How do you prove that something is not… that it does not exist, or will not happen?
It is not difficult to think of ways to prove that something is: you simply have to show that it is perceptible or cause it to occur. Maybe there is considerable difficulty with actually showing or causing, but once you succeed, you have your proof.
But just because you have never been able to perceive something or induce its occurrence does not mean it does not exist or will not happen. Maybe you did not have enough power to detect, or not enough force to generate. As a contemporary British cosmologist and astrophysicist M.R. states in his maxim, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
So you see, proving that something is not is a very difficult, and possibly impossible, question to solve. I do not believe it has been solved philosophically or scientifically to this date. Then, should we lay people wait and do nothing until the academics have figured it all out?
Well, maybe there are still things we can do without knowing the answer.
Maybe we can evaluate the likelihood that something is not, and estimate the impact of something actually being.
Because if something is highly unlikely to be but will have an enormous impact if it really is, or if it has minimal impact but very likely than not to be, then we need to prepare ourselves just in case it turns out to be.
Next, maybe we should assess our ability to react if something turns out to be.
Maybe we are vulnerable in some ways, or require too much time to react, as is.
Maybe if we know our points of weaknesses, we can reinforce our preparation and repeat practicing to react better and quicker.
But maybe there are too many points to correct.
Then maybe we need to prioritize which ones to act on first and foremost, so we can prepare most effectively and efficiently.
And maybe we must review our estimation, assessment, and prioritization, periodically and whenever situations change, to stay prepared… because “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
The above series of actions is referred to as risk assessment in the practical world. Believe it or not, we do it all the time, although maybe not as systematically or deliberately as written. We do it especially when we hope for the best, or fear for the worst – do you not think about the consequences and plan your future actions accordingly, when sending out applications to schools or for jobs, or when worrying about sudden rainstorm in the evening or nightmares in your sleep and while awake.
Maybe no one can prove that something is not… that it will never exist, or will never happen.
Maybe we can never say never.
But maybe we can strive to always say always – that we aim continuously to always be prepared.
Maybe it is not the best academic answer to the question… nevertheless, maybe it is the best practical solution to the problem.
Who knows, maybe preparation will bring you closer to your hopes and further away from your fears.