The fallacy of a false attribution occurs when an advocate appeals to an irrelevant, unqualified, unidentified, biased or fabricated source in support of an argument. A contextomy is a type of false attribution.
A more deceptive and difficult to detect version of a false attribution is where a fraudulent advocate goes so far as to fabricate a source, such as creating a fake website, in order to support a claim. For example, the “Levitt Institute” was a fake organisation created in 2009 solely for the purposes of (successfully) fooling the Australian media into reporting that Sydney was Australia’s most naive city.
A particular case of misattribution is the Matthew effect: a quotation is often attributed to someone more famous than the real author. This leads the quotation to be more famous, but the real author to be forgotten (see also: obliteration by incorporation).
- Quoting Out of Context Fallacy Files.
- Humbug! The skeptic’s field guide to spotting fallacies in thinking – textbook on fallacies. False Attribution (p56).