If there is no evidence that something exists it is very unlikely that it exists

November 19, 2019, 3:27 pm

Agree29 Disagree55

35%
65%

The debate "If there is no evidence that something exists it is very unlikely that it exists" was started by diecinueve on November 19, 2019, 3:27 pm. 29 people are on the agree side of this discussion, while 55 people are on the disagree side. That might be enough to see the common perception. It looks like most people are against to this statement.

diecinueve posted 13 arguments, Nemiroff posted 4 arguments to the agreers part.
historybuff posted 2 arguments, TheExistentialist posted 8 arguments, Nemiroff posted 2 arguments to the disagreers part.

diecinueve, Cisco, benmiller, JDAWG9693 and 25 visitors agree.
TheExistentialist, carson, historybuff, RoyDierlijk, fireball4thewin, HopeleSSJames3925, devinmungo, Unaluhabe, Bnice80, Jemjem13, Nemiroff and 44 visitors disagree.

diecinueve
replied to...

What happens in the case of "absence of evidence"?

14 hours, 35 minutes ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

So we have to make a distinction between "no evidence" and "absence of evidence" and the kinds of claims we can make regarding either. It also heavily depends on the kind of understanding we have on a subject. No evidence means that we know how to obtain evidence for something but couldn't find it while absence of evidence refers to our inability to get evidence. We'll only address the former.

To continue with your unicorn example. We really have two scenarios.
1) unicorns are offshoots of modern horses
2) unicorns are something else

in case of 1), we can say that since we have evidence of modern horse evolution in the fossil record (actually one of the best fossil records of any species) that it would be reasonable to assume that unicorn fossils would be found within the same geological layers. No such fossils have been found, thus we are left with two possibilities a) they never existed b) they existed in such small numbers and in such few locations that none of their carcasses fossilized.

we'll assume b) for now. If b) then we would see were there any links between horses and unicorns that lived around the time where to two would have diverged? if no then either a) they didn't exist or b) the divergent species were in such low numbers their carcasses never fossilized.

We'll again assume b). If unicorns had existed during the times of man, are there any records of them in cave paintings, trustworthy written records, etc.. if no, then a) They never existed or b) hey existed in such small numbers and in such few locations that none of their carcasses fossilized.

we'll assume b). If they lived in areas where fossilization didn't occur, do we have other evidence to support their existence? If not, then once again a) They never existed or b) hey existed in such small numbers as to not leave any evidence for their existence

We then make a probability statement that unicorns are unlikely to have existed. We never make absolute statements when it comes to claims where "no evidence" is found without exculpatory evidence such as we see in the "video games don't cause cancer" claim.

On the other hand, we could say that there is evidence for unicorns and that our pre-conceived notion of them is simply flawed and they aren't offshoots of modern horses.
https://thescipub.com/PDF/ajassp.2016.189.199.pdf

https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/29/living/real-unicorn-remains/index.html

1 day, 5 hours ago
Nemiroff
replied to...

thus a logical argument means nothing as anything can be made to seem logical with the right trail of reasoning.

which brings us back to the question of Alien life. without evidence, does that mean alien life is unlikely? or do we simply not know?

1 day, 7 hours ago
diecinueve
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The evidence makes the arguments that the earth is flat not solid. When there was no evidence of spherical earth, people saw more likely that the earth was flat

1 day, 11 hours ago
diecinueve
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there is no evidence that unicorns exist or evidence that they do not exist, is it as likely as they exist that they do not exist?

1 day, 15 hours ago
TheExistentialist
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That's not exactly true. We can actually make a determination based on cancer rates and exposure rates that show that there is no causal relation between WIFI and cancer. The reason why it's we say "unlikely" is due to the number of studies that have been conducted is insufficient to say it is conclusive. However, a lack of correlation in these studies does constitute evidence to support the claim that non-ionizing radiation does not cause cancer.

Studies show that if you eat less processed foods you have a decreased risk of cancer in much the same way; except there are far more and extensive studies to support that claim. However, to claim that there is no evidence to claim that video games don't cause cancer is simply not true.

2 days, 4 hours ago
Nemiroff
replied to...

i can certainly make many logical arguments for the existence and elusiveness of unicorns, similarly to how people argue big foot is out there.

2 days, 6 hours ago
Nemiroff
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so what is the point of saying something without logical arguments likely doesnt exist when most things WITH logical arguments dont exist.

2 days, 6 hours ago
Nemiroff
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the problem is that even things with logical arguments often dont exist, like a flat stationary earth.

there are many logical explanation for any event, most are wrong.

