, meaning that the conclusion doesn't follow from the premise. So all of them will, in some regard, be similar to each other.

In terms of the appeal to or argument from authority you try to leverage structural power rather than argumentative power to win an argument. Like if you correct the teacher and they say "Who of us has already finished school?" or if religions and cults have an established authority that is by definition always right even if they aren't, so instead of taking care of the value of your argument you try to rephrase it as something they said to make the case of "you're questioning me, so you're questioning them (might cost you your head if you do)".

Another such error is being blinded by academic titles and professions. Like just because someone is an expert in one field does not mean that expertise translates to other fields where they might lack even basic knowledge. And even if it is their field of expertise they might still just end up being wrong.

Like what if their computer botches their data and they don't know and think it's real data, see an anomaly, come up with a theory, test it and find out it's not true at all. They did everything right, nothing to undermine their expert status, still their theory is wrong. Btw that's the reason why good scientists are careful making enthusiastic and confident statements about how things ARE but rather talk about how they COULD BE and provide you with an estimate of a margin of error on their data.

An appeal to or argument from popularity is more like "everyone says that...". So you're not referencing a particular authority to make people shut up, it's more like you try to defend your position with "I'm not alone in that" or alternatively "you are alone with that". Which depending on the situation can include authorities or using a larger group as threat and authority, but is conceptually less about a particular authority and more about having a larger group in your back.

Now both of them are fallacious because the conclusion "what is said is true", does not follow from the premise "it was said by an expert" or "by lots of people". Like yes it can be said by an expert and/or lots of people but it could still be false, experts make mistakes and larger groups also fall victim to misinformation especially when they weed out dissent with arguments of popularity.

However it's always important to keep in mind that being a fallacy does not mean being wrong. It just means you're NOT ALWAYS right with that statement. In the majority of cases the expert might still have useful things to add to a discussion about an issue and larger the group the more likely someone would have made experiences that contradict if such exist, so if there is a large group of people that is not shutting each other down, it's likely that they are on to something.

So they can work as a heuristic, but aren't a hard and fast rule that you can point to when your opinion is questioned.


Appeal to popularity: "It is a popular view that Y is so, thus Y is so"

Is a fallacy since the assertion does not follow from the premises, because there are reasons other than the fact that "Y is so", that the view that "Y is so" is popular and these are not taken account of.

What is not fallacy: "What is a popular view about Y". This is not a fallacy.

Appeal to authority: "Authority X says Y is so, thus Y is so"

Is a fallacy because the assertion similarly does not follow from the premises, there are reasons other than the fact that indeed "Y is so", that an authority might claim that "Y is so" and these are not taken account of.

What is not fallacy: "What does authority X say on Y". This is not a fallacy.

There can be a variation of the above eg "It is popular among authorities that Y is so, thus Y is so", but it degenerates to one of the previous fallacies.

On the surface there is the appearance of an appeal strictly stronger than both popularity and authority by themselves, but it is strictly weaker than any of them. If emphasis is on popularity, it is based on a strictly smaller base than popularity among the general population. If emphasis is on collective authority, it is a divided authority among itself.

It is important to understand that these fallacious arguments are usually used to assert something that cannot be concluded otherwise, more directly (eg results are inconclusive, there are multiple interpretations, results are not strong enough or even opposite of what is claimed, and so on..). Advertisements are also notorious for employing such fallacies (eg "8 out of 10 use this product, thus this product is good", "authorities X, Y, Z suggest to use this product, thus this product is good", and so on..).

The fallacies state an observation: that popularity and truth are not identical, nor are authority opinion and truth identical. In the same way a person can err, the same way more than one person can err, and the same way a person titled authority can err. For example: conflict of interest, prevailing prejudices and biases, or simply human error. Reading the references one can find many historical examples for both fallacies.


An authority is a person or institution in whom the public, or a particular section of the public (e.g. those within a religious tradition), vests confidence. To appeal to authority is to seek acceptance of one's own view by virtue of its congruity with those views expressed by the authority.

To appeal to popularity is to seek acceptance of one's view by virtue of its congruity with those views expressed substantially by members of the public directly, irrespective of whether those views may be expressed also by a person or institution in whom the public vests confidence.

For example, historically abortion has been illegal in Ireland, due to objections from the church. The public may have also substantially objected, but the appeal was to the authority of the church. More recently, jurisprudential sensibilities have shifted power away from religious establishments and toward the people. In 2018, the electorate of the Republic of Ireland chose by popular referendum to initiate a process of legalization of abortion in the country. The church may have continued to object, but the appeal was to popularity.

Use of either authority or popularity to justify a view is a fallacy in argument.


Appeal to authority is not a fallacy. The fallacy is appeal to inappropriate authority. For an extended discussion of this, see: https://ses.edu/logical-fallacies-101-appeal-to-authority-ad-verecundiam/

For examples of valid appeals to authority: expert consensus is how basically all empirical questions are settled. This is most explicit in that the recommendations of a professional society ARE how we establish many issues of fact -- such as the appropriateness of particular medical procedures, or the design margins needed to build a bridge. Medical and civil engineering professional societies establish these sorts of standards thru expert consensus.

Appeal to a single expert who disagrees with the consensus, or to experts who opine outside their field, are the fallacy of appeal to inappropriate authority.

Ad Populum is generally a fallacy, as the public is rarely an authority on significant issues of dispute. However, things like "what color is the sky", or other issues where adult perception is sufficient to make one an authority, ad populum is not a fallacy, but instead how we establish realities.

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    Consensus of experts is not part of any scientific method.
    – Nikos M.
    Jun 14, 2022 at 17:03
  • @Dcleve "ad populum is not a fallacy, but instead how we establish realities." Can You elaborate? Jun 14, 2022 at 17:12
  • Both are logical falacies in the sense that they are not certain knowledge. Whether used practically in some cases is irrelevant.
    – Nikos M.
    Jun 14, 2022 at 17:15
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    @Dcleve appeal to popularity is not a fallacy if you ask what is popular. In the same way appeal to authority is not fallacy if asked what is expert opinion. But saying "authority x says y is so, thus y is so" and this is your sole argument, especially when data are inconclusive is a fallacy since the result does not follow from the premises.
    – Nikos M.
    Jun 14, 2022 at 22:14
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    @Dcleve really do you understand what you just said? According to your statement defacto these appeals are always fallacies. Bravo!
    – Nikos M.
    Jun 14, 2022 at 23:17

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