The Argument from Silence, or Argumentum Ex Silentio, is a logical fallacy in which someone concludes that a proposition is true or false based on a lack of evidence or statements to the contrary. Essentially, it assumes that if something hasn’t been proven or mentioned, it must either be true or false. This fallacy often shows up in historical discussions, legal arguments, and debates where the absence of evidence is presented as evidence.
It’s important to note that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. A lack of information or silence on a particular issue is not sufficient grounds to draw a definitive conclusion.
Person A: “No ancient texts mention that the pyramids were built by aliens, so it must not have happened.”
Person B: “Well, no ancient texts explicitly state that the pyramids were not built by aliens, so maybe they were!”
Both persons are committing the Argument from Silence fallacy. Person A assumes that because ancient texts don’t mention alien involvement, it must not have happened. Person B assumes that because there is no specific denial of alien involvement in ancient texts, it might have happened.
In both cases, the absence of information is used to support a claim, when in fact it provides no substantial evidence either way. This fallacy can lead to misleading or incorrect conclusions and should be avoided in rational discourse.