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edmartin101's avatar

What are all the different methods to prove something is true?

Asked by edmartin101 (771 points ) April 25th, 2008

Obviously we can’t only rely on the scientific theory to explain everything we believe in or that we have experienced. So there are are various ways to explain different events in the history of the world. For instance we can’t prove scientifically the existence of Alexander The Great, we would prove it, however by historical proof. But what is it needed to prove someone historically, forensically, etc.

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10 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

Errr… science is not there to prove something is true and in fact it cant in the same way forensics and the study of history cant prove something to be true. Only mathematics can prove something to be true.

Let me explain.

You state that there is historical proof that alexander the great exisited. In fact what there is is historical evidence that suggests he existed. It is vital that you apreciate the difference.

youknowconnor's avatar

This can depend on what is trying to be proved. There would be completely different methods used to prove an opinion over a fact. Either way you’re using facts to create evidence but to prove an opinion, facts aren’t completely substantial. Meaning the facts being used can’t completely make you correct. And if they can, then your opinion is now a fact.

For example, if in my opinion football is more fun than baseball than I’d give as many facts as I could to prove it. I’d just using the method of persuasion. But if I’m proving to you that paper burns better than matches than I might use the scientic method. Which would include a completely different process than persuasion. Or to prove that the answer to a factoring question is correct, the foil method would be used.

So ultimately it depends on what you’re trying to prove. But without any specific subject there could be thousands of methods.

nikipedia's avatar

Science doesn’t prove things true. It can only prove things false.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

Why do you think we can’t rely on the scientific method to explain everything we believe or experience? I do and it works out pretty well.

gailcalled's avatar

Well, I can prove that my new cat snuck out and disappeared for 8 hours. I can only suggest how I felt.

kevbo's avatar

Leak “facts” to the New York Times and then repeat those facts on Sunday talk shows ad nauseum citing the New York times as evidence of their truth.

muddyh2o's avatar

only god can tell you what is true. and that’s the truth!

edmartin101's avatar

Again I am referring to prove that somebody in history existed, like Alexander the Great. So let’s forget the scientific method for a while since we can’t repeat this guy’s life again and see for ourselves that he is alive. If we had access to his body, we could study his DNA and make sure that he is the man we are trying to prove is who he is. So we must use some kind of historical proof. My question is “What are the steps to prove someone historically?” Are there other methods we could use that Alexander the Great existed?

youknowconnor's avatar

It may take a historian to answer this question fully.

gorillapaws's avatar

You’re asking an epistemic question. Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge, what it is and what are the acceptable standards by which we will grant the status of truth or “fact.”

Essentially, we can’t “prove” anything exists besides the fact that we ourselves exist as a kind of thinking thing—from Descartes. We can’t even prove that our bodies are real and that we’re not just brains in a vat plugged into a matrix. Because of this limitation, when we say that certain statements are either true or false (this would exclude a priori stuff like logic and mathematics though—although I think technically those too could theoretically be incorrect in the case of the evil genius) we are already admitting a certain degree of uncertainty and reliance on the “faith” that our senses are not deceiving us.

From there, the certainty of truth will get further “watered down” as we progress through the various avenues of historical records and other forms of documentation. Usually, the greater number of diverse, independent and reliable historical references, the greater the likelihood that something is true. Of course this isn’t an absolute rule as this is really only a measure if that fact was widely believed to be true by those keeping the records. For example, if we looked at ancient aztec hieroglyphics from multiple sources that all describe how a solar eclipse was in fact one god eating another, that would not indicate the truth of that statement, but merely that it was a widely held belief by the people recording that belief.

I guess the litmus test for historical facts would involve several elements. First would be the number of diverse, independent and reliable sources that make any given claim. Next we would cross reference that against known science to make sure it doesn’t contradict any scientific facts, and then finally we could examine any remaining historical artifacts that may help in verifying the truth of any particular historical claim. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of the story of how troy was discovered, but it’s a great example of this process.

Hope that helps, but it’s honestly just a quick overview of what a “real” answer would sound like. If you want to delve into the subject more, look into epistemology and you will have more info on this topic than you would ever want to read.

Pachomius's avatar

What are all the different methods to prove something is true?
Asked by edmartin101 April 25th, 2008
Obviously we can’t only rely on the scientific theory to explain everything we believe in or that we have experienced. So there are are various ways to explain different events in the history of the world. For instance we can’t prove scientifically the existence of Alexander The Great, we would prove it, however by historical proof. But what is it needed to prove someone historically, forensically, etc.

————————————

At present I am into the idea that people have got to agree on concepts and rules when they exchange thoughts to come to the actual reality of something existing in the world outside our mind.

So we should all work first to agree on the concepts of what is true, what is method, what is the something being sought to be proven to be true, what is it to prove something to be true, what is existence, etc.

The asker edmartin101 mentions the existence of Alexander the Great, that he cannot be scientifically proven to have existed, but can be by historical proof.

I have never come to anyone human who doubts the existence of Alexander the Great, but if there is someone who insists that Alexander never existed, then we want to prove to him that Alexander really existed, what do everyone here say, should we not first ask him to agree with us on the concept of Alexander the Great, on the concept of what is it to prove something to be existing or to have existed or to be existing in the future, and also the method which is the rules to observe in proving the existence of Alexander?

I have discussed with atheists about the existence of God, and I have noticed that they don’t want to come to agreement on concepts and rules for proving or disproving the existence of God, like for example the very concept of God Whose existence they deny, and they don’t want to come to agree on rules to observe in proving or for them in disproving the existence of God.

At this point I am apprehensive that atheists here will take offense at me, for I am going to say that atheists don’t want to agree on concepts and rules: because they know that if they agree on concepts and rules, then it becomes obvious that God exists according to the agreed on concept of God, and they cannot disagree forever on the concept of God which theists and atheists are in disagreement on in regard to His very existence in the world outside man’s mind.

So, I will now introduce a question about whether atheists will work with Christians to come to concurrence on an agreed on concept of God, and also on the rules to be observed by everyone who is into the God debate.

Pachomius

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