Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Faculty follies - an example of the burden of proof fallacy

Merv Bendle, in an article in today's Australian Newspaper takes some wacky academics to task for their peculiar "blame the victim" approach to terrorism studies. In the body of his article, he states:

This group also alleges that I have an obligation to disprove Burchill's claims that "Muslim identity in Australia has been increasingly constructed as a problematic Other". Why? If Burchill (or anyone else) says that Muslim identity is constructed by Santa Claus, am I obliged to disprove such a patently absurd claim? Isn't it up to Burchill to prove such assertions in the first place?

This paragraph is a nice repudiation of the burden of proof fallacy. (However it's always useful to actually name the fallacy if possible - Bendle hasn't done this here.) The burden of proof fallacy has long been recognised in writings on informal logic, but it would probably be unknown to the wacky and ignorant terrorism studies cabal which Bendle critiques.