If a question says

Is there (such a thing) in (place name)?

there are two possible answers: yes or no.

If the answer is yes, then some critical or distrustful users will ask (legitimately) for evidence or a proof. This can usually provided under various forms, and is easy enough to verify as an answer.

However, if the answer is no, how shall it be proved? This is a fundamental and philosophical question.

Hence, what would be the acceptable standards to prove non-existence? Do we need a citation of a site that says it doesn't exist (eg a site saying no penguins in the arctic is easy enough)? Related to this, one might wonder if one should not forbid questions which can potentially lead to such answer?

3 Answers 3


I had asked other similar questions before:

So I can't say there's no way to answer such questions because in the past some people here have come up with ways to find the answers that seemed unanswerable.

Some such questions nobody knows if the answer is yes or no, it's fine if the question stays with no answer until the one person who really does know comes along and answers it.

Other questions people feel the know the answer is definitely no. Well if so how do you know definitely? I remember for questions digging through sites in Italian via Google Translate and lists of museums trying to answer questions here of this kind before. I'm too lazy myself to write or email a culture minister or something like that, but other people have gone to those lengths before.

I'm not telling anybody to jump through hoops to get answers. But I am willing to accept and upvote and add joyous comments when people do.


We certainly can't forbid the questions, as the person asking the questions doesn't know.

Eg: the polar bear question, the user appears not to have any idea that they didn't even exist there. It was answerable and provable.

Other ones, like asking about where to see Sasquatch, for example - sure there's arguably no such thing, but some people believe it exists, and it's easy enough to answer (forests, Pacific North-West, and so on).

However, questions like:

are decidedly harder to answer, which I assume is what you're referring to. How can we know decisively if there are no teachers in Pakistan. Or a musuem? I'd argue that if such a museum doesn't appear after 30 min on google, it probably doesn't exist - Google's pretty good at finding tourist attractions in most countries - it'd get mentioned on blogs, for sure. However that's not a guarantee, it could be new, or weirdly named, or just an exhibit in another museum.

So ... err...to answer your question ... I can't fully. I'm not sure. We can't forbid them, but we can encourage the OPs to provide as much information as they can (I had no idea what Burushaski was, for example) and hopefully we'll get either a local with knowledge of the subject (eg a museum curator from South Korea answering would probably be definitive enough on the museum question!) to answer it.

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    The other thing is that even for an answerable yes/no question (like the two in your bullet lest), the answer can change (in either direction) with time.
    – Benjol
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 14:49

I think that non-existence cannot be proved.

If a location/feature/site does not exist, the absence of an answer is a hint. And we should accept that. And we should not try to push the users to post an answer just for the sake of answering. We should accept that there are questions to which there is no definite answer or no answer at all. That's life!

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