Proof is sufficient evidence or argument for the truth of a proposition. Proof has meaning in mathematics (especially in propositional logic) as well as law and in informal speech, but not science. Scientific proof is a myth. Instead, scientists support theories with evidence.
- "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith, I am nothing."
"Oh," says man, "but the Babel fish is a dead give-away, isn't it? It proves You exist, and so therefore You don't."
"Oh, I hadn't thought of that," says God, who promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Ah, that was easy," says man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white, and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.
Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys.
- PROOF, n. Evidence having a shade more of plausibility than of unlikelihood. The testimony of two credible witnesses as opposed to that of only one.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- You may prove anything by figures.
- Quoted by Thomas Carlyle, Chartism, No. 2; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 636.
- A very great deal more truth can become known than can be proven.
- The being and existence of the thing itself, is what I call the original truth. A credible man vouching his knowledge of it is a good proof; but if another equally credible do witness it from his report, the testimony is weaker: and a third that attests the hearsay of an hearsay is yet less considerable. So that in traditional truths, each remove weakens the force of the proof: and the more hands the tradition has successively passed through, the less strength and evidence does it receive from them.
- John Locke Esssay on Humane Understanding Book IV Chapter 17
- For when one's proofs are aptly chosen,
Four are as valid as four dozen.
- Matthew Prior, Alma (1718), Canto I. End.
- quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.
- What is asserted gratuitously may be denied gratuitously.
- Variant: What is asserted without proof (evidence, reason), may (can) be denied (dismissed) without proof (evidence, reason).
- Anonymous maxim, widely used since at least the early 19th century (e.g. The Classical Journal , Vol. 40 (1829), p. 312).