The Burden of Proof
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20-10-2015, 09:24 AM
The Burden of Proof
One of our resident theists (Tomasia) levied this claim: "There’s abundant and compelling evidence that Harry Potter is an entirely fictional character, and not evidence even remotely in support of him being a historical person, or being based on one."

The last half of that sentence is mind numbing, but suggests that there exists no evidence to suggest that Harry Potter is a real historical person who existed or that the Harry Potter character is based on a historical one.


What exactly would constitute evidence for non-existence? How does one provide proof positive that a character is fictional for instance? It is certainly true that we accept that Harry Potter the wizard is fictional, but there is no evidence that would actually demonstrate this. The author is still alive and could indicate that she completely made him up, but assuming that someone read these books 100 years from now and Rowling's comments on the stories were lost, what evidence from the books themselves (the place from which the character originates) indicates proof positive evidence that Harry is fictional?

On a similar vein, how would one prove that Bigfoot isn't real with evidence? Alien abductions? Fairies? Etc.

This is mostly a challenge to ol' TommyBoy. Demonstrate evidence for non-existence of an entity like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or fairies. What would constitute proof positive for fictionality/non-existence? Can one ever provide evidence for something that does not exist or did not occur?

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20-10-2015, 09:50 AM
RE: The Burden of Proof
First, we'll look at things that would be there if that entity was there.
For example, loch Ness monster would show up on sonar(I think) and infrared cameras. You look if such an expedition was done(there's always crazy people WILLING to do it) and if the results are negative, it's probably proof enough that it doesn't exist.

Example harry potter.
If hp was real, you would see
1. Lots of people on kings cross station on September with owls and weird clothes.
2. Lots of technology malfunctioning nearby big magical centres without clear cause cuz magic and tech don't mix according to the books.
3. Inconsistencies on what satellite imagery shows us and what we see.
We don't see that, therefore it probably doesn't exist.

I don't really like going outside.
It's too damn "peopley" out there....
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20-10-2015, 09:56 AM
RE: The Burden of Proof
(20-10-2015 09:50 AM)Lightvader Wrote:  First, we'll look at things that would be there if that entity was there.
For example, loch Ness monster would show up on sonar(I think) and infrared cameras. You look if such an expedition was done(there's always crazy people WILLING to do it) and if the results are negative, it's probably proof enough that it doesn't exist.

Example harry potter.
If hp was real, you would see
1. Lots of people on kings cross station on September with owls and weird clothes.
2. Lots of technology malfunctioning nearby big magical centres without clear cause cuz magic and tech don't mix according to the books.
3. Inconsistencies on what satellite imagery shows us and what we see.
We don't see that, therefore it probably doesn't exist.

None of those are evidence that demonstrates proof positive the conclusion of nonexistence. Those are all negative evidence demonstrating lack of support for the actual claim.

Can there be proof positive (positive evidence) for non-existence or fictionality?

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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20-10-2015, 10:52 AM
RE: The Burden of Proof
Is this a variation of the garage dragon?


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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20-10-2015, 11:19 AM
RE: The Burden of Proof
(20-10-2015 09:24 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Demonstrate evidence for non-existence of an entity like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or fairies. What would constitute proof positive for fictionality/non-existence? Can one ever provide evidence for something that does not exist or did not occur?

It might be possible if we are discussing physical entities. With fairies (or anything supernatural), you can simply say "magic" and the discussion ends.

So lets focus on Loch Ness.

Loch Ness is a rigidly defined physical location. It's not a forest or mountain range, it's a deep lake with dimensions that can be precisely measured. This gives us a specific area to consider. Compared to the entire world, its a very small area indeed.

I understand the "Loch Ness Monster" to be a cryptozoological animal that is supposed to live in Loch Ness (described above).

So we have an unknown animal living in a small, very specific area.

In an attempt to prove non-existence, I offer the following points:

1. Food Supply - Not enough native fish to support a population of large creatures.

2. Population - There cannot be "a" monster. There has to be a breeding population.

3. No migration - The River Ness is too shallow to allow big critters to migrate unseen.

4. No bodies - No bones, carcasses (carcassi?), etc. have been found. No pieces, parts, chunks, bits or entire, intact corpses.

5. Inconsistent witnesses - the various and numerous accounts vary too much.

6. Inconclusive film/video - All of the films or videos can be explained with mundane explanations. None offer incontrovertible or even intriguing proof.

7. Photographic hoaxes - the best photo is a hoax. The others are like the films/videos.

8. Ulterior motives - the sightings began when hotels were being built on the loch. Now there is a thriving tourist industry.

9. Natural explanations - varying from seismic activity to mis-located animals and beyond.

10. Constant surveillance with no results: There have been observers on the loch for decades. 24/7/365 surveillance in places. Webcams. Satellites. Drones. Every year the number of watchers increases and the quality of the equipment improves. Every year they find nothing. Serious searching for the monster began in the 70's & 80's and continues to this day. Every year that goes by without evidence is another nail in the coffin.

11. Geologic evidence - the favorite monster theory (plesiosaur) was supposed to be extinct millions of years before the loch was formed. And it also breathed air, so would have been on the surface most of the time.

Conclusion:
While we can not know anything with 100% certainty, I believe one could make a solid, convincing and accurate case that the Loch Ness Monster does not exist.*





* I would also like to note that it saddens me greatly that this is the case. Mysteries and the unknown, especially cryptids, have fascinated me for most of my life. But without evidence, etc. you all know the rest.

Help for the living. Hope for the dead. ~ R.G. Ingersoll

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20-10-2015, 11:24 AM
RE: The Burden of Proof
(20-10-2015 10:52 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  Is this a variation of the garage dragon?

Mine got out of the garage a while back and ran away, but he came back on his own. Good boy.
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20-10-2015, 11:29 AM
RE: The Burden of Proof
(20-10-2015 11:24 AM)pablo Wrote:  
(20-10-2015 10:52 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  Is this a variation of the garage dragon?

Mine got out of the garage a while back and ran away, but he came back on his own. Good boy.

But how can you be sure of that?


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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20-10-2015, 11:36 AM
RE: The Burden of Proof
(20-10-2015 11:29 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  
(20-10-2015 11:24 AM)pablo Wrote:  Mine got out of the garage a while back and ran away, but he came back on his own. Good boy.

But how can you be sure of that?

I found invisible dragon shit in the garage, and his bowl was empty.
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20-10-2015, 11:44 AM
RE: The Burden of Proof
(20-10-2015 11:36 AM)pablo Wrote:  
(20-10-2015 11:29 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  But how can you be sure of that?

I found invisible dragon shit in the garage, and his bowl was empty.

Wouldn't the shit be invisible? Consider

If it weren't you'd see it seemingly floating in the air until the dragon pooped.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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20-10-2015, 12:35 PM
RE: The Burden of Proof
Well, the author of Harry Potter has a little notice on the copyright page claiming:This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to blah blah is purely coincidental. Thanks for the money.

is it irrefutable proof? Not exactly, but I'll take her word for it.

Don't let those gnomes and their illusions get you down. They're just gnomes and illusions.

--Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

Alouette, je te plumerai.
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