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# If facts by themselves never prove or disprove anything, what else is involved in the proof of a statement?

8 replies to this topic

### #1 khambiye Posted Jun 07, 2010 - 19:40

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### #2 sweetnsimple786 Posted Jun 08, 2010 - 04:51

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Is this a straight up question that you're asking?

I don't know if I understand it.

"facts never prove or disprove anything by themselves" --> Do I agree?
hmm I'm not a TOK whiz, but let me try to break this down.

Proving a statement by using logic would often mean that you're using syllogisms. A syllogism consists of two premises and one conclusion, if that means anything to you.
I don't know if you literally mean "prove" like a logical or mathematical proof or if you mean "prove" more like "how do you know?"
If it's the first, then you'd set up a logical argument. Something like If A then B, if not A then not B, etc. This can't always be done.
If it's the second, then you can say that knowledge is true, justified belief. If you believe in the statement, have good supporting evidence, and little-no contrary evidence, then you you've got a good statement, if you can't know the Truth. You can use deduction or induction, but this isn't proving, once again.

Are you asking how you know a statement is true? As in, are you asking one of the biggest TOK questions? You look at different ways of gaining knowledge, examine the sources, examine your own beliefs and biases, look at what's practical, and finally realize that maybe you can't know, but you can get close enough to make a leap of faith.

That's my confusing, long-winded approach to your question.
Next time, please provide details, even if you think the title says it all. =)

### #3 Tilia Posted Jun 08, 2010 - 08:49

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Well, you can only prove things in logic and maths, and I don't think that "fact" is the word used for mathematical statements. Aren't they called lemmas of axioms or something else? So in that sense, fact can't prove stuff, because nothing can be proved apart from maths.

If you rather mean give evidence for something, I'd say that context is very important. If I just get random numbers, such as 76, 75, 74, 76, 77 etc this doesn't give evidence for anything. BUt if I'm told that these are the results from an experiment measuring the boiling point of ethanol, these numbers give evidence for the boiling point being approximately 76 degress celsius.

### #4 khambiye Posted Jun 08, 2010 - 09:34

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thank you for your hasty reply i am in real need of help i was looking on the simmilar lines of thought as you with regards to questioning your beliefs i have already analyzed how we obtain proof from facts and how sometimes a theory is related to a fact and sometims when a theory and the fact is the same thing (one of my fallacys) as to why we need external proof. i am on the verge of touching into belief and the justification of belief with regards to something we have no facts to back up with...

however i will appreciate it much if you would be kind enought o offer some insight into the topic as i seem to be a little lost.

Ohh bdw this is my TOK oral presentation (final) for this year) and im doing it in a few days...gosh am i stressed.

### #5 Tilia Posted Jun 08, 2010 - 11:04

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thank you for your hasty reply i am in real need of help i was looking on the simmilar lines of thought as you with regards to questioning your beliefs i have already analyzed how we obtain proof from facts and how sometimes a theory is related to a fact and sometims when a theory and the fact is the same thing (one of my fallacys) as to why we need external proof.

We cannot prove anything except maths, remember that you cannot use that word in any other area.

Explain a bit more what you're doing. Give examples, it'll make it easier to follow your line of argument. When is a theory and fact the same thing? Can't think right now of any example. Do you have any real life situation you are connecting this to?

### #6 khambiye Posted Jun 08, 2010 - 18:18

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Ok firstly sorry about the lack of punctuation, i was actually typing with one hand in an english class whilst trying to analyze house of the spirirts, but thats another story.

Ok so my title is "If facts by themselves never prove or disprove anything, what else is involved in the proof of a statement?" however after much considerable thought i belive that my question is really asking for how we use our ways of knowing to propogate facts in order to obtain knowledge, this would mean that if we have a bunch of facts they would literally mean nothing to but for example if we use reasoning and in particular inductive and deductive reasoning then we could process these facts and hence have a proof of a statement one such example that i intend to use is dopplers equation in physics its a simple equation yet is quite inductive in nature, thos would clearly show that even if we have all the facts laid out infront of us they would mean nothing unless we used a way of knowing to process the infromation supplied to us by facts. (beleif) and (justified belief)
Secondly i also talk about the hinderance our ways of knowing, can i be justifiable to say that facts are objective in nature, it is how we process them using our ways of knowing that alter the proof of a statement, yes a fact may never prove or disprove anything yet what if a fact is clearly the pathway to proof yet our hinderance especially in sense perception causes us to miss or skip a statement that might be proven true, "something we cannot see is a hard observation to believe" I shall then play a video from TED TALKS entitled "TEDTalks : Andrea Ghez: The hunt for a supermassive black hole - Andrea Ghez (2009)" (watch it its a good one) in a a nutshell she talks about finding a supermassive blackhole that cannot be virtually seen or detected but is merely theoretical yet how is something we cannot see be a tangible fact, how would we reason out a belief we doubt?
from this point on i shall argue the difference between belief and justified beliefwhoch would sort of be a powerful end to all the main aspects i have captured in the presentation.

### #7 Tilia Posted Jun 09, 2010 - 08:41

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I'm not an expert of ToK (even though I did wuite well), but this sounds fairly OK. However, we were told to start off with a real life situation and then find a knowledge issue from that. For instance, we talked about nutrition advice in newspaper and whether one could trust them and then we arrived at the knowledge issues about positive results and groups and individuals. So is the black whole thing your real life example or don't we really need one?

### #8 Daedalus Posted Jun 09, 2010 - 11:37

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This probably won't help you at all, but I thought it was pretty funny:

Dihydrogen Monoxide:
• is called "hydroxyl acid", the substance is the major component of acid rain.
• contributes to the "greenhouse effect".
• may cause severe burns.
• is fatal if inhaled.
• contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
• accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
• may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
• has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.
Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
• as an industrial solvent and coolant.
• in nuclear power plants.
• in the production of Styrofoam.
• as a fire retardant.
• in many forms of cruel animal research.
• in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
• as an additive in certain "junk-foods" and other food products.

After being given this information, 43 out of 50 survey respondents said they would support the banning of this dangerous chemical, which incidentally is also a drug widely used for improving sports performance. Dihydrogen monoxide is water.

### #9 khambiye Posted Jun 09, 2010 - 18:46

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Yes, Tilia i hope this presentation is good enough to get close to a B atleast. (fingers crossed) however the black hole thing is kinda like my real life example however i am finding it very difficult to find one. i am plannig to use the Hooke's law experiment to illustrate the cognitive use of facts alone cannot tell us anything (prove or disprove nothing) yet we must use our reasoning skills (WOK's) inductive reasoning to prove a statement, i plan to use this as my real life example as it really happned to me whilst writing this lab report. As mentioned before i shall also talk about emotion and belief and justified belief. However a friend of mine gave me the idea of involving ethics, because when something is proved to be true it depends on who is proving it the rest all depends on questioning empirical knowledge of things that have already been proven.

But on the plus side i have written about 500 words and i think i will have enough time to finish by monday, hopefully.

Aron: interesting facts, i could probably use them in my presentation, what do you think of my presentation? any useful hints?

any positive criticism is welcome!