The Instigator
Leftii
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
Chthonian
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points

Prove me right

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Chthonian
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/29/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,331 times Debate No: 19044
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (4)

 

Leftii

Con


I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

Pro's task is to prove that it is possible to prove a theory. My task is to disprove the theory. Pro can choose the theories and how many he wishes to put forward. In round 4, no more theories can be put forward.

Prove: Give an ultimate theory which cannot be contradicted.
Disprove: Give an alternative theory which contradicts the former theory.

Simple.
Chthonian

Pro

I would like to thank Leftii for instigating this challenging intellectual debate.

First off, I would like to apologize to my opponent: The day I accepted this debate a huge snow storm knocked out the power, which is still out. It should be restored by tomorrow afternoon—god willing.

Since I had no internet access, I could not properly prepare a full-fledged argument. So, I thought I could use the first round to get some clarifications , state the theory I am going to discuss, and give some general thoughts on the resolution of this debate.

Clarification

It is unclear at this time what Con means when speaking of an "ultimate theory. Few theories are ever truly final or conclusive and are often in a continual state of refinement and can even be replaced with a paradigm shift. Moreover, no theory can explain all phenomena within a given subject and as such no theory is absolute as to be undisputed. So, could Con better explain what is meant by an "ultimate theory". Also, how many theories does Con have to "disproved" in order to win the debate. I feel it is my best interest to put forth and defend just one?

Theory

The theory that I will be presenting is "Germ Theory", but I may provide others. I will be highlighting examples and scientific data where there is thought to be a link between certain microbes and specific disease states.

Debate Resolution

I think the burden of proof should be equally shared. Both positions should have sufficient and necessary evidence to support their respective proposed theory; rebutting the claims of any given theory isn't evidence for a competing theory. Moreover, any competing theory should be grounded in empirical fact and should have some scientific data to back into up.

I am looking forward to reading an alternate explanation to Germ Theory in those cases where the etiology of the disease is beleived to be microbes.
Debate Round No. 1
Leftii

Con

1) "could Con better explain what is meant by an "ultimate theory"."

2) "how many theories does Con have to "disproved" in order to win the debate."

3) "I think the burden of proof should be equally shared. Both positions should have sufficient and necessary evidence to support their respective proposed theory"

1) If my opponent's theory is not "complete", then it is not proved. It is merely accepted, or necessary. A proved theory must therefore be ultimate.

2) Pro may put forward as many theories as he/she wishes and i must explain how all of them are not proved.

3) As is the nature of this debate, my opponent is to be the bearer of proof. Pro's task is to prove that it is possible to prove a theory. Therefore, it is my task to explain why it is impossible to prove a theory. If I were to prove my contradicting theory, I would be contradicting my own argument. Instead, I am to give an alternative theory which merely contains sufficient evidence to contradict Pro's theory. If there is a possible flaw in Pro's theory, it is not proved, maybe merely accepted.
Chthonian

Pro

I would like to thank Con for his timely response. Although I am still confused: what makes a theory "complete"? A theory is an explanation for observable phenomena (1). Thus, its completeness is subjectively determined based on how one chooses to apply it.

Respective Roles
My role in this debate, which Con established in round 1, is to "prove" that a theory can be "proved", not whether it is "complete", "necessary" or "accepted"; the rules in this debate appear to be a moving target. It would seem that Con's role is to disprove the proposed explanation (i.e., theory) and provide, not prove, an alternate theory. The theory I am putting forth is Germ Theory. Therefore, Con must find flaws with this specific theory and come up with an alternate explanation, as per Con's established rules presented in round 1, in those disease states where microbes are thought to be involved.

Proving a Theory
The crux of this debate rests in how one ‘proves' or ‘disproves' a theory. For scientific theories, the validity or proof comes from experimentally testing a falsifiable hypothesis with rigorous scientific methodology and then making predictions that can be confirmed.

The hypothesis behind Germ Theory is that microbes are the causative agents in certain diseases. The operative words are ‘certain diseases', not all diseases; this fact doesn't concede that it is incomplete but rather that it is selective to particular pathologies. Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch experimentally demonstrated more that hundred years ago that a link between microbes and disease could be established (2).

One prediction that this hypothesis makes is that if a microbe is a causative agent then removing it or blocking its actions on the organism should prevent the disease. One example of this prediction is the rabies vaccine (3), which primes the immune system to attack the microbe that leads to the pathology that the rabies virus causes. Another prediction is that exposure to a microbe will lead to a disease state. One such example satisfying this prediction is exposure to the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes a disease of the immune system (4).

