Difference between revisions of "Burden of proof"
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Revision as of 14:20, 12 June 2018
The burden of proof is a concept to indicate which side in a discussion has the obligation to provide evidence. It is well established in logic, philosophy, science and law, and whenever there is a discussion between two or more viewpoints. Sometimes it is phrased in Latin as onus probandi, from Latin onus ("burden/task/responsibility") and probandi, the genitive of probandus ("which is to be approved/tested/proved").
On whom lies the burden of proof?
A well known legal maxim is Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat; "the burden of proof lies upon him who affirms, not him who denies". In law, this is the basis for the presumption of innocence. But this maxim can be applied to any type of discussion.
An important distinction that has to be made here is between positive and negative claims. A positive claim is an assertion that something exists. It can be formulated in the past, the present and/or in the future. "Something" can be an object, a (causal) relation, an idea, a feeling, a sequence of events, a contract, a (mental) illness...
A negative claim is an assertion that something does/did/will not exist. There are people who assert that the maxim holds both for positive and negative claims. For example, pseudo skeptics who want to protect their pet theories from scrutiny. To argue this, they hide the fact that every meaningful negative claim is actually a response to an earlier positive claim. (Why else would one feel the need to make such a claim?) More precisely, the negative claim is a challenge to the positive claim, asking for its supporting evidence or challenging the evidence presented. If the negative claim would have the same burden of proof as the preceding positive claim, the maxim would be meaningless or perhaps be only meaningful during the course of a single discussion.
Another argument for the distinction in the burden of proof is that it is much more difficult to prove a negative claim than a positive claim. It is often even impossible, but note that the claim "you can't prove a negative" is an exaggeration.
Usage in Fakeology
When talking about their research, Fakeologists make a distinction between positive claims and negative claims such as "X didn't happen" or "X doesn't exist". Even though they are the ones expressing this claim, the burden of proof lies on the people making the claims they challenge. The Fakeologist only has an obligation to address the evidence that supports the claim he challenges.
For example: "X is a psyop/hoax/staged" is a positive claim. The burden of proof is on the Fakeologist. Note that in neither case, the Fakeologist has the obligation to prove or even know what exactly happened or to explain everything. When his adversary demands this, he is probably using a logical fallacy, like an argument from incredulity, in order to try to shift the burden of proof.
However, even though making a negative claim looks like a safe position, it can be problematic as well. Because even if you can show that the opposing positive claim does not have enough evidence, that does not mean your negative claim is true. It could be a fallacy to conclude your claim is true and the one you are challenging is wrong. You could very likely be making the logical fallacy argument from ignorance.[MSM 1] This is not always the case, but whether this applies could also be a subject for discussion. When you don't address this, people will recognize this. Even if they don't recognize it consciously, they could feel there is something missing and become suspicious of your evidence. This reminds of the quote "follow the man who seeks the truth, run from the man who has found it".
That is why it is important, when trying to convince non-fakeologists, to acknowledge the possibility that the negative claim is wrong, despite overwhelming evidence that the opposing positive claim is wrong. One could back up the negative claim with positive claims for which evidence has been found. Such as "there is not enough evidence to conclude X" or "the evidence is manipulated" or "the source of the information has already been exposed as fraudulent". Not only does this sound more reasonable, this protects your reputation and those associated with you, even if new contrary "evidence" would turn up.
An alternative would be to argue why your argument is not an argument from ignorance.[MSM 1] You have to show why the absence of evidence would be an impossibility if the other claim is true. But that is often very hard.
Usage in psyops
Since it could make the position of all Fakeologists seem less reasonable, it benefits the military to have Fakeologists making claims that are impossible to prove. It would not be so hard to devise a psyop for this:
- Have people come on Fakeologist websites making such claims.
- Have them attack people that make prudent claims or are asking reasonable questions about the strong claims by calling them "gatekeepers", hoping to silence them.
Since even Fakeologists are vulnerable to group pressure, some of them will follow the example that is being set. It would be surprising if the military didn't come up with this idea. The difference with other -exposed- psyops as for example Dallas Goldbug or Flat Earth, would be that these claims talked about here could actually be true.
The 9/11 Vicsim Report is a good example of how to evade the "argument from ignorance" trap by acknowledging it. Its central notion is:
"Nobody knows who died on 9/11 and nobody knows who killed anybody on 9/11 except the true criminals who are any/all persons "remembering" an official conspiracy story of 9/11, or "defending" an official conspiracy story. The public must concede that it knows nothing of what happened on that day except a lie -a dramatic and ridiculous multi-layered lie, composed of many different conspiracy stories being yelled through every media pipeline possible- to cover up the ugliness of the conventional operative measures of a hideous society we absolve due to our unwillingness to stop subsidizing our sensory faculties with simulation."
This does not mean that there is no place for "strong" claims on Fakeologist websites, like "nuclear weapons don't exist". They have probably proven their use in waking up people to psyops or at least getting their attention. Probably because of their directness and simplicity, readability... This article itself is probably full of strong claims. But as the saying in Dutch goes: "A warned man is worth 2".