Appeal to Stupidity Summary

Description: Attempting to get the audience to devalue reason and intellectual discourse, or devaluing reason and intellectual discourse based on the rhetoric of an arguer.

Logical Form:

Person 1 downplays the importance of reason, logic, or science.

Person 1 makes a claim, argument, or assertion.

Audience is more likely to accept claim, argument, or assertion.

Example #1:

Anthony: You know what’s wrong with us today? We think too much! We need to act more with our heart and gut! Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Sign up for my 30-day program now for just $999.99!

Audience: (Cheers uncontrollably).

Explanation: It is a common persuasion technique to get people in an emotional state and have them make an emotional decision while in that state. This is exactly what Anthony is doing here while undermining the importance of critical thinking.

Example #2:

Politician: The other guy likes to throw statistics and data at us showing how much the economy has improved. But data and statistics don’t feed our children. You feel it. The economy has gotten worse! Feelings are more important than facts.

Explanation: There is a strong emotional appeal here accompanied by the devaluation of statistics and data (i.e., facts) in favor of feelings in order to answer an objective question: has the economy improved?

Exception: Don’t confuse the appeal to stupidity with an arational argument. Arational arguments are not subject to reason and are properly feeling-based. Thus, asking people to put aside “reason” is not fallacious.

Mom: Which puppy do you want?

Kid: They are all so cute and lovable. They all look healthy… I can’t decide!

Mom: Go with your gut. Which one do you have the strongest feelings for?

What Now: If picking from a liter of puppies, don’t choose the craziest one.


This a logical fallacy frequently used on the Internet. No academic sources could be found.