It’s Simple Inductive Reasoning, Watson part 1

Often, people use the word proof when they mean evidence. To simplify something I said in a comment last week, proof is something that will prove something is true. It doesn’t require anybody knowing it. It will be there. Evidence is everything that points to something being true. It actually doesn’t mean that the thing is true; just that it is the highest likelihood of being true. The example I gave was gravity. There is no proof that it exists, but there is so much evidence for it that you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think it’s real. This is why saying evolution or global warming is “just a theory” is showing your ignorance. Because gravity and most scientific principals, for the reason given above, are “just a theory.” But there was plenty of evidence for the world being flat or the center of the universe. Then there was more, better evidence for the round Earth and non-Earth-centric universe, so now that is what you believe. You have enough evidence to safely say that those theories are true, but don’t forget you don’t have proof, although I would allow that falling around the earth in a shuttle would be proof of the shape.

I would like to clarify that the differences. Between evidence and proof are largely by definition. I am using my own way of describing these definitions and by no means are actually based on any human dictionary. I am simply going by common usage standards. A courtroom would use them differently, such as proof is the strongest evidence there is. That’s just not how I use it. Feel free to disagree; some definitions can be fickle.

While you can pile on the evidence for evolution and global warming and gravity, you only need one proof for certain things, like math. 2+2=4. Done. No evidence gathering needed; that equation is true. Forget that numbers are just concepts or that those are just the Arabic numerals. The definitions (the non-fickle ones) are what are important here. A duet of trees and another duet of tree become a quartet of trees. No mathematical language there, but the meaning is the same. Hence why you can argue going around the world is proof that the world is round. The definition of round is not having corners and we’ve looked at every part of this world from space, whether via spacecraft or satellite, and have not found corners anywhere. Ergo, by non-fickle definition, the world is round. Math is one area of knowledge where proof is easy to find, and you can definitively say you know the truth. In fact, if it isn’t in math, but there is proof, it’s probably because of math (the definition of the shape of the earth is geometric, which, of course, is math). Outside of math, it’s hard to find proof.

Using these definitions, I’ll go into the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning next week. I decided to go easy on everyone and split this one into two or three posts. The third post may be its own post, but still be related to these two.

See you next week.

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~ by lukebringer on September 10, 2012.

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