Irrelevant Authority

Irrelevant Authority

Definition : This fallacy consists in attempting to support a claim by appealing to the judgement of one who is not an authority in the field, the judgement of an unidentified authority, or the judgement of an authority who is likely to be biased. Therefore, constituting an irrelevant authority to be cited. The premise will become irrelevant once its authority is found irrelevant.

** According to A, B

Therefore, B.

Definition of an Authority : an authority in a particular field is one who has

  1. access to the knowledge that he or she claims to have, is qualified by training or ability to draw appropriate inferences from that knowledge, and
  2. is free from any prejudices or conflicts of interest that would prevent him or her from formulating sound judgments or communicating them honestly

EX :

CASE 01 : transfer of an authority’s competence in one field to another field in which he or she is not competent

CASE 02 : yet unidentified authority. Hence, the premise based on this authority cannot count for or against the truth of the conclusion.

CASE 03 : biased authority – while one might be qualified, yet he or she might be “so vitally interested in or affected by the issue at stake” that there would be good reason to treat their testimony with suspicion

CASE 04 : quoting of an authority figure of an organization of which is under the very investigation or evaluation

** How to Respond :

  • “The testimony of an unqualified or biased authority has no bearing on the truth or falsity of the conclusion”
  • “When there is contradictory testimony from what appear to be equally qualified and unbiased authorities, the proper response would be to accept the testimony of neither authority, unless you have some independent evidence for accepting the testimony of one and not the other”
  • “endorsement, if any is required, by a non-expert group of a motion is primarily a ceremonial or perfunctory action”
  • “Use of irrelevant authority is simply utilization of a bad argument”


  • POINT OUT opponent’s “carelessness in attention” and “faulty memory”
    • “despite the fact that our opponents are genuinely convinced of their assumption’s truth, it does not make it THE truth”
    • “one’s personal beliefs or convictions concerning the truth of a claim cannot be used as evidence for the truth of that claim”