This fallacy muddles the true-false dichotomy with the question of proof or disproof, and as such is a form of false dilemma where only two options are presented when several options exist. The ignored options include false claim-not disproven, and true claim-not proven, while the implied dichotomy confines options to false claim-disproven or true claim-proven. If only the world of thought were so simple.
Fallacious arguments from ignorance erroneously claim either that lack of proof must render a claim false, or that lack of disproof must render a claim true.
An Illogical Deceit example of this argument is embodied in the “irreducible complexity” claim that if evolutionary biologists cannot provide an explanation for “specified complexity”, then evolutionary theory fails, implying that biological evolution is not a fact, and hence implying that God (aka the ‘intelligent designer’) must be responsible for whatever biological mechanism is under debate.
The more careful claim of a pro-id debater would be that ‘id’ theory ought to be taught alongside science in the classroom. This is not a substantiable claim because nothing about 'id' theory qualifies it to be regarded as science. Merely disputing the content of science does not qualify as being science. While many proids appear not to understand the true nature of science, idists and fodis are mostly well enough educated that they ought to understand the advantages and limitations of scientific investigation.
Many creationism and ‘id’ debaters who display the argumentam ad ignorantiam logical fallacy do not make their reasoning explicit, such that the conclusion of truth or falsehood is merely implied, or the actual argument is buried in the wordiness typical of idist authors. Because idist authors write for a readership that is typically not well versed in science, idist writings necessarily contain very lengthy explanations. However, wordiness can also be a technique of verbal obfuscation wherein an argument – and its inherent deficiencies of logic – are obscured by rhetoric.
When the reader is not well versed with the topic under discussion, he or she will have more difficulty in determining whether or not the writer has provided an accurate, authoritative, and complete account of the topic. When the conclusions drawn by the writer fit with the reader's preconceived notions or feelings about the topic, then the reader is at risk of being misled. Knowledge of the fallacies of logic can provide a short-cut to determining the difficulties with an argument. A single fallacy of logic does not necessarily render the conclusions suspect. However, a plethora of fallacies do indicate that the argument, and hence the conclusions drawn, are fatally flawed.
Labels: argument from ignorance, argumentum ad ignorantiam, biological evolution, complexity, creationism, fallacies of logic, false dichotomy, false dilemma, intelligent design, proof-disproof muddles