False attribution

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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 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.[1]

A contextomy is a type of false attribution. Another 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).[2]


  1. ^ Deception Detection Deficiency, Media Watch.
  2. ^ Mermin, N. David (2004). "Could Feynman Have Said This?". Physics Today. 57: 10. doi:10.1063/1.1768652. 

External links[edit]