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An appeal to pity (also called argumentum ad misericordiam, the sob story, or the Galileo argument) is a fallacy in which someone tries to win support for an argument or idea by exploiting his or her opponent's feelings of pity or guilt. It is a specific kind of appeal to emotion. The name "Galileo argument" refers to the scientist's suffering as a result of his house arrest by the Inquisition.
An appeal to pity can be seen in many charitable advertisements. Charities appeal to your pity of less fortunate people in order for you to be more likely to donate to that particular charity.
- "You must have graded my exam incorrectly. I studied very hard for weeks specifically because I knew my career depended on getting a good grade. If you give me a failing grade I'm ruined!"
- "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, look at this miserable man, in a wheelchair, unable to use his legs. Could such a man really be guilty of embezzlement?"