Replication, not proof of a negative.

Science cannot prove a negative. It’s not possible to prove that something does not exist using real science. This is why science should stay out of religion. You cannot disprove a belief. It simply cannot be done. The scientist and the believer are arguing from entirely different and incompatible worldviews.

There might or might not be a god or gods. Science has no evidence to suggest there is, and no means or method to prove there isn’t. To pure science, it is an entirely irrelevant question unless and until some god or other decides to leave a clue.

Many people believe in a god or gods. Are they wrong? Science has no means to even begin to study belief because ‘belief’ is a concept that does not apply in science. There are many scientists who are devoutly religious but apart from a very few fields of study, the two mindsets are not in conflict at all. In geology, palaeontology, evolutionary biology and a few others, trying to work within a 6000-year constraint would cause a conflict that could blow a talented mind to bits.

In, say, chemistry or biochemistry, no problem. It does not matter how or when the molecules originated. Only their current interactions matter.

In any studiies of what is referred to as the ‘paranormal’, the focus tends to be on trying toi prove it’s not real by replicating the effect in the lab.

Personally, I don’t think Uri Geller’s claimed powers are real. I cannot say for certain that they are not. I just don’t see why only one person out of seven billion would be able to do what he claims to do. But maybe his powers are real. I don’t know.

I can do the ‘ratcheting’ that makes it look like I’m bending a spoon or a key in real time. I can do a pretty good cold reading that can make most peole believe I’m really speaking to their dead relatives. I have no paranormal powers but I can fake some of them. I make no money from it, it’s all just a bit of fun to scare a drone or two.

Because I can fake them, is that proof that nobody can do those things? No, it proves only that I can replicate those things using fakery. Using logic and a bit of mind-bending, I can look as though I have some kind of spooky abilities. It won’t work on you now that I’ve already told you it’s fake but it does work on those who aren’t pre-warned.

This does not prove that all who claim to do these things are fakes.

For the record, I consider anyone who makes a living as a medium as a fake. Logic again. How can they call up the right number of ghosts for the duration of a show and have every ghost relevant to someone in the audience? Never a dud show where no ghosts turn up. Never a show where too many turn up. Never one where the ghosts impart anything really important. It’s a show. It’s not real.

That does not prove that all mediums are fakes. All the TV ones are.

Ghosts cannot be studied in a laboratory. Unless it’s a haunted laboratory and there aren’t many of those. Taking all your equipment (which equipment – what are ghosts made of?) to a haunted location means you have changed the nature of that location, possibly in a way that means the ghost can no longer appear.

We have no idea if ghosts are real. If they are real, we have no idea what they are made of nor what materials we might bring to their location that would affect their ability to appear or communicate. We might bring a device that blocks them and declare ‘No ghost here’ while the ghost screams silently against our inadvertant wall. We just do not know.

When we medicate a schizophrenic so they don’t hear the voices any more… are we curing their imaginary voices or blocking their ability to hear real ghostly ones? Can we really be sure?

Yes, we can replicate ghostly effects. Low-frequency infrasound can do it, among other things. We don’t even need to go as far as holograms. Humans are easily fooled – but does that prove that all such experiences are not real?

It only proves that they can be replicated. It does not prove that all reports are caused by our replication method.

So when I read something telling me that ghosts are all in the imagination because the experience can be replicated by a machine, I have to ask…

… where is the machine in all the other reports?

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30 thoughts on “Replication, not proof of a negative.

  1. There might or might not be a god or gods. Science has no evidence to suggest there is, and no means or method to prove there isn’t. To pure science, it is an entirely irrelevant question unless and until some god or other decides to leave a clue.

    Perhaps the biggest clues to the reality of a Creator lie in science. The amazing complexity in every living cell strongly suggests that life didn’t happen by time, chance and natural processes. Darwin obviously couldn’t have known about DNA, molecular machines, etc. Back then a living cell was considered just a blob of protoplasm.

    Human genetics today provide strong evidence for the three main Biblical population events: Creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. Evolutionists even talk about Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve.

    Creation science has turned many atheists/agnostics into Christians such is the powerful evidence of Creation.

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    • The best clues to the existence of a creator lie in ignorance. That’s why most (all?) primitive societies invented a creator.

      You can cherry-pick bits of science jargon in the hope of finding something useful to you, but you’d be better off just sticking with Belief, if you want to believe. Science will let believers down, because it (eventually) changes when new knowledge is discovered.

