Celebrity Endorsement


The argument supports a position by citing the endorsement of someone who is well-known (famous). The person need not necessarily be considered an expert. The argument implies that the endorser's fame alone is sufficient to establish the truth of the position.



"I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV." - Chris Robinson (who played Dr. Rick Webber on the show General Hospital), in a commercial promoting Vicks Formula 44 cough medicine.


“I think blouses are underutilized in the modern woman’s wardrobe: This one is a beautifully made statement piece, great for everything from work meetings to lunches to dates.” - Gwyneth Paltrow (endorsing a $375 blouse for Goop).



People generally become famous because they are good at something. Some people manage to become famous merely because they look good; but most people who become famous must have at least some talent. It is not uncommon for people who become famous to be exceptionally talented. Indeed, the distinction between celebrity and expertise is not always easy to draw. Michael Jordon is certainly a celebrity, and he is also an expert at playing basketball, and indeed he is famous for that very reason. Perhaps it is not unreasonable to trust his judgment on the type of shoes that are best suited for playing basketball. Moreover, it must be remembered that even celebrities have a right to express their opinions and they have the right to try to argue for those opinions in a rational manner. As always, arguments matter even if mere opinions do not, and when exceptionally talented people offer rational arguments in support of their opinions, there is nothing wrong with paying attention to them. It may even be wise to do so.

However, the fallacy of Celebrity Endorsement mimics good reasoning by pulling off a two-fold deception. It asks us, first, to confuse mere celebrity with genuine expertise. The two may go together, but then again, they may not. Second, as with all of the Ad Verecundiam fallacies, it asks us to accept a position on the basis of the endorsement alone, without consideration of any actual arguments that might be given.


Source: The phrase "celebrity endorsement" is in common usage on the Internet. However, I am unable to identify a classical print source for the fallacy. My memory is getting worse, so I cannot even remember where I first saw the phrase used to identify this fallacy.



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