Galileo gambit

The Galileo gambit (also Galileo fallacy; users of the fallacy are Galileo wannabes) is a logical fallacy and/or a rhetorical tactic that asserts that if your ideas provoke ‘the establishment’ to ridicule or vilify you, then you must be right.

It refers to Galileo Galilei‘s famous persecution at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church for his defence of heliocentrism in the face of the orthodox Biblical literalism of the day.  The fallacy is an appeal to the minority and a conditional fallacy.

The structure of the argument is:

Premise 1: A is X and Y
Premise 2: B is X.
Conclusion 1: B is Y.

For example, ‘They made fun of Galileo, and he was right. They make fun of me, therefore I am right’. A common rebuttal is ‘They also made fun of the Three Stooges’. An additional irony arises when we consider that if the maverick idea does manage to amass enough evidence to win over the majority, it will become the new consensus — at which point, by the fallacy’s own invalid reasoning, the idea must become wrong!

 

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