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Appeal To Fear

October 8th, 2009

Taxonomy – Where am I?

Appeal To Fear ( argumentum ad metum or argumentum in terrorem )

classification : informal – Appeal to Emotion

Occurs when a person attempts to create support for his or her idea by using deception and propaganda in attempts to increase fear and prejudice toward a competitor but does not constitute evidence for the claim.


A fallacy that appeal to emotion is a type of argument which attempts to arouse the emotions of its audience in order to gain acceptance of its conclusion.

Appeals to fear are common in advertising, conspiracy theories, politics, propaganda, and promotion of alternative medicine. It is a useful tool for anyone who wishes to influence the behaviour of others.

It is important to distinguish between a rational reason to believe or evidence (evidence that objectively and logically supports the claim) and a prudential reason to believe or motivation. Fear appeals seldom gain more than compliance. Emotional and intellectual agreement will lag far behind and may never be gained.


I know where you live, and I have friends who like a good fire.

If you do not convict this criminal, one of you may be her next victim.

Other Names

Appeal to emotion
Appeal to Consequence
Ad Baculum
Ad Metum
Appeal to Force
In Terrorem
Scare Tactics

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Categories: Logic