      “Creation Science” was a cynical tactic to try to prevent US schools teaching Evolution. It is not Science, because it is not “falsifiable”. It uses only “Policy-based evidence”.

      Religions are harmless until they try to impose their beliefs and values on others with the force of law. Unfortunately, many religions insist that their followers do just that.

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      • On the contrary, Zaphod. You are displaying a remarkable ignorance as well as arrogance. You have no idea. You are the one who just believes. Go and find out about it as you’re making yourself look very silly.

        Humanism is a religion and the most dangerous of all and humanists insist on imposing their beliefs one everyone else, because they tend to be ignorant and arrogant and think they have science on their side when they don’t.

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          • I did. I notice that nobody is prepared to take me up on the science, That is normal for believers in evolutionary theory, because you have no idea about science, you just believe what you’ve been told. It’s your loss, believe me.

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    • Human genetics today provide strong evidence for the three main Biblical population events: Creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel

      Oooh Stewart, you are the man to ask!

      Having studied the Bible, is there a reference anywhere in it to the emerald that is supposed to have fallen from Lucifer’s crown when he fell to earth?

      It sounds to me very much like some sort of race memory or early rationalisation of the green glassy residue of a meteor that fell in what is now the Czech Republic.

      I have researched it myself but got quite lost in a mass of myth and legend, but I found I was not alone in my speculation.

      I bought some moldavite years ago as a curiosity for the kids when it was still cheap – rock from outer space.
      I heard about the legend much later and naturally wondered if the second was a result of the first.

      When polished, you can clearly see the elongated bubbles of gas that formed as it fell.

      My question is, is it really in the Bible?

      I have often thought there might be some kind of truth in legend, but when it finally reaches us, embellished over time, it is more like a game of Chinese Whispers.

      “In 1900, F. E. Suess pointed out that the gravel-size moldavites exhibited curious pittings and wrinkles on the surface, which could not be due to the action of water, but resembled the characteristic markings on many meteorites.

      Boldly attributing the material to a cosmic origin, he regarded moldavites as a special type of meteorite for which he proposed the name of tektite. However, for a long time, it was generally believed to be a variety of obsidian.

      Because of their difficult fusibility, extremely low water content, and its chemical composition, the current overwhelming consensus among earth scientists is that moldavites were formed about 14,700,000 years ago during the impact of a giant meteorite in present-day Nördlinger Ries.

      Splatters of material that was melted by the impact cooled while they were actually airborne and most fell in Bohemia.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moldavite

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      • “Having studied the Bible, is there a reference anywhere in it to the emerald that is supposed to have fallen from Lucifer’s crown when he fell to earth?”

        Sounds like an apocryphal/Jewish legend rendering of the King of Tyre passage in Ezekiel 28…that’s off the top of my head though. There are some interesting stuff about an emerald like mineral throughout ancient Jewish myth though…supposedly (again if I recall my theology studies aright) the Ten Commandments were supposed to have been written on just such ‘stone’ and it was that ’emerald stuff’ that gave the Ark it’s powers.

        But Stewart may well know more.

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        • Thank you for that BD, most helpful.

          It occured to me that the names we use for precious stones now referred to different stones of the same colour in antiquity .
          For instance, what we call lapis lazuli now in ancient times was described as a sapphire.

          I would imagine that Moldavite would be too small to carve the Ten Commandments on.

          “The largest piece of Moldavite was discovered in Slavice and weighed about 260 grams”

          So I wondered about Malachite which does come in huge pieces.

          Turns out that malachite, which is found in association with copper, was mined in Israel.

          Malachite

          “Archeological evidence indicates that the mineral has been mined and smelted at Timna Valley in Israel for over 3,000 years.
          Since then, malachite has been used as both an ornamental stone and as a gemstone.”
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachite

          “Malachite is a copper bearing mineral, with as much as 58% copper content.”

          “Probable Identification: biblical emerald is either malachite or amazonite, a green feldspar.”
          http: //www.biblicalgeology.com/Biblical%20minerals/page%2029%20emerald.htm

          King Solomon’s Mines

          Timna copper mines dated to King Solomon era
          Radiocarbon dating of olive pits shows site was active during 10th century BCE, backing up Biblical account
          Sept 2013

          “After the unearthing of an Egyptian temple from the 13th century BCE in 1969, most archaeologists believed that the site had been built and was operated by the ancient Egyptians.
          Before that find, the area was called “King Solomon’s Mines,” as a result of digs by archaeologist Nelson Glueck who found pottery shards from the 10th century BCE and said the copper mines were active during the time of the ancient Israelite kingdom.