2 days, 6 hours ago
diecinueve
replied to...

then the discussion would be "If there is no evidence or logical arguments that something exists, it is very unlikely that it exists"

2 days, 7 hours ago
diecinueve
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the fact that something has not been proven means that there is no evidence to support it, so when you say that video games do not cause cancer due to the fact that the modalities by which they could cause cancer have not been shown to have a correlational role or causal in cancer, means that video games do not cause cancer because there is no evidence that the modalities by which they could cause cancer have a correlational or causal role in cancer.

2 days, 7 hours ago
Nemiroff
replied to...

a philosophical or logical argument is not proof. without evidence it is logical to argue for a flat stationary earth. it certainly feels stationary.

logic is inferior to evidence. they are far from equal.

3 days, 4 hours ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

"you are saying that video games are unlikely to cause cancer because there is no evidence that they do"
that's not at all what I'm saying. Stop misrepresenting my point to fit your narrative. I am saying that they are unlikely to cause cancer due to the fact that the modalities by which they could cause cancer have not been shown to have a correlational or causational role in cancer. So there is exculpatory evidence. However, the evidence is not conclusive that's why it is unlikely.

"The universe is very large, so if our planet has nothing special, there is likely to be extraterrestrial life. That counts as proof"
You made this argument before and it is still nonsense.

This is considered an "ARGUMENT FROM PERSONAL IGNORANCE" otherwise known as "ARGUMENT FROM PERSONAL INCREDULITY"

I can rewrite your statement as: "The universe is very large, so if our planet has nothing special, I can't imagine there not being extraterrestrial life, therefore extraterrestrial life is likely" since you have the implied "i can't imagine a universe as vast as ours without multiple life forms" in your argument that you use as the basis for your evidence.

This doesn't constitute proof of anything or evidence for anything.

3 days, 6 hours ago
diecinueve
replied to...

The universe is very large, so if our planet has nothing special, there is likely to be extraterrestrial life. That counts as proof

3 days, 15 hours ago
diecinueve
replied to...

you are saying that video games are unlikely to cause cancer because there is no evidence that they do

3 days, 15 hours ago

we have no evidence for extra terrestrial life. does that mean it likely doesnt exist?

3 days, 18 hours ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

Well we can look at modality;
which aspects of playing video games would cause the cancer.

The signals emitted by controllers, WIFI, etc.. .are all considered non-ionizing forms of radiation. However, the research is inconclusive as to how they affect the human body and risks are not well understood. So the conclusion here is "unlikely" but "not-conclusive".

Sedentary life-style has been directly linked to cancer; so playing video games "excessively" leading to a sedentary life style is indirectly linked to cancer.

"While there are reasons to think that WiFi and Bluetooth may pose less risk than cell phones, that doesn’t mean they definitely pose no risks.

"One problem, says Jerry Phillips, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who has studied the potential biologic effects of cell-phone radiation, is that the existing research hasn’t revealed the threshold below which RF signals clearly pose no threat."

So we technically can't even say that "video games do not cause cancer" when we evaluate the premise as the evidence is thus far inconclusive. The one thing we can say is that the modality suggested by the statement "video games do not cause cancer" has not been established. While EMF is generally considered safe, as there are no studies that show a link between cancer and EMF (especially considering that devices like routers, etc... only transmit about 0.1% of the time.

Essentially; the only claim we can make is that "Video games are UNLIKELY to cause cancer".

4 days, 2 hours ago
diecinueve
replied to...

What is the evidence that shows that video games do not cause cancer?

6 days, 16 hours ago

although if something isn't proven to exist it doesn't mean it does not. However; we cant support something that we have no knowledge of if we have nothing of it's belongings or even a sample of it being possible that it excited. So we don't know for sure.

1 week, 2 days ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

No; validity refers to the strength of an argument. Soundness refers to the truth claims made within a premise.

Let's look at your video game example again:

1.- There is no evidence to support that video games cause cancer.
2.- There is no evidence to support that video games do not cause cancer
Neither of these are valid arguments since, even if the premises are true, the conclusions do not necessarily follow.

Now, let's make these valid arguments:

P1: There is significant and overwhelming evidence that shows a causal relationship between video games and cancer
C1: Therefore video games cause cancer

P2: There is significant and overwhelming evidence that shows there is no statistical relation between video games and cancer
C2: Therefore video games do not cause cancer

Both arguments are valid. Meaning that IF their premises are true the conclusion must necessarily be true.

