Winning Discussions: argumentum ad ignorantiam (Effective Pirating)
Logical fallacies are techniques that people use to make an argument appear convincing even when it is wrong. Learning how to identify and refute logical fallacies is one of the best ways to win in a discussion. Catching an opponent committing a fallacy will force him to retract his error or he will appear foolish or manipulative to his audience. There is a dark side to this. Once you learn to identify logical fallacies you will also be able to use them. Do not deliberately use them against fellow Pirates; it is extreme bad manners and you will most probably be caught out.
The Logical Fallacy – argumentum ad ignorantiam
Argumentum ad ignorantiam translates as ‘argument from ignorance’, this fallacy is also known as the ‘appeal to ignorance’. The fallacy says that a specific claim is true, because we do not know that it’s not true. It is often used to back ideas based on religion and conspiracy theory. Just because we do not (or cannot) know something, it does not mean any guess or theory to explain it has to be true. Often it uses absence of evidence to falsely back a claim. A negative is hard to prove and thus it lends an air of validity to such an argument. This fallacy ignores the presence of other theories (and claims) that could also explain a phenomenon.
It is often used to shit the burden of proof in an argument; the opposition being asked to prove the claim is false. For a claim to be valid there must be evidence to back it up in a positive manner.
Consciousness is evidence for the human soul. Science and philosophy cannot explain what causes the perception of self and that we are thinking beings. However, this is not proof of a soul.
There is no evidence that the NSA is reading my emails, therefore my emails are secure.
I cannot prove it but lizard people are running the government.
(The words ‘I cannot prove it bur’ is nearly always followed by an ad ignorantiam fallacy.)
Most accusations of rape do not go to court or are found not guilty. Therefore the complainants in these cases made false accusations. There are many reasons why rape cases do not go to court or meet the high standards of legal proof. In fact very few rape allegations are malicious.
You can read more about the argumentum ad ignorantiam logical fallacy in a wikipedia post and logical fallacies in general in this wikipedia article.
Remember that just because someone commits a logical fallacy it does not mean their argument is necessarily incorrect. If you have the time and resources then use the principles of scepticism to test their reasoning objectively.
This article is a part of a series called Effective Pirating:
Winning Discussions: The Fallacy Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 09/01/15
Winning Discussions: The Gambler’s Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 28/12/14
Winning Discussions: argumentum ad ignorantiam (Effective Pirating) 21/11/14
Winning Discussions: post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Effective Pirating) 13/11/14
Winning Discussions: Ad Hominem (Effective Pirating) 23/10/14
Winning Discussions: Appeal to Fear (Effective Pirating) 21/10/14
Winning Discussions: Begging the Question (Effective Pirating) 17/8/14
Winning Discussions – The Bandwagon Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 11/8/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – Tu Quoque 24/7/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – The Straw Man 17/7/14
Effective Pirating: Choose your Opponents Carefully 7/7/14
Featured image: CC