Appeal to invisible garments

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An appeal to invisible garments (AIG) is a rhetorical deception in which the listener is informed that it is only through some defect on their part that they cannot perceive the evidence being presented by the arguer, which is in fact not perceivable. It is a combination of two logical fallacies: argument from absent evidence and appeal to self-doubt.

The name of this deception derives from the story The Emperor's New Clothes, in which it is stated that only fools cannot perceive the magnificence and finery of the eponymous (and nonexistent) clothing -- therefore, implicitly, the listener should agree with the arguer in order to avoid being thought a fool.

The general form of the argument, then, is: "If you were not deficient in some way, you would perceive that I am correct. (Implied:) Therefore if you do not wish for your deficiency to be known to all, you must agree with me."

It is related to the courtier's reply (CR) in that both AIG and CR defend the existence of the nonexistent, but different in the persuasive methods used: AIG uses self-doubt, shame, and fear, while CR uses a combination of rich imagery (appeal to imagination) and citation of multiple authoritative sources (appeal to authority).


  • "Only a fool cannot see the finery!"
  • "It's easy to see if you just open your eyes."
  • "God is all around you, if you just open your heart".
  • "If you were more open-minded, you'd understand."


  • 2013-06-26 proposed here under the name "appeal to The Emperor's New Clothes"