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Do not deny that which you cannot prove

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I don’t have a St. Vital topic on hand today, so I want to deliver a very shortened rant about people who deny.

There are many strange things that go on in the world that can’t be said to exist for sure — UFOs, telepathy, sasquatches, the Loch Ness monster, Manipogo.

People experience them, often many people at once over an extended period of time. Yet none of these things seem to be capturable, reproducible or even sequential. Sasquatches will appear in one location and be seen by many people, then disappear completely, only to show up somewhere else at a later date with no sightings in between. Thus it is with these phenomena.

No wonder, then, that there is a solid group of people — the skeptics — who deny even the possibility of such things existing. The general, quite correct argument, is that unless a repeatable example is available the phenomenon can’t be said to exist. But the skeptics go several steps further—- they assert that such things do not exist and that any supposed examples are the result of mistaken observation, coincidence, or fraud.

Now that is a great and far-reaching generalization, and is not only an insult to people who have seen something they don’t understand but which is also scientifically unsupportable.

Challenged on their basic tenet, skeptics will tell you that it can’t be proved that something does not exist. But they will also insist that they are right. While it’s true that there are axioms which can’t be proved but which must be correct, it seems to me that anyone who makes a statement about facts has to be able to mount some sort of support, or else he or she is just expressing a prejudiced preconception. And there is in fact a way that the discussion can be based upon demonstrable facts.

That is: simply change the wording from does not to cannot.

Then one can examine the conditions that must be in place to allow for a phenomenon.

For instance, I know that there are no fish on the sun— because what we know of the conditions  there makes it impossible for fish to exist.

So, examining the case for, say, telepathy, we can look into how the mind is attached to the brain, how thoughts are generated and understood, and— you get the idea.

Sooner or later the truth can be arrived at in such a way as to convince everyone. This idea really should be taken into consideration more often, because there may be vast fields of knowledge waiting to be discovered in this fashion.

(Please note I am not taking a stand on any such phenomena. I have my own ideas but here I’m just considering the manner of thinking about them).

Peter Lacey is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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