Monday, May 15, 2006

How Would YOU "Prove the Negative?"

Can you prove the "negative of something?"

Place yourself in the following scenario:

Someone who is a minority at your work accuses you of using racial slurrs towards her. No one besides this person heard you say it. She is the only one who heard it. You are dragged before your boss who believes the allegation and is visibly irritated with you. You plead with your boss stating that you made no such remark. With his glasses at the end of his nose, he looks up at you from his desk and says, "Prove it."

How do you prove the negative of something? You can appeal to your spotless record for the past fifteen years, your charitable giving to minority non-profit organizations. You can bring people in that know you explicitly to testify to your character and yet, you still wouldn't have proof. Who's to say that in a moment of irritation in a room by yourself, you would never resort to one racial slurr, the first one in your life? All human beings are weak and fall; even the best of them. Here's what's stacked up against you: 1) You are assumed guilty; 2) You are human and therefore a potential racist; 3) You have failed to account for every second while alone with this person; 4) therefore you are guilty (notice the circle?). As a result, your boss suspends you from work without pay and requires you to take sensitivity training at your expense, which will be deducted from your paycheck. Is this fair and just? I'd think not.

Proving the negative shifts the burden of proof from the person making the charge to the one receiving it. It also creates circular reasoning which is no proof. In other words, it is impossible to "prove the negative."

In the criminal justice system, this fallacy is to be roundly condemned since the assumption of guilt is almost impossible to disprove; any allegation could be brought against the accused with certain condemnation. Also, just punishment is the exception only to be assessed against a positive act committed beyhond the shadow of a doubt. Third, proof is a demonstration of the existence of something; you cannot demonstrate something with nothing. It's totally absurd. The absence of evidence of something is nothing more than the absence of that something.

Subsequently, this method will never protect the innocent where the evidence is the word of the accuser and the accused. Justice is best insured when an assumption of innocence is first granted to the accused. If the accuser can logically demonstrate enough positive evidence of the criminal act, then whatever punishment is just. Punishing those who cannot "prove the negative" almost guarantees injustice. How many death penalty cases have been decided by this method?

In the court of public opinion, this unjust rule applies. Why? Because slick rhetoricians and their lackies try to sway public opinion by placing on politicians and public figures an impossible task of "proving the negative." Each one of you are the judge and you haven't the capacity to see through their tactics. Take the following examples:

1. Ted Kennedy stated that Robert Borke's America will revert back to the days of back-alley abortions and deaths to pregnant women who cannot get proper prenatal healthcare. This was the assumption by Kennedy; Robert Borke couldn't defend it. How do you prove the negative of something that hasn't occurred yet? Kennedy won in public opinion and Borke suffered a travesty of justice.

2. Senator Joe Biden tried to push Clarence Thomas during Supreme Court hearings to try to prove that he didn't put a pubic hair on Anita Hill's can of Coke or invite her to see "Long Dong Silver." Thomas of course couldn't produce the proof because he'd be in a position to "prove the negative of something," which is impossible. This didn't stop Biden, who "saw" Thomas' refusal to "prove the negative" as an obstruction. The one who truly had the burden of proof was Anita Hill, who could only give her word, which is no proof. Another travesty of justice.

3. Currently, this is happening in the court of public opinion with President Bush. When we got into Iraq, we found no WMD stockpiles. What did leftists assert? Bush lied. It's obvious, right? If not, the burden of proof rested on Bush to prove that he was not lying, which is impossible. There was NO evidence that he DID lie. With this slick sophistry, the American people were lead by the nose to believe this impossible expectation and the assumption of guilt prevailed, even to this day.

This is why I defend Bush. Not because he's "my hero." It's because a huge injustice occurs every day in the media and blogworld who continuously use this fallacy. However, this is not just a liberal tactic. Both sides of the aisle commit the same injustice. Remember the movement to nail Clinton on "these mysterious murders" or the "Mena Connection?" Nothing was accomplished (thank God!) for it assumed the guilt of Clinton, whereby he was left to prove the negative. This is wrong, no matter what political brand you bear.


At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

Nothing here to disagree with. The strategy of accuse and demand proof of inocence is what strikes fear in the hearts of many administrators and supervisors throughout our country. Accusations of sexual harassment, rascism, etc. are many times leaving people left in the position of having a compromised employment and future. What a shame.

At 12:38 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Yes, I agree with you. It is a, for a lack of a better term, diabolical. If people do not see the fallacy for what it is, it puts many good people in jeopardy.

That is why we must hold onto our emotions and try to see news and information with our logic spectacles on, otherwise we fall prey to the machinations of sophists and those who abuse power. This is a dangerous age.

At 8:15 AM, Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

The problem, UL, is that when information is reported that backs up the fact that the Bush administration knew there were no WMDs in Iraq but continued to push that threat to justify invading Iraq, you dismiss the information as "biased."

CNN) -- A retired CIA official has accused the Bush administration of ignoring intelligence indicating that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no active nuclear program before the United States-led coalition invaded it, CBS News said Sunday.

