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Old 03-20-2001, 09:58 PM   #1
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Post What Is Proof?

What is proof?

Proof is --

1. Physical Evidence: People/things/events who/which can be seen/heard/touched/smelled/tasted and thus observed and measured directly or indirectly through the use of machines such as telescopes/microscopes/audio amplifiers/etc., or who/which can be inferred by their effects upon natural/physical phenomena (people/things/events comprised of matter/energy and therefore exist in contrast to being the subject matter/content of ideas/dreams/fantasies/etc.)

2. Eyewitness Reports: Testimonies by credible individuals corroborated by corroborating reports by credible corroborators.

3. Logical Arguments: Arguments in which premises which are verifiable/falsifiable/verified lead logically to conclusions which are true if the premises are true; wherein the premises must answer the begged question: Is this premise true?; wherein verification of the premises must by based upon physical evidence and/or eyewitness reports.

Discussion?

Suggestions?
 
Old 03-20-2001, 11:50 PM   #2
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I would strike number two. It's certainly evidence, but not proof. Even number one could be pretty sketchy. I guess a combination of any evidence you can compile until there is no other logical answer would be a pretty good approximation of proof in my book.

Then there are mathematical proofs -- but believe me: I'm not the one to comment on those.
 
Old 03-21-2001, 05:25 AM   #3
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I think proof is a subjective concept relative to each individual. I say this because some people are just more skeptical than others. Proof is associated with an individuals belief, and people have different criteria for belief, so proof cannot be objective.

Sure, groups of people can agree on certain criteria and accept some method or process to arrive at proof, but it is nothing more than an agreement. It still remains ultimately up to the individual to decide if something is proof or not. If a person doesn't believe in something, it doesn't matter what lengths you have gone to to convince him or her, you have not proven it to them.

I like the standards laid out in the following scripture, it really tickles me to get this text out of the bible.

JOHN
" 24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."

Fundies love that one...

David


 
Old 03-21-2001, 05:27 AM   #4
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RE: Mathematical Proofs.

If mathematics describe reality--the people/things/events who/which are comprised of matter/energy--then mathematics would confirm verbal descriptions of reality and therefore augment other proof(s) of hypotheses.

But mathematics is useful ONLY if it describes reality.

Dr. Albert Einstein was aware of the problem of esoteric/useless mathematics when he stated "The mathematics must not get in the way of the physics." [I do not recall my source of this quote--perhaps someone else could help with a useful quote source.]
 
Old 03-21-2001, 05:55 AM   #5
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Is it possible to determine if or not objective proof can be found for various questions/issues?

Subjective proof is a serious problem.

The emotional proof translates as "If it feels good it must be true/if it feels bad it must be false." Feeling good about O. J. Simpson does not mean he is innocent/feeling bad does not mean he is guilty.

If our feelings are reactions to realizations of our desires/fears/priorities, then, in order to have a feeling, we must have perceptions of physical evidence/eyewitness report(s) w. corroborative reports/logical arguments, and for our feelings to confirm reality and therefore be appropriate, those perceptions must be accurate, and they must not be mere opinions or beliefs, or fantasies or pleasant/unpleasant thoughts, otherwise they very well could be misperceptions leading to inappropriate feelings. [NOTE: Physical experiments such as the stimulation of the brain by electrical impulses and medical conditions such as illnesses and injuries can stimulate feelings, but these are not the normal reactions to realizations of desires/fears/priorities which are normal feelings.]

Notice that in the example of Doubting Thomas, if true, this confirms the necessity for physical evidence as proof of propositions/assertions/claims of fact.

If you look closely at eyewitness reports and logical arguments, they, too, must ultimately rely upon physical evidence. Eye witnesses must be reporting people/things/events who/which are real/exist/true; and the premises of logical arguments must be verifiable/falsifiable/verified, and verification ultimately can only be the observation/measurement of physical evidence.

So, is there an objective proof that functions to eliminate opinions/beliefs/feelings (emotions) as "proof"?

[This message has been edited by Bob K (edited March 21, 2001).]
 
