For e.g someone says they believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. When you ask for evidence they reply: "well, prove it doesn't exist!"

Surely it's the prerogative of the believer to provide evidence not the non-believer.

I claimed this was a Strawman argument but I believe that's wrong fallacy example. What is correct name for this argumentation technique?

  • 2
    The believer is falling back on the 'Argument from ignorance' (appeal to ignorance, argumentum ad ignorantiam) – assuming that a claim is true because it has not been or cannot be proven false, or vice versa. [Wikipedia]. I'm not sure there's a term for 'to counter a demand for proof with an argument from ignorance'.
    – Edwin Ashworth
    Jun 25 '17 at 14:43
  • In science and in most accepted arguments the axiom is 'proof lies in the assertion, not in the negation' Jun 27 '17 at 8:01

It's called shifting the burden of proof.

burden of proof You said that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the claim, but with someone else to disprove. - yourlogicalfallacyis.com

It's related to an argument from ignorance, but is slightly different in emphasis. Instead of claiming that a proposition is true because it hasn't been proven false, it sidesteps the claim altogether and challenges the other person to disprove the proposition.


This is virtually a textbook case of an argument from ignorance.

Argument from ignorance, also known as appeal to ignorance (in which ignorance represents "a lack of contrary evidence"), is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false (or vice versa). Wikipedia

However, the chances are that your interlocutor isn't really committed to Pastafarianism, but wants to undermine the alleged pretensions of those who accept more traditional forms of religion by positing an analogy between those religions and belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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    This is exactly right. The Flying Spaghetti Monster argument attempts to argue that one cannot prove that God (or Allah, or insert name of deity here) exists any more than one can prove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide if this is a valid argument.
    – Jim MacKenzie
    Jun 25 '17 at 15:22
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    Actually it wasn't the "flying spaghetti monster", it was "the patriachy". But I deliberately used a different example to avoid politically biased responses from people. Jun 25 '17 at 17:29

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