Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why do people demand evidence?

Evidence cannot "support" a theory. So what's the point of "demanding evidence" in response to someone asserting a theory?

It doesn't make sense to say that a theory can be supported by evidence. All evidence can do is refute classes of theories. So at best some evidence can refute a huge class of theories leaving a few theories unrefuted, aka supported.

So when someone says "I demand that you present evidence [supporting your theory]," what that really means is "I demand that you present evidence that refutes *all* other possible theories, leaving just one theory, the one that you're asserting is true."

Note that its impossible to refute *all* other possible theories, because that's an infinite set, and we only have finite time. So its a demand that is impossible to satisfy.

In other words, ideas are innocent until proven guilty. And demanding evidence in response to someone asserting a theory means believing that ideas are guilty until proven innocent.


On a tangent, someone said: "We cannot, nor are we ever called upon to prove a negative."

Me: "I agree that we cannot prove a negative. What I'm saying is that we also cannot prove a positive."


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