I've read so many debates where people have thrown this FSM concept up just to make a point. Well, having thought about it, I think it's evident that in all probability FSM doesn't exist.

Of course, I cannot conclusively prove that FSM doesn’t exist. That’s of course impossible. However, I will attempt to show that it’s much more likely that the FSM doesn’t exist than it is that it does exist.

The idea came to me while arguing about a specific issue of evidence in another thread. In fact, it arose out of a suggestion that an opponent made (credit to him/her).

Assumptions:

1. That it is agreed, on a basic level, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

This is another way of putting the good old rule against appealing to ignorance. Most of us here agree with this rule in some form or another. Essentially what it means (so far as my reading of so many threads at ODN goes) is that if we consider the truth of a proposition for which there is no evidence and against which there is no evidence, we are forced to accept that the likelihood that the proposition is true is the same as the likelihood that the proposition is not true (subject to the caveat below).

I often argue that there are exceptions to this rule. For example, where the situation is such that if the proposition were true, we’d EXPECT to see some evidence of it then it is permissible to claim absence if all evidence is lacking. I only say this for the record as this is unlikely to arise in this case as we are going to discuss a concept for which no evidence would ever be expected (FSM).

The one caveat I need to make at this point is that I will be arguing that the above rule, while applicable on a basic level, doesn’t (and can’t) have equal implications in every set of circumstances. The effect that a proposition is as likely as its opposite can only be true when applied to "Simple propositions” (to be contrasted, of course with “Compound propositions”). More on this later.

2. For the purposes of the argument, let’s define FSM as an omnipotent undetectable entity who has two eyes and a noodly appendage. What this means is that these will be the defining characteristics of the FSM. He may have other characteristics and traits too. But without all these, he’s not FSM.

Argument:

1. Firstly, let us introduce the concept of a non-evidenced-proposition. I will call it NEP. An NEP is any proposition for which there is no evidence and against which there is no evidence. An example of an NEP is “Pink elephants exist” or “FSM exists” or “there is life on Pluto”.

2. Let us now consider a simple NEP and how it relates to the rule against appeal to ignorance. Let’s consider “Pink elephants exist”. There’s no evidence that they do and none that they don’t. The rule against appeal to ignorance prohibits us from saying “it’s therefore more likely that they don’t exist than it is that they do exist”. Quite simply, there’s no evidence either way. We therefore have to accept that their existence is just as likely as not. It’s true that no one has ever seen a pink elephant. But they might just live in some remote corner of the Sahara. Or maybe they don’t even live on planet Earth. If we’re prepared to agree that they’re just as likely to exist as not to exist then the evidentiary probability of the existence of pink elephants has to be 50%.

3. The above is an example of what I would call a Simple NEP. It’s “simple” because it only makes one non-evidenced claim; that pink elephants exist. We already know that elephants exist. The only question is whether any of them are pink.

4. Now, if we were to combine the above proposition with another non-evidenced-proposition, we would end up with what I’d call a Compound NEP. For example, to say that Pink Elephants exist AND they ride bicycles is a compound NEP. It consists of two non-evidenced propositions.

5. Taking the above statistical assignment into account, the probability of this Compound NEP must be 50%*50%. This is because we have two separate claims; each of which has no evidence for it and none against it. In calculations of probability, when calculating the probability of two independent events combined (“A AND B”), we multiply their values by each other. Therefore, the probability of two Simple NEPs being true must be 50%*50%=25%.

6. What follows is that it’s not the case that EVERY NEP has the probability of 50%. This only applies to Simple NEPs. As soon as we try to combine two or more NEPs, the probability has to decrease. This of course HAS to be the case. Otherwise, the probability of pink elephants existing would be the same as the probability of pink elephants existing AND riding bicycles. To go further, the probability of pink elephants existing would be the same as the probability of pink elephants riding bicycles and playing soccer and preferring Guns n Roses to Mozart and frequently engaging in lesbian sex.

7. Now applying this to the flying spaghetti monster, we have to look at the defining characteristics of the FSM. These are: undetectable entity, omnipotent, having two eyes and having a noodly appendage. The probability of the first NEP (that an undetectable entity exists) is 50%. But not all of such entities would have to be omnipotent. There’s no evidence that any of them are. That’s why this is our second NEP. Therefore the probability of there existing an undetectable entity who is omnipotent must be 25%. But there’s no evidence that omnipotent undetectable entities have two eyes (or that they don’t). Hence, the probability that this one does is must also be 50%. This, combined, results in 12.5%. And finally, our last NEP to add to the equation (so that we can end up with all the defining characteristics of FSM) is that it has to have a noodly appendage. There’s no evidence that omnipotent undetectable entities who have two eyes also have noodly appendages (or that they don’t). Therefore, we have to multiply the 12.5% by 50%. We end up with 6.25%. And that’s our probability that FSM exists.

Since the probability of FSM existing is as low as 6.25%, I can confidently say that in all likelihood there’s no such thing as the FSM.

Of course, if this argument is accepted then it has to extend not only to FSM but to any Compound NEP.

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