Now we have to look at soundess. Let's say I can find research to support P2 but not P1. I can say C2 is true because P2 is true. I can also say that C1 is also false because the inverse conclusion is proven true.

Essentially both arguments are "valid" but only the second is also "sound". "Validity" is the form of an argument, while "soundness" is the content of the premises.

1 week, 2 days ago
diecinueve
replied to...

Are you saying that with what is known now, video games are just as likely to cause cancer to not do so?

1 week, 2 days ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

"the universe is too big for our planet to be the only one alive, that counts as evidence in favor of extraterrestrial life."
--no; this is an unsubstantiated claim. There is no natural phenomena that says if you have over "x" size universe that there must be multiple planets that harbor life. You're simply making an argument from personal incredulity and claiming that as evidence.

Your claim here can be re-written as "I can't fathom a universe so big without other lifeforms, therefore there must be other lifeforms". ----This is not evidence for alien life.

"Following his reasoning with the statement "playing video games causes cancer.""

Neither are valid arguments since both rest on ignorance to be true.

1. There is no evidence to support that video games cause cancer [Therefore, video games don't cause cancer] ---rests on the concept that there never will be evidence to support the claim that video games cause cancer. The author is essentially claiming knowledge of the future.

2. There is no evidence to support that video games do not cause cancer. [Therefore, video games do cause cancer] -- rests on the concept that there never will be evidence that video games do not cause cancer. Again, the author is essentially claiming knowledge of the future.

You're essentially trying to say that an argument from ignorance is a good argument

Here is the definition of the Appeal to ignorance fallacy.:
An argument from ignorance (Latin: argumentum ad ignorantiam), or appeal to ignorance ('ignorance' stands for "lack of evidence to the contrary"), is a fallacy in informal logic. It says something is true because it has not yet been proved false. Or, that something is false if it has not yet been proved true. This is also called a negative proof fallacy. This also includes the (false) assumption there are only two options (true or false). There may be as many as four choices:
1)True
2)False
3)Unknown
4)Unknowable

1 week, 4 days ago
diecinueve
replied to...

the universe is too big for our planet to be the only one alive, that counts as evidence in favor of extraterrestrial life.
Following his reasoning with the statement "playing video games causes cancer."
1.- There is no evidence to support that video games cause cancer.
2.- There is no evidence to support that video games do not cause cancer.
So, is it as likely to cause cancer as if it didn't?

1 week, 5 days ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

No; the presence of evidence for alternative explanations or direct contradictory evidence makes something less likely to exist.

The claims:
Spontaneous Generation is the origin of life
and
Abiogenesis is the origin of life

are both equally likely to be true if we have no evidence for either.

However, we do have evidence for Abiogensis and none for Spontaneous Generation. Logically though, the only claim we can make is that Abiogensis is a more likely explanation as to the origin of life than Spontaneous Generation. When we state "X is unlikely to exist" we necessarily say "Y is the more likely explanation".

In order to dispute the claim "smoking is healthy", two lines of reasoning must be met. 1, there must be a lack of evidence for the claim, and 2 there must be a source of evidence that contradicts the claim.
1) There is no evidence to support that smoking is healthy
2) There is substantial evidence that links smoking to health risks.

If we then look at the inverse of the original claim "smoking is unhealthy", we look at the same lines of evidence
1) There is evidence that links smoking to health risks
2) There is no evidence to suggest that smoking is healthy.

So we are left with "smoking is unhealthy" being the more likely explanation.

In your line of reasoning, we have no evidence that alien life exists. Is it therefore a foregone conclusion that alien life is unlikely to exist?

2 weeks, 4 days ago
diecinueve
replied to...

I don't say it can't exist, I say it's unlikely to exist.
If there are no arguments to prove that something exists, there is no reason to believe that it exists, therefore it is unlikely that it exists.

2 weeks, 4 days ago

This is the definition of the fallacy known as the "argument from ignorance".

The only thing a lack of evidence proves is that there is a lack of evidence for something.

2 weeks, 5 days ago
diecinueve
replied to...

there is the cosmic microwave background as proof of the Big Bang

2 weeks, 5 days ago

But there is no evidence that can prove it. It is a theory that explains most of the things we know. But it is far from proven.

2 weeks, 6 days ago
diecinueve
replied to...

there is the big bang theory

2 weeks, 6 days ago

There being no evidence can very easily just be a lack of understanding. We don't have the evidence of what the origin of the universe was. By your logic that would mean the origin of the universe never existed.

3 weeks, 1 day ago
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