You Can't Prove a Negative, or Can You?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by toltec, Oct 11, 2010.

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  1. toltec Registered Senior Member

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    Here's one someone told me, I'd really appreciate it if any logicians on the forum can tell me whether it's right or wrong?

    The maxim you hear is, can't prove a negative or can't prove something doesn't exist. It's considered a fallacious argument, the argument from ignorance.

    So here goes....... I say to you there is a giant daglo pink sausage eating demon in my wardrobe.

    You say I either I don't believe or I have an absence of belief, there is a giant daglo pink sausage eating demon in my wardrobe.

    We go to my wardrobe, open the door, find it empty.......... negative proven!?!?
     
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  3. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    I haven't been here long enough to post links yet, but google "The Dragon in my Garage".

    BTW - is he pink demon, or does he eat pink sausages?
     
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  5. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

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  7. Emil Valued Senior Member

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  8. AlexG Like nailing Jello to a tree Valued Senior Member

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    The demon must have left.

    All you can prove is that there is no sausage eating demon in your closet when you looked. There's no way to prove he wasn't there earlier.
     
  9. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Bollocks, all of it. Prove I can't prove a negative!
     
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    You can test a negative if it is possible / feasible to test every part of the universe under consideration.

    E.g. if you say "there is no fire-breathing-Dragon in my closet" then the closet becomes the universe (i.e. everything) under consideration. You open the door - no Dragon - negative proven.


    The difficulty comes from when the universe under consideration is not restricted... and is, literally, the Universe... and it therefore becomes untestable.
    This is the case with such things as God, especially one that does not dwell in nor interact with the Universe it created... it is not possible to test its non-existence as it is, by definition, outside the maximum scope of testing (the Universe).

    The obvious exception is when something is deemed to be logically impossible... a square sphere for example, and thus this logical impossibility can be said to be a proof of non-existence.
     
  11. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

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    Forensic science...

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  12. AlexG Like nailing Jello to a tree Valued Senior Member

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    If there are no traces of the sausage eating demon, it could be that the demon was a very neat eater.
     
  13. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

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    Nope. Impossible, it’s a (he).
     
  14. M00se1989 Banned Banned

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  15. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    Right...

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  16. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

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    7-10= -3

    negative proven..

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  17. deicider got omnicidead Registered Senior Member

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    Agreed for the most part.

    Though,one says there is a god,and he "proves" it by saying:

    "There is a God, you can't touch him,or see him or listen to him ,he is everywhere,he knows everything,predicts the future etc etc"

    Its like am saying to you: "There is an Invisible apple in my desk and if you wanna prove its Non-Existance you must do it only with your eyes!"

    He limits you,just like in god theory,because god is an Omni being and you can't examine it directly.


    BUT,its not EXACTLY how it works Sarkus.
    Because the first thing you do is:

    ASK the one who makes the STATEMENT,ask him WHY DOES HE THINK THERE IS AN INVISIBLE APPLE OR WHY HE THINKS THERE IS A GOD.

    And if you examine those REASONS that makes him believe in god or invi apples,which are: because he saw a strange light,or because he can't explain thunderbolts etc etc.
    And you realize its all explainable scientifically.

    Saying "you can't disprove god" is WRONG.

    You just look at history,look at science and combine all of them with logic,
    then you realize that we have WAY MORE than enough evidence to throw the whole god theory in to the garbage can.

    So why they started believing in the first place?
    Because its was long ago,there was no science,at least not like it is today,
    people would believe and disbelieve in blink of an eye.
    They believed it cause it was CONVENIENT,it gave them immortality and explained everything around them.

    Why they still believe in stupid rotten ideas?
    Cause many countries,beliefs,societies, etc are BUILT on those theories from earlier generations,its not easy.
     
  18. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    Can you explain what means "-3" or make a logical sentence with "-3"?

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    Or can you make a sentence with "3" (no units)?

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  19. scifes In withdrawal. Valued Senior Member

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    actually i find that to be kind of a circular argument.. an implicit one.

    because if one does come up with a square sphere in a manner other than the one we deem impossible, like for example saying a pyramid is a square triangle, we'd say that's not what we meant, what we meant is the impossible square sphere. in other words, the only known characteristic for proposed square sphere or square triangle is nothing but it being impossible, if ten people brought examples of square spheres which exist we'd say that none of them is what we're looking for, for we're looking for the one that can't be found...
    ...then use it to prove that somethings can't be found, i.e are non-existent.
     
  20. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

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    dunno about the first part..but there are 3 3's in that sentence..
     
  21. toltec Registered Senior Member

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    I would do, but you've just beaten me to it.
     
  22. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    That's TOO easy!

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    It could mean your bank account is overdrawn by $3.

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  23. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    That is why I like banks.

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    Make the impossible possible. I can spend what I did not.

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