UFO Conjecture(s)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Burden of Proof (explained)

Description of Burden of Proof

Burden of Proof is a fallacy in which the burden of proof is placed on the wrong side. Another version occurs when a lack of evidence for side A is taken to be evidence for side B in cases in which the burden of proof actually rests on side B. A common name for this is an Appeal to Ignorance. This sort of reasoning typically has the following form:
1.      Claim X is presented by side A and the burden of proof actually rests on side B.
2.      Side B claims that X is false because there is no proof for X.
In many situations, one side has the burden of proof resting on it. This side is obligated to provide evidence for its position. The claim of the other side, the one that does not bear the burden of proof, is assumed to be true unless proven otherwise. The difficulty in such cases is determining which side, if any, the burden of proof rests on. In many cases, settling this issue can be a matter of significant debate. In some cases the burden of proof is set by the situation. For example, in American law a person is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty (hence the burden of proof is on the prosecution). As another example, in debate the burden of proof is placed on the affirmative team. As a final example, in most cases the burden of proof rests on those who claim something exists (such as Bigfoot, psychic powers, universals, and sense data).

Examples of Burden of Proof

1.      Bill: "I think that we should invest more money in expanding the interstate system."
Jill: "I think that would be a bad idea, considering the state of the treasury."
Bill: "How can anyone be against highway improvements?"
  1. Bill: "I think that some people have psychic powers."
    Jill: "What is your proof?"
    Bill: "No one has been able to prove that people do not have psychic powers."
  2. "You cannot prove that God does not exist, so He does."


  • Peter Gersten's argument in trying to bring the Cash-Landrum case to court:

    "Based on the presence of the UFO and military-type helicopters and our inability to determine their nature and origin due to national security restraints, the burden of proof is now shifted to the government to prove that it is not responsible for the resulting injuries to my clients."

    It didn't fly.

    By Blogger Curt Collins, at Friday, July 25, 2014  

  • The Cash-landrum case is more a 'cause and effect' than a 'burden of proof'.

    The protagonists can equally claim that the injuries were caused by the government in some way but the defence lawyers will claim these injuries were caused by something else, either before or after the given event.

    In both sides it is a case of 'could be' and a probability will have to be assigned. But what if the probabilities as estimated by the prosecution and defence lawyers differ considerably (as they inevitably will)?

    In the case of ET intelligent life, everyone has their own ideas on this. But the burden of proof will be, because of the overwhelming scientific view, always on the ETHers to prove their case, since no such ET life is known to science as yet.

    No amount of verbal testimony will change this. Only hard evidence that scientists can examine, and even then it will have to be good, very good. One example is meteorites. The burden of proof was on those who claim to have seen these strange rocks fall from the sky. Eventually they won.

    But it certainly does NOT follow that the sequel will be similar with UFOs.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, July 25, 2014  

  • Rich,

    So are you saying that "proponents" of an idea have "the burden of proof" for such ideas as the "psycho-social hypothesis"?

    Or that Venus is what the witness saw?

    Or that UFOs must come from "outer space"?

    Or that most of the UFO reports are actually sightings of "secret weapon systems" and the government is actively responsible for a disinformation for the sightings?

    Or that Roswell is being suppressed by the Government / Nordics / Reptilians / Great Space Brotherhood for nefarious purposes?

    Suffice to say most of the proponents of the above have proved to themselves that what they already believe is true... and believe their "proof" is sufficient to prove their case.

    Were we to eliminate all of the obvious misidentifications and frauds, there are still going to be residual observations / events / sites which do not fall within the explicable. What are these events? Are they genuine?

    I'm sure that the skeptics will say they are explicable. As an example a skeptic's claim that an experienced pilot [and later designer of the SR71] could mistake a mundane object for an unknown one.

    Where does the burden of proof lay for someone saying they observed something and making no claim as to what it was other than "unknown"?

    Or that an "unknown" observed is actually mundane without a shadow of a doubt?

    By Blogger Joel Crook, at Friday, July 25, 2014  

  • Don't becloud the topic, Joel, with ratiocination.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, July 25, 2014  

  • LOL. I thought using reason was the point in regards to the subject at hand.

