[Ads-l] Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 6 18:35:19 UTC 2021


I had a colleague in the '80s who disagreed.  He said that ordinary proof
was sufficient, if it was really proof and not just "evidence."

The difference is that "proof," definition, "compels acceptance by the
mind" (M-W), while "evidence" (unmodified) is merely an "indication" or a

In court, however, opening arguments tendentiously refer to the evidence as
"the proof."

Do we know if early exx. refer specifically to legal contexts?


On Mon, Dec 6, 2021 at 11:53 AM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>

> The saying in the subject line was discussed on this list back in
> August 2015. Now, I've posted a Quote Investigator article.
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2021/12/05/extraordinary/
> [Begin acknowledgement excerpt]
> Great thanks to Hugh Henry and Massimo Fuggetta whose inquiries led QI
> to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Additional
> thanks to researchers Daniel Loxton, Bill Mullins, Peter Morris, and
> Fred R. Shapiro. Loxton located several of the citations presented
> above as did Mullins, Morris, and Shapiro. Also, thanks to mailing
> list discussants Stephen Goranson, Jonathan Lighter, and Wilson Gray.
> [End acknowledgement excerpt]
> Here is the overview.
> 1708: These matters being very extraordinary, will require a very
> extraordinary proof (Benjamin Bayly)
> 1738: As it is a matter of an extraordinary kind, it is but reasonable
> in us to require extraordinary evidence for it
> 1740: Every man has a right to demand extraordinary evidence for any
> extraordinary fact (Arthur Ashley Sykes)
> 1741: Assertions so contrary to fact … require some extraordinary
> proof to gain our credit and assent (John Straight)
> 1800: Miracles being very unusual and extraordinary facts, they
> require very strong evidence to support them (Beilby Porteus)
> 1804: I ought to have extraordinary evidence, to induce me to believe
> extraordinary things (Elihu Palmer)
> 1810: Plus un fait est extraordinaire, plus il a besoin d’être appuyé
> de fortes preuves (Pierre-Simon Laplace)
> 1810: The more extraordinary a fact, the more it needs to be supported
> by strong proofs (Translation of Pierre-Simon Laplace)
> 1824: Extraordinary claims can rest only on extraordinary proofs
> (William Craig Brownlee)
> 1826: For extraordinary facts, we should have extraordinary evidence
> 1852: Extraordinary claims should be backed by extraordinary proof
> 1854: An extraordinary, an unnatural event, demands extraordinary
> evidence (F. B. Barton)
> 1871: Extraordinary evidence is needed to establish extraordinary
> facts (William Denton)
> 1895: Extraordinary claims always call for extraordinary proof (Ely
> Vaughn Zollars)
> 1906: Wonderful phenomena need wonderful evidence in their support
> (Joseph F. Rinn)
> 1975: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof (Marcello Truzzi)
> 1976: Extraordinary proof is necessary for extraordinary claims
> (Kendrick Frazier credited Marcello Truzzi)
> 1977: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (Carl Sagan)
> 1979: Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. (James Oberg)
> Feedback welcome
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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