Proving a Negative
Also: Shifting the Burden of Proof, Appeal to Ignorance
Class: Evade
Claiming something exists or happened, without evidence, then challenging the
other person to prove otherwise.

It is not possible to prove a negative:
You cannot prove that something does not
exist anywhere or never happened.

You’re a witch!
No I’m not.
Prove it!
How am I supposed to do that?
The government is secretly implanting mind control chips!
There’s no evidence of anything like that.
Prove they’re not!
Don’t shift the burden of proof. You made the accusation, so you need to prove it.
You stole that jacket!
No I didn’t.
Do you have a receipt for it?
Who carries receipts for what they’re wearing?!
So you stole it!
A lack of evidence does not prove guilt.
Foolacy vs. Fallacy

The fallacy Argument from Ignorance usually has two subtypes:

1) If it can’t be proven false it must be true. I found many good examples of this, so the foolacy covers this part.

2) If it can’t be proven true it must be false. I found few examples of this. Some were philosophical like, “You cannot prove that God exists therefore there is no God,” but this does not meet my requirement for “commonly used in various arguments”. Others were like, “You cannot prove Santa Clause exists therefore there is no Santa Clause.” While technically that is a fallacy in the strictest sense, it is also the way the law and science work, just more about presuming than proving. This distinction is so nuanced it would just confuse students. Also it is not a common form of argument. So this did not make the list of top foolacies.

This is usually (but not always) Shifting the Burden of Proof, by making an accusation without support and saying if your opponent cannot disprove it then it must be true. Technically there are rare cases where shifting the burden is reasonable, e.g., if your boss says you didn’t attend a mandatory event, but you did, it would be difficult or impossible to prove a negative that you were not there, so it’s reasonable for you to show evidence that you did attend.
These are Level 4 examples   Show Analysis

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