Proving a Negative

The fact that it’s impossible to prove a negative never seems to stop people from asking me to try.

“Why didn’t you pay invoice number 21561?”

“Um, you never sent us an invoice.”

“Yes we did, now you have to pay late fees.”

“If I’d received an invoice, I’m pretty sure our accountant would have noticed.”

“Sir, can you prove that you didn’t receive the invoice?”

This is where the conversation usually ends, because bill collectors have roughly the same sense of humor as a shark with a headache. It wouldn’t make them laugh if I were to respond by saying “As a matter of fact, I CAN prove that we didn’t receive the invoice, because I am an android and thus flawlessly accurate and programmed not to lie. Now, allow me to download my database to your computer so you can see that we never received it.”

Imagine if our criminal justice system worked this way…

And frankly, I’m asked to do this all the time. It’s like most people aren’t aware of the universal truth that you can’t prove that something doesn’t exist. You can only hope to prove that something DOES exist. That’s why atheists are so annoying. They claim there is not God, but by pure logical laws, they can’t prove it. Yet they always say something like “if God did exist, there would be evidence.”


You can’t prove that there isn’t a God. I can point you to lots of evidence of a higher power, but you can’t prove there isn’t a God.

And isn’t it ironic that the very being that invented the rules of logic cannot be rationalized out of existence!? 🙂

So my new approach when a bill collector tries to collect on something they never billed for is to say “We sent the check 3 weeks ago. Why didn’t you cash it?” And when they say they never received it, I say “Prove it!” After all, they could just be maliciously refusing to cash the check so they can harass me!

And, by the way, if you ARE a bill collector or an IRS agent, let me just give you a piece of advice. Why don’t you get a legitimate job, you jerk?! Geez.

It can also happen at work. “Why didn’t you finish this project yet?” “Because you didn’t tell me about the project.” “Yes I did.” It comes down to who has the better memory, which sadly is never me. I have a terrible memory. The extent of my ability to remember is in strings of numbers. I can remember fairly long strings of numbers for about 2 minutes. After that, it’s gone.

And before you leave, I want you to provide solid evidence that you DIDN’T read this entry.

  3 comments for “Proving a Negative

  1. livieloo
    March 23, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I definitely laughed out loud. I’m going to use the “I sent you the check three weeks ago” line next time this happens to me.

  2. March 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    at long last we get a post that does not leave me feeling like I need a drink. Thanks, Incredipeter!

  3. March 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    What entry?

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