My Take on the Burden of Proof
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22-10-2012, 08:12 PM (This post was last modified: 22-10-2012 08:56 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 08:02 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(22-10-2012 08:00 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  Sorry, Ghost. In a nutshell, Girly don't worship logic anymore than I worship God. Which logic should I worship? The one that admits the Law of the Excluded Middle or the one that doesn't? The bivalent one or the multivalent ones? The crisp one or the fuzzy one? The consistent one or the paraconsistent one? ... Girly don't worship shit. Girly uses shit.

Doesn't Girly worship Manly? Huh

Nope. I just cede control of the helm to her 'cause she ain't bothered, concerned, affected or even aware of these metaphysical trivialities and irrelevancies like me. "The helm is yours ManlyGirl. Watch out for icebergs."

She's just currently the best-qualified pilot for navigating my peeps' ship of fools through this bullshit we find ourselves mired in. Big Grin

Help me separate my yellows from my whites, fuckers.

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22-10-2012, 08:31 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
Props to Aseptic.
Said most everything I wanted to say

Lets pretend I'm on an island. I'm the only person on the island and I make a claim about what kind of bait is best used to catch a certain type of fish. Of the three types of bait I have I think fresh worms might work best.

This is my claim.
There is no else on the island to push this burden of proof on to. The burden is mine alone. I can run tests with the different types of bait to see if my claim is true.

I could also make a religious claim that the worm god has blessed the worms and that's why they are the best at catching this certain kind of fish. And again the burden to prove that claim would rest with me.

I'm the only one on the island.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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22-10-2012, 08:44 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
Some of you make me want to become a theist.

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22-10-2012, 08:58 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
Hey, Chas.

Quote: The evidence I perceive is evidence against any of the gods that people describe as existing.

Which is exactly what I said. You're collecting evidence against descriptions. But 100% of those descriptions could be wrong and God could still exist. William Wallace wasn't seven feet tall and he didn't fire lightning bolts from his arse, but there he was, all Mel Gibsony, riding a horse in front of his men. The negation of description does not ipso facto negate the possibility of the entity.

It's the empirical evidence of God's existence that will never be found.

The particulars of God are irrelevant to me. I don't care what he's like, who he loves, or what his pet peeves are. The only question of interest to me is does God exist at all? Is there a creator, a power beyond the limits of the natural universe, or not? I'll figure out whether to call shkler Thor, Yahweh or crow spirit after I establish whether or not shklee exists... which I'll never know Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

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22-10-2012, 09:04 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 08:58 PM)Ghost Wrote:  The only question of interest to me is does God exist at all? Is there a creator, a power beyond the limits of the natural universe, or not? I'll figure out whether to call shkler Thor, Yahweh or crow spirit after I establish whether or not shklee exists...

I'm thinking of calling it Girly.

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22-10-2012, 09:23 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
The issue of gods existence.

1st Start with the definition of what the person claims to be god.

2nd from here we can match up definitions into categories we can argue from.

If they define god as anything natural then they might be an atheist.

If god is just a first cause who has left the universe alone then I am agbostic.

If god is that of theology then its properties prove it to be an idea that destroys itself.

If its a universal conscience, then we must find out what properties it has, and how individual minds play a role in it.

If we are self imagined with reality being provided by that mind we could argue that impossible things would be the norm.

Member of the Cult of Reason

The atheist is a man who destroys the imaginary things which afflict the human race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to reason.
-Baron d'Holbach-
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22-10-2012, 09:57 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 01:02 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  In the theist vs. atheist debate, who has the burden of proof? This is a question that comes up a lot, and then promptly turns into a game of hot potato. The goal is to make sure that the OTHER person is stuck holding it. I'd hazard to guess that most members here would say that theists have the burden of proof, and that most theists would say the burden lies with atheists. Oddly enough, I've rarely heard much analysis of WHY the burden of proof lies with one party or another, beyond simple one-liners or phrases like "self-evident". (I'd have thought skeptical atheists, at least, would try to support their position.) So I thought I'd try my hand at it, and came to a... somewhat unusual conclusion.

As an ignostic, my first impulse is to ask, "What is the burden of proof?" Not, what is its threshold set at, but what does the concept itself actually mean? A basic and naive answer is that the burden of proof is an evidenciary standard that must be met by a claim's proponent in order for it to be proven. If the proponent meets the burden of proof in arguing for something, she wins, otherwise, she loses. But what does it really mean to have proven something? Religious debate isn't mathematics. We don't have rigorous standards of deductive proofs accepted by all. Nor are we (usually) engaged in a formal debate format, with an outside authority like a panel of judges awarding points. So what does it mean to win? What does it mean to lose? How do we know when we've done any of these things, and what are their consequences?

