Absence of Evidence Actually *is* Evidence of Absence

As Kim Řyhus explains. It’s just that absence of evidence isn’t definitive proof of absence. Her less math-ety explanation:

Absence of evidence for…

  • fairies, trolls, and ghosts…
  • weapons of mass destruction in Irak…
  • crop circle aliens…
  • gods…
  • Microsoft patents in Linux…
  • miracle healings…
  • credentials…
  • CO2 from machines causing global warming…
  • UFO space ships…
  • telepaty, ESP, and telekinesis…
  • Linux stealing code from SCO corporation…

…means they get less likely all the time.

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3 Responses to Absence of Evidence Actually *is* Evidence of Absence

  1. persimmon says:

    One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong. Can you tell me which thing’s not like the others?

  2. Les Jones says:

    I didn’t realize you believed in crop circles.

  3. If somebody points a FLIR at an empty room (preferably in an abandoned building at midnight) and claims a cold spot on the display is a ghost, they’re making an assertion that a ghost has a physical presence. By doing such a “test” they’re saying a ghost has an objective reality to it which can be measured. These kinds of claims are easy to debunk. The normal reasons for seeing fleeting cold spots on FLIR displays are legion. A credible description of the connection between a disembodied soul and a blue spot on a screen? Not so legion. Why? Well for one there is no definition of what a “soul” is that you could physically test.

    OK, so people make a mistake when they try to “prove” ghosts by scientific means because it’s just futile. It would be like trying to prove something is red by holding a ruler up to it. The means of inquiry don’t match the nature of the information one is trying to obtain.

    This does not mean that the “soul” is an invalid or silly topic of inquiry. It does mean you won’t prove it with a digital recorder in a castle, late at night, asking questions of a long-dead Romanian king…in English…

    Oh, but faries are real. Every time you say a fairy isn’t real a dolphin gets hit by a jet ski. So stop it.
    .-= Christopher Range´s last blog ..Send Chris Range to Shevacon =-.