Appeal to ridicule

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Appeal to ridicule (also called appeal to mockery, ad absurdo, or the horse laugh)[1] is an informal fallacy which presents an opponent's argument as absurd, ridiculous, or humorous, and therefore not worthy of serious consideration.


Appeal to ridicule is often found in the form of comparing a nuanced circumstance or argument to a laughably commonplace occurrence or to some other irrelevancy on the basis of comedic timing, wordplay, or making an opponent and their argument the object of a joke. This is a rhetorical tactic that mocks an opponent's argument or standpoint, attempting to inspire an emotional reaction (making it a type of appeal to emotion) in the audience and to highlight any counter-intuitive aspects of that argument, making it appear foolish and contrary to common sense. This is typically done by making a mockery of the argument's foundation that represents it in an uncharitable and oversimplified way. The person using the tactic often utilizes sarcasm in their argument.[2]


In 2008, US president Barack Obama answered criticism about his policies that were labelled "socialist" by saying "Next they'll be calling me a communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten".[citation needed]

This dialogue presents another example of appeal to ridicule:

Person A: At one time in prehistory, the continents were fused together into a single supercontinent, which we call Pangaea.
Person B: Yes, I definitely believe that hundreds of millions of years ago, some laser cut through the Earth and broke apart a giant landmass into many different pieces.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moore, Brooke Noel (2015). Critical thinking. Richard Parker, Nina Rosenstand, Anita Silvers (11 ed.). Dubuque. ISBN 978-0-07-811914-9. OCLC 855209109.
  2. ^ "Appeal To Ridicule - Definition & Examples". Retrieved 2020-10-11.