There are various common (often Latin) phrases for various logic fallacies, such as post hoc ergo propter hoc, argumentum ad populum, slippery slope fallacy, etc. Is there a common phrase used to describe the fallacy of saying that because a claim seems so unusual or specific, it must be true, because 'nobody would ever make something that unusual up'?
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The biggest problem in finding a technical fallacy is that "absurd", in this context, isn't detailed enough. Why is it absurd? The idea that any absurd thing could be believed if it was simply absurd enough is not really true.
The idea of arguing something as true because no one would make it up is close to these fallacies:
Strangely enough, the last is pretty darn close and is described as:
If you notice the quotes in that quote, you may wonder who coined the term. It was Adolf Hilter in his book Mein Kampf. In a certain sense, this Big Lie is an appeal to authority mixed with a strong pull on assumed morality.
Many tend to think of an appeal to authority as the style of bringing in a football player to advertise footballs: Since the player uses football, surely he knows which are best. But appeal to authority also includes what we are talking about here. Trying to list the steps it would look something like this:
The 3-4 step is the appeal to authority. Using English, these are all appeals to authority:
In conclusion, most "so absurd it must be true" arguments are likely to include one of these somewhere. They probably have other problems, too, considering how absurd they are. The specific term Big Lie is appropriate for someone who actually created such an absurd argument and is using it against the people who consider it too absurd to doubt.
"Truth is stranger than fiction" is a common English phrase, and implies that something outlandish is probably true. Admittedly it is not exactly what the questioner sought.
There is no such fallacy. The nearest I could get was:
While it doesn't touch on the "absurd" portion, a related concept is the exception that proves the rule in it's more modern, sardonic, "incorrect"† sense.
† ("Incorrect" according to Fowler a century ago, though the modern "nonsense" version is the only way I've ever actually heard it in day-to-day life.)
I believe [sic] that you are after a higher concept, such as dogma.
It does not fit all the attributes that you have prescribed, however it describes how one could come to accept propositions that are or seem to be unbelievable, incredible or fantastic.
On the other hand, I don't believe that credibility of such statements grows intrinsically from their unusualness. I think that your criteria: "it must be true since no one would make this up." is an afterthought, a reasoning (and yes, that is fallacious).
The original statement is not fallacious by itself - for example, such statement could have been: "It rained frogs". By itself it does not make me believe that it is true just because it sounds highly unlikely (or impossible); on the contrary, without any context I am more inclined to reject the statement as false. Still, it is a statement - either true or false. It contains no intrinsic fallacy and we can accept it either as assumption (used in consequent reasoning) or axiom (postulate) or as dogma.
It is fallacious to defend its truth value by saying "it must be true since no one would invent such a thing".
I think that this Nazi reasoning given to us by Joseph Goebbles, even in translation, has been read in English print long enough for it to qualify as a common English Phrase.
More of a rant then a phrase but I'm sure it's meaning qualifies as common English knowledge today as a result of the notoriety of the statement.
protected by tchrist Apr 10 at 6:19
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