the burden of proof has shifted a bit

stenka25

Senior Member
South Korea, Han-gul
The following passage is from the book as follows:
<<Copyrighted source: THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST. Copyright © 2010 by Matt Ridley. >>

Perhaps. Remember how few are the remains from Neanderthal sites. But at least the burden of proof has shifted a bit. Even if the habit is more ancient, it may have been the predisposing factor that then conditioned the African race to the whole notion of specialisation and exchange.

In this text I’m not sure the meaning of ‘the burden of proof has shifted a bit.’

I googled out and I found the appropriate sentence as follows:

▪ But now the burden of proof has shifted to us: we're presumed guilty, and we have to spend time and money defending ourselves.

When I compare the sentence in question with the latter sentence, I think I find out what I cannot figure out in the former, that is, I am not sure where the burden of proof shifted to.

Can you tell me where the burden of proof shifted to a bit?

And if I just totally wrong in my train of thought, what is it that I made a mistake about?

Thank you in advance
 
  • Kwistax

    Senior Member
    français - Belgique
    Well I'm with you here: it's not clear in which direction the amount of proofs has shifted. More context would help. Maybe the clues at hand have increased in number and the various fields of research they cover have then also expanded; in that case, one could understand that the global amount of available proofs have shifted from one research aera to an other...

    That being said, and in all circumstances, people don't always use the most accurate words when they express themselves, far from it.
     

    Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    Really one cannot say what ‘the burden of proof has shifted a bit’ refers to because its reference is contained in the relevant section of the book. It should be fairly plain if the argument put forward is understood. I imagine that what went before explains all.
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    You might want to make a summary in your own words of the context that precedes your quoted sentences, stenka.

    From the quoted material I get the idea that something (X) is to be proven. There was one possible explanation (A) for X, but now there seems to be a different explanation(B) but it is as yet unproven - the burden of proof has shifted from A to B.

    Can B refer to "the habit", which "may have been the predisposing factor"?
     

    Kwistax

    Senior Member
    français - Belgique
    Yes, most probably, the ideas or theories that once prevailed have now changed under the influence of new discoveries. The burden of proof has shifted towards other possible conjectures.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Well I'm with you here: it's not clear in which direction the amount of proofs has shifted. ..it.
    But it is clear - just read the whole line:

    ▪ But now the burden of proof has shifted to us: we're presumed guilty, and we have to spend time and money defending ourselves.

    ... has shifted to us.

    We are presumed guilty -

    We have to defend ourselves (to prove that we are not guilty).

    What is unclear about that? I mean normally, in a democracy, it should be the other way around.
     

    Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    But it is clear - just read the whole line:

    ▪ But now the burden of proof has shifted to us: we're presumed guilty, and we have to spend time and money defending ourselves.

    ... has shifted to us.

    We are presumed guilty -

    We have to defend ourselves (to prove that we are not guilty).

    What is unclear about that? I mean normally, in a democracy, it should be the other way around.
    I think I am right in thinking that you are referring to the wrong quote. It is the longer passage in bold whose meaning is in contention.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    But it is clear - just read the whole line:

    ▪ But now the burden of proof has shifted to us: we're presumed guilty, and we have to spend time and money defending ourselves.

    .
    This has nothing to do with the OP's question, which has nothing to with legal systems or democracies.

    "Burden of proof" is not restricted to legal systems, regardless of the definition offered by the WRD, and can apply to theories, etc.

    See dictionary.com

    burden of proof

    noun
    1.Chiefly Law. the obligation to offer evidence that the court or jury could reasonably believe, insupport of a contention, failing which the case will be lost.

    2.the obligation to establish a contention as fact by evoking evidence of its probable truth.


     

    stenka25

    Senior Member
    South Korea, Han-gul
    Thanks a lot for your immediate answer, Kwistax.

    Thanks a lot, Wordnip.

    Thanks a lot for your considerate answer, velisarius.

    Thanks a lot, Sepia.

    Thanks a lot, sdgraham.
     
    Hi Stenka, I still believe that the context is not sufficient for us to help you effectively, but if I had to explain in plain words what I have understood I would say that

    - A scientist present a new theory about a certain subject;
    - at this point the burden to prove that the theory is valid is 100% on the scientist's side;
    - then a piece of evidence comes up which could partially corroborate the scientist's new theory
    - now the burden of proof has shifted a bit. Now it is 90% on the scientist's side to prove the theory and 10% on the scientific community to confute it.

    But I don't have enough context to prove my​ theory... :)
     

    bennymix

    Senior Member
    Chip,
    I think you are on the right track. Start with a 'mere theory' which may be vulnerable to rather simple objections. (What about xxxx?)
    It's not simply that 'a piece of evidence comes up'; rather a number of bits of evidence come up *and* experts in the field become at least partially convinced, or perhaps just receptive-- to further evidence as establishing the theory.

    It may even be that the theory is now mostly accepted. *At such a point,* a person making an objection is in a different position.
    A minor bit of evidence might sway people very little *because the burden of proof has shifted.* (The objector has more burden.)


    Hi Stenka, I still believe that the context is not sufficient for us to help you effectively, but if I had to explain in plain words what I have understood I would say that

    - A scientist present a new theory about a certain subject;
    - at this point the burden to prove that the theory is valid is 100% on the scientist's side;
    - then a piece of evidence comes up which could partially corroborate the scientist's new theory
    - now the burden of proof has shifted a bit. Now it is 90% on the scientist's side to prove the theory and 10% on the scientific community to confute it.

    But I don't have enough context to prove my​ theory... :)
     
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