Phil Plait (the “Bad Astronomer”) deals with a denialist who thinks only a bad scientist would claim there’s no place in science for “proof.”

A few quick points that tie into lecture:

- When logicians and mathematicians speak of a “proof” what they have in mind is a demonstrably valid argument form. Keep in mind that validity is distinct from soundness.

- Typically, when a laypeople speak of “proof” then have in mind a set of evidence that should produce a degree of confidence in the truth of some claim. The question of just
*how much* confidence is warranted by the evidence is the crucial question here, and is one that is left unaddressed by the layperson’s usage.

- If “proof” is supposed to imply
*certainty* in the truth of some conclusion, we will *never* have a “proof” of anything.

- The legal notion of “proof beyond reasonable doubt” is arguably out of place in science.

- Our thinking and speaking about these matters will be clearer if we employ the concept of
*degree of uncertainty* and we assess the risks in light of the uncertainty.

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