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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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David Blomstrom
Political Activist & Student of Mind Control

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David Blomstrom

Political Activist & Student of Mind Control

Seasoned Vet

About David Blomstrom

I'm Seattle's only political activist - and, no, that isn't an arrogant statement; it's just the sad truth.
Sat, Sep 14, 2019 - 05:06 PM

"You can't prove a negative"

It's reported that a politician who's a notable right-winger threatened to nuke another country years ago. However, there isn't enough evidence to substantiate the claim.

One of his supporters says, "You can't prove he said that."

I counter, "You can't prove he did NOT say that. Moreover, he has threatened to nuke other countries. Therefore, this rumor can't be proved or disproved, but I consider it believable."

The supporter then says "You can't prove a negative."

Is this a fallacy or just some kind of obfuscation or diversion? I'm not even sure what a "negative" is.



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2 Answers

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William Harpine, Ph.D.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.


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About William Harpine, Ph.D.

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Print Sat, Sep 14, 2019 - 05:12 PM
Hmm.

It is often possible to prove a negative, although sometimes it's difficult.

But we have the concept of burden of proof. If you say that the guy threatened to nuke someone, it is your job to prove it. This time, I think the fallacy is on you.


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skips777

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skips777


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Print Sun, Sep 15, 2019 - 04:21 AM
Within the English language, it is grammatically correct to use a "double negative", It's called the rule of double negation.

Consider this, is "you cannot do something" provable?
E.g. You cannot jump off the international space station at its current location and land on Pluto.
If "you cannot prove a negative" is true, then you've just proven "you cannot do something"....You cannot prove a negative is itself a negative. The statement is a self-contradiction.
Link to an explanation....
https://departments.bloomu.edu/philosophy/pages/content/hales/articlepdf/proveanegative.pdf


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Registered User Comments

David Blomstrom
Saturday, September 14, 2019 - 05:29:09 PM
@William Harpine, Ph.D.: Good answer. However, this is what I wrote: "Therefore, this rumor can't be proved or disproved." All I'm saying is that it is believable, based on this politician's track record. In other words, I'm not arguing that the rumor is true; rather, I'm arguing that we can probably never know if it's true or not.

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