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Burden of proof

Burden of proof is the obligation to prove allegations which are presented in a legal action. It is one of the most important issues in litigation, and in criminal cases it is closely linked with the principle, from English common law, that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. The burden, therefore, initially lies with the plaintiffs in a case, and not on a defendant who would need to prove that something did not happen. Adequate evidence can, however, shift the burden of proof to the other party.

Outside a legal context, "burden of proof" means that someone suggesting a new theory or stating a claim must provide evidence to support it: it is not sufficient to say "you can't disprove this".

For example, if I say "The Chinese government is plotting to poision our water supply" it is my burden of proof to prove this plot is actually occurring. If I can provide evidence that proves the plot exists, then it becomes the skeptic's burden of proof to disaprove my claim with facts of his own.

See also scientific method

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