Evidence

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This topic contains 39 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  PopeBeanie 2 months ago.

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  • #28260

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    “The absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence….”

    There are some fields where evidence is hard to come by, for example, evolutionary anthropology.  Also, looking for extra-terrestrial life.

    #28261

    Quincy
    Participant

    Are we still not discovering things of wonder even today? New discoveries from our ancient past has not changed our history books. As long as most men insist and believe in some kind of god, I doubt anyone will ever convince them to think any differently. You could shove the evidence in their faces and they would still believe it is from god. It is a big universe and we are not alone. What did our ancient ancestors actually witness, before the word ‘god’ even existed?

    #28262

    Unseen
    Participant

    The absence of evidence of a hyena on my couch is evidence of the absence of a hyena on my couch, is it not?

    Think of it in terms of the oft-heard “You can’t prove a negative.” Can’t I prove that there’s no hyena on my couch?

    Analysis, please.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Unseen.
    #28264

    Think of it in terms of the oft-heard “You can’t prove a negative.”

    Yes, that is exactly what the quote implies.

    #28266

    Davis
    Participant

    Think of it in terms of the oft-heard “You can’t prove a negative.” Can’t I prove that there’s no hyena on my couch?

    Unseen, please you have a masters in philosophy. You cannot have forgotten metaphysics 101. The only thing you prove is that there is or is not a hyena on the couch based on your frame of reference, your particular view, what you are able to observe, identify and rationalize. We do not know the fundamental nature of the universe nor could we possibly have any certainty about it. There are a plethora of unknowns, including the extremely strange as well as preposterous. You cannot prove the absence of something, especially the existence of some entity somewhere in the universe considering we barely know the universe, discover new ways of observing the universe every year and are puny humans in a colossal space-time with how many unknown dimensions and how many vats our brain is in and how much our existence is just the dream of a butterfly in a computer simulation. You cannot disprove any of that and it’s ridiculous to claim 100% certainly about the non-existence of anything. You simply cannot have that much confidence,…or you are kidding yourself. Yes I would agree with you it is 99.99999% likely that no hyena is on your couch but that isn’t proof that something doesn’t exist. It just makes it absurd to take such a claim seriously.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Davis.
    #28268

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Yes, but a hyena is large, and your sofa is small.  The hyena is therefore very easy to find.

    What if you were searching for something that didn’t leave much apparent evidence, such as the fossil/archaeological record?  How can we find out the ways that ancient humans behaved socially?

    There is a paucity of available evidence for some answers we are looking for.  These type of cases prove that “an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” can often be true, when evidence is necessarily thin on the ground.

    #28269

    What did our ancient ancestors actually witness, before the word ‘god’ even existed?

    That is a good question Quincy. They would not have witnessed anything much different to what we see today. It is just that we have better answered the questions that arise when faced with the same “sights and wonders”. Religions arose because of our ignorance of the natural world and fear of the unknown. Science, whose every step forward over 1,500 years was met with religious persecution, murder, accusations of heresy, confiscation of land and the imprisonment of scientists has managed to reach the point where it can now offer demonstrable answers.

    Not only did religion ask the wrong questions, it offered the wrong answers. With each new generation people create a revised image of their gods to suit what they now know. The babbling of theologians keeps them confused so they think their faith is the same faith as 2000 years ago. Most religious minds no longer wrestle to unscramble the same secrets of nature that our ancestors did. They have adapted the knowledge of the secular and scientific communities into their creeds but they still insist on some supernatural being to be the puppet master behind it all because no matter how much science discovers they will still fear the unknown. Most, if not all atheists I know do not fear death yet theists generally do even though their faith is meant to take away this fear. It does not work because their faith leaves them mentally immature and enthralled by the same delusions as our ancestors who worshiped idols. All it does is to play upon their emotions will false promises that quench their natural human curiosity and subdue their ability to reason.

    #28270

    Unseen
    Participant

    Think of it in terms of the oft-heard “You can’t prove a negative.” Can’t I prove that there’s no hyena on my couch? Unseen, please you have a masters in philosophy. You cannot have forgotten metaphysics 101. The only thing you prove is that there is or is not a hyena on the couch based on your frame of reference, your particular view, what you are able to observe, identify and rationalize. We do not know the fundamental nature of the universe nor could we possibly have any certainty about it. There are a plethora of unknowns, including the extremely strange as well as preposterous. You cannot prove the absence of something, especially the existence of some entity somewhere in the universe considering we barely know the universe, discover new ways of observing the universe every year and are puny humans in a colossal space-time with how many unknown dimensions and how many vats our brain is in and how much our existence is just the dream of a butterfly in a computer simulation. You cannot disprove any of that and it’s ridiculous to claim 100% certainly about the non-existence of anything. You simply cannot have that much confidence,…or you are kidding yourself. Yes I would agree with you it is 99.99999% likely that no hyena is on your couch but that isn’t proof that something doesn’t exist. It just makes it absurd to take such a claim seriously.

    To paraphrase Wittgenstein in On Certainty, if am wrong in my certainty that I am not at this moment writing from the surface of the Moon, my problem goes way beyond epistemology.

