Originally posted by somedude
reply to post by AceWombat04
The point was that making a hypothesis based on the fact that a negative has not been proven, while simultaneously not having any evidence in support
of it, is illogical and scientifically moot.
If the hypothesis was that life does
exist in that environment, then I would agree. The hypothesis is that life is at least remotely
however improbable. Without proof that it's absolutely, irrefutably impossible, that isn't an unscientific assertion at all.
Using our current knowledge, we can make an educated guess that life could not exist in such conditions. Saying that it can, simply because it
hasn't been proven that it can't, is just silly.
I agree. Saying that it's possible
that it can isn't, though, in my opinion.
Hardly. It's irrefutable because it preys on the philosophical notion that as a species we rely on a set of imperfect senses to perceive the
universe; as such there may always be things that are unknowable to us and we may never fully understand anything.
While it's an interesting thought to ponder, it has no place in science which relies on empirical evidence.
I must steadfastly but respectfully disagree with you on this point. Skeptical science cannot make assertions without proof. It can only hypothesize
without proof. Science relies on empirical evidence, taken together, verified, vetted, and re-verified or reproduced, to constitute proof. Evidence
and a hypothesis alone is not irrefutable proof, without which there is no fact. Therefore it is not a scientific fact
that life is utterly
in such an environment. It will be a scientific fact when we directly, empirically observe the lack of life on the planet, and not
In fact, I've read several articles in recent years suggesting that life may be capable of developing in far more extreme environments that science
believed was possible until quite recently. Scientists themselves are saying, essentially, "Life could
exist in environments where we always
hypothesized that it was impossible."
You sort of defeat your own point here. As you say, the truth must be based on evidence. Evidence shows that life couldn't exist on such a planet.
You can't logically prove a negative.
Evidence shows that life probably
couldn't exist on such a planet. And you are correct. You can't prove a negative. As such, we can't prove
that something isn't
a possibility until we verify its absence directly. (And yes, even then, we might miss something. That is not an
unscientific statement at all, unless you're suggesting that a scientist would take the stance that they could never be wrong. That would be quite
Again, I am not speaking out against open mindendness. What I'm speaking out against is the "you never know" sort of reply some use as an opposing
argument. If there was any evidence to support it, then by all means. However, I'm afraid logical fallacies don't count.
I don't understand how it's a logical fallacy.
There's evidence of it's improbability in this instance. So we can say that all of the empirical evidence we have thus far tells us that life in
such an environment is improbable. If it told us it was impossible
then we could say that. It doesn't though, because we haven't visited this
We can say that evidence tells us that life is unlikely to be possible on such a planet. Nothing more. That's as far as the evidence takes us. We can
hypothesize beyond that, but we cannot make factual assertions beyond that point in my opinion.
It's possible Earth's core is made of pudding, has anyone gone down there to check?
We can hypothesize much about the Earth's core based on various theories, and empirical data collected through the study of seismology. It wouldn't
be scientific or skeptical to assert the precise
composition down to the most minute detail of the Earth's core, however. Because, as you
pointed out, no one has "gone down there to check."
Think of it this way. When I assert that something is possible, I'm not really asserting anything. I'm saying that something may be, or it may not
be. When one asserts that something is absolutely not
possible, then they are asserting that something is not, and cannot be. They are making
the actual assertion, and therefore the burden of proof lies on their shoulders.
Really, this is just likely to remain a difference of opinion between us. I respect your point of view deeply, but I maintain my opinion that we
cannot (or at least should not) make assertions without absolute, definitive proof.