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Can you prove a negative?

dylancatlow
Posts: 12,242
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11/6/2014 1:30:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Each of your perceptions "proves" that you aren't perceiving the absence of that perception. You cannot, however, prove the non-existence of a general proposition like "the existence of elves".
SitaraMusica
Posts: 1,060
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11/6/2014 1:32:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 1:30:33 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Each of your perceptions "proves" that you aren't perceiving the absence of that perception. You cannot, however, prove the non-existence of a general proposition like "the existence of elves".

I am not sure if I agree. I do not have an opinion either way though.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,242
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11/6/2014 2:33:18 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 1:32:19 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:30:33 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Each of your perceptions "proves" that you aren't perceiving the absence of that perception. You cannot, however, prove the non-existence of a general proposition like "the existence of elves".

I am not sure if I agree. I do not have an opinion either way though.

There's a difference between prove and "reasonably conclude based on empirical confirmation". In order to prove something in the sense I'm talking about, it needs to be self-evident. Otherwise, it relies on assumptions and is not certain.
SitaraMusica
Posts: 1,060
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11/6/2014 2:51:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 2:33:18 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:32:19 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:30:33 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Each of your perceptions "proves" that you aren't perceiving the absence of that perception. You cannot, however, prove the non-existence of a general proposition like "the existence of elves".

I am not sure if I agree. I do not have an opinion either way though.

There's a difference between prove and "reasonably conclude based on empirical confirmation". In order to prove something in the sense I'm talking about, it needs to be self-evident. Otherwise, it relies on assumptions and is not certain.
Okay now I agree.
missmedic
Posts: 386
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11/6/2014 6:22:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
In fact, the scientific method only admits for universal negatives " in science, you can only falsify something completely, not confirm it completely. Something is judged to be true because it stands to the test of falsifiability extensively enough to be unassailable. But failing one single test disqualifies a specific principle from being accepted.
Wocambs
Posts: 1,505
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11/6/2014 6:28:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

You can't prove a negative any more or any less than you can prove a positive.
Natec
Posts: 84
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11/6/2014 6:29:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Unless you go into extreme semantics on what it means to prove something.
Dude... stop...
SitaraMusica
Posts: 1,060
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11/6/2014 7:10:13 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 6:29:40 PM, Natec wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Unless you go into extreme semantics on what it means to prove something.

I agree.
SitaraMusica
Posts: 1,060
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11/6/2014 7:11:30 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 6:29:40 PM, Natec wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Unless you go into extreme semantics on what it means to prove something.

I thought the burden of proof is on the one making a positive claim.
Natec
Posts: 84
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11/6/2014 7:18:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 7:11:30 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
At 11/6/2014 6:29:40 PM, Natec wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Unless you go into extreme semantics on what it means to prove something.

I thought the burden of proof is on the one making a positive claim.

It is.
Dude... stop...
SitaraMusica
Posts: 1,060
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11/6/2014 7:32:37 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 7:18:58 PM, Natec wrote:
At 11/6/2014 7:11:30 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
At 11/6/2014 6:29:40 PM, Natec wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Unless you go into extreme semantics on what it means to prove something.

I thought the burden of proof is on the one making a positive claim.

It is.

Thank you for helping me. I understand now.
Natec
Posts: 84
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11/6/2014 8:34:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 7:32:37 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
At 11/6/2014 7:18:58 PM, Natec wrote:
At 11/6/2014 7:11:30 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
At 11/6/2014 6:29:40 PM, Natec wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Yes. Unless you go into extreme semantics on what it means to prove something.

I thought the burden of proof is on the one making a positive claim.

It is.

Thank you for helping me. I understand now.

I'm not sure if this is sarcastic or not... The burden of proof is on the positive claim, but that doesn't mean that the opposite side or negative claim is unable to be proven.
Dude... stop...
Rational_Thinker9119
Posts: 9,054
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11/6/2014 8:48:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

This has got to be the dumbest question ever... Of course you can prove a negative. Here is a negative: "there exists no coins in your pocket".....Buy a brand new pair of pants, and feel the pockets, if you find no coins, then you have just proven that there are no coins in the pocket (which is a negative). You can prove that no square circles, because to be a square is to not be a circle (a square has sides, a circle does not), to be a circle is to not be a square, so a circle cannot also be a square, ergo, no square circles exist.
SitaraMusica
Posts: 1,060
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11/6/2014 9:07:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 8:48:00 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

This has got to be the dumbest question ever... Of course you can prove a negative. Here is a negative: "there exists no coins in your pocket".....Buy a brand new pair of pants, and feel the pockets, if you find no coins, then you have just proven that there are no coins in the pocket (which is a negative). You can prove that no square circles, because to be a square is to not be a circle (a square has sides, a circle does not), to be a circle is to not be a square, so a circle cannot also be a square, ergo, no square circles exist.

It is not dumb to present a debate.
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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11/7/2014 6:23:22 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Of course you can.

The statement "You can't prove a negative" is probably the most common inane and unfounded comment you see on the internet, which is really amazing when you consider the volume of inane and unfounded comments you see on the internet.

The statement "You can't prove a negative" is itself a negative, so it is a self-negating statement.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
tahir.imanov
Posts: 272
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11/8/2014 1:49:02 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Actually, negative can be proven, by disproving positive. Some mathematical problems are solved using this method.
This is red.
SitaraMusica
Posts: 1,060
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11/8/2014 2:49:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/7/2014 6:23:22 AM, Sidewalker wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Of course you can.

The statement "You can't prove a negative" is probably the most common inane and unfounded comment you see on the internet, which is really amazing when you consider the volume of inane and unfounded comments you see on the internet.

The statement "You can't prove a negative" is itself a negative, so it is a self-negating statement.

Okay thank you. I agree now.
SitaraMusica
Posts: 1,060
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11/8/2014 2:51:44 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/8/2014 1:49:02 PM, tahir.imanov wrote:
At 11/6/2014 1:12:41 PM, SitaraMusica wrote:
I am not sure.

Actually, negative can be proven, by disproving positive. Some mathematical problems are solved using this method.

Thank you. That makes sense.
Smikes
Posts: 11
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11/11/2014 8:43:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Yes, you can prove a negative. Mathematicians can conclusively prove that E does NOT equal mc^3. Rather, E = mc^2.

Apart from abstract mathematics, however, we rarely ever work with absolute "proofs." We tend to work instead with gradients of certainty. For example, I don't know with 100% certainty that I'm a male, but given the ridiculously overwhelming evidence, I'm about as certain as I could ever reasonably be that I am haha. Is the universe billions of years old? I believe it is logically defensible to believe - essentially on authority - that the consensus among experts accurately reflects the inevitable conclusion of all the [currently available] data, but I'm not particularly confident, since I don't know much about that.

We can also logically demonstrate gradients of certainty in favor of a negative. We can, for example, deduce that a politician is probably lying, that Harry Potter is quite certainly fiction, and that the hallucinations experienced under the influence of certain mind-altering substances are, in all likelihood, imaginary.