When the authority is taken from a celebrity, or trusted person speaking outside their field of knowledge, it becomes a fallacy. An example would be taking inappropriate medical advice from a source that has a Doctor's degree in education
A recently published article titled "Squelching Office Conflicts" by author Jennifer Gill (2005) recounts a company's experience when the founder strayed from his field of expertise. The Sigmet Company was in the field of high-tech electronics. When inter-office squabbles would take place, the employees would appeal to the company's co-founder, Alan Siggia.
Often the disputes were personality based or rooted outside the workplace. Siggia, an electrical engineer by training, is the head of hardware engineering at the 10-person company, but he had also taken on an unofficial role: office mom (Gill 2005). "The struggles people were having were beyond what a well-intentioned but untrained person like me could handle," Siggia recalls. (Gill 2005)
The cofounders attempted to provide their own brand of therapy, but it was ineffectual and distracted from their work. In some cases it made the situation worse. As conflicts escalated, the Sigmet employees eventually reached their limit of unreliable authority
The bandwagon fallacy is also known as the ad populum fallacy (Layman, 2005,p.130), which means appeal to the people. The fallacy is rooted in the notion that people generally want to be accepted as part of a popular group. It also preys on the insecurity a person may have and persuade them to take a side because they are too insecure to stand up for their own beliefs.
The bandwagon fallacy is often used in advertising and politics. Advertising may inflict a sense of guilt if you don't buy the correct Christmas gift. It may take the form of persuading you to drink a soft drink because it is fashionable. Politicians use the fallacy to reign in constituents or promote an unpopular policy by appealing to patriotism or a need to feel American.
Jumping on the band wagon can leave a family in possession of a car designed for a teenager as their only transportation or living in a neighborhood where they don't fit in. Well-reasoned decisions should be our basis for our choices. The not so long past dot com bust was an example of people willing to place fortunes and careers at risk because it was the popular trend. Everyone wanted to be a part of it and they were willing to jump on the bandwagon with no rational reason.
Sometimes the fallacy will result in the wagon becoming overloaded with a member that just doesn't fit in. The results can be disastrous. Television programming often falls for the ad populum fallacy. When the first reality show was a success, other's joined the fray and produced a myriad of copycat shows. Martha Stewart attempted to clone Donald Trump's "Apprentice", but lacked the hard edge that made Trump popular.
The audience was not ready for another mediocre reality clone. "I think there was confusion between Martha's Apprentice and mine, and mine continues to do well and . . . the other has struggled very severely," Trump said recently on a radio program."I think it probably hurt mine and I sort of predicted that it would." (Elber, 2005)
A fallacy routinely encountered by researchers and scientists is the questionable cause fallacy. The fallacy occurs when a premise is used to support an argument when