Negative proof

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A negative proof is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of:

X is true because there is no proof that X is false.

If the only evidence for something's existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God's existence or in pseudosciences where it is used to attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic rather than the proponent of the idea. The burden of proof is on the individual proposing existence, not the one questioning existence.


A common retort to a negative proof is to reference the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn or the Flying Spaghetti Monster as just as valid as the proposed entity of the debate. This is similar to reductio ad absurdum, that taking negative proof as legitimate means can prove practically anything, regardless how absurd.

When proof is presented

One important element to remember in regards to negative proof is that once positive evidence has been presented the burden shifts to the skeptic to refute the evidence presented. One cannot keep arguing from the position of "negative proof" after the presentation of evidence. This point, however, is completely lost on most creationists and intelligent design advocates who shout from the rooftops that there are no transitional fossils long after they've been repeatedly shown them.

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