Closing Comments
As I alluded in round 1, theories by their very nature are dynamic and can be modified over time as new information presents itself; theories do not assert certainty. Moreover, all theories make assumptions about the reality of the phenomena they are explaining. Having said that, there are ways to ascertain the etiology of certain diseases, which Germ Theory sets out to do. Further, the strength of any given theory rests in the many strands of evidence that show strong statistical associations. Germ Theory has not only been demonstrated experimentally by many independent researchers, but has been applied to real world public health issues with relative success.

I have provided proof for the explanation that germs can and do cause disease. It is now up to Con to prove this explanation is wrong and provide a plausible alternative with "sufficient evident".

Reference:
1)http://dictionary.reference.com...
2)http://tami-port.suite101.com...
3)http://en.wikipedia.org...
4)http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Leftii

Con

1) "My role in this debate, which Con established in round 1, is to "prove" that a theory can be "proved", not whether it is "complete", "necessary" or "accepted""

2) "It is now up to Con to prove this explanation is wrong and provide a plausible alternative with "sufficient evident"."

1) If a theory is to be proved, it is to be complete, for a proved theory must have no possible flaws, thus making it whole. As for "necessary" and "accepted", I did not mention that Pro is to prove his/her theory is either. Maybe if Pro were, my opponent may have better luck.

2) As I stated before, I am not to prove the theory wrong, or the theory of Pro's theory being wrong would be proved, of which Pro can use against me, countering my former argument. I realise now how little Pro understands this debate. The theory is accepted, but if an alternative theory were to be correct, Pro's theory would be incorrectly accepted - not proved. This merely suggests the possibility of the former being incorrect, however my explanation only needs to contain evidence for Pro's to be disproved. If there is a possible alternative theory, the former theory cannot be proved, as it is possibly flawed.

The alternative theory is that the dimension we call reality is merely a dream. In the true reality, in dreams, one can feel and think, unlike in the dreams in the dreams. In the true reality, there are no diseases or conditions caused by microbes. All are caused by eating carrots. The theory offers no physical or theoretical evidence other than its necessity. If it is theoretically possible and concludes all it is created to conclude, it is necessary. Most science is based on necessity, including the ultimate M-Theory.

As I have given a contradicting theory with evidence, I have suggested a possible flaw, and so Pro's theory is not proved, merely accepted.
Chthonian

Pro

Kudos to my opponent for his valiant effort in attempting to disprove a theory; unfortunately, his reasoning here is specious and doesn't provide an alternate explanation nor does it provide any evidence that Germ Theory is flawed.

Clarifying the misunderstandings

It seems that Con believes that I don't understand the purpose of this debate. If this is true, then it is my opinion that Con needs to better define the criteria of the debate before instigating it; an opponent can only understand the debate from what is written in round 1.

In round 1 my opponent clearly states that " Pro's task is to prove that it is possible to prove a theory", which to me suggests that my role is to prove it is possible to prove a theory—and I did. It is not clear why Con is now stating that this was never stated. Pro's position is to present a theory--any theory—and prove that it can't be contradicted; Con's position is to refute the theory I posit with an alternate explanation, which was also stated in round 1.

Confounding issues for Con

Unfortunately, I don't think Con fully understands what it means to disprove a theory. The definition of disprove is to "prove to be false or wrong" (1). Con has failed to demonstrate a plausible alternate theory to disprove Germ Theory.

It is Con's position that if a theory is flawed then it is not complete, and therefore would fail to be proved. However, Con has not demonstrated any flaws thus far with the conditions I presented to prove germ theory. Providing an alternate explanation doesn't provide sufficient evidence for flaws in the theory. One has to find the flaws first then establish that an alternate theory can be acceptible; this is the very basis of a null hypothesis (2).

The main issue here is that Con doesn't understand the nature of a theory: At its core, a theory is a guide used to better understand the phenomena being studied, not an overarching rigid paradigm that is designed to ascertain certainty.

Deconstructing Con's alternate theory

Con's alternate theory that our reality is merely a dream is more of a metaphysical contemplation based on conjecture than it is a plausible explanation. It is also unclear if the dream is his or mine. Either way, our reality is predicated on cause and effect relationships, which has lead to an understanding and awareness that enabled humans to develop technologies to manipulate the dimension we perceive. If it were merely a dream, how does one explain the advancement of civilization? Or is this all just an illusion my mind has created for me???

