Sunday, March 24, 2013

Proof and Possibility

This post is based on
Four Errors Commonly Made by Professional Debunkers by Grossman.

As I have discussed on my web site, there are several independent forms of very strong evidence that demonstrate consciousness survives death.

However, a materialist may say the evidence does not prove survival of consciousness. Such a statement is trivially true because science does not deal with 100% proof. Only in logic and math do you find 100% proof. Science involves making observations and testing hypotheses from which evidence is accumulated. Additionally, as Karl Popper explained, a scientific theory can never be proved, it can only be falsified.

Furthermore, when the materialist explains why the evidence is not proof, he will suggest an alternative possible explanation of the evidence. This is usually a rhetorical trick based on different meanings of the world "possible". In this situation, "possible" has two meanings, a hypothesis may be logically possible, and a hypothesis may be empirically possible.

A hypothesis that is empirically possible is one for which there is evidence to support it. When the weather forecast predicts the possibility of rain, that is an empirical possibility because it is based on atmospheric data.

However, a hypothesis that is only logically possible does not have to be based on any evidence. For example, the hypothesis that there is a civilization of giant elephants that live underground on mars is a logical possibility. No one has been to Mars to check if there are any underground civilizations there, but no one would take such a hypothesis seriously without any evidence.

The significance of these two types of possibilities is that science only deals with empirical possibilities not logical possibilities. When materialists explain why certain evidence does not prove survival of consciousness after death or the existence of psychic phenomena, they often offer logical possibilities such as fraud, incompetence, or self-delusion. In the case of evidence for survival of consciousness after death, they may offer super-psi as a logically possible alternative explanation. Scientists are under no obligation to refute these or any other logical possibilities.

It is a mistake to acknowledge that such logical possibilities introduce uncertainty about a hypothesis that is supported by empirical evidence. Any scientific hypothesis can be contradicted by a logical possibility. In this case, the burden is on the materialist to provide evidence that their hypothesis is not merely a logical possibility but an empirical possibility.

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