Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stuff Believers Like #9: Arguments from Ignorance.....

Yet another report on possible proof of the existence of Bigfoot, the cryptozoological equivalent of cold fusion, has emerged out of Japan. This time the proposed evidence comes from a Japanese team of explorers who had spent 42 days on a region of the Himalayas where, according to the Yeti Project Japan leader, one of the mysterious beasts had been seen before by him, from 650 feet away. They were unable on this, their third attempt, to obtain video footage of Bigfoot however they did return with photographs of footprints.

The team feels that despite having failed in their primary mission to record images of the Yeti in action, the footprints are all the proof they need. The footprints in question, of which only one image is provided alongside the article by the AFP, is yet another case of Bigfoot is in the eye of the believer. To me, an admitted amateur print analyzer, it looks only vaguely footprint like and could easily be explained by simple random noise of melting snow being misinterpreted by a group of people biased by their belief system. It hardly serves as extraordinary evidence.

The logical fallacy which seems to be at the root of the team's announcement is an argument from ignorance, or in the form I prefer, an argument by lack of imagination. The team leader explains, in reference to the proposed Yet prints, "Myself and other team members have been coming to the Himalayas for years and we can recognise bear, deer, wolf and snow leopard prints and it was none of those,". He adds that "We remain convinced it is real. The footprints and the stories the local tell make us sure that it is not imaginary,". Because the team cannot imagine that the prints could come from an animal that they know to roam the region where the print was found, they believe that by default it must have been left by a Yeti. That simply doesn't cut it.

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