I think the last question -- What are the consequences? -- is the key. On the one hand, if there aren't any consequences, or we have no clue what the consequences are, then why should we care? On the other hand, If we know what the consequences are and register that they've been triggered, then we know if and when the burden of proof has been met. And while I can think of several other reasons to debate (venting at one's opponents, being silly and drawing laughs), the two I most associate with "proving" are: persuading others to our own stance; and subjecting our own stances to a trial by fire (ie, a proving grounds, or peer review). Both have the same manner of consequences. Either persuasion fails/the fire is withstood, and the existing belief system is maintained, or the persuasion succeeds/the fire prevails, and someone's beliefs change.

This suggests the following idea: The burden of proof is that measure of persuasion that causes a person's beliefs to change, and it lies with whatever persons might effect that change. If Atherton wishes to persuade Cristi of the validity of atheism, then the burden of proof lies with Atherton, and is met if and only if Atherton succeeds at persuading. Similarly, if Cristi wishes to persuade Atherton of the merits of Christianity, then the burden lies with her. If they simultaneously try to persuade one another of their position, then there are two burdens of proof in play, one which Atherton must meet and another for Cristi. And if they are both attempting to persuade an audience, then there are two burdens of proof per audience member: one that Atherton must meet, and one which Cristi must meet.

This burden of proof might seem vacuous, overly complicated, or utterly subjective, but consider its merits. Its meeting is a claim that is both falsifiable and verifiable. Meeting the burden of proof has practical outcomes beyond patting yourself on the back or cussing out the opponent who won't listen even though you've "won". It is impartial, by which I mean it has a certain air of legitimacy by not deliberately giving one side or another the advantage, and may well be acceptable to all. It is entirely in keeping with a skeptical mindset, in which we demand evidence before we change our minds. It meshes well with the scientific concept of the null hypothesis. And it accommodates the current... disagreement about the burden of proof very nicely. Each person saying the burden of proof lies on one side or another, and is set this high or that high, is actually expressing what they gauge is needed to shift their own opinion.

Now, some people might object that no, claims about the burden of proof are less factual statements and more positive statements. They are less claims of what is, and more claims about what SHOULD be. By arguing that the burden lies with Atherton or Cristi, we aren't trying to make a claim about the truth of the situation, but rather trying to establish a format or convention. All of which would be fine in my book, IF a consensus with our opponents seemed likely to emerge on the topic. Since it doesn't, such claims are both high-handed and immature, akin to the "Bang-bang you're dead" "No I'm not you missed!" of playground antics.

The most oft-quoted line on this subject is Carl Sagan's "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Now I fully support this attitude in general, but its applicability towards the burden of proof is... laughable. It's putting the cart before the horse. Consider a providential Christian like Cristi, one who believes that the sun rises and sets, the crops grow and the leaves fall and the tides ebb and flow all with God's active intervention and providence. Cristi DOES see God in her everyday life. The idea of a world without God is so alien to her view of the world that she must view it as the extraordinary claim. Contrast this with Atherton, an atheist who sees the world as an ongoing interplay between matter, energy, and forces constrained by unthinking physical laws. Atherton does NOT see God anywhere in this, and so regards God's existence as the extraordinary claim. They're not going to agree WHICH claim is extraordinary until someone's mind changes, and so Mr. Sagan's quote is inapplicable to this problem to them deciding, between themselves, where the burden of proof lies. In order to get any consensus on which claim is extraordinary, we must first have some agreement on how we view God's role (or absence of role) in the universe. And that's the very thing we want the burden of proof for. Again, without a consensus, setting a standard is both doomed to failure and not worth the attempt.

Anyhow, I've pontificated enough and more than enough on the subject. Thoughts?

The only people that have a problem with this topic is theists. They universally "don't understand" the concept because it puts the onus on them. They'd love to own the position that we had to prove their non-falsifiable nonsense false. It'd be gloriously easy if that were the case, since if you have the burden of proof to disprove my claims, while I can say whatever I want, then I can make up all kinds of bullshit and you have to spend your time running around trying to prove it false (even when it's unfalsifiable).

Ridiculous claims like "Santa exists, but uses portals harnessing wormholes in space-time to make the rounds, planting the delusion of buying the presents in the minds of the parents, and gives gifts according to the wealth of the family in order to reinforce the delusion with both the parents and the children." He is also invisible and undetectable by science.

Can you prove that false? If you try, I can easily make up more bullshit for you to disprove. And on and on we'd go. Because that is how you argue a nonsensical point when you're under the delusion that you don't have the burden of proof.

The rejection of the claim that God exists isn't at all an exceptional claim - it's not a claim. It is a REJECTION of a claim. If theists didn't make the claim that they had an invisible, all-powerful man in the sky, no atheists would be arguing against that claim. There would be no one even talking about it. Atheists are simply responding to the absurdity of theist claims.

Better without God, and happier too.
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22-10-2012, 10:32 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
I farted and GOD choked and died.. Prove me wrong!
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23-10-2012, 12:35 AM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 10:32 PM)TheJackal Wrote:  I farted and GOD choked and died.. Prove me wrong!

It was YOU!!!!

