"Any Evidence It's Not True?"

Any Evidence It's Not True?

The classic example is the number of gumballs in a jar. It could be an even or an odd number. If you guess and claim that they are "even", you should not further claim that, you must be correct only because no one has produced evidence that your guess [or assumption] is not true.

That sounds straightforward enough, but it is amazing to me how often intellectuals, journalists, lawyers and scientists skip this most basic principle of "burden of proof". Unless you count or pair all the gumballs in the jar, you can not know for sure if there is an even or an odd number of them, therefore you should "refrain from judgement" until a count. And therein lies the problem; Very often, we feel the urge or the need to make a judgment with only partial information, and find ways to justify our judgement. The burden of proof is always on the party making the claim. Nobody is burdened with proving a negative. And hence, the presumption of innocence.

The great claim of science is that it understands and properly applies "onus probandi". That's not true. There are many real-life examples where scientist claim something is true only because it hasn't been proven untrue. Safety of GMO's come to mind. Or the recent EPA report which found that "the assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread systemic impacts to drinking water resources". That conclusion is at best misleading. The EPA is effectively asking, "is there any evidence it's not true" and contradicting the findings of its own report. Just because there is no "widespread" [an ambiguous term] "impact", that does not mean "it is safe", nor does it mean, fracking will not have serious environmental [not only drinking water] impacts in the future. The actual EPA report is way more nuanced than that redacted conclusion. And sadly, the corporate media has whitewashed any nuance.

An earlier post asked whether human intelligence was a lethal mutation? But I think the ultimate burden of proof question is: Is science a force for good? And, whose burden is it to prove that science a force for good?
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