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Arguing Ignorance
by vaughn ohlman  
10/17/2008 / Christian Apologetics


It is no secret that public education is in a state of absolute disorder, so the fact that they routinely fail to teach the basic principles of wisdom comes as no surprise. One aspect of wisdom that is particularly neglected in modern education is basic logic. This lack creates a vulnerability in the general public to certain nonsensical arguments.

One particular logical principle , expressed as a logical 'fallacy', is the 'argument from ignorance'. In this form of (fallacious) argument the author or speaker uses his own ignorance to actually bolster his point of view. An example:
"Well, I don't see why Joe Blow shouldn't be a congressman."

Notice how the key 'fact' in this argument is actually a statement of ignorance, "I don't see'. Several reasons why Mr. Blow would, in fact, be a horrible congressman may very well exist; but our speaker is protected from this unfortunate fact by his self-professed ignorance.

Care should be taken to distinguish between this form of argument and the perfectly valid factual statement, "I know of no reason why Joe Blow should not be a congressman." This is not an argument in favor of Joe it is a statement of simple fact. The speaker, with his knowledge (or lack of it) and his experience (or lack of it) with Joes actions, states that he does not know of any impediment to Joes becoming a congressman. If such an impediment should be raised by another, his obvious response could be, "I didn't know that. Now that I know that".

The fallacious argument is trying to not only state his own ignorance, but use that ignorance as a club to beat their opponents. Tellingly his statement is usually a bold faced lie: the speaker does, in fact, know of several arguments, or ideas, or facts against his position. He may disagree with those arguments, belittle those ideas, or question those facts but he doesn't even wish to mention them, so instead he says, "I don't know of any"


This particular fallacy could be seen easily in the coverage of the sodomite marriage issue by local papers. The paper itself would be full of arguments for and against, both as news reports and op-ed pieces. Inevitably the letters-to-the-editor would start pouring in, many including the words "I don't see" or "I don't know of any reason". Hesitating to attack their opponents head on ("Homosexuality is not a threat to the family") they couch their (actual) disagreement in (pretended) ignorance.

A former missionary to Africa, I am now an LVN and EMT with a wife, six kids, and small farm. I like to write about Theonomy, Betrothal, Fantasy, and Science Fiction, just for starters.

vonsbooks.com
Christianbetrothal.blogspot.com


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