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* Whataboutism


*** Another problem, as Vincent Bugliosi (who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson) and others pointed out, is that the prosecution failed to introduce evidence that indicated guilt -- O.J. making a stop in Chicago where he may have dumped the bloody clothes/murder weapon, the police interrogation notes, etc. Why? They were probably afraid of looking for evidence and then finding nothing in Chicago, or introducing the notes where, even though O.J. made many incriminating statements, he still denied guilt.

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*** Another problem, as Vincent Bugliosi (who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson) UsefulNotes/CharlesManson) and others pointed out, is that the prosecution failed to introduce evidence that indicated guilt -- O.J. making a stop in Chicago where he may have dumped the bloody clothes/murder weapon, the police interrogation notes, etc. Why? They were probably afraid of looking for evidence and then finding nothing in Chicago, or introducing the notes where, even though O.J. made many incriminating statements, he still denied guilt.


** In some cases, burden shifting is part of normal the procedure. For example in a civil case about workplace discrimination, the burden of proof starts on the Plaintiff to prove that discrimination. If the Plaintiff can prove discrimination, then the burden shifts to the Defendant to prove that the Plaintiff was fired for non-discriminatory reasons. However, these are very limited circumstances, and a court improperly shifting the burden of proof is an appealable issue.

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** In some cases, burden shifting is part of normal the procedure.legal procedures. For example in a civil case about workplace discrimination, the burden of proof starts on the Plaintiff to prove that discrimination. If the Plaintiff can prove discrimination, then the burden shifts to the Defendant to prove that the Plaintiff was fired for non-discriminatory reasons. However, these are very limited circumstances, and a court improperly shifting the burden of proof is an appealable issue.



** Theists frequently demand that atheists prove that there is no God (this is called presuppositionalist theism). It is impossible to disprove certain conceptions of God (a God who never does anything or interacts with the universe in any way is just as unobservable as the Invisible Pink Unicorn, and an omnipotent deity like the Invisible Spaghetti Monster who deliberately hides evidence of his own existence, up to the point of altering our brains so that we cannot observe it, is likewise by definition impossible to observe), making this an impossible task - but the burden falls on those making the assertions about the existence of their God, who frequently claim their deity does exert some influence on reality. This is complicated by the fact that atheism is traditionally defined as "the belief there is no God" but many self-described atheists don't hold this, only that God is not proven (which many theists agree with, plus of course agnostics). So whether or not they hold a burden of proof depends on how the term has been defined. Inadvertent [[StrawmanFallacy strawman arguments]] can be made because of this. Atheist philosophers generally accept the traditional definition and ''do'' attempt to prove there is no God with various arguments. Agnosticism, meanwhile, is either the view God is not proven (compatible with one type of atheism and theism) or that it ''cannot'' be proven, the latter of which also bears a burden of proof.

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** Theists frequently demand that atheists prove that there is no God (this is called presuppositionalist theism).apologetics). It is impossible to disprove certain conceptions of God (a God who never does anything or interacts with the universe in any way is just as unobservable as the Invisible Pink Unicorn, and an omnipotent deity like the Invisible Spaghetti Monster who deliberately hides evidence of his own existence, up to the point of altering our brains so that we cannot observe it, is likewise by definition impossible to observe), making this an impossible task - but the burden falls on those making the assertions about the existence of their God, who frequently claim their deity does exert some influence on reality. This is complicated by the fact that atheism is traditionally defined as "the belief there is no God" but many self-described atheists don't hold this, only that God is not proven (which many theists agree with, plus of course agnostics). So whether or not they hold a burden of proof depends on how the term has been defined. Inadvertent [[StrawmanFallacy strawman arguments]] can be made because of this. Atheist philosophers generally accept the traditional definition and ''do'' attempt to prove there is no God with various arguments. Agnosticism, meanwhile, is either the view God is not proven (compatible with one type of atheism and theism) or that it ''cannot'' be proven, the latter of which also bears a burden of proof.


** In some cases, burden shifting is part of normal the procedure. For example in a civil case, the burden of proof starts on the Plaintiff until they prove X, then the burden shifts to the Defendant to disprove X. However, these are very limited circumstances, and a court improperly shifting the burden of is an appealable issue.

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** In some cases, burden shifting is part of normal the procedure. For example in a civil case, case about workplace discrimination, the burden of proof starts on the Plaintiff until they to prove X, that discrimination. If the Plaintiff can prove discrimination, then the burden shifts to the Defendant to disprove X. prove that the Plaintiff was fired for non-discriminatory reasons. However, these are very limited circumstances, and a court improperly shifting the burden of proof is an appealable issue.

