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What constitutes evidence? proof? Part 2

From Part1: There are many discussions on agnostic.com where one member demands proof to substantiate the claims made in another’s comment. Members often have wildly different interpretations of what constitutes proof, what constitutes supporting evidence, and even philosophically how we positively know something. Three definitions of logic were given in Part 1: "What constitutes evidence? What constitutes proof?"

Some members post web links as supporting evidence or as an evidentiary starting point for expressing their beliefs. Many links are from generally respected authors, while others have quite dubious origins especially those related to global warming, quantum mechanics, string theory, or general cosmology. Usually the authors that post unscientific literature on science topics do so without a comprehensive examination of all relevant information. From Feynman: “…[conclusions] in science must be consistent with everything else we know; that the electric fields and the waves we talk about are not just some happy thoughts which we are free to make as we wish, but ideas which must be consistent with all the laws of physics we know. We can't allow ourselves to seriously imagine things, which are obviously in contradiction to the known laws of nature.”

It is frequently difficult for non-expert readers to distinguish between high-quality and suspicious articles on science topics. Other agnostic.com members go to Google, wikipedia, or similar search engines and then weigh in on the topic with an authoritative voice. Search engines offer simplified, condensed overviews that are then interpreted by an intelligent individual who has not weighed the entire body of evidence. My point is: scientific conclusions that are widely held by scientists for a few decades have met a very high standard of evidence. Those who believe the scientists have gotten it wrong, in turn, have a very high standard to show why they think the science is incorrect. (I’m not talking about the very latest findings – scientists often get things wrong initially, but these are corrected in follow up investigations.) Simple opinions that “the results cannot be” or statements such as “they don’t know” are completely worthless.

TheAstroChuck 8 June 6

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8 comments

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Your dissertation is verbose. The proof of this statement is I lost interest in it before I got half way through.

Your loss of interest is proof of nothing but your inability to concentrate long enough to read or comprehend the dissertation. Further, whether the dissertation is verbose is a matter of opinion. If you had read the dissertation you possibly, though unlikely, would understand the difference between proof and opinion.

@mooredolezal It was a joke, lighten up.

@Bobby9 my apologies.

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Thanks. Not only do many people not understand what evidence is, they don't understand what logic is. Often people claim they are being logical. When I ask them to present their logical argument they simply declare that it is obvious. In other words, they simply are making an assertion, but because they consider themselves to be logical they assume that whatever assertion they present is a logical argument.

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Some things start in the imagination and branch out. Einstein did this with relativity as we know later he was able to prove his imagination. We can take even more extreme ideas Stat Trek the crew had personal communication devices something that seemed far-fetched back then. With modern electronics, we all or just about all of us have cell phones, personal communication devices. I agree to prove something it must be detectable in the third dimension and satisfy at least one sensory organ. So then we come to something undetectable it is in our heads it is thoughts. Of course, you can verbalize them or write them down perhaps you know sign language or body language and act them out. Unless you choose to give them some type of energy thoughts remain undetectable so are they still provable?

azzow2 Level 9 July 10, 2018
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We should start giving epistemology of science classes in this forum 😉

MarcO Level 5 June 16, 2018
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Well stated.

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Well put! ?

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I think this is interesting and helpful in reviewing how we reference external sources. There is clearly a difference between referencing external links - articles, news stories and alike - which in effect is a reference to supporting opinion and external reference to studies and quantitative data which may be judged as supporting evidence. Obviously the former can be personally agreed or disagreed with, while the latter can be questioned or challenged as accurate or objective evidence.

Clearly this is a discussion forum, not an academic forum, so there is always going to be a fair amount of mish-mash of fact, opinion, allegation, and a bit of bluster as well. But compared to a lot of web forums it is interesting how many posts here include references to external sources, a least an attempt to support a view or opinion. But, I agree that we should be mindful about the way we reference 'evidence' in support of opinions. I can think of occasions here when I have included some news links in support of something, and someone else has looked for articles with an arguably opposite view and back they come at me. I realised it was a clash over selected opinion pieces.

An interesting post.

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