          Now the latest finds in the area suggest the mines were worked by Edomites, a semi-nomadic tribal confederation that according to the Bible warred constantly with Israel, though it’s not clear who employed them.

          “The mines are definitely from the period of King Solomon,” Ben-Yosef said in a statement. “
          http://www.timesofisrael.com/timna-copper-mines-dated-to-king-solomon-era/

          So, I expect we are talking about three entirely different stones all called at different times by the same name.

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          • “So, I expect we are talking about three entirely different stones all called at different times by the same name”

            That sentence could run through the entire bible like a stick of rock. Part of the reason why biblical accounts of historical events get such a bad press is simply due to ‘us’ not actually knowing WTF the original scribe meant. Infact as some of the accounts go back to that period of Prehistory known by Scientists as ‘just after we came down from the trees’ it is often the case that the original scribe , who transcribed the oral traditions ,sometimes 2000 years before Christ , had no clue either as what the original recounter actually fucking meant. Bits of the Book of Job for example go back so far that the original recounters probably picked ticks out of their fur while talking and waved a banana for dramatic effect between the ‘uggs’.

            Add in the fact that, mainly thanks to Xians who have a hang for Book Burning-always have, we have little in the way of comparative documents from the periods in question and the confusion is strong.

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            • Feel better now, Mr Dwarf? If the books of the Bible had been written by semi-literates they wouldn’t be so wonderful. They contain complicated literary devices you probably haven’t heard of. You’re like Zaphod – you pick up some ‘vibe’ and it becomes ‘truth’ to you.

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              • Nonetheless, many of the books were passed down by oral retelling for a very long time before they were written. I don’t know for certain but I’m willing to bet that if the Hebrews had written literature while in Egypt, Pharaoh would have shown his displeasure with the standard response of the time.

                So the ones doing the writing were not the original witnesses.

                That does not mean they were changed. The Bards used to remember long stories by setting them to music and roam the land like singing newscasters.

                So they might be the original stories. The possibility of them being misheard, misinterpreted or changed cannot be ruled out – but that might only explain the uncertain interpretations of some of them.

                The overall story would be the same. The details might not be perfect.

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                  • That is logical. If the Hebrews dared not write their stories while in Egypt, then they would only be written after Moses led them out and Moses had the best (Pharaohnic) education of them all. He would be the best choice of scribe.

                    However it still begs the question – did he hear it all aright? Did it change before he wrote it? Did anything get missed out?

                    This matters massively when you have the 6000-years calculation which hinges on what Moses wrote down.

                    And could there possibly have been a forgotten part of Genesis? That would be on the one hand a total killer and on the other hand the part that could unite science and religion. If there is a forgotten part it has the potential to resolve the differences in the arguments.

                    One line, ‘Adam counted his age from when he left Eden’ would have changed everything.

                    That is all it would take.

                    Food for thought.

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                    • We could postulate about missing bits, especially missing books in most Bibles, e.g. the Apocrypha.

                      I take it as read that Adam’s age (930) was counted from expulsion from Eden since there would presumably have been no ageing before. 930 was about the average age before the Flood.

                      Science will unite with scripture when science catches up to it. That has already happened to those who have accepted Creation science e.g. the wealth of evidence for a global flood and that it better fits the evidence than many millions of years of gradual change. It explains the huge amount of fossils in sedimentary rock, especially the creatures whose state of preservation shows that they had been buried very quickly. The Flood is also a good explanation for where all the water came from for the Ice Age.

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                    • I have the Apocrypha. Interesting but really they add nothing to the Bible.

                      As I’ve said before, if Adam’s age only strarted counting after he was thrown out of Eden, he could have been in there for millions of years. The rest of the planet could have spawned all sorts of creatures in that time. The most likely scenario for the end of the dinosaurs is a meteor strike, but as the fictional Romulus Crowe once said ‘Yes, but who threw it?’

                      Was it a cleansing in preparation for Adam’s departure?

                      Just thinking aloud and tipsy 😉

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                    • But Adam named all the animals, so I assume they were all in Eden with him, including the dinosaurs and all animals were vegetarian then.

                      The end of the dinosaurs puzzles me. Some Creationists believe that the numerous stories of dragons from around the world are actually about dinosaurs and some of the explanations do sound like actual ones. In this case, they must have been on the ark (young dinosaurs would obviously have been taken aboard before their growth spurt as ‘teenagers’).