Tyler Drumheller, the former highest-ranking CIA officer in Europe, told "60 Minutes" that the administration "chose to ignore" good intelligence, the network said in a posting on its Web site.

Drumheller said that, before the U.S.-led attack on Iraq in 2003, the White House "ignored crucial information" from Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, that indicated Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

Drumheller said that, when then-CIA Director George Tenet told President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other high-ranking officials that Sabri was providing information, his comments were met with excitement that proved short-lived.

"[The source] told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction programs," Drumheller is quoted as saying. "The [White House] group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested. And we said 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.' "

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

In an effort to build the case for war, then-National Security Adviser Rice repeatedly asserted that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapon, and specifically seeking uranium in Africa.

In July of 2003, after these claims were disproved, Rice said: ''Now if there were doubts about the underlying intelligence . . . those doubts were not communicated to the president, the vice president, or to me."

Rice's own deputy, Stephen Hadley, later admitted that the CIA had sent her a memo eight months earlier warning against the use of this claim.

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I think you'd jump off a cliff if Bush asked you to follow.

You have been trained well foot soldier.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...


No, THE problem (if you're into finding the ONE thing) is not that I say information that doesn't support what I say is biased. Nice try.

What I am saying is that when people with an axe to grind assume a priori that Bush lied (who can forget the political rants), and then round up information that tries to substantiate it, fails to live up to true induction.

This presumption of Bush's guilt in lying to the American people cannot be disproved by proving the negative. It's a rhetorical trick that many have bought into since it fits their political leanings. As to the proof you mention against the claim of Iraq seeking uranium in 2003 is Joe Wilson's testimony. Is that the case? If so, you cannot be serious to use that with me. The venerable Joe Wilson?

You also seem to ignore that the intel was conflicted; Saddam DID have WMD's or was developing them. To me, what it boils down to is a rush to judgment to go with the intel that supported WMD's, to go to war, and justifying it with the need for regime change. I think the doctrine is flawed. Think of the Chinese using the Bush doctrine to remove what they consider to be evil regimes.

Let's gets something straight. No doubt they haven't found WMD's in Iraq. It doesn't necessarily meann that:

1. Bush lied.
2. Clinton lied.
3. Members of both Democrats and Republicans prior to 9/11 lied.
4. Saddam never had them.

What it does mean is that either the intel was soft and unconfirmed and Saddam never had them, or Saddam had them and got rid of them but didn't bother to validate it to the U.N. (which I find to be suicidal thinking). The fact that the left (yourself included) continues on this rant against Bush tells me it's pure politics. The left got the low approval numbers they wanted and there's no let up. Logically, I place no credibility in this.

I will say that the reasons for going into Iraq, though understandable, do NOT fit into a just war scenario. Of course we are looking at this in hindsight. Even still, to go into Iraq for regime change is overstepping the bounds of the purpose of war. I think if the Bush administration would have slowed down and verified the intel and followed the lead of the Pope, we wouldn't be in this situation.

We are in it, and we damn well better end it justly.

Now, back to the point of the blog, can you, Shaw, disprove the negative?

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I think you'd jump off a cliff if Bush asked you to follow.

The orginal post said that UL defends Bush not becasue he's his hero but because of that whole "proving a negative" that UL so diligently tried to explain to his readers.
Now you-- UL-- will demonstrate the ideology behind your post and prove to DHG why you wouldn't jump off a cliff if Bush asked you too.
Go ahead UL...
I have confidence that Christ will enter into the equation somewhere in your defense.

Anyways, as to the actual meaning of your post, well done.
It is so easy to accuse people of whatever it is you want them to be guilty of.
It is much harder to actually do the research behind the accustaion and make it impossible to deny.
People are to lazy to carry weight with an accusation in favor of immediate results which is usually damaging the other person's character.
By the time the person being accused pulls themselves up by the bootstraps and proves the accuser to be wrong--it's old news and nobody cares.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Sadie Lou:

Thanks for the line. I am certain that if Bush did ask me to jump off a cliff, I wouldn't unless there were morally compelling reasons to do so. If not, I wouldn't. However, how do I prove the negative of what hasn't happened yet? Good insight, Sadie!

I have a couple of questions for you:

1. You're a grown man with a sense of pride. Do you actually think it matters to me what you think of me?

2. Don't you tire of having your comments being used as examples as how NOT to think or act?

I mean, it's fine that you come on and do what you do, but I feel sorry for you. Next time, stick to the subject at hand.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I actually think that I lost interest in you a long time ago after your political beliefs were consistantly exposed as flawed and your thinking so biased that it was like discussion matters with a stone.

I wish Shaw well but eventually you will be left alone, shouting into a gale.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Snerf, sniff!

Man, that cuts deep!

I've failed...failed...failed! Oh, the pain! Oh, the humiliation! Oh, the distress!!! And now, the stark LONELINESS! I can't get Daniel Hoffman-Gill to agree with me!!! He has rejected me as a human being!!!

WaaaaHaaaaaaaaa! snerf, sniff (blow my nose).

All better.


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