Essay:What has not been proven is not always disproven

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Essay.svg This essay is an original work by Arthropleura.
It does not necessarily reflect the views expressed in RationalWiki's Mission Statement, but we welcome discussion of a broad range of ideas.
Unless otherwise stated, this is original content, released under CC-BY-SA 3.0 or any later version. See RationalWiki:Copyrights.
Feel free to make comments on the talk page, which will probably be far more interesting, and might reflect a broader range of RationalWiki editors' thoughts.

What has not been proven is not necessarily disproven. Something most certainly cane be proven or disproven, but lack of evidence does not translate into something not being true. A lot of this basically follows Occam's Razor (guaranteed to shave off half of the psuedoscience on your chin!).


When something is proven, it is showed to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. If something is proven, then in the world of science, you factor it into your equations.

Things that have been proven:

  • evolution
  • gravity
  • black holes
  • light
  • stars
  • myself
  • yourself, hopefully (unless I'm a solipsist)


A case in point: evolution, through numerous experiments, is true beyond a reasonable doubt. There is always the extremely unlikely possibility that something was influencing the experiment, but we can say with a fair amount of certainty that it is true.

Not proven[edit]

Something that is not proven has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Examples are provided below.

Gaining acceptance[edit]

I do not know of any ideas that are currently gaining acceptance, but I have reason to believe that white holes could be used as an example. White holes are the inverse of black holes. Instead of sucking in matter, they shoot out energy.

Things that are gaining acceptance:

  • white holes
  • oscillating universe

Without evidence for either side[edit]

A good example of this would be the existence of a striped anolis lizard. There is no evidence for such a creature, but no particular reason that one couldn't exist.

In addition, if there is a phenomenon, but one cannot explain it, then it usually falls under here. Out of body experiences, from what I have heard, as a case in point (I will remove it if this is not true). While we can say with a fair amount of certainty that someone does not travel outside their body, people do feel this way, and there must be a scientific explanation. If you don't have an explanation, 'I don't know' is a perfectly acceptable answer.

Examples of unexplained occurrences:

  • out of body experiences
  • 'talking to god' (delusions usually, but some cannot be explained so easily)
  • UFOs (ditto)

One does not factor such ideas into an equation, unless it is one of very few solutions.


A case in point of something discredited would be telekinesis. While I am not aware of any law of nature which flat out saws it cannot exist, it theoretically could be prohibited. Likewise, it could be an essential law in physics.

One rarely should factor a discredited idea into their equations. If, however, an equation gives credit to such an idea, it should be factored in.

Discredited ideas:

  • 2012 apocalypse (actually, a nuclear end of world could very well happen on such a date)
  • PJR


Something is said to be disproven when we are sure beyond reasonable doubt that it is not true. An example of this would be creation 'science.' Creation 'science' has never managed to cite a piece of evidence that both A) matters and B) stands up to close scrutiny. As such, it should be ignored unless there is not a more likely solution.

Disproven ideas:

  • ether theory
  • astrology
  • creation 'science'
  • assfly