What is The Appeal to Ignorance Fallacy? | Critical Thinking Basics


Explanation. Examples. How to avoid the Appeal to Ignorance fallacy.

What the Appeal to Ignorance fallacy is:

The Appeal to Ignorance fallacy occurs when a proposition is asserted as true simply because it has not been proven false, or vice versa, without proper evidence.

When it occurs:

This fallacy arises when arguments rely on the lack of evidence to support a claim, either affirming it due to a lack of disproof or dismissing it based on a lack of proof.

Why it helps to identify and manage it:

Identifying the Appeal to Ignorance is crucial for fostering informed decision-making, as it prevents the acceptance or rejection of claims based solely on a lack of evidence. Managing this fallacy encourages a reliance on positive evidence rather than the absence of disproof.

How to manage the Appeal to Ignorance:

To address the Appeal to Ignorance, emphasize the importance of providing positive evidence to support a claim. Encourage critical thinking by highlighting the need for solid reasoning and empirical support rather than relying on the absence of contradicting evidence.

Appeal to Ignorance: Examples

  1. Believing in extraterrestrial life because no one has proven it doesn’t exist.
  2. Dismissing the effectiveness of a new treatment because its benefits haven’t been disproven.
  3. Accepting the existence of mythical creatures because no one can disprove their existence.
  4. Asserting a conspiracy theory as true because no one has debunked it.
  5. Claiming a supernatural event occurred because it hasn’t been disproven.
  6. Accepting psychic abilities because their non-existence hasn’t been proven.
  7. Refusing to believe in climate change – not climate change crisis! – because there is uncertainty in predicting future events.