Doubt, a status between belief and disbelief, involves uncertainty or distrust or lack of sureness of an alleged fact, an action, a motive, or adecision. Doubt brings into question some notion of a perceived “reality“, and may involve delaying or rejecting relevant action out of concerns for mistakes or faults or appropriateness. Some definitions of doubt emphasize the state in which the mind remains suspended between two contradictory propositions and unable to assent to either of them (compare paradox).
The concept of doubt covers a range of phenomena: one can characterise both deliberate questioning of uncertainties and an emotional state of indecision as “doubt”.
Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) is a tactic of rhetoric and fallacy used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative and dubious/false information designed to undermine the credibility of their beliefs. An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor’s product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner who could potentially become a rival. FUD techniques may be crude and simple, as in claiming “I read a paper by a Harvard professor that shows you are wrong regarding subject XXX”, but the paper does not even exist! (If the paper exists, then it is not FUD, but valid criticism.) Alternatively FUD may be very subtle, employing an indirect approach. Someone who employs FUD can in general not back up his claims “Oh, I dont remember which professor or which year the paper is from”. To dispel FUD, the easiest way is to ask for details and then provide well researched, hard facts which disproves the details. For instance, if it can be shown that no Harvard professor ever has written a paper on subject XXX, then the FUD is dispelled.
The term originated to describe disinformation tactics in the computer hardware industry and has since been used more broadly. FUD is a manifestation of the appeal to fear: An appeal to fear (also called argumentum ad metum or argumentum in terrorem) is a fallacy in which a person attempts to create support for his or her idea by using deception and propaganda in attempts to increase fear and prejudice toward a competitor. The appeal to fear is common in marketing and politics.