My Take on the Burden of Proof
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23-10-2012, 12:14 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
Sup, Relt?

Quote: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.

That's a different topic though. The burden to provide the proof in the first place still falls to the claimant.

As far as people denying the proof, refer back to what I said about the functionally retarded Cool

Speaking seriously though, a lot of people are very dismissive of people when they ignore proof, but that's a simplistic viewpoint. The human mind is incredibly complicated and never works the way people think that it SHOULD work. There is powerful psychology at work, memetics, cognitive dissonance, socially constructed reality, and ideology. These forces can't just be ignored if we hope to have any kind of meaningful understanding of what's going on.

So while the proof is enough to prove something "to all", it is true that it will not be good enough to convince many people for a number of very complex reasons. It happens to everyone, scientists included.

Anyway, it's not so much a cynical thing. That implies that people are just being wanton pricks. It's a question of the function of the human mind. Frustrating sure, but entirely understandable.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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23-10-2012, 04:40 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
G'day Reltzik, how's it goin'?
Okay, first I'll admit I have not read all 6 pages of the tread and have simply jumped in after reading your post and that of others on Pg. 1.


When it comes the Burden of Proof (especially in a religious debate), I like to think of a criminal trial, to my admittedly basic understanding.

In a criminal trail you have two parties; Prosecution; the Crown/the State (depending on where you are), which I'll name "The Plaintiff", who's roll is simply to prove that a person is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt; and then you have the Defendant/s; those on trail who must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that they did nothing by showing the Plaintiff's evidence as false.
In a criminal court The Plaintiff is making the assertion of guilt and must establish (using relevant evidence) Actus Reus (guilty act) and Mens rea (guilty mind), meaning that the Defendant had committed an illegal (guilty) act, and had done so knowingly (I bring up these principals because they must be established in order to prove a person guilty). The Burden of Proof is on them and not on the Defendant, due to their assertion.
The Defendant does not (normally) assert anything beyond that the Plaintiff's evidence is not strong enough to support the accusation of guilt.


The Religious, who assert that there is a god, play the role of Plaintiff in a typical discussion. And as such, by nature of assertion have the Burden placed upon them and must provide evidence of their claim; their own little Actus and Mens, if you will (I.E. things that must be proven to show the assertion is correct) I like to look upon them as Proof their Text/Doctrine is correct, and that their God exists as described, if at all.

Generally Atheists, who usually are asserting nothing but the contrary to the Religious assertion, play the role of Defendant; Simply asserting that the Religious’ evidence is incorrect or insufficient for their conclusion, as such the Burden is not placed upon them as they are only countering the initial assertion.


Basically put:
(22-10-2012 04:51 AM)Chas Wrote:  He who makes a positive claim bears the burden of proof.

......But that is just what I have been taught in my legal studies class, turned to my own ends, so I probably got a fuckload wrong.....

Well either way, have a good one!

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23-10-2012, 05:08 PM (This post was last modified: 23-10-2012 05:14 PM by Aseptic Skeptic.)
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(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.

"Not only that, but any claim can be expressed as a negative, thanks to the rule of double negation. This rule states that any proposition P is logically equivalent to not-not-P. So pick anything you think you can prove. Think you can prove your own existence? At least to your own satisfaction? Then, using the exact same reasoning, plus the little step of double negation, you can prove that you aren’t nonexistent. Congratulations, you’ve just proven a negative. The beautiful part is that you can do this trick with absolutely any proposition whatsoever. Prove P is true and you can prove that P is not false."

That is not PROVING a negative, it's DISPROVING it.

In your example, the positive is that I exist. The negative is that I don't exist. Your example proves that I exist, and also DISPROVES that I am nonexistent. It most certainly does not PROVE that I am nonexistent. "you aren't nonexistent" is quite clearly the opposite of "you aren't existent".

I still maintain that you cannot prove a negative, and I really don't think I'm alone in that assertion.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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23-10-2012, 05:56 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
Three glasses of wine rest upon a table. Nothing else is on the table. Someone makes a claim that there are four glasses of wine on the table.

I can prove the negative. There are not four glasses of wine on the table.

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23-10-2012, 06:22 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(23-10-2012 01:34 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  
(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.

You want pics? ... I'm thinking about sending you pics. Evil_monster

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23-10-2012, 06:28 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(23-10-2012 06:22 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(23-10-2012 01:34 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  My brain got hurt. How do I unsee that mental image? Someone pass me the brainbleach.

You want pics? ... I'm thinking about sending you pics. Evil_monster

You could get the banhammer for an inhumane threat like that. Angry

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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23-10-2012, 06:33 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(23-10-2012 01:34 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  
(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.

Sure you can estimate a person's burden of proof. If he's claiming something, he has 100% burden of proof. If he's not, then he has none.

The only thing you might want to figure out after the fact is whether the claimant with the burden of proof managed to provide enough proof to convince the other party. You could evaluate the success of his efforts to prove his claim, but even that is not a fair evaluation of his proof - it could also be a judgment of the gullibility or obstinateness of the other party.

(23-10-2012 01:34 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  
(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.

OK, you took that a out of context. I was referring, as were you, to debating about a subject, or at the very least, one person trying to convince another. Burden of proof has no bearing on commanding tides to recede, but it does have bearing on winning an argument/debate, which is all about forcing others to adopt your opinion (well, not forcing, but rather convincing might be a better word).

