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Appeal to ridicule, also called appeal to mockery, the Horse Laugh, or reductio ad ridiculum (Latin: "reduction to the ridiculous"), is a logical fallacy which presents the opponent's argument in a way that appears ridiculous, often to the extent of creating a straw man of the actual argument, rather than addressing the argument itself. For example:
- "If Einstein's theory of relativity is right, that would mean that when I drive my car it gets shorter and more massive the faster I go. That's crazy!" (This is, in fact, true, but the effect is so minuscule a human observer will not notice when it's observed on object without near-light speed.)
- "Evolution is ridiculous! If evolution were true, that would mean that all the apes wouldn't be here any more, since they all would have evolved into humans!" (This is not implied by the theory of evolution, thus the argument is false.)
This is a rhetorical tactic which mocks an opponent's argument, attempting to inspire an emotional reaction (making it a type of appeal to emotion) in the audience and to highlight the counter-intuitive aspects of that argument, making it appear foolish and contrary to common sense. This is typically done by demonstrating the argument's logic in an extremely absurd way or by presenting the argument in an overly simplified way, and often involves an appeal to consequences.
Appeal to Ridicule is often found in the form of challenging one's credentials or maturity;
- "Nobody believes in socialism after college! Grow up."
The argument is ridiculed on the basis that having a view commonly associated with youth is somehow invalid.
Although they appear very similar, this fallacy should not be confused with reductio ad absurdum, which is a valid type of logical argument.