Old 03-21-2001, 06:22 AM   #6
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About Thomas, exactly my point.

But I think it is wrong to even strive to gain some objective proof. Proof is intimately tied with the persons psyche and ego. You may outline certain standards that you think a rational person should accept. But you haven't proven anything until someone else believes you. That dependancy on another person makes an objective proof invalid.

David

 
Old 03-21-2001, 10:00 AM   #7
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dmvprof:

Your words:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But I think it is wrong to even strive to gain some objective proof. Proof is intimately tied with the persons psyche and ego. You may outline certain standards that you think a rational person should accept. But you haven't proven anything until someone else believes you. That dependancy on another person makes an objective proof invalid.</font>
My words: That which is objective deals directly with reality. Objective proofs would be independent of opinions and therefore true proofs in contrast to emotional/subjective proofs of the If it feels good it must be true/if it feels bad it must be false kind.

Let's see, for example, if we can observe and describe you at least somewhat objectively.

You are your body and your mind.

Your body is your genetic inheritance from your parents--your physics/chemistry/biology/etc.

Your mind is your personal system of desires/fears/priorities from your genetic inheritance [physiological/unlearned desires] and your learning [psychological/learned desires] resulting from your experiences with environmental choices who/which could realize your physiological desires; your mind is the cause of your behavior--your actions and reactions--including your feelings as reactions to realizations of your desires, your personality as your desires/fears/priorities revealed by your actions/reactions, your mental problems as your unrealistic desires (your wanting people/things/events you cannot have/get), and your mental health as your realistic desires (your wanting people/things/events you can have/get).

You ARE your desires/fears/priorities. They control control your behavior/feelings/personality/mental problems/mental health.

The above descriptions involve operational definitions which provide the observations/measurements of you we can replicate merely by watching you approach people/things/events you desire and avoid people/things/events you fear as well as interview you to determine your personal system of desires/fears/priorities.

If we can observe you, you and your behavior become scientific, for the essence of science is observation and measurement of the people/things/events of reality for the purpose of obtaining data which can be used for creating an hypothesis which can be verified/falsified by additional observations, all of which is the essence of the scientific method.

It is thus that you can become aware of your personal biases and focus upon objective proofs and reduce if not eliminate subjectivity in your search for truth.

Searching for objective proof or objective criteria cannot be wrong, for otherwise we would have to flounder in emotionalism/subjectivity.

And if we are able to determine objective standards of proof, those standards remain objective regardless of who accepts them, for to depend upon the acceptance of other's is to commit logical fallacies of majority rule, appeals to the mob, appeals to personal interest, and, most likely, many others, and such logical fallacies cannot be used to develop objective standards of proof.

If you do not have objective standards of proof, what are your standards?

[This message has been edited by Bob K (edited March 21, 2001).]
 
Old 03-21-2001, 10:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
It is thus that you can become aware of your personal biases and focus upon objective proofs and reduce if not eliminate subjectiveity in your search for truth.
</font>
I just don't think it is possible to truly believe something and from somebody elses "objective" idea of proof. If you are talking about proving something to yourself, fine, you have intimate knowledge about what it will take, but proof implies that someone is trying to convince someone ELSE of something.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
If you do not have objective standards of proof, what are your standards?
</font>
My standards are my own, just as yours are, I cannot prove anything to you without meeting them. I don't think my standards can be verbalized effectively, but there is a point where I see enough evidence and I have pondered it enough that I form my opinion or belief about something. It is this that I think varies from person to person. Unless I meet your standards of proof, I haven't proven anything.

If the proof is objective, who are you proving it too?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
If we can observe you, you and your behavior become scientific.
</font>
You cannot measure my mind and you cannot know my mind, science can look at behavior and draw some very superficial information about a person, but nothing can measure a persons mind.
 
Old 03-21-2001, 10:08 PM   #9
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dmvprof:

Your words:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I just don't think it is possible to truly believe something and from somebody elses "objective" idea of proof. If you are talking about proving something to yourself, fine, you have intimate knowledge about what it will take, but proof implies that someone is trying to convince someone ELSE of something.</font>
My words: Your are stating an opinion, not necessarily a claim of fact, when you say "I just don't think it is possible to truly believe something ... from somebody elses "objective" idea of proof."