    By Blogger Joel Crook, at Friday, July 25, 2014  

  • > Where does the burden of proof lay for someone saying they observed something and making no claim as to what it was other than "unknown"?

    That's not the complete scenario. In ufology, outsiders make use of such neutral reports to argue for a particular theory. Those making the argument are making a claim, and so bear the burden of proof.

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Friday, July 25, 2014  

  • That mere failure to identify is somehow significant is the media-manufactured "UFO" myth. Anyone can fail to identify an ambiguous visual stimulus. There are innumerable, insubstantial and utterly inconsequential "UFO" reports but not one true "UFO" has been discovered of course because the idea "UFO" is a myth.

    When a credulous believer in the myth advocates for some extraordinary reality of any kind--the "UFO" phenomenon--he fallaciously assumes the answer and so an impossible burden of proof. Scientific realist loathe worthless claims and the human waste, preferring a more rational world free of such false beliefs.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, July 26, 2014  

  • The Psychosocial hypothesis explains the history of the "UFO" myth and social delusion--why people make "UFO" reports. It's based on the Null hypothesis: the real-world fact that over a century of reports amounts to absolutely nothing, zero.

    For each and every supposedly extraordinary "UFO" report, there is a much more likely, if not completely ordinary, real-world explanation. The catalogue of these reports, each having been deconstructed and dismissed, is described by the Null hypothesis: everything remains exactly as it has always been, there just aren't any real "UFOs." A myth doesn't require real "UFOs." The history of the "UFO" myth and popular delusion that provided the background, the motifs and cultural context, for those reports is described by the Psychosocial hypothesis.

    Armed with the Null and PSH, scientific realists have satisfied any burden. The only burden of proof--an impossible one--lies with those who still believe--against all reason and reality, because they are the hapless victims of a social delusion--that reports are expressions of one or more undiscovered phenomenena.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, July 26, 2014  

  • Rich,

    Where does the burden of proof for Mr. Chomsky's "beliefs" lie? Or his version of reality? Is he obligated to show his work or is his varicose verbiage of Newtonian Clockwork Reality verbal "hand waving" concerning the nature of "fundamental reality" sufficient to prove his thesis?

    It seems to me [but I have been accused of ratiocination so maybe I'm wrong] that Mr. Chomsky is making his version of reality up as he goes along.


    By Blogger Joel Crook, at Saturday, July 26, 2014  

  • Zoam Chomsky is a character, not a fictional character, just a character, in the slang sense.

    He brings spice to this venue, not sustenance, just spice.

    He's obtuse and confused.

    But we like him, without taking his views seriously.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, July 26, 2014  

  • Zoamchomsky may be disproved by the discovery of actual UFO hardware, as I indicated above regarding meteorites. Meteorites got accepted by science, eventually. But as I also said, it does not follow that UFOs will have a similar sequel.

    Time will tell, but I for one am satisfied ufology's future will not be a happy one for the ET brigade.

    By Blogger cda, at Sunday, July 27, 2014  

  • I read about a sighting (Japan Airlines flight 1628) by pilots and their passengers who saw something unexplained, corroborated by radar data & the FAA (John Callahan). With that much proof - many feel this claim of having seen something strange and unexplained is valid. Now the burden of proof shifts to those who say it is all hogwash, malarkey - debunkers must prove that the data showed and what the witnesses saw is some average occurrence. Everyday our airlines depend on the FAA and flight controllers for safety - yet if they see and record something unusual - it's considered a hallucination or equipment malfunction (and please don't tell me that the passengers and pilots hallucinated precisely at the time there was an equipment malfunction). And please do not use the word "alien" - many folks interested in the unexplained are not believers in alien invaders. They do fervently get lumped into that category automatically if a "UFO" is mentioned. All the acronym means to me is unidentified - that's all. So yes if I say angels exist - I have to prove it - but if I say I saw something - and a number of people and scientific data backs me up - then guess what - unless you prove otherwise - I saw something unusual. Most likely a military or experimental aircraft.

    By Blogger Neil, at Monday, March 21, 2016  

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