The fallacy of suppressed evidence is a fallacy that falls under the “Fallacious even if valid” category. Meaning, the arguments premises if true provide good grounds for the acceptance of its conclusion. But that is only IF the premises are actually true. For example here is a seemingly valid argument that is in actuality fallacious:
“All politicians are honest (first premise), George Bush is a politician(second premise). So George Bush is honest (conclusion).
We all know though through personal experience that politicians lie all the time so the first premise is not true, thus the argument is fallacious.
Anyway lets not get caught up in that.
This article is specifically about the fallacy of suppressed evidence.
Naturally humans will use every reason they can conjure to support their position while choosing to leave out those that would harm their position. This is a very “human” way of arguing and comes naturally to most.
Experts will often rely on the general publics ignorance to the details of the subject matter at hand. It is most used in advertising and marketing campaigns where only the pros of the product are shown and anything problematic is omitted. This is a no-brainer as why would a company show anything about their product that is negative? Advertising and marketings goal is to persuade the viewer that the product is the holy grail and the answer to all their problems.
Here’s an example of the fallacy of suppressed evidence(with a fictional drug and fictional pharmaceutical company):
“Cleanground Pharma has released Zoraloplam, a new drug used to treat hair loss. In clinical trials it has been shown that 70 % of participants experienced significant regrowth!”
This all sounds great, but Cleanground Pharma omitted the results of the other 3 clinical trials which were all failures and showed significant side effects from taking Zoraloplam.
Here is a example of the fallacy in logical form:
“1. Most cats are friendly and not a threat. So it would be safe to pet the cat over there.”
It shouldn’t take much thinking to realize that there could be a multitude of problems with the cat. The cat could have rabies, the cat could be in an agitated mood, the cat could have any type of anger problem that makes it prone to lashing out at you. The person who is using this reasoning could be omitting information about the cat that could hurt you in some way.
Another, similar example:
“2. That brand of smart phone is of low quality; my friend has one, and it broke within 2 weeks.”
Although this may make sense, there are many things that could be left unsaid. The friend may neglect his phone, the friend may have lied about how long he had it, the friend may have been using a used phone, etc.
This is very dangerous and very unethical, but sadly many big corporations are able to get away with it because they have the money and the connections.
To avoid the fallacy you want to ensure that you have thoroughly researched ALL sides of the topic at hand. If you are defending a position make sure to find contradictory evidence and not just evidence to support your claim. Otherwise people will be able to accuse you of the fallacy of suppressed evidence.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask away as I enjoy answering them.