WOX: War on X (Mass) III: Incomplete Evidence




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In the previous essay in this series, I discussed how you could provide “examples” of a War on X by using hyperbole and making straw men. In this essay, we’ll look at how you can use the fallacy of incomplete evidence to “prove” there is a WOX.
The fallacy of incomplete evidence occurs when available evidence that would count against a claim is ignored or suppressed. Looked at another way, it occurs when only evidence in support of a claim is selected (“cherry-picked”). It has the following form:

Premise 1:  Evidence E is given for claim C.
Premise 2: There is no available evidence A that would significantly count against C (but A is available and is ignored or suppressed).
Conclusion: Therefore, C is true.

Unlike many other fallacies, this fallacy does not arise because the presented premises do not logically support the conclusion. Instead, the error is that the person making the argument fails (intentionally or accidentally) to consider available evidence would count against their conclusion.  The fallacy does its work by conveying the impression to the target that the premises are both true and complete (that salient evidence has not been ignored or suppressed).
There are two factors that must be considered when determining whether the fallacy has been committed. The first is whether the suppressed/ignored evidence is significant enough to outweigh the presented evidence. That some salient information has been left out is not enough to establish the fallacy has been committed. What is needed is that the suppressed/ignored evidence would make a significant difference in the strength of the argument. If not, the fallacy is not committed.  But in this context, you will want to commit the fallacy. You will need to determine which evidence would count against your claim and then ignore it. And hope your audience will do so as well.
The second is whether the (allegedly) suppressed/ignored evidence was reasonably available to the person committing the. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: A Philosopher’s Blog



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