Rule: When an assertion is challenged, responsibility for resolving the challenge rests with the person who made the assertion.
If person A makes an assertion X and person B challenges it, it is then A's responsibility to produce an argument defending X, not B's responsibility to produce an argument against it.
- All that is necessary in order to challenge an assertion is to state that you challenge it.
- You don't need to present counterevidence in order to challenge an assertion.
Negative assertions (A asserts "there's no such thing as...") are an exception to this rule, since you can't prove a negative. It is B's responsibility to produce at least one counter-example.
- If an assertion is not challenged, then it is accepted as true.
- If a challenged assertion remains undefended, then it is assumed to be false.
Since the reasons for A's belief in X are unknown at the time of the challenge:
- If A is honest, any attempt at refuting X might well be based on false assumptions and therefore a straw man.
- If A is dishonest, A could claim that any attempt to refute X was a straw man by inventing an arbitrary and different set of reasons for belief in X. While these reasons would almost certainly be easily refutable as well, it A could nonetheless waste a lot of time if the extra step of making an attempt at refutation were part of the required process.