                      What happened to them? Hunted to extinction by brave warriors? You really wouldn’t want those things around. Perhaps they couldn’t readily adapt to life after the Flood. I dunno.

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              • ” They contain complicated literary devices you probably haven’t heard of.”
                You might be mistaken on that point and nowhere did I say that the books of the bible had been written by semi-literates (surely a dichotomy in terms?). Infact it is, for example, those very literary devices you speak of that give scholars some of their greatest insights-like ‘J’ being a non-male which may be deduced from ‘her’ poetry, humour and word play- according to people who know about it than I do.

                No idea what you mean ‘picking up on a vibe’ but I will take the comparison to Zaphod as a compliment.

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          • “I can do the ‘ratcheting’ that makes it look like I’m bending a spoon or a key in real time”

            Do not try and bend the spoon, Leggy. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth: There is no spoon!
            Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

            Hmmm do I smell freshly baked cookies…?

            Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks like the usual situation.
    Scientists muck about with something interesting.
    Then the “Communications” people talk it up into something that the MSM will report.
    The MSM regurgitate the press release without reading, understanding, or questioning it.
    The reader repeats a mangled version to friends the next day.
    Human knowledge is “advanced”, and everyone is happy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I experienced this in my early science years, using a rumen-simulator called a ‘RUSITEC’.

      The suits told the press it was an artificial cow and I had a day in the local news – baffled that anyone thought four perspex vessels in a tank of water resembled a cow.

      My mother probably still has the press clipping.

      Trying to explain something to a reporter with a pre-set agenda is utterly futile. In the end I fitted the machine with paper horns and plastic udders and let them get on with it.

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    • I remember that one with Geller given a load of stuff and felt ‘too weak’. There was another where he was handed a box full of all sorts of kitchen implements and asked to choose one. He failed there too.

      It would have impressed me no end if he’d said to the presenter ‘You choose one’. But he didn’t.

      As for Peter Popoff, he was seriously harmful with his fake cures. People who really believe their cancer is cured will either not bother going back to the doctor, or will be in for a hell of a nasty shock if they do.

      Geller, at least, didn’t actually harm anyone.

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    • They don’t have to be all D-amino acids to be alien. There are three choices in protein construction – use L only, use D only, or use both. Since using both would need some damn serious specifity in enzymes and carry a huge risk of making lots of useless proteins, there are really only two sensible choices.

      So whether alien life uses D or L amino acids is 50/50.

      Their claim that ‘they made a crater in the gel so they must be from outer space’ is nonsense. The effect of the impact depends how fast the things were going. It says nothing about where they came from.

      I would have reported that result as ‘microbes found in the stratosphere’ and left speculation about how they got there for another time.

      If they are raining down on us from space, how come the ones they found are unlike anything found on Earth? What they found looks very much, at this stage, like a previously unknown set of bugs that actually live in the stratosphere.

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  3. I watched the Great Randi documentary a few days ago. Great to see Uri Geller being exposed as a magician. The science part showed up how keen the scientists were to get away from the scientific principles. Maybe they were climate scientists?

    The trouble is climate science has brought real science into disrepute leaving scientists in a difficult position. The continuing lies, threats and bluster of some taint them all. Then there’s the great BBC con. Almost every night they have a scientific breakthrough article. We don’t seem to hear much about it actually happening, just it will happen at some point in the future.

    Great that the MET got a new computer. They’ll be able to be more accurate apparently, just like Mystic Meg although she’s much better then the MET.

    There’s a lot of rent seeking out there. It’s probably the biggest industry we have in the UK!

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  4. To my mind the best way of hunting down a god or gods is to use some very simple tools, namely statistics. People pray to gods, in the hope that these gods will alter circumstances in specific, requested ways. Therefore, if praying to a god works, then the circumstances around people who pray will differ statistically from those who do not pray.

    This is therefore easily testable, and had been tested.

    If you get a congregation to pray for the health of a sick person, then nothing happens unless said poor unfortunate is told that the congregation is praying for them. If the person thinks that they are being prayed for, then there is a boost, one which falls within the range and variance seen for Placebo Effects.

    If on the other hand the sick person is prayed for, but not told of this prayer, then nothing statistically significant happens.

    Simple experiments like this clearly confine the effects of prayer to the known placebo range. We can therefore say with some certainty that acts of gods have not been seen in the present. This does not exclude the past, but as all records of actions of gods in the historical record are suspect do to a lack of controls, this is very telling.

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