An argument that appears to be scientific is said to be "not even wrong" if it cannot be falsified (i.e., tested with the possibility of being rejected) by experiment or cannot be used to make predictions about the natural world. The phrase was coined by theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who was known for his colorful objections to incorrect or sloppy thinking.[1] Rudolf Peierls writes that "a friend showed Pauli the paper of a young physicist which he suspected was not of great value but on which he wanted Pauli's views. Pauli remarked sadly, 'It is not even wrong.' "[2]

"Not even wrong" has also been used by Peter Woit to mean proposed scientific theories that are well-meaning and based on current scientific knowledge, but can neither be used for prediction nor falsified. He has applied the phrase to aspects of the super string theory of physics on the grounds that, although mathematically elegant, it does not currently provide predictions or tests.[3]

I distrust Karl Rove as much as anyone after studying his history of using vile tactics in Alabama but I need to see a scintilla of evidence before I will support the conspiracy theory that he would have stolen the election but for hacking by Anonymous. Because the person claiming to be from Anonymous provided no evidence to support his claim that a hack by Anonymous stopped Rove from stealing the election in Ohio, there is no way to prove or disprove the claim. For example, we can't disprove that Rove didn't secretly do x, y, or z with the Romney campaign's software even though it is technically illegal. We can't prove he did. We are just making stuff up because there's no evidence. Claims that Rove attempted to do x, based on no evidence are meaningless. They are noise. They are not even wrong.

Argumentation over "not even wrong" claims frequently involves a logical fallacy called a negative proof.

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.

Markos has banned conspiracy theories like this one attributed to Anonymous because noise degrades this site. Don't post stuff that is not even wrong.

Jesus Fucking Christ (8+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
GreyHawk, jennifree2bme, Bob Johnson, Crazy Moderate, begone, cap76, emelyn, Diggs
Rove had nothing to do with Orca. This is idiotic. As is this stupid claim that Anonymous stopped anything.

I swear to fucking god, the "Rove was going to steal the election" bullshit is patently ridiculous. And, in fact, it's CT.

So warning here, where people might or might not see it -- I will wield the ban-hammer ruthlessly against anyone who further spreads this shit.

by kos on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 01:24:16 AM EST

[ Reply to this ]  Recommend  Hide

Originally posted to FishOutofWater on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 06:15 AM PST.

Also republished by Science Matters.

Your Email has been sent.