Sunday, April 01, 2018

The genetic fallacy and the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Somewhere somebody on the internet asked, "How do we know the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist?" My reaction was immediate. We know the FSM doesn't exist because we know he was made up by Bobby Henderson as a parody of the argument for God from design.

But then I thought, "Isn't that the genetic fallacy?" After all, I thought the existence of the FSM was disconfirmed by pointing to the origin of belief in the FSM. But as I thought about it some more, I remained persuaded that since we know the FSM was made up, we know he doesn't exist. If he did exist, it would be a huge coincidence that there's something in reality that perfectly matches something we know to be made up. It's more likely that he wouldn't exist than that there would be that huge coincidence.

But I still think there is such a thing as a genetic fallacy. Let's say, for instance, that I believe the earth is round because a long time ago I had a dream in which a wizard told me that the earth is just a giant pizza, and since all pizzas are round, it follows that the earth is round. Well, that's obviously not a good reason to think the earth is round, but it doesn't follow that the earth is not round.

So I guess the genetic fallacy is like most other informal logical fallacies. There are exceptions.


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