Burden of Proof Fallacy

Also called “Appeal to Ignorance”

“Zeus is real.”
“Prove it.”
“Why don’t you prove that he doesn’t exist?”

You commit the burden of proof fallacy when you make a claim and, instead of giving evidence for it, you hold the other person responsible for proving you wrong.

There are two ways to commit the burden of proof fallacy.

You can commit it claiming that something is true because it hasn’t been proven false, as in the above example. You can also commit it by claiming that something is false because it hasn’t been proven true: “Science has not proven the existence of ghosts, so ghosts do not exist.” A rational scientist can only say, “Currently, there is no empirical evidence or scientific basis to support the existence of ghosts.”

It is helpful to remember this quote by Carl Sagan: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

This fallacy is when you make a claim and say that the other person should Typically, it is assumed that the burden of proof lies with the person making the claim.

Back to the Logical Fallacy Handbook