Logical fallacy: popularity is not quality

Arguing that an idea or product has merit because it has popular support is one of the oldest argument tactics around. It's also one of the most flawed. Does McDonald's have the best hamburger because they sell billions? Is a Toyota better than a Ferrari because one is far more common than the other? Is Britney Spears a better musician than Mozart, who you never hear on the radio? The counter-examples continue ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://betterexplained.com/articles/logical-fallacy-popularity-is-not-quality/

The “popularity indicates quality issue” seems to be emerging as a topic right now. I saw something in a CNET newsletter referencing this topic recently.

I’m glad you make a case here for critical thinking, reasoning, and benefits of not accepting the status quo (at least some of the time).

Hi Jeffrey, thanks for the comment. Yes, it’s very easy to take things at face value and assume it’s “great” because everyone is doing it.

Question, but… How can Microsoft make an OS that attracts, and yet later on you claim that most people just “Go along for the ride”? I understand what you are saying but you did contradict yourself.

I hope you are not becoming another microsoft hater. We have enough of them already! What people don’t appreciate is that Microsoft made it easy by obstructing a lot of technical details from common fellas (compared to other Os’es). That gave it a headstart, and even if other brands try to play catch up, the advantage has been taken

The last two comments are a bit thin…
I could use similar points to support the Nazis!

Popular among the "common fellas"
Hide the fussy details
Accept failure
Demonise opposition

The point of the article is to apply critical thinking to popularity, not to target one product or company.
Microsoft are in business to make money. Period. That’s all. If that requires innovation, then they innovate. If it involved clubbing baby seals, they would be based in Canada. User experience won’t come into it. XP sucked until they got the bugs out, but by then Vista was being launched. People DIDN’T buy Vista until MS STOPPED selling XP. Hardly what you would call giving you a choice…
Giving you a choice means you might not choose my product or service. Therefore I will spend time and money making sure you “choose” me. If you can be persuaded that your choice was your own, even better.
To address Anonomous’s question directly, MS didn’t attract all those users, the OS was pre installed. Look around your desk and tot up the cost of all the windows only software. Don’t forget the OS cost you about £150 as well. That’s a lot of business to protect…