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** In some cases, burden shifting is part of normal the procedure. For example in a civil case, the burden of proof starts on the Plaintiff until they prove X, then the burden shifts to the Defendant to disprove X. However, these are very limited circumstances, and a court improperly shifting the burden of is an appealable issue.

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Compare ProofDare when a character demands someone else provide proof of their guilt.


* ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'': Xenophilius Lovegood asserts that unless people can prove that something ''isn't'' true, it's fine to believe it exists, which annoys Hermione. This is not surprising coming from him, as he and Luna both believe in a lot of things other people don't, as there's no evidence for them.

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* ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'': Xenophilius Lovegood asserts that unless people can prove that something ''isn't'' true, real, it's fine to believe it exists, which annoys Hermione. This is not surprising coming from him, as he and Luna both believe in a lot of things other people don't, as there's no evidence for them.


* At the end of the novel ''Literature/{{Cetaganda}}'', the Cetagandan Emperor gives Miles, a traditional enemy of his empire, the highest award in his empire, then has him alone with three other members of the aristocracy, but asks him nothing. When Miles rejoins his superiors, the SpyChief asks him what happened in there. Miles grins and says "Nothing," noting that there's no way to prove that the Emperor's goal was to make his own people think he might have been suborned or cut a secret deal, which was the Emperor's goal. "Let's see you try to prove a negative. I want to see you try."

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* At the end of the novel ''Literature/{{Cetaganda}}'', the Cetagandan Emperor gives Miles, a traditional enemy of his empire, the highest award in his empire, then has him alone with three other members of the aristocracy, but asks him nothing. When Miles rejoins his superiors, the SpyChief spy chief asks him what happened in there. Miles grins and says "Nothing," noting that there's no way to prove that the Emperor's goal was to make his own people think he might have been suborned or cut a secret deal, which was the Emperor's goal. "Let's see you try to prove a negative. I want to see you try."


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[[AC:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': Similarly to the Romulans example under Literature above, the Cardassian legal system assumed that a defendant is guilty: they begin with the verdict, then proceed to a sentence. Sometimes, however, the defendant is proven innocent even so, as happens when O'Brien is tried (to his attorney's horror, saying "They'll ''kill'' me"-getting an acquittal is apparently very bad for the defense lawyer).
* ''Series/TheMessengers'': When Vera questions if Joshua's visions are trustworthy given his apparent mental issues, Rose retorts "You're the scientist. Go prove they aren't."



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* ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'': Xenophilius Lovegood asserts that unless people can prove that something ''isn't'' true, it's fine to believe it exists, which annoys Hermione. This is not surprising coming from him, as he and Luna both believe in a lot of things other people don't, as there's no evidence for them.



* In a legal system where the burden of proof is held by the prosecution, with the defendant regarded as innocent until proven guilty (applies to both common and civil law systems). The requirement is that the prosecution prove that the accused ''did do it''; the defense doesn't have to prove he ''didn't''. This can bite the prosecution badly, especially if the evidence is weak, or has been mishandled. It also doesn't necessarily follow the logical burden of proof, since the defence can demand the prosecution prove a negative. An infamous example of this is the O. J. Simpson trial, where O. J.'s defense lawyers demanded the prosecution prove an endless series of alternate scenarios were ''impossible''.
** Meanwhile, since it's extremely hard for the defence to prove that someone definitely didn't commit a crime, when the burden of proof is on them in the media they often have to resort to [[ThePerryMasonMethod proving that]] [[AccuseTheWitness someone else did do it]]. That, and it's more exciting that way.
** It is common, at least in the US legal system, for the party bearing the burden of proof to be required to prove a negative. The most straightforward way to disprove A is to prove B, where B => ~A. That is, evidence inconsistent with the thing to be disproved is introduced. For example, in patent practice, nonreceipt of correspondence can be shown by producing the docket record into which the correspondence, if received, would have been entered.

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* In a legal system where the burden of proof is held by the prosecution, with then the defendant is regarded as innocent until proven guilty (applies to both common and civil law systems). The requirement is that the prosecution prove that the accused ''did do it''; the defense doesn't have to prove he ''didn't''. This can bite the prosecution badly, especially if the evidence is weak, or has been mishandled. It also doesn't necessarily follow the logical burden of proof, since the defence defense can demand the prosecution prove a negative. An infamous example of this is the O. J. Simpson trial, where O. J.'s defense lawyers demanded the prosecution prove an endless series of alternate scenarios were ''impossible''.
** Meanwhile, since it's extremely hard for the defence defense to prove that someone definitely didn't commit a crime, when the burden of proof is on them in the media they often have to resort to [[ThePerryMasonMethod proving that]] [[AccuseTheWitness someone else did do it]]. That, and it's more exciting that way.
** It is common, at least in the US legal system, for the party bearing the burden of proof to be required to prove a negative. The most straightforward way to disprove A is to prove B, where B => ~A. That is, evidence inconsistent with the thing to be disproved is introduced. For example, in patent practice, nonreceipt non-receipt of correspondence can be shown by producing the docket record into which the correspondence, if received, would have been entered.



