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Fallacy Fallacy

Argumentum ad Logicam : Fallacist's Fallacy : Fallacy Fallacy : "Fallacio" :

This fallacy is akin to the two wrongs don't make a right adage. A fallacious argument lacks a convincingly strong logical connection between acceptable premises and relevant conclusion. However, a true conclusion could be tacked onto a fallacious argument (ignoratio elenchi). So, the fact of unacceptable premises and/or an illogical argument says nothing about the truth-value of the conclusion itself. Accordingly, one is not necessarily justified in concluding that a proposition is false simply because a fallacious argument has been presented for the proposition. (The professional proponents of intelligent [sick] design theory implicitly fall back on this escape clause.)

In commenting on the fallacies of logic inherent in creationist arguments, I realize that recognizing fallacies alone does not render creationist conclusions incorrect. Demonstration of the falsity of creationists' claims does require scientific exposition, but that voluminous topic is not the primary purpose of this site. The fact that I, along with experts in the relevant scientific fields, am convinced by the scientific evidence has, however, made me certain that creationists' conclusions are false, and this prompted me to examine the fallacies that must be present in arguments for false conclusions. I can think of no other huge body of fallacious arguments within an area where conclusions are subject to empirical scrutiny. So, religious dogma and creationist nonsense provides ideal fodder for critical thinking. The problem with creationist and intelligent [sick] design arguments–beyond their manifest ignorance of science–lies in the fact that they are fraught with fallacies.

It is theoretically possible, on grounds of logic, that creationists' and intelligent [sick] design proponents' criticisms of science could be well founded. In so far as scientists usually admit that their hypothesis or theory will be subject to subsequent revision, creationists and intelligent [sick] design proponents are correct that gaps do exist in scientific knowledge. Scientists regularly admit that science has unanswered questions. This is one of the features that makes the study of science interesting. The nature of scientific investigation is to incrementally refine the body of understanding. Rarely do scientific discoveries completely overturn previous paradigms. However, unlike the case for religious dogma, nor does science lay claim to having a complete answer.

In this regard, though, it is an argument from ignorance–ignorance of possibilities–to believe that disproving scientific explanations is even possible by intelligent [sick] design propositions, let alone that it could prove the existence of God. Just as a single exposure of a fallacious argument does not overturn creationist arguments, gaps in scientific knowledge do not discredit the broad subject of scientific understanding. To argue so is a fallacy of composition – extrapolating from a part to the whole. In thinking that attacking elements of science could disprove biological evolution, creationists and intelligent [sick] design proponents are creating a false dichotomy, ignoring the actual explanation of incomplete-but-accurate knowledge.

Creationist and intelligent [sick] design arguments, though often implied rather than being spelled out fully, do not constitute a body of argument remotely as strong as empirical scientific evidence, scientific hypotheses, or scientific theories. So, exposure of all or many of the fallacies in the arguments of creationists and intelligent [sick] design proponents is not to commit the fallacist's fallacy: "It is reasonable to, at least provisionally, reject an improbable proposition for which no adequate evidence has been presented. So, if you can show that all of the common arguments for a certain proposition are fallacious, and the burden of proof is on the proposition's proponents, then you do not commit this fallacy by rejecting that proposition. Rather, the fallacy is committed when you jump to the conclusion that just because one argument for it is fallacious, no cogent argument for it can exist." Fallacy Fallacy

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. . . launched (sans champagne, alas) 10/22/06