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The Need for Proof


Explanations > Needs > The Need for Proof

Need | Example | Related to | Discussion |  So what?




When people provide us with information, we may well be unsure whether what we are told is true or not. We hence seek not only evidence but also reasoning that will give us sufficient cause to conclude that the original information is true.

The need for proof can be seen in questioning, with challenges such as 'How do you know?' or 'Why would that happen?' Proof can be simply more evidence. It may also be a careful causal reasoning, with reference to established truths.


An interviewer keeps asking the interviewee 'Can you give me an example of when you did that?'

A parent asks a child where they were last night. When the child says they were at a friend's house, the parent phones the friend's parents to check up.

Related to




As children grow, they discover that what they are told is not necessarily true. They hence learn to seek more information to be able to determine for themselves the veracity of what is being said. Truth, we find, is not always obvious. Proof confirms something as true. A sound proof confirms it as true beyond question.

When we receive information, one of the first questions we ask ourselves is how likely what we are being told is true. A part of this is an assessment of the other person and their motives, including the possibility that they may lie. The more likely this seems, the more we will seek proof that any assertion is true.

People with scientific training or otherwise understand the importance of proof (for example working in the legal profession) will be more likely to seek a strong proof. For others, quoting a few facts and figures may be sufficient. It is the belief that sufficient proof has been offered that is often important, rather than a full scientific or legal proof.

So what?

When you want to convince others who may challenge you, have a sufficient proof ready. For many people, this need not be very detailed. In fact the calm with which you face the challenge and the confidence with which you offer your 'proof' may be more important than the substance of what you say.

See also

The Need to Explain, Lying

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