Logical & Critical Thinking

with Professor Logic

Negative Proof Fallacy

negative-proof-fallacy-burden-of-proofThe negative proof fallacy is where one assumes something is true if it cannot be proven false. It can also happen when one assumes that something is false if it cannot be proven true.

An infinite amount of silly statements might be declared and be completely unprovable, hence we cannot assume validity in the face of unprovability. This is what is known as burden of proof.

Negative Proof Fallacy Example

Ambiguous Negative Proof Fallacy

Argument: “X is true and you can’t prove that X is false, therefore it’s true”

Reality: X might be false and simply because one cannot prove a thing false does not mean it is true.

Specific Negative Proof Fallacy Example

Person 1: “How do you justify your belief in god?”

Person 2: “Can you prove me wrong?”

Person 1: “I don’t have to prove you wrong, you are the one with the claim”

Person 2: “Your just making that rule up, you have to prove me wrong!”

Person 1: “No, for you see living with this type of ideology is ignorant and stupid, anyone making a positive claim or assertion has the burden to prove the claim. Otherwise, any and every idiot claim and false statement would have to be disproven in order to even live a somewhat normal existence. Allow me to demonstrate ‘there is a purple dragon behind the moon that created the earth…now prove me wrong’. It would be sheer lunacy and outright madness to expect you to have to prove me wrong, but it is logical to have to have me back up my claim”

Person 2: “B-b-b-but…”

Person 1: “There there now, let’s go get some iced cream”

Negative Proof Fallacy Logic Structure

A is true and it is true till proven otherwise

Negative Proof Fallacy Helpful Links



5 Responses to Negative Proof Fallacy

  1. Anthony says:

    Wouldn’t the inverse of this example be just as effective:

    God doesn’t exist. Prove he does and I will believe you!

    • Anyone says:

      Yes. But that’s not what most non-believers claim. When this question is approached about a specific entity, one for its nature claims are made, it can be asserted if that entity is impossible to exist if the characteristics presented are impossible(being mutually contradictory for example).
      But when the question is adressed generically if gods exist, what I claim is not that they can’t ever exist but that people CAN’T affirm that they actually exist. Because there is no evidence for such allegation.

      This is the crux.

      • Jared Dembrun says:

        This is why I claim that you must admit that God may exist. If you say that He doesn’t, you’ve shifted the burden of proof onto yourself. Along with this claim, however, I surrender any right or validity in arguing that you must do something simply because God says you must, or that you must not do something simply because God says you must not. Although, I still believe in God based on personal experiences.

        • Andy Robinson says:

          It doesn’t work that way, Jared. A person denying your claim that God exists does _not_ shift the burden of proof–otherwise we could never argue anything.

          The inverse of this would be: I claim God does _not_ exist, and the when you respond he _does_, the burden of proof shifts to you.

          Endless loop!

          PS – This is a specious argument, anyway. Faith cannot be proved or disproved rationally. I believe in God, and feel no need to prove He exists.

  2. ervinscat says:

    I found this poster on the FB page “Rational Hub” It is the “Ten Commandments of Logic”. Thought you might like it.