Opinions are usually based upon at least some facts/proof, so what are the facts/proof upon which you base your statement of opinion?

Is it not possible for scientists to objectively prove that airplanes designed to scientific specifications will fly by building and testing/flying those airplanes?

And will that testing be objective regardless of anyone's opinion of it?

That which is objective is independent of our opinion.

I can prove this by asking you to run headfirst at full tilt through the space-time coordinates of the stone walls of Brookings Hall of Washington University of St. Louis and predict that you will not be able to do so. My prediction will be objective simply because Brookings Hall and the abilities of human beings to run through stone walls are objective facts totally independent of my opinions of them.

My words:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If you do not have objective standards of proof, what are your standards?</font>
Your words:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">My standards are my own, just as yours are, I cannot prove anything to you without meeting them. I don't think my standards can be verbalized effectively, but there is a point where I see enough evidence and I have pondered it enough that I form my opinion or belief about something. It is this that I think varies from person to person. Unless I meet your standards of proof, I haven't proven anything.</font>
My words: I asked you for your standards of proof, and you have thus far only told me (A) that you have them, but that (B) you cannot verbalize them effectively.

I sense that you are selling yourself short. I have found that with careful thought most grey/murky ideas that seem impossible to verbalize effectively can be verbalized effectively. I sense that if you ask yourself a lot of questions that you will be able to formulate and effectively verbalize your standards of proof.

You have already mentioned that you perceive some evidence which serves as proof. I would like you to focus upon imagining what those evidences are and see if or not you can make clear those grey/murky ideas. You might come to the same standards as I have, but you might conceive of new/different standards that might help us all.

My standards are not necessarily mine alone, for if they are truly objective, then they serve us all independently of our opinions of them.

If you and I do not have standards of language as well as proof, then we cannot communicate effectively.

THAT would not be good.

My words:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If we can observe you, you and your behavior become scientific.</font>

Your words:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You cannot measure my mind and you cannot know my mind, science can look at behavior and draw some very superficial information about a person, but nothing can measure a persons mind.</font>
My words: Other people, including me, CAN observe you and determine/infer from the people/things/events you approach that you approached them because you had a desire to approach them--a desire for those people/things/events and determine/infer from the people/things/events you avoid that you avoided them (or at least tried to avoid them) because you had a fear of not avoiding them--a fear of those people/things/events.

Why would you approach/avoid certain people/things/events? Because you had desires to approach them and fears of not avoiding them.

Can you yourself not observe a person--observe his behavior/his actions and reactions--and not make a judgment that you understand his motivation in terms of his approach behavior being caused by his desires and his avoidance behavior being caused by his fears?

Legal mindreading issues include inferring motives for criminal behavior directly from observation of a criminal's behavior/his actions and reactions, therefore there is a legal precedent for expecting to be able to "measure a person's mind."

Once we have an operational definition of mind as an individual's personal system of desires/fears/priorities, then understanding human motivation as caused by the individual's desires/fears/priorities is not impossible.

What is proof?

[This message has been edited by Bob K (edited March 21, 2001).]
 
Old 03-22-2001, 10:14 AM   #10
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Bob,
To prove requires 2 people, just as to give requires 2 people. Because you cannot dictate what will convince everyone, you cannot create some objective proof that will suit everyone. As soon as one person says "what if" or "no way" it is useless. People agree on what they beleive because we are similar, but the sincere human belief of something cannot be assumed by some pre-defined proof 100% of the time.

Wonder how many test pilots died even though the mathematics worked out, and the systems all checked out fine. If I built a new plane that was proven fine in computer models, but it ran on solar power, would you fly it first? The proof is in the pudding.

Can you give me an example of some way that an objective proof could be applicable to anything?

Also, about knowing an individuals mind, do you really believe that people are predictable at any meaningful level?

David
 
 

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