Tom’s Delusion, or “Everyone agrees with me!” is unique in the annals of Ethics Alarms. The latest addition to the rationalizations list was inspired by banned commenter of short duration here, but I genuinely intend the title as a sincere honor: it really is a useful rationalization, and I would not have realized it had “Tom” made, as one of his last annoying comments before he quit in a huff, this assertion to support his claim that the January 6, 2020 riot at the Capitol was a seminal event in U.S. history, of the same magnitude, or close to it, as the terrorism of 9/11, as he attempted to counter the observations of Steve-O-in NJ (and others, including me) that this is a contrived Democratic talking point without basis in fact or logic:
“Well the majority of the country disagrees with you.”
And there it was!
1E. Tom’s Delusion, or “Everyone agrees with me!”
Tom’s Delusion is another point where the rationalization list intersects with logical fallacies. #1E is a particularly foolish version of the Appeal to Authority fallacy, which is bad enough when the user believes that the fact that someone of note has adopted his or her position is evidence of the dubious position’s validity.
Using the argument that a position, belief or action is correct or defensible using “everyone” as the authority appealed to is infinitely worse. First, it is based on a lie: “everybody” doesn’t agree on anything. Of course, in its common use, “everybody” is shorthand for “most people” or in Tom’s case, “the majority,” which is why this rationalization is under #1, “Everybody Does It.” Even if it was literally true that “everybody” believes something, that is not proof, evidence or even a coherent argument. “Everybody” used to believe the world was flat. Most people are lazy, apathetic, poorly educated and ignorant: what the majority of such people may believe creates problems, but it is certainly is not evidence one can rationally to rely on.
Indeed, when the mob agrees with you, it’s a strong indication that you need to reexamine your beliefs.
The case of the January 6 riots is an especially bad one to entrust to the public’s beliefs, because the effort to mislead them and misrepresent the event for political gain has been relentless and ongoing. Just today was an amusing example:
“They assembled in their thousands. Trump wound them up with a typically inflammatory address, culminating in a call to march on the Capitol. The mob proceeded to besiege and break into the home of US democracy. They surged through the corridors, threatening to hang Pence and the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Several security guards were killed …“
Well, there were about 300 involved in the riot, not “thousands.” “They” didn’t threaten to hang Pelosi or Pence, and no security guards were killed, though the New York Times, Joe Biden and others worked hard to make the public believe otherwise. This led to a clown show of corrections:
“This article was amended on 20 October to remove the assertion that several security guards were killed at the White House attack on 6 January. Of the people who died of various causes on that day, one was a police officer and four were allegedly involved in the riots.“
Wait…the White House?
No wonder so many people are confused.