* The scientific method uses a concept called a "null hypothesis" which is very similar: any scientific experiment will start with the assumption that the hypothesis can be proven false, and will attempt to do so (falsification through experimentation). If the experiment returns no positive proof of the assumption, the default negative is taken to be true. In science a ''theory'' is something which has been tested in this manner, while a ''scientific'' hypothesis is something which, while consistent with all existing data and violating no fundamental principles, has not been tested in this manner or is not necessitated by any observation.
** One example of this is called "Russell's Teapot", named after philosopher and scientist Bertrand Russell. The idea there is that, somewhere in the solar system, there is a teapot, perfectly shaped and formed, in an elliptical orbit around the sun. Because it is functionally impossible to prove that there ''is'' no such teapot, the assumption that one exists is by its nature seemingly logical, despite the unlikelihood. Whether or not this is a functional argument against applied theology is, of course, up to the reader.

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* The scientific method uses a concept called a "null hypothesis" which is very similar: any scientific experiment will start with the assumption that the hypothesis can be proven false, and will attempt to do so (falsification through experimentation). If the experiment returns in no positive proof of the assumption, the default negative is taken to be true. In science a ''theory'' is something which has been tested in this manner, while a ''scientific'' hypothesis is something which, while consistent with all existing data and violating no fundamental principles, has not been tested in this manner or is not necessitated by any observation.
** One example of this is called "Russell's Teapot", named after philosopher and scientist Bertrand Russell.Creator/BertrandRussell. The idea there is that, somewhere in the solar system, there is a teapot, perfectly shaped and formed, in an elliptical orbit around the sun. Because it is functionally impossible to prove that there ''is'' no such teapot, the assumption that one exists is by its nature seemingly logical, despite the unlikelihood. Whether or not this is a functional argument against applied theology is, of course, up to the reader.


One popular form of shifting the burden of proof is to demand your opponent "do their own research." This places the onus for proving the point you're trying to make onto them. This particularly applies if the research they're supposed to perform is defined extremely vaguely, such as "take some classes" or to read a certain author.

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One popular form of shifting the burden of proof is to demand your opponent "do ‘do their own research." research’. This places the onus for proving the point you're trying to make onto them. This particularly applies if the research they're supposed to perform is defined extremely vaguely, such as "take ‘take some classes" classes’, ‘you can find dozens of examples’ or to read a certain author.
even ‘use common sense’.



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* In the ''Literature/{{Rihannsu}}'' series the Romulan legal system works on the assumption the defendant is guilty until proven innocent... [[SubvertedTrope Except that the prosecution has to prove its case first to even get to the trial]], and the defense can work by simply proving the prosecution missed an alibi.


Strictly speaking, the Burden of Proof applies more to Formal than Informal debates- for instance, a courtroom, debate class, or certain public forums vs chats between family or friends or, indeed, often random debates on the internet such as in comment sections or social media. In these latter cases the holder of burden of proof can be harder to determine since it isn't always clear if a person was trying to start a debate in the first place or simply wanting to chat, vent, make a statement or whatever.

In either Formal but especially in Informal debates it is possible to legitimately shift the burden of proof onto another person simply by being careful with your own words while [[ManipulativeBastard manipulating]] the other party into making a claim, such as by playing on their emotions or using other fallacies like BeggingTheQuestion, which is easier to do in volatile or emotional situations or if less intelligent / adept at debate than the other. This is not technically a fallacy in and of itself, but it is often a highly dishonest tactic that invites flawed arguments and conclusions.

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Strictly speaking, the Burden One popular form of Proof applies more to Formal than Informal debates- for instance, a courtroom, debate class, or certain public forums vs chats between family or friends or, indeed, often random debates on the internet such as in comment sections or social media. In these latter cases the holder of burden of proof can be harder to determine since it isn't always clear if a person was trying to start a debate in the first place or simply wanting to chat, vent, make a statement or whatever.

