Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:July 11th, 2010 18:20 EST
Proof, or Probable Cause?

Proof, or Probable Cause?

By Clayton S. Jeppsen

Proof or evidence is what everyone wants to hear. Once it bares it`s beautiful face, everyone is satisfied. Proof is the end of the story, the end of the argument.  So of course you want to pack your presentation with as much of it as possible. In my career as a police officer, everyone thinks I have to show them the proof.

I tell them I have no proof and their jaw drops. How can you arrest me without proof, they ask? They ask me that all the way to the jail. A police officer is not a judge and he doesn`t have to be right he just has to be reasonable." It is reasonable if the average person believes the same way as the officer. Reasonable suspicion will get you investigated, probable cause will get you arrested and the judge`s interpretation of "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt` will get you convicted.

We call it proof, those statistics, professional theories and actual events, but if they were that compelling you wouldn`t still be making the argument in your presentation, everyone would already agree.

The truth is, sometimes probable cause, a compelling persuasive testimony is all you need. Sometimes your audience will believe that over the evidence that is sometimes hard to verify at the moment and even when it is, the doubt that it was manufactured or altered in some way will always be in the back of their mind. 

So, in the future, if you really want to slay your audience, plan to integrate both proof and probable cause for any presentation.