Note on Evidence

‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’, is false. Any claim requires exactly one thing: sufficient evidence. The problem is that people would rather be impressed by something extraordinary than convinced by something sufficient. Sufficient evidence may be dull, ordinary, commonplace, not very impressive, but if it’s sufficient, then that’s all that is needed. Of course, evidence may be spectacular, jaw-dropping, amazing – but these factors have nothing to do with the sufficiency qua sufficiency . The problem, as I said, is that people conflate and confuse being convinced with being impressed, and take the latter to be the former. This is sloppy thinking.


3 thoughts on “Note on Evidence

  1. hessianwithteeth June 9, 2014 / 7:47 pm

    I think you’re misunderstanding the claim. It’s not saying that you need more than sufficient evidence. It’s saying that the more unlikely your claim is the more evidence is required to be sufficient. If you don’t supply more evidence, then you will not have sufficient evidence and there will be no reason to accept your claim.


    • whitefrozen June 9, 2014 / 8:13 pm

      I understand the claim quite well, and what you’re saying is different from what it’s saying – though it’s just as false. A single fact may be sufficient for the most unlikely claim in the world. Claims of this kind are on par with ‘you can’t prove a negative’ – they simply collapse under any kind of scrutiny.


      • hessianwithteeth June 10, 2014 / 12:51 am

        A fact isn’t evidence. Facts are things that are already supported by enough evidence to be taken as self evident.


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