In either Formal but especially in Informal debates it is possible to legitimately shift
shifting the burden of proof is to demand your opponent "do their own research." This places the onus for proving the point you're trying to make onto another person simply by being careful with your own words while [[ManipulativeBastard manipulating]] them. This particularly applies if the other party into making a claim, research they're supposed to perform is defined extremely vaguely, such as by playing on their emotions "take some classes" or using other fallacies like BeggingTheQuestion, which is easier to do in volatile or emotional situations or if less intelligent / adept at debate than the other. This is not technically read a fallacy in and of itself, but it is often a highly dishonest tactic that invites flawed arguments and conclusions.
certain author.

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Strictly speaking, the Burden of Proof applies more to Formal than Informal debates- for instance, a courtroom, debate class, or certain public forums vs chats between family or friends or, indeed, often random debates on the internet such as in comment sections or social media. In these latter cases the holder of burden of proof can be harder to determine since it isn't always clear if a person was trying to start a debate in the first place or simply wanting to chat, vent, make a statement or whatever.

In either Formal but especially in Informal debates it is possible to legitimately shift the burden of proof onto another person simply by being careful with your own words while [[ManipulativeBastard manipulating]] the other party into making a claim, such as by playing on their emotions or using other fallacies like BeggingTheQuestion, which is easier to do in volatile or emotional situations or if less intelligent / adept at debate than the other. This is not technically a fallacy in and of itself, but it is often a highly dishonest tactic that invites flawed arguments and conclusions.


* Fiction example: In Creator/CarlBarks' story "The Golden Helmet", a viking named Olaf the Blue left the titular helmet somewhere in the continent before the arrival of UsefulNotes/ChristopherColumbus. Azure Blue, a (self-proclaimed) descendant of Olaf's, planned to use his (alleged) relation and the Code of Discovery to claim North America as inheritance from Olaf. Whenever somebody asked how Azure could prove he was a descendant of Olaf the Blue, Azure's AmoralAttorney countered by asking how they could prove he ''wasn't''. Azure wasn't the only character trying to use this fallacy either.

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* Fiction example: In Creator/CarlBarks' story "The Golden Helmet", a viking named Olaf the Blue left the titular helmet somewhere in the continent before the arrival of UsefulNotes/ChristopherColumbus. Azure Blue, a (self-proclaimed) descendant of Olaf's, planned to use his (alleged) relation and the Code of Discovery to claim North America as inheritance from Olaf. Whenever somebody asked how Azure could prove he was a descendant of Olaf the Blue, Azure's AmoralAttorney countered by asking how they could prove he ''wasn't''. Azure wasn't the only character trying to use this fallacy either.


** Theists frequently demand that atheists prove that there is no God. It is impossible to disprove certain conceptions of God (a God who never does anything or interacts with the universe in any way is just as unobservable as the Invisible Pink Unicorn, and an omnipotent deity like the Invisible Spaghetti Monster who deliberately hides evidence of his own existence, up to the point of altering our brains so that we cannot observe it, is likewise by definition impossible to observe), making this an impossible task - but the burden falls on those making the assertions about the existence of their God, who frequently claim their deity does exert some influence on reality. This is complicated by the fact that atheism is traditionally defined as "the belief there is no God" but many self-described atheists don't hold this, only that God is not proven (which many theists agree with, plus of course agnostics). So whether or not they hold a burden of proof depends on how the term has been defined. Inadvertent [[StrawmanFallacy strawman arguments]] can be made because of this. Atheist philosophers generally accept the traditional definition and ''do'' attempt to prove there is no God with various arguments. Agnosticism, meanwhile, is either the view God is not proven (compatible with one type of atheism and theism) or that it ''cannot'' be proven, the latter of which also bears a burden of proof.

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** Theists frequently demand that atheists prove that there is no God.God (this is called presuppositionalist theism). It is impossible to disprove certain conceptions of God (a God who never does anything or interacts with the universe in any way is just as unobservable as the Invisible Pink Unicorn, and an omnipotent deity like the Invisible Spaghetti Monster who deliberately hides evidence of his own existence, up to the point of altering our brains so that we cannot observe it, is likewise by definition impossible to observe), making this an impossible task - but the burden falls on those making the assertions about the existence of their God, who frequently claim their deity does exert some influence on reality. This is complicated by the fact that atheism is traditionally defined as "the belief there is no God" but many self-described atheists don't hold this, only that God is not proven (which many theists agree with, plus of course agnostics). So whether or not they hold a burden of proof depends on how the term has been defined. Inadvertent [[StrawmanFallacy strawman arguments]] can be made because of this. Atheist philosophers generally accept the traditional definition and ''do'' attempt to prove there is no God with various arguments. Agnosticism, meanwhile, is either the view God is not proven (compatible with one type of atheism and theism) or that it ''cannot'' be proven, the latter of which also bears a burden of proof.

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