BAR 25:02, Mar/Apr 1999
First Person: Weighing the Evidence
Or lack thereof
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This aphorism is often chanted by those who challenge a conclusion based on the absence of evidence.
Lets get right down to cases. In our July/August 1998 issue (see Its Not There: Archaeology Proves a Negative, BAR 24:04), Margreet Steiner argues that there was no city of Jerusalem at the time King David supposedly conquered it. One of her bases for this conclusion is the absence of evidence. As she put it, Negative evidence is sometimes just that: evidence that there was no settlement.