Definition: Appeal to popularity is a logically fallacious argument in which an individual is lead to believe that something is true (valid, moral...) because it is widely accepted or used. The person arrives at this belief without any reference to evidence supporting the validity of the claim.
- The majority of people use brand X car. Then it must be the safest car.
- Laptop Y is very popular among university students. Therefore, it must be the best laptop.
- The majority has opposed this law. It means that the law is bad.
- Fluent is the most popular CFD code used. Then it is the best CFD software out there.
- The Finite Volume Method is the most popular discretization technique. Then it must be the best.
- Everybody is getting funding from the industry. Then, this is the best source of funding.
Again, these are all invalid arguments for making decisions especially in scientific research. To stretch things a bit, these arguments may be massaged a bit to lend them some credibility by isolating the statistical component of each argument and using it as data input for making decisions. Here's how I think these should be amended:
- Fluent is the most popular CFD code used. We should list it as one of the software to consider for purchase. But first, we must compare its performance to the other software we are considering for this particular problem and then make an informed decision.
- Fluent is the most popular CFD software. We should consider it in our modeling efforts to reach a wider audience. (I'm not too fond of this particular way of putting it as this borders on the marketing side).
- The Finite volume method is a very popular discretization method. Based on the literature we reviewed, the method was successfully used to simulate a wide range of physical phenomena. There's also a large amount of evidence that the method is particularly suited for transport phenomena. We should consider it as a viable method for solving our hypersonic design problem.
- I don't have any comments on the last one.
There are many other details about this logical fallacy. For an excellent discussion, please visit the wikipedia entry for this fallacy.