Circular Reasoning, Example #1

From page 83 of Live Pterosaurs in America:

“One critic . . . said, ‘. . . if pterosaurs [were] still around, they would be extremely obvious.'”

This criticism deserves a brief answer here (my book goes into detail regarding circular reasoning). Professional wildlife photographers sometimes look for the rare White Rhinoceros in Africa; in an area where there are few trees to hide behind, this rhinoceros can still be elusive. Why, then, must a rare nocturnal flying creature be “extremely obvious” to those who are not looking for them?

Has the critic thought carefully? It seems unlikely, for what does it mean for a creature to be “extremely obvious?” It means that the creature will be seen, at least by somebody. And what do we call somebody who sees something? An “eyewitness,” of course. The point? The critic was trying to dismiss eyewitness testimonies. So how does that differ from proclaiming, “Nobody could have seen them because they do not exist; they do not exist because nobody has seen them.” Although not explicitly stated by this critic, it seems to be the “reasoning” involved: circular reasoning.

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About Jonathan Whitcomb

I'm a passionate investigator of reports of living pterosaurs throughout the world. I explored part of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, in 2004, interviewing many natives who had seen the ropen.
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