My Take on the Burden of Proof
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22-10-2012, 05:54 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(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. Negation is treated as failure to find any support for the proposition within the knowledge base. Whether one treats the failure to find support as logical negation or merely "I dunno" depends on whether the programmer applies the closed world assumption or the open world assumption to the knowledge base. It's the programmer's call, aka Girly's call.

And once again, I find even more support for the hypothesis that I am, in fact, motherfucking God. Prostate thyselves before the Programmer Gods heathen fuckers lest we kill your threads and send your resources to the Garbage Collector. Evil_monster
What makes you think that the law of double negation is dependent on the law of the excluded middle? Fuckin' GirlyMan, come at me! Smile

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22-10-2012, 06:04 PM (This post was last modified: 22-10-2012 06:27 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 05:54 PM)Vosur Wrote:  What makes you think that the law of double negation is dependent on the law of the excluded middle? Fuckin' GirlyMan, come at me! Smile

Goddam I hate fucking Germans, especially teenage ones with grammatical skills better than most native English speakers. (Nah, I'm just teasing. Smile )

Negation as failure under the OWA: "I dunno if P is true or false."
Double negation as failure under the OWA: "I dunno if I dunno if P is true or false."

An example would be if determining whether I dunno or not was itself intractable.

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

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22-10-2012, 06:07 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?

I see what you're trying to say. But, I'm inclined to agree with Chas.

Further, I don't see how laying ground rules like this helps win theists to reason. Their positions are almost always the result of emotional investment and/or personal experience and emotional/cultural manipulation, not reason. The words "burden of proof" usually seem meaningless to them.

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22-10-2012, 06:38 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 06:04 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  Goddam I hate fucking Germans, especially teenage ones with grammatical skills better than most native English speakers. (Nah, I'm just teasing. Smile )

Negation as failure under the OWA: "I dunno if P is true or false."
Double negation as failure under the OWA: "I dunno if I dunno if P is true or false."

An example would be if determining whether I dunno or not was itself intractable.
When I prove P to be true, you can be all like "I dunno" all day long for all I care, still doesn't mean that I can't conclude that not-not-P is false.

(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
I almost peed my pants laughing. Smile

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22-10-2012, 07:03 PM (This post was last modified: 22-10-2012 07:21 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 06:38 PM)Vosur Wrote:  When I prove P to be true, you can be all like "I dunno" all day long for all I care, still doesn't mean that I can't conclude that not-not-P is false.

You have to choose an axiomatic basis for your proof. Your proof is valid only with respect to these axioms. When you change the axioms, you change the logic, your proof changes. That's one main reason logic is so powerful and useful. There are many different formal logics and formulations, all useful with respect to the axioms required of their specific domains. "Proof" is a relative concept inextricably intertwined with a specific formal logic formulation and its axioms.

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22-10-2012, 07:20 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
Hey, Chas.

You and I are discussing different things. I am discussing whether or not God exists. You are discussing the nature of God's qualities. My only issue with that is that 100% of God's qualities as described could be false and that does not negate the existence of God in the least. It simply means that people have described him poorly or questionably. Mine is a question about the nature of the universe. Yours is a question of doctrinal validity.

Hey, Vosur.

My brain lacks the energy to process that article at the moment, but I fully accept that my statement may be incorrect. I'm not even that big a champion of it. Richard Dawkins throws it around a lot and I've just begun to use it as a way of expressing a diversity of opinion. Regardless, all it means is that if it is in fact possible to prove a negative, then the burden still falls to the claimant, ie, the Atheist claiming there is no God.

Hey, Girly.

Did I not just say my brain is out of juice? How dare you contradict Vosur's contradiction.

My brain; however, is only thinking this: Schrödinger's cat! Suck it, non-contradiction Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

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22-10-2012, 07:28 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 07:20 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Chas.

You and I are discussing different things. I am discussing whether or not God exists. You are discussing the nature of God's qualities. My only issue with that is that 100% of God's qualities as described could be false and that does not negate the existence of God in the least. It simply means that people have described him poorly or questionably. Mine is a question about the nature of the universe. Yours is a question of doctrinal validity.

Not exactly. The evidence I perceive is evidence against any of the gods that people describe as existing. The only kind of god against which there is not strong evidence is the remote-control deist god. However, there are strong logical arguments against that one.

I am largely arguing from a position of a rationalist materialist.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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22-10-2012, 07:36 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 07:20 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Vosur.

My brain lacks the energy to process that article at the moment, but I fully accept that my statement may be incorrect. I'm not even that big a champion of it. Richard Dawkins throws it around a lot and I've just begun to use it as a way of expressing a diversity of opinion. Regardless, all it means is that if it is in fact possible to prove a negative, then the burden still falls to the claimant, ie, the Atheist claiming there is no God.
I agree with you on that.

(22-10-2012 07:03 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  You have to choose an axiomatic basis for your proof. Your proof is valid only with respect to these axioms. When you change the axioms, you change the logic, your proof changes. That's one main reason logic is so powerful and useful. There are many different formal logics and formulations, all useful with respect to the axioms required of their specific domains. "Proof" is a relative concept inextricably intertwined with a specific formal logic formulation and its axioms.
Fucking GirlyMan, making me grab an English-German dictionary because I have no clue what he's talking about. Angry

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22-10-2012, 08:00 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 07:20 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Girly.

Did I not just say my brain is out of juice? How dare you contradict Vosur's contradiction.

My brain; however, is only thinking this: Schrödinger's cat! Suck it, non-contradiction Cool

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 ones? The consistent one or the paraconsistent ones? ... Girly don't worship shit, Ghost. Girly uses shit.

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22-10-2012, 08:02 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(22-10-2012 08:00 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(22-10-2012 07:20 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Girly.

Did I not just say my brain is out of juice? How dare you contradict Vosur's contradiction.

My brain; however, is only thinking this: Schrödinger's cat! Suck it, non-contradiction Cool

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

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