    A proof to 99.99999% certainty acceptable for just about anything outside the world of mathematics, and it’s acceptable even in some areas of mathematics and formal logic. Statistics, for example.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Unseen.
    #28271

    Unseen
    Participant

    Yes, but a hyena is large, and your sofa is small. The hyena is therefore very easy to find. What if you were searching for something that didn’t leave much apparent evidence, such as the fossil/archaeological record? How can we find out the ways that ancient humans behaved socially? There is a paucity of available evidence for some answers we are looking for. These type of cases prove that “an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” can often be true, when evidence is necessarily thin on the ground.

    All I needed was to find an exception to “You can’t prove a negative,” which I did. I’m not maintaining that there’s no such thing as an unprovable negative. That would be absurd.

    #28273

    _Robert_
    Participant

    You can prove a negative if your verification tests are 100% conclusive. That is not easy as Davis pointed out. If your couch was sitting on a zeroed-out scale and we assume a hyena has a minimum mass we could have pretty good certainty that there is no hyena on the couch. What if the hyena was a just a fertilized egg? Is our scale good enough? Is it even working? What if the couch and scale were in an accelerating elevator? Scale is off. So it depends on how much certainty you need.

    #28277

    Unseen
    Participant

    You can prove a negative if your verification tests are 100% conclusive. That is not easy as Davis pointed out. If your couch was sitting on a zeroed-out scale and we assume a hyena has a minimum mass we could have pretty good certainty that there is no hyena on the couch. What if the hyena was a just a fertilized egg? Is our scale good enough? Is it even working? What if the couch and scale were in an accelerating elevator? Scale is off. So it depends on how much certainty you need.

    Oh, come on. Everyone knows what is actually meant by “There’s a hyena on my couch.”

    #28280

    Davis
    Participant

    What did our ancient ancestors actually witness, before the word ‘god’ even existed?

    So much stuff wouldn’t have made sense and would be pretty terrifying. Without a broader picture of climate…a freak hurricane or natural disaster or Vulcano going off (with no clear repetition or seemingly random) simply couldn’t have been a meaningless event for them as they are to us now. And yet some random natural disaster killing innocent loved ones simply doesn’t make sense. There has to be some reason behind it. That entails a reaction to your own behaviour words or decisions. It entails some system or being that takes care of it. What is that system or who is that being?

    Same with lightening. It is extremely unlikely most pre-civ humans went “well there is some natural explanation that we don’t know so lightening is a meaningless random event”. Especially if that lightening strikes your dwelling or something important to you. And yeah a bolt of energy going from way up there in the sky to the earth with sparks and incredible speed, thunderous sound, flashes along with the darkened sky would give most people the creeps. Lightening simply would t make sense as a natural phenomena. Something made it happen. Humans filled in those blanks with their imagination. What that narrative was…through that lense, that’s how they experienced and observed the world.

    It was also much easier to die with little medical understanding and often insufficient nutrition. Unavailable food would mean everyone does and food is sometimes hard or impossible to get. Infant mortality was high. Mother died giving birth. Animal attacks were more frequent without a density of people and infrastructures. Life was short and perilous and the world was observed as a lesslthan safe place, someti malitious in its cruelty.

    The world was tiny. The first humans didn’t spend time crossing dozens of kilometers from week to week. They occupied a relatively large amount of land, a few square kilometers all for just a few people. They knew little of what lay even 10 km away in any direction. Nor would they have any reason to believe the continent was 1000s or km across . They would be quite knowledgeable of their space, ignorant about ashort distance away and totally guessing what else there was. They observed variations o the same thing with very few surprises with surprises usually being bad. Its impossible to knowhow intense their world view was. Did they see every natural object as posessed by a being? We’re animals seen as lower creatures? Did sights and smells and sounds have extra meaning? Perhaps. If they were utterly neurotic and believed that beings influenced nearly everything then when they saw objects they didn’t just see objects but also saw greater meaning. A tree isn’t just a tree. Even a small pebble might not be just a pebble.

    They observed much much less of the world through far less abstract concepts than us, most objects as means of survival possibly with supernatural  forces in them, observed surprises often with terror and saw incredible meaning in the sky and possibly water sources and the rain. Quite different. Not that romantic sounding.

    #28281

    “Primitive man did not understand the natural cause of shadows, echoes, the birth and death of vegetable and animal organisms. Of this ignorance religion was born, and theology was evolved as its art of expression.”

    – Draper.

    #28282

    _Robert_
    Participant

    You can prove a negative if your verification tests are 100% conclusive. That is not easy as Davis pointed out. If your couch was sitting on a zeroed-out scale and we assume a hyena has a minimum mass we could have pretty good certainty that there is no hyena on the couch. What if the hyena was a just a fertilized egg? Is our scale good enough? Is it even working? What if the couch and scale were in an accelerating elevator? Scale is off. So it depends on how much certainty you need.

    Oh, come on. Everyone knows what is actually meant by “There’s a hyena on my couch.”

    Wrong. You assumed we all think the same way. It could be a picture of a hyena. A plastic toy hyena under a cushion, you would be wrong. You are gonna have to redefine your problem very specifically before you can prove anything…negative or positive. If the power was out on a moonless night with no flashlights, I would love to see you prove there was no hyena sitting there smelling you like a  pork chop.

     

    #28283

    Rule applies for the half you can’t see.

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