Burden of Proof

Burden of Proof 150 150 Ben Coker

Burden of Proof

A long time ago when I was at school a common retort between the pupils to any statement, fact or otherwise, was “prove it!”

No idea where this came from, but it illustrates one of the key ‘problems’ we have today.

Scepticism, disbelief, reluctance to take on board any new idea or even new information without some sort of ‘proof’, whether that be ‘scientific proof’ or evidential proof.

It’s hardly surprising with so much ‘information’ flying around on the internet and in the media.

It’s only reasonable to ‘fact check’ whatever we see and hear.

But here’s the thing,

What are ‘facts’ and what is ‘proof’, and do we really need them?

There is much reluctance to take on board methods and techniques in all fields that ‘work’, that do the job, when it isn’t known how they work, when no-one has been able to explain the ‘theory’ behind them.

This has been going on a long, long time – but –

‘In the beginning’ people stated to invent things like fire and wheels, like farming and cooking, without the need to ‘explain’ or ‘prove’ how or why they performed the function required.

But people did start questioning and, surprising though it might seem, came up with the ‘right’ answer.

It was the gods, or the heavens that made or allowed these things to happen – it was all part of how the Universe works.

And it is, because everything is an expression of universal energy, you and I, fire, wheels, cooking, farming and everything else that happens – growth, healing, creative thought, invention and so on.

But human curiosity was not satisfied with that.

We lost faith and couldn’t accept the idea that we didn’t really need to know how or why, we had to know, to understand the intricacies of ‘everything’ and so ‘science’ was invented.

In a rudimentary way at first, with crude experiments and hypotheses that were often quite absurd, the flat earth, the sun revolving around the earth, turning lead into gold, and so on.

But now many people don’t seem to understand what ‘science’ is or what ‘scientists’ do.

Science is simply an experimental method of finding something out.

In science you create a ‘hypothesis’ which is essentially a ‘what if?’ question and the you devise experiments to test it and according to the results of these you modify or discard the hypothesis.

There are two reasons for doing science. One is to find how something works, and the other is to find a way of making something work.

In the latter case Edison conducted thousands of experiments before he came up with a working incandescent electric light, but this quest was initiated by the hypothesis that it could be done.

Developmental science always starts there – ‘we think we might be able to do this, let’s use science to find out’ – and it may take several different hypotheses to get to the right ‘idea’.

Once something has been made to ‘work’ it’s then handed over to the engineers to put it into practice or production.

The science used in discovery – how does this work? – is more like reverse engineering, taking something apart to see how it works.

Trouble is that it’s often impossible, once you’ve done that, to put it back together again. Many plants that have healing properties have been taken apart to see how they work but then ‘put back together again’ as pharmaceuticals that don’t really work as well or have side effects that the original plants don’t have.

And very often, especially in this sector, the scientists have not been able to discover how many highly effective healing techniques really do work.

And this is where we have a problem – the burden of proof.

When we were in the so called ‘primitive’ era we would have said ‘hey that really works, lets use it!’ but now things are different.

Most people will not go near anything that has been shown to be highly beneficial to any aspect of their lives if they don’t know ‘how it works’.

If it’s not been ‘scientifically proven’, or if it can’t be artificially replicated or provided in a ‘convenient’ form.

Whilst artificial remedies that have been scientifically created are made available on a regular basis, natural remedies are not, and people are even warned against them even though they have been evidentially proven to work for centuries.

This is just an example. It seems that in all aspects of life people are really reluctant to do anything new unless it has been ‘proven’.

Unless they know how it works – or at least someone they trust knows how it works.

Unless they have ‘evidence’ that it ‘works’ and so on.

The trouble is that in many areas there is so much conflicting evidence coming from ‘too much information’ much of which is out of date – what was believed to be true at one time has since been disproved but the ‘old truth’ is still out there.

It’s no surprise that people are confused, and confusion leads to inaction.

Not knowing also increases perceived risk and together with uncertainty and confusion this leads to a dead stop and loss of any benefit that could have been achieved.

This begs the question – who carries the burden of proof?

If you have or do something that really works and is really beneficial to people is it up to you to ‘prove’ it – other than providing evidence, case studies and testimonials?

Is it up to you to get into the nitty gritty of how or why it works?

Or is it up to the potential beneficiaries – those who will benefit from what you have or do?

Is it up to them to inspect what you have on offer, to deflect distractions from others and to make a decision for themselves based on the evidence without any ‘science – the ‘what’ nit the ‘how’ or the ‘why’?

It’s a choice both must make because while there is a need for proof both sides carry the burden to seek and provide the proof – but without the need for ‘proof’ there is no burden.

You have faith in what you have or do – seek out those who have faith in you.