Logical Fallacies 101: Appeal to Wealth

Logical Fallacies 101 is a regular segment of the Skeptical Samurai blog that deals specifically with logical fallacies (an introduction to logical fallacies can be found here: https://theskepticalsamurai.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/logical-fallacies-101/ ).  It is my hope that Logical Fallacies 101 will help, you the reader, to both cultivate and expand your logic/reasoning skills and as a result become a better critical thinker. 

Today’s logical fallacy is: “Appeal to Wealth”

The Skeptical Samurai has been shopping for a new vehicle as of late (to those interested-> some form of 4×4 SUV to provide room for myself, the wife, cargo and our 2 crazy bulldogs as well as act as our mobile base of operations in the event of a zombie apocalypse), and consequently the Skeptical Samurai has been spending a lot of time at a variety of different automotive dealerships.  In the process of shopping for a new vehicle I have found myself regularly confronted with the same logical fallacy…the Appeal to Wealth. 

This particular fallacy is committed when an argument is put forth that assumes that one item is better than another simply because one costs more.    

Thought of in a more linear fashion:

  1. Item A costs X
  2. Item B costs  Y
  3. X costs more than Y
  4. Therefore Item A is better than Item B

An Example of “Appeal to Wealth” (which I have heard, in one form or another, at many different automotive dealerships) is as follows:

  1. The Skeptical Samurai: What is the different between SUV #1 and SUV #2?
  2. Car Salesman: Well SUV #1 is just a better SUV!
  3. The Skeptical Samurai: But what is the difference?  Which is better?  And Why?
  4. Car Salesmen: *looks at the price tag on SUV #1*, Well for starters SUV #1 costs more so you know that it is a better vehicle then SUV #2!

It can be extremely easy to fall prey to this fallacy.  Typically, we associated higher price with better quality, and as a general rule of thumb this assertion is correct.  However this is not always the case (I am sure we have all experienced the joy of paying for the higher priced item only to have it crap out well before one would expect).  Assuming that an item is better solely because of a higher price point demonstrates an extreme lack of critical thinking skills, and this lack of critical thinking can really get you into trouble with the wrong salesman!    

It is entirely possible (and likely) that a higher priced item has been priced at a higher point for a valid reason.  But do not just simply assume that.  Mobilize your critical thinking skills, and ascertain why the item in question has a higher price.  If the higher price is justified, great, then you can validate your investment.  If the higher price is not justified, then do not pay it!  And remember to remind yourself that skepticism save you a few dollars!

This has been the Skeptical Samurai

Working to serve…

Through the process of inquiry…

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