Monday pot-stirring: how to tell when you’re being fed a line of bull.

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I’ve mentioned that my father was on a bomber crew during World War II. I didn’t mention that a few years before he died he trolled the gun shows looking for a decent M1 Garand (I eventually found one for him, which my brother and I gave to him as a birthday gift.) I asked him why he wanted one, and he animatedly exclaimed “I carried one during the War, and it was the best weapon ever made!”

“Ummm, Dad?” I said, “you were in a bomber – they issued you a pistol, not a rifle!”

“Yeah, well…I carried one in basic training, and it was a great rifle!”

That didn’t end the discussion. We talked about another legendary gun, one with legions of fans even more rabid than Garand lovers, and one with which he was very familiar: the M1911A1 pistol. He wasn’t nearly as appreciative, calling it a “piece of junk that couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.” My Dad was a pretty fair shooter with all arms, pistols included, but he hated the 1911.

When my wife got her heavily customized Springfield he looked it over, sniffed a bit, and offered that it sure looked nice and was probably more accurate than the one he’d been issued, but that no amount of work would ever fix what he called the “jamamatic.”

I was reminded of this by a comment I heard recently, to the effect that the 1911 must be a great gun because the U.S. Government issued it for such a long time — and that fact somehow supported the belief about the quality of the piece.

The irony is that this same gentleman considers the current issue M9A1 (aka Beretta 92) to be a “piece of junk.” Let me get this straight: if the Army issues a 1911 it’s only because the gun is superior, but when it issues the M9 it’s because…what, exactly?

That’s the problem with the appeal to authority. When the authority contradicts your view, you either have to change the view or abandon the authority, regardless of what the facts tell you. Doing neither just invalidates the opinion.

Whenever someone tells you that a specific product — to include the product of self defense training — is better because someone famous is somehow connected with it, your BS detectors should snap to attention. The appeal to authority is usually used to mask the fact that either a) it doesn’t work as advertised; b) it isn’t appropriate for the use intended; or c) the person trying to convince you to accept his/her point of view hasn’t bothered to really understand the subject.

Appeal to authority only works if you let it. Don’t.

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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