Intro: I have recently been having a discussion/debate with a chap regarding the political works of a particular professor. I have studied this person's works for more than 20 years and feel as though I know them about as well as one can possible know another's works. The other chap hasn't read a single book by the person, and only a few out of context references from which he jumps to making absurd assertions and conclusions. Below is a basic example of the problem. A refers to the other fellow, while N refers to myself, and X to the professor in question:
A: X thinks that 2+2=11
N: No, X's position is that 2+2=4, and there's nothing in his writings at all which would indicate that he thought 2+2=11.
A: Prove it.
N: I can't prove that somethings not there. (Hence the can't prove a negative.)
A: Then it's likely to be there if you can't prove it.
N: No, it's NOT there, nor has it ever been. And as I have read all of his material, listened to hundreds of hours of lectures, talked to him personally, I can say from an informed position that it's not there.
A: Then you should have no trouble proving it.
N: Okay, the only way I can prove it is for you to read all of the material and see that it's not there as well.
A: I have no intention of reading the material.
N: Then quit making erroneous assertions.
A: I have enough material to demonstrate my thesis until proven otherwise.
N: You're thesis is based on out of context phrases made by other folks who obviously don't know his work either. There is exactly one way for you to know if whether what I say is accurate of not, and that is to read for yourself. And even then, if your interpretations are wrong, and are simply used to fit your precoceived notions it's still wrong.
A: Context is not necessary. Only a rebutal or refutation of assertion made by me.
And then it just becomes circular. He attempts to use Karl Popper to defend his position, but it is my understanding from having read Popper years ago, that he'd support my position. A refers to my approach as inductive and that this doesn't apply to his epistemology, which resembles more of that of a bad psychic in my opinion, who attempts to use Popper as an excuse to maintain his belief system.
Is my insistance that it be necessary for him to actually read all of the material in order to find out that it doesn't exist illogical? Is not this the only way I can prove the "fact" (a term which he always says he doesn't know, but that's another topic) that X doesn't have the position assigned to him by A to make A read the material necessary and find out it's not there? What am I doing incorrectly? Thanks! noodle