I'm looking for an idiom / name describing a fallacy in which the opponent's opinion on X is discarded on grounds that the opponent doesn't know how to do/make X. Examples:

  • How can you say this restaurant is terrible if you can barely cook?
  • It's easy to criticize beer for someone who have brewed zero bottles.
  • Who cares you don't like Picasso. Which galleries are your paintings in?
  • Here's another Trump critic who haven't run anything bigger than a family of one!

The core of the fallacy is that doing X and judging X (or comparing one X to the other) are two quite unrelated activities which often require different skills. In Russian I would say "you don't have to lay eggs to tell fresh and rotten apart".

I have seen "why don't you do it yourself?" and "who are you to judge?", but I'm not sure how idiomatic these are and how precisely do they describe the fallacy above. Is there a shorter name for it?

  • 2
    not an idiom, and kind of the opposite, but the "appeal to authority" logical fallacy is that you believe something an expert says just because s/he says it (without considering the logic or even if it is clear the logic is faulty). I guess you want the opposite (in a way) - discounting any opinion not made by a recognised expert (even if the logic is perfect or the topic is purely subjective). "It's easy to be an armchair quarterback" or "it's easy to be a monday morning quarterback" may be close, but there are probably better
    – michael
    Apr 30, 2020 at 14:16
  • @michael Thanks, your comment got me on the right track I believe. Apr 30, 2020 at 19:01
  • There is also one other aspect that the OP's examples have in common: Critique about perception by a recipient as opposed to expertise as a producer. They can be extended to even more ad absurdum examples such as "How can you complain that getting stabbed hurts when you are not a professional killer?" May 1, 2020 at 10:18
  • Are you asking for an idiom to use as a retort or one describing the fallacy itself? Your question seems to ask for the latter but you accepted an answer for the former.
    – Kat
    May 1, 2020 at 17:32
  • You've got to be careful in saying this argument is a fallacy, it often does take knowledge of a field to make a reasonable and respectable judgement. That's why we have experts. Would you take medical advice of some random person on Facebook over that of a doctor? Would you weigh pandemic predictions and advice from some random Twitter post the same as from someone with a PhD in epidemiology?
    – Kevin
    May 1, 2020 at 17:39

5 Answers 5


In Russian I would say "you don't have to lay eggs to tell fresh and rotten apart".

The closest idiom (or phrase) to that translation I can think of is you don't have to be a genius.

[Macmillan Dictionary]
or it doesn't take a genius
1 used for saying something that's obvious
You don't have to be a genius to see that it's not going to work.


Looking around I came across the wiki article about Appeal to accomplishment, which I think is quite close to what I was looking for:

Appeal to accomplishment is a genetic fallacy wherein Person A challenges a thesis put forward by Person B because Person B has not accomplished similar feats or accomplished as many feats as Person C or Person A.

"I'll take your opinions on music seriously when you've released a record that went platinum."


I couldn't think of an idiom that expressed that idea, but there are a number of expressions I could come up with. I'd probably use something like: "Just because I can't cook, doesn't mean I can't taste."

Both examples provided I think paint the opposite picture, and play into the fallacy.

Amazingly, English has a number of idioms that reinforce this fallacy: idioms meant to criticize the critic for not being capable:

Armchair critic describes someone who criticizes regularly, but does not demonstrate aptitude (they sit in their armchair).

Blind leading the blind describes someone who is incapable attempting to lead other people who are also incapable.

You should talk! is meant to call out someone for saying something they don't have the requisite experience/capability to justifiably say it.

  • Given the Dunning–Kruger effect, I'm hardly convinced that it's a fallacy in general. May 1, 2020 at 6:49
  • Strictly speaking, it's a fallacy, as the skill set required to make/produce X is slightly different from the skill set required to use/consume X. However, I agree with you that, in general, those are usually well linked skill sets, and it is definitely the exception when people are very good at evaluating use/consumption but terrible at making/producing.
    – Nick2253
    May 1, 2020 at 16:12
  • @Nick2253 To some extent, the ability to produce X is a superset of the ability to judge X. Cooks taste their food while cooking, singers listen to their own voice while singing, etc. So there's nothing wrong with listening to a cook's opinion on a restaurant, but that doesn't mean that the opinion of a food critic has inferior value. May 1, 2020 at 17:06

This is just a variation of the Jason Bassford answer.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to ...
You don't need to be a brain surgeon to ...

I prefer the more humorous (and silly)

You don't need to be a rocket surgeon to ...*


Years ago, my musically inclined (now ex-) husband used to criticize "One Hit Wonders" -- artists who would release a record which climbed up the charts, but then follow it up with nothing else of note. I had to repress the urge to reply, "and how many hits have you had?"

It seems to me that my counter-critcism would have been justified, but the examples Dmitry gives would not have been. But I'n not sure why. Maybe it was that he was a musician, and as such WOULD be expected to be compared to the people he was criticizing. While in Dmitry's examples, these where clearly people who were incapable of doing the thing and everybody knew it, and thus be entitled to NOT be compared with them.

Perhaps a good reply would be "I'm not saying I can do better, I'm just saying they're bad".

  • I think it depends on what is meant by "criticize". One hit artists obviously do exist, and they're undeniably worse than more productive artists. Still, one hit is (also undeniably) better than zero, so one hit artists still have their value. Replying with "how many hits have you had" to someone who sees no value in them isn't fair, but comparing them to artist Lambda with zero good records hits the spot IMO. May 1, 2020 at 17:00
  • One hit artists are undeniably worse? I think it depends on the popularity (perhaps measured by sales). One "Rhythm Of The Rain" by The Cascades beats out all of Arthur Brown's works together.
    – Jennifer
    May 18, 2020 at 17:53

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