Looking for a term. Regarding guilt, burden of proof, etc

There is a practice among lesser intelligent people that I’ve seen many, many times. Hell, I’ve experienced it against myself many times.

This is that practice:

Me: I’m not [something–can be anything. For the sake of example, let’s say a kleptomaniac]!

Me: I’m not a kleptomanaic!
Some stupid person: Well since I haven’t seen any proof that you’re NOT a klepto, I think you are/you must be.
You ever see these idiots? They think that something MUST be the case because there isn’t any proof that they’ve seen that it’s NOT the case. Obviously they know nothing about the burden of proof. The person who makes the claim must prove it as it’s extremely hard to prove that something ISN’T the case if it’s really not the case.

So my question is, what is the name of this logic? I’ve remember hearing a specific term for it before but I’ve forgotten what it is.

Obviously it’s bad/wrong logic and only used by those who don’t know the burden of proof lies with the one making the claim, but like I said, I read a term for this before. I want to say it’s Mccarthism but I’ve looked the definition up for that and it doesn’t quite fit. It entails that, but it doesn’t describe it alone and this term that I can remember described that kind of logic SOLEY.

Anyone know what the name for that stupid logic is?

It’s called shifting the burden (of proof)

That’s what my roomate said, but I seem to remember the term/name I heard for it a few years ago was a one word term/name. :confused: Is there any one-worded term for that practice or am I imagining things?

Argumentum ad ignorantiam?

I think it’s called proving a negative. I saw an example of it on Law & Order once…Jack was spitballing defense strategies with Adam and pointed to a book on a table and said, “Prove I didn’t open that book.”

It is possible to do, but it’s much easier to prove a positive. I’m sure our resident attorneys will wander through here with the proper Latin term. :slight_smile:

Found it myself thanks to googling “Shifting the burden” that These are my own pants posted.

I was wrong, Argument From Ignorance is more than one word. :smack:
But that’s exactly what I was talking about. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the help! If anyone can think of any one worded terms for it, though, that I might have been thinking of, feel free to reply.

In fairness, if you’re arguing that you’re not a klepto, then it’s your burden to prove. You’ve simply asserted something without proof, and so I don’t think you can be said to have shifted your burden on that point.

This is all so much easier in the law, where it’s generally pretty clear who has the burden of proof on what issues, so that you can tell whether someone has a burden that they have to carry.

There’s also the phrase “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

Huh? :confused: I’m confused. If I say I’m not a klepto and I’m REALLY not a klepto, how could I prove that I’m not one? I don’t see how it’s possible. What do I do? Show all of the stuff I haven’t taken?

I think if someone accuses me of being a klepto per the example, they should have the burden of proof on them and show what makes me one.

It is impossible to prove a negative. Thus the entire field of parapsychology ferinstance.

I suppose I misunderstood your example, then. If someone accuses you of something, they should have the burden. But if you make an affirmative statement, it’s your burden to carry.

Yeah, that’s what I meant. :slight_smile:

I’ve actually heard (just heard, mind you) that it WAS possible to prove a negative in some cases, but that it was “very hard to do”.

I have no idea how it can be done at all.

I think since Dan Rather is using this argument about the faked memo, we should call it the Rather Fallacy in his honor.