Let's say, someone is wrong on the internet. She says
The forums on that newspaper article is closed. Apparently the newspaper want to suppress public debate.
That's just a suspicion. Just because that's your first thought, it does not mean that's true.
What else should be the reason?
Now I am in doubt about whether this person has made a logical argument or not and whether it is rational for me to take the view that the newspaper wants to suppress public debate until more information is available.
No fallacy I know of fits this type of argument
My first impulse is to decline that argument and accuse her of an unlogical argument, because she infers something without considering alternatives (with the justification that she cannot think of any).
I suspect the person used the Availability Heuristic to make the conclusion. But the way by which the conclusion is made does not say anything about whether it's logically sound.
So I tried to think of possible logical fallacies, and none of them seem to fit:
- Argument from ignorance: (There is no evidence against x. Therefore, x is true). However, her conclusion is due to lack of alternatives fitting equally well to the given evidence, not so much on the lack of contradicting evidence.
- Argument from incredulity (I can't imagine how x could be true. Therefore, x is false). However, the argument is less about how the person cannot believe a possible explanation, but she comes up with an explanation by herself.
- Shifting the burden of proof: (If you can't come up with an answer to "what else could be the reason", I am right). This is not applicable, because the person has brought evidence: The closed forum. It's just that she has not brought evidence that her explantation is the only possible. But then again, it's very difficult to prove that in the real world.
Scientists do the same
Moreover, I hesitate because this reminds me of the scientific method, where each theory is only accepted preliminarily until disproven.
In this case, the theory would be that the newspaper wants to stiffle the public debate about the given article. The evidence is that they closed down the online forum. Therefore, I cannot disprove the theory that the newspaper wants to stifle debate about that article, because the evidence does not contradict my theory.
So, the questions are:
- Is the argument of the person logically flawed?
- Does the argument of the person follow the same methodology as Popper's Falsificationism and is therefore a valid scientific conclusion?
- If 1. is true and 2. is true, there must obviously be a criterion which separates a logically flawed conclusion like stated above from a conclusion accepted among scientists. What is that criterion?