Another CGI related fallacy regularly committed by flat-Earthers has the general form of:
- Observation: there’s no photo or video of the object ‘X’ that is not made with CGI.
- Conclusion: ‘X’ does not exist in the real world
This is invalid for two reasons:
- A real object is still real even if nobody has taken a photo of it.
- The premise itself might be invalid because there could be someone who has a photo of the object, and the perpetrator of the fallacy is simply unaware of its existence.
Flat-Earthers often make the claim that there are no picture of the Earth taken from space that is not made with CGI. This is obviously wrong because there are actually such pictures. They are simply not aware of them, or refuse to recognize the pictures for obvious reason. In this case, their assumption is wrong in the first place, making their conclusion irrelevant.
But, even if there is no real pictures of the Earth taken from space, that doesn’t make their argument true. The Earth is still spherical, even if there is no pictures of it taken from space. This was actually the case before 1946. We can deduce the shape of the Earth from other means. There are plenty of evidence of the sphericity of the Earth, dating as far back as 25 centuries ago.
Again, some flat-Earthers actually use this argument to support their case. They think we refuse the flat-Earth theory because there are no real photos of the flat-Earth. This is wrong because there are so many evidence of the real shape of the Earth. We don’t refuse the flat-Earth ideology solely because there is no real photo of a flat-Earth.
Denying the antecedent
This fallacy is a specific version of the formal fallacy denying the antecedent. The corresponding argument has the general form of:
- P → Q: If there is a photo of an object that is not made with CGI, then the object is real.
- ¬P: There is no photo of the object that is not made with CGI
- ∴ ¬Q: Conclusion: the object is not real
The argument is invalid because Q can be true when P is false. In this case, the object can be real even if nobody has taken a photo of it.
Argument from ignorance, proof by assertion, argumentum ad nauseam
This fallacy can be a form of argument from ignorance. In the specific case of the photo of the Earth, the perpetrator of the fallacy cannot know there’s no real picture of the Earth from space, but simply assume the fact. Sometimes they are even aware of this fact, and uses the fallacy intentionally in order to influence unsuspecting victims who are unaware of the fact.
When this premise is repeated over and over, it becomes proof by assertion. The premise is obviously wrong, but it is repeatedly restated again and again regardless to contradiction. If the argument is repeated over and over until nobody bothers to challenge it, then it becomes argumentum ad nauseam or argumentum ad infinitum.