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Nov 22, 2015 1:07 PM

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Bernkastel said:
katsucats said:
The core of this problem is a semantic confusion that causes circular assertions for people like you to go back and forth on indefinitely, without reason, and without even approaching a solution. It might roll off the tongue to speak of evidence and absence, and absence and evidence--too smoothly, in fact, that no one pays any attention to the actual meanings of evidence and absence.

The first thing we must accept is that evidence is not proof in the formal sense. That is, unless we wish to relegate ourselves into reductio into absurdity, the common intent of the word evidence (i.e. scientific evidence) involves observation and induction. Deductive evidence, or proofs, demonstrate the equivalent of a claim in question, but evidence only suggests that we might believe in it.

Therefore, evidence is not absolute or nonexistence, it is strong or weak. In this sense, absence of evidence is very easily evidence of absence, at various stages of weakness depending on how reasonable the claim.

However, the entire argument of this thread and every other utterance of the phrase "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" fallaciously presumes a religious understanding of evidence as proof. It is true, and can be formally proven, that the absence of proof is not proof of absence. That is, just because we can't show that something exists doesn't mean that we know absolutely that is doesn't. We just have a reasonable expectation that it might not, depending on the claim. If we take evidence as proof, then the argument becomes nonsense in the empirical context no matter which way you dice it.

Did you seriously write 4 paragraphs to make the semantic distinction that evidence is technically never going to be "proof"?... Talk about being off topic lol.

You also talked about scientific evidence (which is what evidence usually refers to anyway these days). There are in fact tiers of scientific evidence based on experimental design, e.g. meta-study being highest and expert opinion being very low, etc, but nobody will ever tell you evidence of absence is equivalent to the absence of evidence in a scientific context in the absolute sense. On a very basic level, the evidence of absence is an experiment that showed the contrary, while the absence of evidence is the lack of experiment. Your "logic" only applies in your own philosophical vacuum.

While an absence of evidence does not allow us to act on anything, an evidence of absence gives us reason to deny and act antagonistically against whatever claim it was relative to our confidence in the quality of the evidence. The distinction between the two is conceptually massive.
It is not off topic, you just don't understand the words you use. Equating absence of evidence with lack of experiment is specious. It's like writing off all the experiments we've conducted to find the absence of evidence for phlogiston. How do we know if something doesn't exist? Do we just assume it from no experimentation? The problem is your religious beliefs doesn't vibe with the logic you try to inject no matter how hard you try to make them compatible.
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Nov 22, 2015 1:12 PM

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Bernkastel said:
TheBrainintheJar said:
I think your distinction of 'inductive absence' and 'absence' are what I was looking for. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence once you made an attempt to prove something and found no reason to believe it, and left pretty much no way for new evidence to pour in.
There is no distinction between inductive evidence of absence or evidence of absence. All evidence are by definition inductive, a posteriori and empirical.
Do you even know how induction works? If you keep taking steps and never hit an invisible wall, then you don't have any reason to accept the existence of an invisible wall. You lack evidence.
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Nov 23, 2015 1:30 AM

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Keep this going. I like this thread.
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