Argument from ignorance

by | Apr 22, 2016 | Fallacy Friday | Comments

It’s time for #FallacyFriday ! Every week, Oliver Diaz-Neda will post a logical fallacy and an example to help you all become better debaters, persuaders and rational thinkers. What is a logical fallacy? It is defined as – a flaw in the structure of an argument which renders the argument invalid.

Today’s fallacy

Argument from ignorance

This fallacy is at the root of all conspiracy theories and is truly one of the most flagrant violations of reason out there. A debater commits an argument from ignorance fallacy when they validate their own conclusion by citing a lack of information to disprove their claim. Their belief is true because one can’t conclusively prove it’s not true.

Examples:

Jackie

Science has never been able to tell us WHY the big bang happened, which proves that God is the reason the universe exist.

Bob

There was a super secret meeting of world leaders in Europe last year. The meeting was closed the public and there were no statements issued about what was discussed. That is clear proof that the illuminati exist and runs the world!

Bill

Clinton gave private speeches to big banks and hasn’t made the transcripts public. We have no idea what she said, so it is obvious that she is conspiring with the banks to screw the little man!

Jackie, Bob and Bill are each supporting their assertions (their conclusions) not by providing actual evidence or logically sound reasoning, but by pointing to the fact that their claim can’t be disproven. Following that same illogical framework, one could assert that the tooth fairy is real because one can’t conclusively prove it’s not real. In rational debates, lack of proof can’t act as a substitute for proof, and the burden of proof lies with the individual making a claim. Don’t be like Jackie, Bob or Bill – they believe in the tooth fairy.