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How do you prove something doesn't exist?


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#1    notoverrated

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 11:56 PM

not sure if this is the right spot for this but seemed like a deep question to me so here we go.

How do you prove that something doesn't exist? i mean its easy to prove that something does exist, all you have to do is find it. but how do you PROVE something doesn't exist....? And when do you stop looking?

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#2    Sakari

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:12 AM

You can not, it is just a scape goat phrase......

Good read:

Let's sum up. If "you can't prove a negative" means you can't prove beyond reasonable doubt that certain things don't exist, then the claim is just false. We prove the nonexistence of things on a regular basis. If, on the other hand, "you can't prove a negative" means you cannot prove beyond all possible doubt that something does not exist, well, that may, arguably, be true. But so what? That point is irrelevant so far as defending beliefs in supernatural entities against the charge that science and/or reason have established beyond reasonable doubt that they don't exist...................    http://www.psycholog...-prove-negative

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#3    Professor T

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:17 AM

Tricky Question...............
I dont think anyone can truely proove that something doesn't exists..
Sakari's thread as tried to disprove the existence of Evil Spirits and failed imo.. http://www.unexplain...pic=181521&st=0 Though I am sure he and others will disagree with my opinion on that..

If something doesn't exist, but we are attempting to disprove it's existence then imo there is no logical way it can be disproved.

Edit: lol, Sakari bet me to it.

Edited by Professor T, 24 February 2013 - 12:19 AM.


#4    Sakari

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:19 AM

View PostProfessor T, on 24 February 2013 - 12:17 AM, said:

Edit: lol, Sakari bet me to it.



And you used me as an example..... :blush:

:)

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#5    Professor T

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:29 AM

View PostSakari, on 24 February 2013 - 12:19 AM, said:

And you used me as an example..... :blush:

:)

:lol: Had just been reading your thread so I was geared up for this one..
I don't think this thread will go to 127 pages.. We seem to have covered the answer in 2 posts..

Though I'm sure there'll be plenty of other good answers too. :tu:

Edited by Professor T, 24 February 2013 - 12:30 AM.


#6    shrooma

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:31 AM

the answer is quite simple really.
what you do, is come up with an interesting theory, make an UM thread out of it, and you can guarantee that within half an hour you'll have a hundred people all proving to you that the objective of your theory doesn't exist.....

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#7    Sakari

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:40 AM

View Postshrooma, on 24 February 2013 - 12:31 AM, said:

the answer is quite simple really.
what you do, is come up with an interesting theory, make an UM thread out of it, and you can guarantee that within half an hour you'll have a hundred people all proving to you that the objective of your theory doesn't exist.....

Theories can be debated, and theories are not " existence" .
Now facts are a different story.

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#8    Professor T

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:48 AM

Hmmmmmmmm, the question of proving that something doesn't exist is a Paradox.

This might help..



#9    third_eye

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:48 AM


to prove something 'doesn't' exist , we only have to disprove that it 'does' exist


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#10    ChrLzs

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:12 AM

To be a little more precise..  Of course you can theoretically disprove something exists, but only IF it is detectable and you constrain the boundaries of it..

Eg let's say you have an empty shoebox in front of you (lid off!).
Can you say with absolute 100% certainty that:
- there are no elephants in it? YES, you can.
- there is no life in it all?  NO - realistically you could not sterilise and microscopically examine it (and you'd need to be in a clean room..)

Between that silly example of a shoebox and finding bigfoot/nessie/aliens, there is obviously a wide range of different criteria - in many cases it will be impossible (or extraordinarily difficult or prohibitively expensive), but not all..  Just depends on exactly what you are trying to prove..  (and where)

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#11    Lilly

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:23 AM

I think people over complicate this. Basically, if there is no evidence that something exists then you have to go with nonexistence. You don't *prove* something doesn't exist per say, rather the lack of evidence demonstrates for nonexistence. If one suddenly gets evidence that something does indeed exist then you've essentially *proven* its existence. In other words, one proves 'existence' not 'nonexistence'.

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#12    shrooma

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:38 AM

View PostSakari, on 24 February 2013 - 12:40 AM, said:



Theories can be debated, and theories are not " existence" .
Now facts are a different story.
.
I think you just proved that your sense of humour doesn't exist.
do I win a prize or anything....?
:-)

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#13    third_eye

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:38 AM

not :

to prove something 'doesn't' exist , we only have to disprove that it 'does' exist

then ?

to disprove something 'doesn't' exist , we only have to prove that it 'does' exist

yes ? or :

to disprove something 'does' exist , we only have to prove that it 'doesn't' exist

then ?

to prove something 'does' exist , we only have to disprove that it 'doesn't' exist

~edit : I don't remember

Edited by third_eye, 24 February 2013 - 01:45 AM.

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#14    Sakari

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:43 AM

View Postshrooma, on 24 February 2013 - 01:38 AM, said:

.
I think you just proved that your sense of humour doesn't exist.
do I win a prize or anything....?
:-)


Your reply looked serious enough to me.....Considering so many say the same thing, and hate " skeptics " or any debate at all.

If it was in humor, ( we do not spell it with a " u " after the " o " ) it must have been that " dry English " style. Us Americans never did get that.

:)

And no, you do not win a prize.

And also, my reply is mostly in humor.

Edited by Sakari, 24 February 2013 - 01:45 AM.

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#15    shrooma

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:45 AM

how to prove the blue square in your hand doesn't exist-
1) look at your hand.
2) is there a blue square there?
3a) yes.
3b) no.
4a) the blue square exists.
4b) the blue square doesn't exist.
.
can I have my prize now, I want to go to bed?
:-)

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