A fallacy is a mistake in belief based on an unsound argument; so, an ignorance fallacy, or Appeal to Ignorance occurs when a person mistakenly believes something to be true that is not, because he or she does not know enough about the subject, or ha not bee given enough evidence, to know otherwise.
For example, an argument based on stereotype is an example of ignorance fallacy. Such an argument is persuasive because the audience wants to believe what their prejudice tells them is true.
Finding an Ignorance Fallacy
Ignorance fallacies can be found everywhere in everyday conversation, in advertising, in politics and in history.
Some examples of ignorance fallacies include:
- You can’t prove that there aren’t Martians living in caves under the surface of Mars, so it is reasonable for me to believe there are.
- No one can actually prove that God exists; therefore God does not exist.
- A cat who has roamed freely around a house speaks to a mouse who is hiding behind the wall. Through the hole in the wall, the cat says to the mouse, “Come on out! All the furniture out here is made of cheese!”
- You can’t prove that there isn’t a mirror universe of our own, so there must be one out there somewhere!
- If he was elected, Mitt Romney would take away Social Security and Medicaid benefits.
- If a Republican is elected, we will have women dying from back alley abortions.
- If a Democrat is elected, the government will pay for all of my utility bills and I will get a new cell phone for free from the government.
- A woman living in Pennsylvania watches the news and sees reports of kidnappings and violence on the border between Arizona and Mexico. Her daughter lives in Arizona, several hours from the border. Because the woman sees kidnappings and violence on the news, she tells her daughter that she better move out of Arizona or else she will be kidnapped.
- Children in some countries are recruited into their nations’ armies at very young ages. They are indoctrinated to believe that people of other ethnicities or beliefs are evil and should be eliminated. The children have no way of knowing that this is not true, and therefore their ignorance is played upon as they are raised to believe false information.
- When speaking to an audience who has never personally known a Jewish person, the speaker refers to Jewish people as being stingy, greedy, or otherwise obsessed with their money. The audience believes this assumption.
- The Crusades and Inquisition prove that the Catholic Church is evil.
- I grew up listening to and watching the Beach Boys in warm and sunny southern California. It must always be hot and sunny there.
- Don’t move to Seattle because it rains all the time.
- There is no evidence for the Loch Ness monster; therefore, the Loch Ness monster does not exist.
- No one on the council objected to the idea that he proposed, so everyone must think it’s a great idea.
- When speaking to an audience of people who hate sports, a speaker says “Sports have nothing to do with the American culture” and the audience agrees.
- She didn’t say that I couldn’t borrow her car, so I figured it was fine if I borrowed it for the weekend.
- Scientists haven’t proved that UFOs do not visit the Earth, so there’s no reason not to think that they do.
- The doctors can’t explain how she woke from the coma so it must have been the power of our prayers.
- I’ve never been hit by lightening when standing under a tree so we’ll be perfectly safe to shelter by this oak now.
So, now you have seen a lot of different ignorance fallacies. Be on the lookout and make sure you don’t believe any yourself.