Even if we were to take Con's explanation at face value, how does stating that carrots causes disease provide evidence for his alternate theory or contradict Germ Theory? The only necessity that I can see from Con's alternate theory is the necessity of having to forth some explanation to keep from forfeiting the round.

Con's "theoretically" possible explanation does not disprove nor identify flaws in any theory let alone Germ Theory. Germ Theory as presented in this debate still stands as proved.

I am eagerly awaiting Con's closing arguments.

References:
1)http://www.merriam-webster.com...
2)http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 3
Leftii

Con

I am pleasantly surprised at the number of flaws I located in my opponent's arguments.

1) "nor does it provide any evidence that Germ Theory is flawed."; "Con has failed to demonstrate a plausible alternate theory to disprove Germ Theory."; "However, Con has not demonstrated any flaws"; "Con's "theoretically" possible explanation does not disprove nor identify flaws in any theory let alone Germ Theory."

2) "then it is my opinion that Con needs to better define the criteria of the debate before instigating it; an opponent can only understand the debate from what is written in round 1."

3) "It is not clear why Con is now stating that this was never stated."

4) "One has to find the flaws first then establish that an alternate theory can be acceptible; this is the very basis of a null hypothesis"; "not an overarching rigid paradigm that is designed to ascertain certainty."

5) "Or is this all just an illusion my mind has created for me???"

6) "how does stating that carrots causes disease provide evidence for his alternate theory or contradict Germ Theory?"

7) "The only necessity that I can see from Con's alternate theory is the necessity of having to forth some explanation to keep from forfeiting the round."

2) I have define the basis of this debate wholly in my opening argument. It is Pro's understanding of it that is unclear. I stated that Pro is to prove that it is possible to prove a theory. Pro, however, has been arguing, unintentionally, that a theory can be an accepted theory.

3) I never stated that I never stated that it is Pro's task to prove that it is possible to prove a theory. I only stated that it is not Pro's task to prove that a theory can be accepted or necessary. The sentence, "If a theory is to be proved, it is to be complete, for a proved theory must have no possible flaws, thus making it whole.", was not linked, in terms of reference, to the sentence, "As for "necessary" and "accepted", I did not mention that Pro is to prove his/her theory is either." Either is referring to "necessary" and "accepted", not to "proved".

4) a) Pro spelt acceptable wrong. b) A theory is not a null hypothesis. c) It is not a simple theory that must contain certainty, but proof. Proof can't be possibly flawed. No theory is proved or accepted in every situation. They are merely accepted in certain situations, e.g. particle wave duality. If it is accepted in every situation, it is accepted in the situation of a given alternative theory. Therefore, if the alternative theory is possible, the former theory is not proved. For a theory to be possible, it merely needs to contain evidence. The definition of theory is irrelevant to this debate.

5) Simply, yes.

6) The mere idea that eating carrots causes diseases does not contain evidence in itself. It is the theory which must be back up by evidence.

1+7) The necessity is that it explains our observations, bearing no evidence, of which it counters observations, against it. This is a form of evidence. I have given evidence, so there is a POSSIBLE flaw in my opponent's theory. In conclusion, the theory is not proved, or UNFLAWED, merely accepted, or necessary.

Sources: The basis of the debate, the most reliable source possible. I don't risk possibly unreliable websites, other than dictionary websites. Even then, I use several to reinforce merely one.
http://dictionary.reference.com...
http://dictionary.cambridge.org...
http://oxforddictionaries.com...
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
See: prove, disprove, accepted, necessity
Chthonian

Pro

This has been a very stimulating debate, and for that I thank Con for initiating it.

Con has declaratively stated that he has accepted my theory, which by definition is an implicit acknowledgement that the evidence provided has provide it (1). Thus, the theory in my opponents mind is true.

Con seems fixated on the notion that suggesting an alternate possibility implies a flaw in a proposed theory. This is categorically false. One has to test a null hypothesis to establish if an alternate theory is possible. Moreover, Con has failed to show any modicum of support that his alternate theory is acceptable or necessary, let alone possible. I do find it rather most humorous, though, that Con believes that the definition of a theory is irrelevant in a debate about theories.

