Argumentum a Recensiones Amazon

I have encountered what may be a relatively new fallacy, but is a logical fallacy nevertheless. A commenter attempted to argue that the Intelligent Design book Darwin’s Doubt is weighty because it has more 5-star reviews on Amazon.com than 1-star reviews. That is pretty surprising, to be sure, even given the inevitable turnout of the Uncommon Descent crowd. But it is still a fallacy nevertheless.

The quality of literature is vouchsafed by the number of stars a book has on Amazon.com; that accuracy of contents and rigor of scientific procedures used even less so.

 

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello James, I’ve noticed a similar problem which I will call the Wikipedia-fallacy: if a Wikipedia article looks serious and has many references, then this must be true.

    Greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Tony

    I was reading Ray Comfort’s new book, “God Speaks” — because I like comedy in my life and thought the title was a hilarious Freudian slip (of divine proportions) — and he totally uses Amazon as a standard of correctness. In a chapter, he argues that because one of his earlier books, “You Can Lead an Atheist…”, began with 5-star reviews before its rating quickly plummeted, it was proof his opponents were trying to sabotage his sales with “fake reviews.” You know, because “real reviews” can’t be negative. I nearly did a spit-take when I read that. Just thought you’d like to know since, well, I know you love Ray Comfort…

    • Scott

      Nice to see there are others who urm “enjoy” to pain of reading crazy Christian writings. I slogged my way through the “Left Behind” series. I generally need at least two good books to clean out the brain damage from that series.

  • Erp

    I wouldn’t say number of 5 star reviews is a sign of literary quality either; it might just mean a lot of blind followers or loyal but less than truthful friends. In worst cases it might just mean the author has a lot of money to pay people to write reviews.

  • Joshua Smith

    Isn’t it kind of just a variation on the “appeal to authority” fallacy?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Argument from the authority of Amazon reviewers.


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