The Full Wiki

More info on Evidence of absence

Evidence of absence: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Evidence of absence is evidence that shows a claim is unlikely or false. It is often said that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

What qualifies as evidence of absence:

  • Absence of Evidence when Evidence should be present

Example: Scientists set up innumerable experiments to detect if the luminiferous ether exists; results of the experiments show no indication that the luminiferous ether does exist.

This is evidence of absence since if the luminiferous ether really existed, then evidence should have been present in the results of the experiments set up to detect the luminiferous ether.

  • Alternate evidence contradicting a claim

Example: Proof that the Earth revolves around the Sun would be evidence of absence that the Sun revolves around the Earth, and thus would entirely falsify the geocentric theory.

This is evidence of absence since if the alternate claim (the Earth revolves around the Sun) is true, then the claim (the Sun revolves around the Earth) cannot be true.

See also

Further reading

  • Van Inwagen, Peter (2006), "LECTURE 8 THE HIDDENNESS OF GOD", The Problem of Evil: The Gifford Lectures given at the University of St Andrews in 2003, Oxford University Press, p. 173, ISBN 0199245606,   “If the present argument appeals to any general epistemological principle, it is this rather obvious one: If a proposition is such that, if it were true, we should have evidence for its truth, and if we are aware that it has this property, and if we have no evidence for its truth, the fact that we have no evidence for its truth, is (conclusive) evidence for its falsity.”
  • Johnstone, Albert A. (1991), Rationalized Epistemology: Taking Solipsism Seriously, SUNY Press, p. 39, ISBN 079140787X,   “The reason why the everyday view P is not known (at least in as much as it contradicts the skeptical thesis) is not merely that the evidence for P is insufficient to warrant a knowledge claim; it is that the evidence for P is inexistent. In the absence of any such evidence, there is no reason at all to think that P is true. To claim that P is true is consequently to make a purely gratuitous claim.”


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address