BURDEN OF PROOF


Prosecution vs. Defense – prosecution must prove guilt; defense must show that prosecution has failed to prove guilt – defense does not need to prove innocence. Prosecution must show that the defendant did perform the crime, not merely that it is possible that he performed the crime.

Examples:

Social Science

Claim: character and actions are determined wholly by environment

Evidence: statistics on different development in different environments

Objection: statistics are not 100% - there are exceptions

Reply: the exceptions are due to [unnamed] variations in environment

Fallacy: until the differences in the environment are specified and checked, all we have is the possibility that the environment is the cause, not evidence that it really is the cause – the burden of proof has not been met.

If you add DNA it is worse – there are no statistics at all!

Evolution

Claim: gradual development

Evidence – the fossil record

Objection: gaps in the record

Reply: punctuated equilibria, allopatric speciation: change takes place rapidly in a small locale so that the fossils cannot be found

Fallacy: we have no evidence of truth, just the mere possibility of truth – burden of proof has not been met

Holocaust

Claim: all the evidence is either lies, exaggerations, loss of data, incorrect data etc – there were not six million

Fallacy: he is putting the sole burden of proof on us: we have to supply an absolute proof, otherwise he will not believe

Proof of fallacy: Even he would not apply this standard in any other area – does he believe in Black slavery, the revolutionary war, the Magna Carta, men on the moon….?

Diagnosis: it is wrong to accept the total burden of proof – belief should correspond to the balance of evidence – here the overwhelming evidence is in favor – the mere possibility of mistake is of no account

Belief in G-d – do not accept the total burden of proof. It is rationally required to believe the proposition with the most evidence [rough formulation], even if the evidence is not an irrefutable proof.


www.DovidGottlieb.com