In closing, this debate has been about proving a theory. The theory I put forth was Germ Theory. During this debate I explicated stated how one goes about proving a theory and have addressed these points accordingly. Briefly, the link between microbes and disease was established for over hundred years ago. It has led to testable predictions, some of which I put forth in this debate. Germ Theory has been and continues to be a powerful guide in addressing public health issues. Thus, it is well founded and grounded in reality.

Since Con has informed be that my reality is an illusion. His argument would be part of that illusion and thus his explanation would be erroneous by his own line of reasoning (2).

Con's position has failed to identify any flaws with Germ Theory, and it has not provided a satisfactory possible alternate explanation. Thus, Con has not disproved a theory.

References:
1)http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
2)http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Leftii 5 years ago
Leftii
Negative: I cannot prove that I am disproving a theory. The theory of the other theory being wrong is accepted (not by you obviously, but by evidence). The debate was to prove a theory right, therefore it was only for my opposition to prove and for me to explain. Also, this was not the theory produced, so it is irrelevant to the debate.
Posted by Negative2k99 5 years ago
Negative2k99
Leftii,

What if my theory is that another theory will be disproved? If it is disproved wouldn't my theory be proved?
Posted by Chthonian 5 years ago
Chthonian
Leftii,

You are way too caught up in your self-defined semantics for what proof means when it is applied to theories. When multiple lines of evidence confirm predictions from a validated hypothesis, then a theory is proved true; which is the case for Germ Theory. So for all intents and purposes in this debate, Germ Theory is known for certain: Germs can and do cause disease.

To counter my proved theory, you relied on an unsubstantiated hypothetical "Dream Theory" that isn't even plausible in this debate because it is has no basis in reality and thus it can't be shown to be possible.

The purpose of a debate is to make a cogent argument for why your point of view is correct, not why you feel the other side is wrong. You did not establish any flaws with my proposed theory, nor did you demonstrate convincingly that it isn't known for certain. Therefore, you have failed to provide any substantial evidence to disprove Germ Theory.

There is an old saying that the proof is in eating the pudding: Would you eat that pudding if it were laced with Hepatitis B virus????
Posted by Leftii 5 years ago
Leftii
"Disproving a theory can be done. First, one must identify what assumptions are being made and then systematically attack them. Second, establish problems with the cause and effect relationship used to demonstrate a statistically relevant association. Last, one can employ Bayesian interference methodology to demonstrate that the statistical probabilities use to prove a theory are more related to the data generated from the paradigm, than the hypothesis so that the data are rendered non-inferential; this is to say one could point out the problems with statistical hypothesis testing—no easy task to be sure."

Or one could explain why the theory is not certain as I have done.

If a great amount of evidence was suddenly discovered against germ theory and a great amount discovered for an alternative theory; enough for the alternative theory to become the accepted theory; germ theory, at the time of its acceptance, would not have been proved, as a proved theory cannot possibly be rivaled. However, this scenario is possible, hence disproving germ theory. If germ theory were proved, however, it would be known to be certain and the scenario would not be possible.
Posted by Leftii 5 years ago
Leftii
"Con failed to understand the nature of a theory, and the fact, as Cthonian stated, that an alternative theory being proven correct does not necessarily mean the currently-accepted theory is incorrect...Note that Con's supposed alternate theory is fallacious, since if "The alternative theory is that the dimension we call reality is merely a dream", then his argument would be part of the illusion itself, as noted by Pro."

It is not the nature of a theory that I am arguing about. It is the nature of proof. Proof is certainty. If something is proved it is 100% accurate. Therefore, if there is an uncertainty; here given in the form of an alternative theory owning a chance and so degrading the original 100% chance of the former theory; then there is no proof, merely acceptance.

"For example, it is theoretically possible for time to travel backwards. Does this possibility suggested that there are flaws in the mechanisms of clocks that only keep track of forward moving time?"

a) When have I once stated that there are definite flaws in your theory? Then why do you infer that possibility of time travelling backwards creates a definite flaw in the mechanisms of clocks?

b) There is no evidence for time to travel backwards, so there is no possibility, so there is no degradation in possibility of time travelling forwards, so this does not show a POSSIBLE flaw. If there was evidence, in the form of theoretical evidence, physical evidence or necessity, to back up the theory of time travelling backwards however, then there would be a POSSIBLE flaw in the theory that time travels forwards and so it would not be proved.
Posted by Chthonian 5 years ago
Chthonian
Leftii,

While I do admire your convictions here, you have not properly satisfied the conditions for disproving a theory. Suggesting that something is theoretically possible doesn't lend support to your position. For example, it is theoretically possible for time to travel backwards. Does this possibility suggested that there are flaws in the mechanisms of clocks that only keep track of forward moving time?