(23-10-2012 01:34 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  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.

Sure you've done something. You have refuted flawed proof (which isn't proof at all). There is probably no burden on you to prove that their proof is flawed, you simply provide a counter-argument.

For example, if I say "The rooster crowed and then the sun rose so clearly the rooster has powerful magic and can make the sun rise." You might say "Maybe it's possible that the sun was going to rise and the rooster simply sensed that and crowed."

You are not claiming I got it wrong, you don't have to prove it, all you have to do is offer some alternative explanation for my claim and now it's on me to figure out whether I was wrong to begin with - if I conclude that I am still correct, then I better find some more proof to back that up because my first proof turned out to be flawed.

Now, maybe you might say it differently. You might say "No, it's a fact that the sun will rise whether or not a rooster crows." Here you would be making a claim, and it would be incumbent upon you to prove it. The good news is that it's not usually necessary to make your own claim to simply refute a flawed argument; it's almost always enough to simply provide alternative possibilities and leave the burden of proof on the guy who has to sort out those possibilities and still support his initial claim or give up his claim altogether.

Now, if I say "Paris is more populous than London." You might say "No, London is more populous than Paris". In this argument, we are both making claims, and we both have our own burden of proof to support our own claim. Maybe you were thinking of something like that, but that is rarely applicable to a theological debate where one party makes a whopper of a claim ("god is real", etc.) and the other side says "I won't believe it unless you can prove it".

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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23-10-2012, 09:51 PM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
Rahn.

It's easier than that. If someone says there are five lights, all you have to do is ask Picard.





Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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24-10-2012, 11:15 AM (This post was last modified: 24-10-2012 11:19 AM by Vosur.)
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(23-10-2012 05:08 PM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  That is not PROVING a negative, it's DISPROVING it.

In your example, the positive is that I exist. The negative is that I don't exist. Your example proves that I exist, and also DISPROVES that I am nonexistent. It most certainly does not PROVE that I am nonexistent. "you aren't nonexistent" is quite clearly the opposite of "you aren't existent".

I still maintain that you cannot prove a negative, and I really don't think I'm alone in that assertion.
Then you should read both my post and the article again, because you mirepresented both of them. In the given example, the positive statement is "I exist". When I prove this statement to be true, it logically follows that "I do not not exist", a negative statement, is true. Neither I, nor the article said that you can prove that you are nonexistent this way. "You do not not exist" and "You do not exist" are both negative statements.

I think I can make this argument even more simple. "I do not have four arms." is a negative statement that I can prove to be true with ease.

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24-10-2012, 11:47 AM
RE: My Take on the Burden of Proof
(24-10-2012 11:15 AM)Vosur Wrote:  
(23-10-2012 05:08 PM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  That is not PROVING a negative, it's DISPROVING it.

In your example, the positive is that I exist. The negative is that I don't exist. Your example proves that I exist, and also DISPROVES that I am nonexistent. It most certainly does not PROVE that I am nonexistent. "you aren't nonexistent" is quite clearly the opposite of "you aren't existent".

I still maintain that you cannot prove a negative, and I really don't think I'm alone in that assertion.
Then you should read both my post and the article again, because you mirepresented both of them. In the given example, the positive statement is "I exist". When I prove this statement to be true, it logically follows that "I do not not exist", a negative statement, is true. Neither I, nor the article said that you can prove that you are nonexistent this way. "You do not not exist" and "You do not exist" are both negative statements. I think I can make this argument even more simple. "I do not have four arms." is a negative statement that I can prove with ease.

Yes, but your initial example didn't prove a negative. Using a double negative is just extra verbiage to restate the positive - it is not in itself a negative regardless of having or or more instances of the word "not" (or a synonym) in it.

I exist - positive
I do not exist - negative
I do not not exist - positive

Proving I exist is proving a positive.
Proving I do not exist would be proving a negative but is impossible.
Proving I do not not exist is proving a positive again. It is definitely not proving a negative.

Your simplification is also misleading. How would you prove you do not have four arms? If I asked you to prove it, what would you do? I already know the answer: you would prove that you have two arms. See? You wouldn't prove the negative claim about 4 arms but you would, instead, prove a positive claim about having 2 arms.

So let's say that you and I could never meet. I cannot possibly examine you to see if you have four arms, but I want you to prove you don't. Further, you are not allowed to prove that you have two arms because that is proving something else - you must prove that you don't have four arms without restating your negative proof as a new positive proof that you have two arms.

How would you do it? Send me a picture? I would say it could be photo-shopped - besides, it really proves two arms if I accept it as valid. Send me a doctor's statement that he examined you and certifies that you don't have four arms? I would say that could be fabricated - besides, it really certifies two arms. Send me a video of your naked body moving around so I can see it from all angles? I would say that it might not even be you - besides, it really shows two arms. State that no other person has four arms therefore you don't? I could argue that maybe you had a birth defect or could be conjoined twins or maybe you're an alien - besides, you're really saying that everyone has two arms therefore so do you. Even if we met and I examined you myself, I could argue that your second set of arms might be retractable and you still have four arms but at this time I can only observe two of them - besides, you would obviously be proving that you have two arms.

Sure, that's ridiculous, but proving or disproving a number of limbs is actually quite a bit easier than proving or disproving a supernatural god. But even here you see that all proofs you might try (even those I didn't mention) are really only going to prove that you have two arms - once again, proving a positive because there is no way for you to prove a negative.

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