"absence of evidence..."

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sat Mar 29 14:48:10 UTC 2014

Previously (6/27/2010) I noted:

Subject: [ADS-L] "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"  (antedated to 1895)

The Glacialists' Magazine v. 3 pt. 3 Dec. 1895, "On the Occurrence of Scandinavian Boulders in England" by Thomas Sheppard, p. 132 :

Even if no moraine existed, it does not follow that there was no Ice-sheet: it has been remarked by Mr. Dugald Bell that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

On March 28, 2014 Erroll Morris wrote in NY Times "The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld part 4":

'The phrase "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" has been attributed to Martin Rees, O.M., astronomer royal, former master of Trinity College, and ex-president of the Royal Society.'

I sent comments to this series antedating this phrase and also "unknown known," which he had back to Keats, 1817.

Today I looked for the first "absence" phrase and "Dugald Bell."

The latter is mentioned elsewhere in this journal but

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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