Have you ever come across the term argumentum ad ignorantiam? If you have, then you probably know that the English counterpart is an ignorance argument. But what does this academic phrase refer to, and how can college students use it in their papers?
In short, if you want to give a logical argument, you must also provide at least one reliable source to support your claim. However, this is not always the case. Some people give irrelevant reasons to support their argument, whereas others benefit from the lack of evidence in the field.
This article will explain the essence of a logical fallacy and how you can use it in your essay in rhetoric. It will also elaborate on inadequate but appealing reasons that aim to manipulate common perceptions and refute obvious events.
Appeal to ignorance fallacy refers to a logical claim that argues for or against an idea for which there is no contradicting proof. More precisely, logical fallacies root in the assumption that the absence of evidence proves the contrary standpoint.
Human beings are far from knowing everything. But Edusson authors are well-versed in framing an appeal to ignorance fallacy. Regardless of how far science goes, they can provide enough evidence for every idea and phenomenon. In a way, these writing experts take advantage of the human’s inability to be a know-it-all.
Since the list of things impossible to get proven in present times is lengthy, flawed reasoning is very common. To prove a point wrong, one must underline that science is ignorant of the fact to claim that the opposite is true.
Similarly, the appeal to pity fallacy tends to provoke guilt or pity in the audience. Other emotional fallacies include appeals to flattery, hate, authority, and wishful thinking. Moreover, there are informal fallacies like the bandwagon one that supports a fact only due to its popularity. We will also mention the sunk cost fallacy, which makes a person continue believing or doing something because they invested a lot of resources. Finally, the slippery slope fallacy is an argument claiming that the existence of an initial event will trigger other events that will lead to an undesirable or extreme scenario.
A logical fallacy can be both affirmative and negative, depending on how you frame the statement. To illustrate, here are a few examples of how to appeal to ignorance in an affirmative form.
- Your daughter didn’t call you, so everything must be in order.
- I don’t follow the rules, and I have never been fined. So, it’s fine not to obey the rules.
- Nobody knows how he survived the crash. So, definitely, God exists.
The main difference here is that the appeal to ignorance is negative, and therefore, the concluding remark is also negative.
- There is no proof that ghosts exist, so the statement is false.
- The ability to walk on water cannot get proven true, so there is no such thing.
- Nobody can prove there is intelligent life in space. Hence, aliens don’t exist.
How Is the Appeal to Ignorance Fallacy Used?
People use ignorance fallacies in various types of speech and writing. Such arguments are present in formal and informal conversations, articles, blog posts, and online forums and discussions. Typically, you’d find such assumptions in works of a philosophy essay writer. But, even prominent officials and politicians can say an informal fallacy when there is no compelling evidence.
So, how can you use fallacious reasoning, and what’s its purpose? In many cases, people would pick a fallacy argument to defend their standpoint or action. Their objective isn’t to support a claim but emphasize the absence of credible facts and sources.
However, you don’t have to rely on the appeal to ignorance fallacy to support claims in bad faith. Experienced scientists and orators use it to encourage raising doubts about vital concepts and ideas. As a result, the reader or listener will consider the rhetoric until proven false. It is also useful when you need a counterargument in an essay to prove your point right.
Conversely, there have been many ignorance fallacy examples used in courtrooms. More specifically, we refer to the burden of proof. According to this notion, no person can be considered guilty of a crime until proven otherwise. This widely used concept in legal surroundings rests upon the same notion as the appeal to ignorance argument. So, unless proven false, we must accept that the contradicting belief can be true.
Since the human understanding of the world is limited, we must understand how to apply logical forms of fallacies in good faith. We must also learn how to defend our viewpoints and provide appealing evidence. Therefore, many college and university professors assign research papers that put the burden of proof on the student.
The predominant examples of the appeal to ignorance fallacy reasoning are in religious, legal, and space contexts. This is because we cannot prove that an argument is false. In this case, people can argue either side of the notion to justify their claim. For instance:
Alone in the Universe?
- We cannot prove that aliens visited Earth, so they don’t exist.
- Nobody has proven that aliens haven’t been on Earth. Therefore, UFOs exist.
God is Everywhere
Here is another appeal to ignorance fallacy but in a religious framework.
- Humans can’t prove that God exists, so he doesn’t.
- God exists because we haven’t proven that deities are non-existent.
Worlds Below the Sea Surface
The next two examples intertwine the natural world and history.
- Nobody has found the lost city of Atlantis, so it’s just a legend.
- We haven’t explored all of our oceans. Therefore, Atlantis might still be lying somewhere on the seabed.
No Racism, No Sexism?
Most widely known misconceptions derive from notions and personal beliefs like:
- I have never been offended on the basis of my black skin, so there is no such thing as racism.
- Women in our company are paid and respected the same as men. Hence, sexism and gender inequality at the job post are made up.
Is Silence Approval?
The last examples show scenarios we encounter on a daily basis. Bue can not saying anything mean agreeing or disagreeing?
- She didn’t say anything about the bike, so I assumed it’s fine to borrow it.
- Ben didn’t ask for a ride. Therefore, I just left him standing on the sidewalk.
Examine an Appeal to Ignorance with Critical Thinking
Scientific and moral advancement is inherent to human development. Hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when an appeal to ignorance fallacy becomes obsolete with newly found evidence. One such example was the notion that tuberculosis is incurable until a vaccine was found to support the opposing claim.
Yet, there are still many arguments we can’t prove. In this case, a person should rely on their common sense and keep an open mind. Unless robust evidence assertion comes to light to refute the fallacy, we must resort to critical thinking essay writing.
When examining an appeal to ignorance, you would ideally start from scratch. In short, use your logic to rationalize claims. Think of Nikola Tesla and his inventions that changed the world entirely. Nobody believed it was possible to create electricity until he proved otherwise. Before Tesla’s time, people lived in the dark and could not imagine the conveniences we have today. If you have problems with the development of your ideas, consider a custom argumentative essay writing service to give you a head start.
However, altering long-held beliefs can’t happen overnight. Changing perceptions takes time, evidence, and rhetoric. Finally, we have to accept that some things are beyond our understanding. For now, it is impossible to claim with certainty that there is life in the universe or that ghosts exist. The absence of evidence leaves vast room for speculation.
Whether you call it argumentum ad ignorantiam or appeal to ignorance fallacy, the ability to convince someone is a powerful tool. You can offer an example or a definition that leaves no room for discussion. Credible evidence plays a pivotal role in our lives.
But problems arise with ignorance. People have no evidence to offer but only a fallacious appeal. By saying an informal fallacy, they turn the situation to their advantage. Critical thinking is the best way to combat misconceptions and get the burden of proof off your chest.