Argument from ignorance

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Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or appeal to ignorance, is an informal logical fallacy. It asserts that a proposition is necessarily true because it has not been proven false (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option: there is insufficient investigation and the proposition has not yet been proven to be either true or false.[1] In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof.

Carl Sagan famously criticized the practice by referring to it as "impatience with ambiguity", pointing out that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". This should not, however, be taken to mean that one can never possess evidence that something does not exist; an idea captured by philosopher Bertrand Russell's teapot.


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