In our political culture, where emotion outweighs facts and reason, an insidious form of logical fallacy has taken hold. Known as argumentum ad ignorantiam, or argument from ignorance, the fallacy holds that a claim is true simply because it has not been disproven. Proponents of the fallacy typically double down by insisting that their antagonists must prove them wrong.
The current case in point is President Trump’s charge, without evidence, that former President Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower (“Trump, offering no evidence, says Obama tapped his phones,” March 5 news article).
A suitable response would be, “Make your case when you have evidence.” But Trump and his surrogates insist Congress must investigate, and some journalists and TV hosts get sucked into their fallacy.
In contrast, charges of Russian interference in our election build on mounting evidence of contacts and hacking. Facts provide the basis for investigating. Argument from ignorance also is often at the heart of bad laws.
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After claiming voter fraud without proof, our General Assembly enacted a voter suppression law. After claiming acts by restroom predators without proof, they passed House Bill 2.
Claims and laws built on illogic cannot be fairly debated. Let’s bring back facts and reason.