No proof of meaning

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[Scene: A university herpetology lab. RANA, a herpetology postdoc, is weighing a frog. An ANANURIST bursts in.]

Ananurist: You are all frauds! Frogs do not exist!

Rana: Here is a frog.

Ananurist: That isn’t really a frog!

Rana: Uh… yes, it really is.

Ananurist: You can’t prove it!

Rana: Looks like a frog to me.

Ananurist: You are deluded. Nothing is a frog, really.

Rana: I think you’ll find that pretty nearly everyone would agree that it is a frog.

Ananurist: More and more people are discovering the truth of ananurism! There is no scientific proof of the existence of frogs!

Rana: I just weighed it. 37 grams of frog.

Ananurist: At best, that proves gravity exists, not frogs.

Rana: So what is this, if it isn’t a frog?

Ananurist: It’s just a bunch of atoms.

Rana: It is an amphibian with no tail, nine or fewer presacral vertebrae, a urostyle, a hyoid plate and unsupported tongue, and a protractor lentis muscle; which makes it a frog.

Ananurist: You can’t prove any of that either.

Rana: So what would persuade you that this is a frog?

Ananurist: Nothing. You would have to derive the existence of frogs by rational deduction from first principles, and you can’t.

Rana: What can you prove the existence of?

Ananurist: Uh… some numbers. Maybe. So long as you don’t try to multiply them.

Rana: Can you prove you exist?

Ananurist: I am not a frog!

[An orderly arrives from the adjacent Philosophy Department.]

Orderly: Professor Nihil, it’s time for your medicine.

Ananurist: I do not exist! You do not exist!

[Orderly injects him with 2mg lorazepam. He calms down almost immediately.]

Orderly: I’m so sorry, Dr. Pipiens, sometimes our charges escape the Department. I hope he didn’t give you too much trouble!

Rana: No… it was … quite interesting, actually.