[Image: Evil_Monkey_301.gif]

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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23-10-2012, 01:34 AM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
In response to many people, I failed to make clear that what Atherton is attempting (in the provided examples where he is attempting anything) is deconversion. Not necessarilly a complete, logically constructed proof of nonexistence, and I'd agree that such a proof of nonexistence would be very difficult at least. Perhaps he's going for an equally logical, "could you have the integrity to subject your own beliefs to the same skepticism that you subject my skepticism to?" Or he could very well be wielding an ethical "God sounds like a bully" argument, or an emotional "do you REALLY want your best friend going to hell, and to spend eternity praising the One who sent her there?" If these latter approaches seem like an inadequate burden of proof, then any fault would lie with those who have that as their personal burden of proof despite it being inadequate.

Furthermore, I'm hesitant to say that a burden of proof for a belief must ALWAYS lie on a believer. I have virtually no problem with Cristi believing whatever crazy batshit stuff she wants, so long as she A) doesn't use it as a basis for making changes that affect others negatively, and B) doesn't insist I or anyone else believes it. (Okay, it might rankle a bit, but I'll certainly admit she has the right to make up her own mind however that mind makes itself up, without me holding out for veto power on the basis that she hasn't met a burden of proof.) It's only when demands special status or recognition of her beliefs, or demands that others share them, that I'll insist that she needs to start jumping through hoops, even if I personally think she would have been wiser to do it before then. This is why I set the threshold at "persuasion", rather than at believing at all.

Moving on to specific responses that aren't addressed by the above:

(22-10-2012 07:08 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Proof is only one path to understanding, but it is a path that demands empirical evidence in order to be satisfied. Thus, whomever makes a claim needs to provide empirical evidence in order to prove the validity of their statement for all.

Guess I'm more a cynic. I figure that even if actual proof was found one way or the other, 90% of people wouldn't even bother looking at it. Some because it supports the wrong religion, but most because they'd figure it was as much garbage as all the other "proofs" we've encountered over the years. Of the rest, a whole bunch would adopt it without much critical thought, and a whole bunch would find a whole bunch of imagined flaws. No, no, no way would its validity be proven to all.

(22-10-2012 11:52 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  This definition means that you can't even assign burden of proof unless someone changes their belief, then, retrospectively, you can say "ah, so that other guy had the burden of proof and it effect this guy's beliefs".

Well, you can certainly estimate what a person's burden of proof should be, possibly even make a psychological science of it. But only after the fact could you see if the burden was met. Inconvenient, maybe, but I don't see how this disqualifies the idea.

(22-10-2012 11:52 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  If you claim something, then support your claim - you have the burden of proof. You have to support your claim with some kind of proof to justify that claim, regardless of whether it effects any change in anyone else's beliefs.

However, if someone claims something and fails to support it, but then you argue back and defeat their crappy claim, that doesn't put any burden of proof on you, even if their beliefs change as a result of your arguments - all you're doing is deflating their poor, unsupported claim.

I'd say your own claim that a person has to support a claim is, first, lacking in support itself, and second, contradicted by a wide variety of examples. People often, perhaps usually, DON'T support their claims. We can say they SHOULD, but they don't. I, for one, have little desire to stand by the seas and command the tides to recede, especially for a concept of burden of proof that would be impossible to apply universally. I inform my own standards of proof by it, but forcing others to adopt it is... let's say difficult.

.... actually, standing on the beach and ordering the tides to recede sounds pretty cool.

Also, if I've argued back and defeated a crappy claim, obviously I've done SOMETHING. I wasn't just sitting there passively on my thumb; if I had been, the crappy claim would still be standing (slouching) there undefeated, waiting for me, another skeptic, or perhaps a stiff breeze to topple it.

(22-10-2012 05:47 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(22-10-2012 05:26 PM)Vosur Wrote:  I don't want to be nit-picky, but you actually can prove a negative. That claim has long been refuted.

Only if you admit the Aristotelian Law of the Excluded Middle. There are contemporary logics and many logic programmers who see a third option: the truth of a proposition might be unknown.

Oooh, ooh, tangents, I love tangents!

1) Assume that there is a logically valid proof, perhaps-yet-unfound, for the statement in question, "A negative can't be proven."
2) The proof assumed in 1 would be a proof of a negative, and thus self-contradictory.
3) Therefore, it is proven that the statement, "a negative cannot be proven," can't be proven.
4) Oh, hey, I just proved a negative!
5) The statement, "a negative cannot be proven", is thus disproven by example.

Hit THAT with the middle ground exclusive package whatsitsface!

(22-10-2012 06:04 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  EDIT: Look at Girly, using double negation to argue against double negation, yeah I'm a vulgar hairless walking talking contradiction monkey. It's best this way. Nobody gets hurt. Evil_monster

My brain got hurt. How do I unsee that mental image? Someone pass me the brainbleach.

I am an antipistevist. That's like an antipastovist, only with epistemic responsibility instead of bruschetta.
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