Logical Fallacy #5: Argument from Personal Incredulity

This logical fallacy is based on the arguers ignorance or limitations leading to an amazing solution or solutions. The phrase “I cannot conceive” or “I can’t imagine how” leads to a conclusion of “therefore [non-evidence based solution] must be it”. This can also include a denial of the given evidence supported explanation because the concept does not fit within the acceptable paradigm of the arguer primarily due to their inability to understand the logic behind the standard scientific explanation.

Generally the people using this form of logical fallacy display significant arrogance in thinking that any solution beyond their grasp must mean it is beyond any single humans or group of humans grasp, and thus must have an amazing solution such as magic, aliens or mystical beings. A example of a common argument is that there is no simple explanation for how humans came to be on this planet, that evolution is too complicated and doesn’t seem right, and therefore we were seeded by aliens, gods or just created by some all powerful force. There are many scientists and lay people who do understand evolution and the mountains of evidence found supporting this Theory. The individual arguers inability to understand this well known phenomena does not preclude others abilities. Yet somehow that incredulity supports their own belief in a simple solution with zero evidence to support it.

There are many concepts that I have troubles grasping. Lately I’m working through the difference between my high school understanding of “matter” – having “mass” and “volume” and some kind of “solid boundary” between the inside of the particle and the rest of the universe – and what seems to be the reality of subatomic particles – where “mass” is merely a means of interaction, “volume” is a proximity of interactions of various forces and there is no “inside”, so no “boundary”. I have the option of denying the work of thousands of physicists and their mountains of evidence simply because I can’t understand this and going back to my immature high school beliefs, or I can accept that I don’t understand this, but someone does.

The logical fallacy version of this would be to state that simply because I can’t understand it, no one can, and those who claim they do are wrong because my simpler answer without evidence trumps it.

As I said earlier, arrogance,