Sunday, September 8, 2013

TFTD: Argument from Ignorance

Reading a post on a website this morning, I had the misfortune of reading the combox comments where a radical traditionalist was blasting a religious order (in this case, the Jesuits).

When this person was challenged by another commentator who pointed out that those who do wrong do not prove the whole order is bad, the response was a demand to name 5 good priests from that order.

In logic, we call this the argument from ignorance. It presumes that just because a person is unaware of examples of something it means that thing does not exist.

But just because a person does not know something exists, it does not follow that it does not exist. It may or may not exist.  That's to be determined by evidence.

Personally, I can only think of four living Jesuits by name off the top of my head who I think highly of... but So what? I can only think of two living Jesuits I think poorly of off the top of my head. 

For that matter, off the top of my head I can only think of a few good living Dominicans, Franciscans, Benedictines... and fewer bad ones.  Does the fact I can't list 5 good living Trappists by name mean the Trappists are rotten?

Fame and notoriety of some members of a group does not mean the whole is good or bad.

(In addition, the radical traditionalist was also guilty of shifting the burden of proof. One does not prove X by demanding proof of Not-X.)

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