An honest response to an accusation should be constructive. One way to achieve that is to express empathy, question,break down broad terms(if any) into specific instances and address each of them.

But in some instances you don't want spend your time and energy because it's not important to you.

Example 1 Jack: Earth is flat
Jill: that's not true
Jack: oh really, prove it

Example 2:
Jack: (with friendly tone) you're smart, you do nothing at office but still manage to keep your job
Jill: ' that's not true'
or 'what makes you think that'

Jill may also reply cleverly with wit/humor and disarm attack, however let's assume Jill is too tired for it.

... continue
Jack: okay, if not why don't you tell us what you did today?

Jill has sound reasons to back herself in both cases but she will be owning the burden of proof and in second example even giving weight to the accusation, appear defensive and exposed herself to be scrutinized on details endlessly. Answering 2nd question is also condescending and handing some authority to Jack.

In conclusion, can we formulate a strategy to avoid owning burden of proof or turning it around on them.


I've never felt important to me some other people believe things I consider completely wrong, so when I'm presented beliefs in the vein of 'Earth is flat' (I can definitely think of similar claims in some members of my family) I would only address them if they are presented specifically to me.

In the case I really don't have the energy for an argument, something I could consider an honest response, but borderlines on lying on my own position, is to simply keep my disagreement for myself, and just acknowledge the point of view that is given as theirs.

Ok / That's interesting / Thanks for letting me know / nodding

When I prefer to express disagreement, I would then answer something that is slightly different than 'that is not true', that is still disagreeing but opening the door to everyone going home with their beliefs untouched:

I don't believe so / I believe earth is roughly spherical / I don't think I'm slacking at work

Then when our beliefs are presented different, if the person would argue my point of view, I can explain with my own observations. If I don't want, I'm not accountable of what I believe, I can simply say "I don't have to explain myself. I just [don't] believe so" or "I won't change my view. Let's agree to disagree, simply". When being accused, it can be a researched effect to also show you're not afraid, which these statements do, as being firm and indisputable disagreement.

This stance can be maintained without implying the other is wrong. I just have to explain this (dis)belief is my own. "I don't imply you have to think like me.". If they explain their point of view, it's fine, I'm always free to respect that without arguing.

By respecting the difference of our point of views, and not calling for settling some objective truth, I'm going away from the burden of a proof and usually avoid an argument. Avoiding calling for objective truth usually puts the burden of explaining their belief on the people that originally wanted to prove a point.


Always remember that the burden of proof lies on the claimant. Furthermore the burden of proof is, in some cases, due to more people than the one we put our claim onto.

Jack: Earth is flat
Jill: that's not true, science proved it multiple times
Jack: oh really, prove it
Jill: you prove it, and not to me, but to thousands of scientists whose proofs you don't believe

Negation of claim is not equal to liability to prove your negation. Or in case of such vague claim it is not. You can prove a claim is wrong if the claim itself have a proof (or reference to it). "according to xxx the earth is flat"/"according to yy the earth is not flat".

Jack: (with friendly tone) you're smart, you do nothing at office but still manage to keep your job

This is an opinion. And to answer that you don't negate the opinion. You negate the foundations it's based on. (proposed answer is based on assumption that Jack is not Jill manager) Jill: My manager sees otherwise.
or when prompted why don't you tell us
because I don't have time because I have work to do. Which I see you don't as you can waste your time watching what I have been doing

  • "You made the claim; YOU prove it" tends to shut down a lot of stupid arguments. Next step in that is to dismiss "everyone knows it" with "I don't; I'm relying on your proof to educate me on this". – baldPrussian Jan 4 at 21:18
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    I agree with most of this, but "That's not true" is also a claim, and the burden of proving the negation of the previous statement also lies on the claimaint. The correct response (as shown in another answer) is "I don't believe you", which is not a claim. – Erik Jan 5 at 8:09
  • @Erik That why I added what in bold. You remove yourself and replace it with anyone who proved earth is round. Therefore the first claimant MUST provide proof that THAT person is wrong. "You are not arguing with me, you are arguing with universe". – SZCZERZO KŁY Jan 5 at 8:48

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