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|This page in a nutshell: This essay explains a fallacy which is variant of argumentum ad populum based on the undue connection to nationalism.|
Flag-waving is a fallacious argument to justify an action based on the undue connection to nationalism or patriotism or benefit for an idea, group or country. It is a variant of argumentum ad populum. This fallacy appeals to emotion instead to logic of the audience aiming to manipulate them to win an argument. All ad populum fallacies are based on the presumption that the recipients already have certain beliefs, biases, and prejudices about the issue.
Undue connection with sentiment of nationalism or patriotism
Probably the simplest form of the Flag-waving fallacy is pointing to the ethnicity of the subject of the fallacy. If the subject of the fallacy is another editor it is a form of personal attack (WP:NPA) because editors should "comment on content, not on the contributor". If the subject of the fallacy is an author of the source who is living person, discrediting them with ethnicity based arguments can in some cases be violation of WP:BLP.
Some examples of pointing to the ethnicity or sentiment of nationalism:
- "What a shock, every user of Foo ethnicity opposes the motion... "
- "so as to accommodate your love of your country"
Connection with other fallacies
Flag-waving fallacy is additionally effective if used in connection with other fallacies.
A Straw man fallacy is based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. There are two steps in this fallacy when it is connected with the flag-waving fallacy:
- Misinterpret your opponents' position by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition connected with nationalism
- refute "straw man" without ever having actually refuting the original position of your opponent
Guilt by association
Ad hominem association fallacy
Associate the subject of the fallacy to some editor:
- who is already banned or blocked because of his nationalistic edits
- whose nationalistic views you already implied
That way you will assert that qualities of blocked or nationalistic editor are inherently qualities of your opponent.
Some examples of guilt by association:
- "your pattern of edits is similar to XYZ's pattern of edits, and we all know how XYZ's editing ended...If you (and perhaps an associate) think I am wrong for replacing nationalist fantasy with actual facts, the case will obviously be very similar to your other associate's AE case."
This informal fallacy presents an opponent's argument as absurd, ridiculous, or in any way humorous, to the specific end of a foregone conclusion that the argument lacks any substance which would merit consideration.
Some examples of Appeal to ridicule fallacy based on connection with attribution of nationalistic motifs:
- "Yes, its all a giant conspiracy (anti-Foo of course)"
- But don't take it from us, we're apparently on an "anti-Foo crusade"
Flag-waving on wikipedia
This is very effective fallacy to be used on wikipedia, especially if:
- used repeatedly by more than one editor to discuss the topic which does not attract significant attention of uninitiated editors so small number of editors can easily coordinate their actions to circumvent the normal process of consensus (WP:CIRCUS). In such cases a small group of editors could end up arguing among themselves and generating huge walls of text that drives away any outside editors who would otherwise be willing to participate in the discussion.
- repeating rejected arguments ad nauseam can be used as proof by repeated assertion.
- use of this fallacy and actions based on it are supported or tolerated by one or a couple of involved administrators. In such cases editors who would under normal circumstances be willing to participate in the discussion could be intimidated or deceived by this fallacy. Some editors who are participating in the discussion could be frustrated by this kind of support or tolerance and lose faith in wikipedia rules or begin with disruptive edits.
Flag-waving fallacy is very hard to deal with because it can affects emotions of the audience, especially opponents of editors who use this fallacy. The most important is to:
- stay calm
- respect wikipedia rules
- reduce the number of your comments to minimum
- always keep in mind Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement and keep your comments within top three levels of the hierarchy
- Ferrán Valls i Taberner; Chia-Jui Cheng (1993). Ciencia política comparada y derecho y economía en las relaciones internacionales: estudios en homenaje a Ferran Valls i Taberner. Cátedra de Historia del Derecho y de las Instituciones, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Málaga. p. 7219. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
Today, indeed, flag-waving has become a quite common generic term denoting the deliberate appeal to nationalistic emotions and prejudices.
- Nicole Hein (7 November 2011). Spinning Coverage: An Analysis of The New York Times' Reporting on the War in Iraq in Light of the U.S. Administration's Spin and Propaganda Efforts. GRIN Verlag. p. 33. ISBN 978-3-656-04831-2. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
Flag-waving is a popular propaganda technique, meaning that an action is justified “on the grounds that doing [what is promoted, in this case support the war] will make one more patriotic, or in some way benefit a group, country, or idea.
- Daniel Harry Cohen (1 January 2004). Arguments and Metaphors in Philosophy. University Press of America. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-7618-2677-4. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
...ad Hominen ridicule, ad Misehcordiam tears, or ad Populum flag-waving - all logical fallacies...
- Kathleen Bell (February 1990). Developing arguments: strategies for reaching audiences. Wadsworth Pub. Co. p. 284. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
The ad populum argument presumes that the audience already holds a particular attitude and specific beliefs on the issue.