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You can't prove a negative. Agree?

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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:11 PM
Original message
Poll question: You can't prove a negative. Agree?

Sorry, polls are turned off at Level 3.

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Xipe Totec Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
1. Can you prove that you can't prove a negative? n/t
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:17 PM
Response to Original message
2. Define "proof".
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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:30 PM
Response to Original message
3. You can't prove OR disprove a negative! Think about it.
If something didn't happen, you can't prove it didn't, nor can you prove it did because it didn't.
!
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54anickel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:22 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Ouch. That one makes my head hurt! n/t
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rock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:34 PM
Response to Original message
4. I don't have a million dollars in my procket
You want proof? We could look in my pocket.
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metapunditedgy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:02 PM
Response to Original message
5. Starting from what axioms?
You can prove stuff like "There is no x with these properties..." in lots of systems. A trivial example: "There is no prime number divisible by both 2 and 3."

And why are you asking?
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:08 PM
Response to Original message
6. Oh come on have you sunk so low?
You know damned well that in questions of religion this is shorthand for being unable to prove a universal metaphysical negative, so stop posturing.

I can prove there are no married bachelors. But the very fact that you are asking this in R/T shows you are trying sophomoric word games to "debunk" lack of belief.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. "You know damned well that..."
Do I?

I don't think that I'm ready to discuss the concept of a "universal metaphysical negative."

Let's start with the concept of a universal negative. Given a sentence that includes the words "universal negative", how would you construct a sentence that means the same thing and that doesn't include the words "universal negative"?
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dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. By extrapolation
If you are talking about a universal concept, then anything which talks about the negative of that is a universal negative.

But I will not be further drawn into your semantic crap. You know exactly what I mean and you know that's why your question is sophomoric crap intended only to irritate rational people. If by any wild chance you are truly ignorant of the terms look them up and use their plain meaning. It's not a difficult concept.

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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 07:09 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. "intended only to irritate rational people"
Is being irritated by a humorous DU poll rational? I would guess the answer is "no".

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Occam Bandage Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 04:26 PM
Response to Original message
10. I choose to invoke Gdel's Incompleteness Theorems here.
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Dr. Strange Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. I can't decide if I agree with your post.
I'm undecidable.
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Strong Atheist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 08:34 AM
Response to Original message
13. You can:
<snip>

A proof of impossibility, sometimes called a negative proof


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_of_impossibility
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-10-09 02:26 AM
Response to Original message
14. Hmmm, you can't necessarily prove a negative, but you can sometimes.
For instance, if you had a long series of coin flips, you could never *prove* to within 100% certainty, that it wasn't a fair coin if it came up heads every time.

You could, however, prove that the third coin flip wasn't tails by simply conducting the experiment.

In short, if something doesn't necessarily imply anything it can't be disproven, but if it necessarily cannot imply anything (eg. a completely non-interacting massless fluid permeating the universe), then it is meaningless.

Anything not either of the two previous cases is a meaningful but non-disprovable thing.

Importantly, however, many meaningful non-disprovable things can become 'not the most rational thing to believe'.

Usually, there is only a relatively small set of things that it is rational to believe. (Small relative to the total amount of things you could believe, that is)
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-12-09 03:07 PM
Response to Original message
15. Is there a cat in my house?
Walk in and you see no cat. What does that prove? Nothing. Kitty might be in another room or hiding under the furniture or it might be outside.

Nevertheless, the existence of a cat should leave indirect evidence. Is there a food or water bowl on the floor? Is the furniture scratched? Is there any dander in sight? How are your allergies doing? Is there a litter box anywhere? Does the house smell like there is a box of shit somewhere? What about a scratching post? A pet door? Cat toys? Is there a dead rodent or bird in the driveway? What if you have been there for a few days and still have not seen a cat?

The absence of those things strongly suggests that there is no cat. At this point, we have looked under the furniture with a flashlight and searched every room and have found nothing remotely divine. Ergo, there is no god.
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david13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-16-09 06:08 PM
Response to Original message
16. You can't prove a negative. But more than that,
you don't have to.
The burden of proof is on the one who asserts the existence of an imaginary friend in the sky.
dc
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Strong Atheist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-16-09 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Belated
Welcome to DU!
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