Also, ‘proof' and ‘acceptance' are not mutually exclusive when referring to scientific theories. In order for the scientific community to accept a theory it must be proved highly probable, not 100% certain. Theories provide approximations that can be used to make predictions about the phenomena being studied.

The biggest problem for your "Dream Theory" is the regularity and consistency in the laws of nature. The natural laws that the human mind has been able to describe do not appear to be false. I think your "Dream Theory" is loosely related to the "Holographic Universe Theory", which has of yet not been able to be made mathematically precise. But even if our reality is a reflection of another dimension, it is still real enough for us to understand it and in some cases prove how things work within it.

Disproving a theory can be done. First, one must identify what assumptions are being made and then systematically attack them. Second, establish problems with the cause and effect relationship used to demonstrate a statistically relevant association. Last, one can employ Bayesian interference methodology to demonstrate that the statistical probabilities use to prove a theory are more related to the data generated from the paradigm, than the hypothesis so that the data are rendered non-inferential; this is to say one could point out the problems with statistical hypothesis testing—no easy task to be sure.

I think to better address you point of view, Leftii, you might want to have a philosophical debate on whether objective reality exists.
Posted by Leftii 5 years ago
Leftii
If my opponent understands my definition of proof, then he/she would understand why an alternative theory with applied evidence would produce a POSSIBLE flaw, therefore rendering the former theory less than 100% certain, and so disproved.

Proof and acceptance are different. Proof must contain certainty. It is therefore impossible to prove something is correct. Acceptance is necessity. If a theory is necessary in that it explains observations and is set to understand observations for the greater good.

My theory, Dream Theory, states that our reality is forged and our observations are a product of our mind, so may not be correct. This is a theory which lazily casts aside knowledge, the need for all other physics and even the meaning of science, for, even if this is a pseudo reality, it is better to introduce physical theories which improve our way of life in the forged world where we have no knowledge of its being false, than to cast aside all other physics in the hope that we will all simply wake up in reality, when there is a high possibility based on our knowledge of this reality being true. Therefore, this theory is not necessary, so is not an accepted theory.

However, Dream Theory is useful in explaining POSSIBLE flaws in other theories.
Posted by Chthonian 5 years ago
Chthonian
It seems that Con has a very different understanding of how one proves a theory and what this proof implies about the theory. From my perspective, to prove a theory is to show that there is statistically significant evidence to support an explanation of a phenomenon; that is to say that the evidence used to prove the theory demonstrations a probability that it is more truth than not, it does not ascertain certainty. Certainty indicates perfect knowledge, which a theory can't provide. Evidence for establishing scientific theories is based in large part on using models of real phenomena, in order to systematically controls the conditions being studied. It can't be known with certainty that theories present enough of a complete understanding of our complex reality.

Essentially when one proves a theory, aspects of the phenomena are understood enough that it can be used to predict outcomes. If that suggests to Con a certainty, than so be it.
Posted by Leftii 5 years ago
Leftii
If Pro is still confused, I believe this simple statement may sway his/her view: Proof is certainty
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
LeftiiChthonianTied
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Reasons for voting decision: pro cleaned up in this debate but i gave a mercy point to leftii :P
Vote Placed by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
LeftiiChthonianTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro puts forth a very cogent argument. He is clearly an up-and-coming debater on this site. I look forward to see more of his debates in future. Con fails to disprove Germ Theory; Pro clearly outlines what it takes to disprove a theory. Just bc we could live in the Matrix doesn't invalidate the Theory of Gravity. Pro should have also disproven the carrot theory. It is easily falsifiable. If anyone ever gets a cold or strep throat without eating carrots beforehand, the theory is disproven.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
LeftiiChthonianTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Whether we are in an alternate reality or not, germ theory is proved in our world. That suffices. Con had to disprove it and did not.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
LeftiiChthonianTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con failed to understand the nature of a theory, and the fact, as Cthonian stated, that an alternative theory being proven correct does not necessarily mean the currently-accepted theory is incorrect...Note that Con's supposed alternate theory is fallacious, since if "The alternative theory is that the dimension we call reality is merely a dream", then his argument would be part of the illusion itself, as noted by Pro.