Bandwagon Fallacy: Why the Majority Isn’t Necessarily Right

Bandwagon Fallacy: Definition and Example - Fallacy in Logic

“It’s true because I know a lot of people who think so too!”

Many of us — including myself — can probably recall a situation where we asserted something of that sort. However, what some people may not know is that, in that situation, they fell prey to something called the bandwagon fallacy.

Bandwagon fallacy is a logical fallacy that is based on the assumption that something must be true or good if it’s in accordance with the opinions of many others. It’s an extremely common error and can be committed either unintentionally or on purpose.

Furthermore, this fallacy is also known by a number of other names: “appeal to popularity”, “argument by consensus” and “appeal to the gallery” to name a few. These different names are often used interchangeably with each other, although some of them refer to slightly different types of appeals. However, they are often very similar in practice, and in this article, we will deal with the most common type and definition of this fallacy without going deeper into the differences.

What Is the Bandwagon Fallacy?

Bandwagon fallacy makes an appeal to a certain popular idea, value, or taste, and uses only its popularity (“everyone is doing it”) as evidence for its truthfulness.

Put simply, it occurs when a person asserts that something must be true or good because it is popular.

As such, the logical structure of the argument goes:

  1. X is popular.
  2. Popular things are always true (unstated).
  3. Therefore, X is true.

Why is this considered to be fallacious? Because it’s the factual evidence supporting a theory that makes it true, not simply the fact that it’s popular. Many common ideas and beliefs are undoubtedly true, but many of them are also incorrect.

There was a time when everyone believed the world was flat and a more recent time when the majority condoned slavery. As we gather new information and our cultural values change, so too does the majority opinion. Therefore, even though the majority is often right, the fluctuation of the majority opinion implies that a logically valid conclusion cannot be based on the majority alone.

Robert J. Sternberg, Henry L. Roediger, and Diane F. Halpern, Critical Thinking in Psychology, 2007.

This is a particularly common type of fallacy, and although it’s often committed due to a lack of caution or understanding, it can also be used deliberately for various purposes. For instance, marketing professionals may employ it to their benefit by showing potential customers that they would be joining a larger group of existing, happy customers.

Origin of the Name

The name comes after the phrase “jump on the bandwagon”.

In the past, politicians used to ride a bandwagon through the streets to gain attention and get people to vote for them. People who supported a particular candidate would jump on their bandwagon, hence the phrase.


It belongs to the category of informal fallacies, as well as its sub-category called fallacies of relevance.

  • Informal fallacies refer to arguments containing irrelevant or invalid evidence that renders the conclusion incorrect. They stem from an error in reasoning rather than from an error in the logical structure of the argument.
  • Fallacies of relevance occur when the evidence of an argument is not relevant to the conclusion, and thus doesn’t provide adequate reasons to believe its truthfulness.


  • Mcdonalds has served 100 billion people in the world. It must be the best fast food restaurant in the world.”
  • “Officer, I think I don’t deserve a ticket: Everyone is going this speed, and if I went slower, I wouldn’t be going with the stream of traffic.”
  • “There must be some truth to astrology since around 25% of adults in America believe in it. That many people can’t be wrong!”
  • “Everyone is buying the new iPhone that’s coming out this weekend. You have to buy it too!”
  • Sony. Ask anyone. (Sony’s trademark in the 1970s)
  • “It may be against the law to drink alcohol if you are under 18 years old, but almost everyone drinks anyway, so it must be fine.”
  • “There must be a God because people in every culture believe in a higher being.”

Related Fallacies

Bandwagon Fallacy: Definition and Example - Fallacy in Logic

Appeal to minority

Appeal to minority is the opposite of the bandwagon fallacy. It states that something must be true because many or most people don’t believe it; the underlying assumption is that beliefs contradicting the majority are necessarily better or true.

Such reasoning is inherently problematic: if someone succeeds in convincing others that a particular unpopular belief is true, then it would increasingly become more popular.

Appeal to emotion

Appeal to emotion occurs when one uses emotional appeals, such as pity, fear, and joy, in place of logic and facts to convince others that a proposition is true (or false).

Similarly, an appeal to popularity can be seen as a type of emotional appeal: it’s often designed to rouse the feelings and enthusiasm of people in order to persuade them, rather than relying upon relevant evidence and logic.

Appeal to authority

Appeal to authority occurs, essentially, when it’s asserted that a proposition must be correct if an (alleged) expert says so.

For example, it would be irrelevant to cite Einstein to support a claim regarding religion since he was an expert in physics, not on issues concerning religion.

This is similar to the topic of this article because, in many cases, the majority or a certain group of people is considered as an authority whose opinions are most likely correct.