beyond a reasonable doubt

Proving something beyond a reasonable doubt is the usual standard of criminal justice. It is the highest standard of evidence used in politics or law.

This high standard applies when consequences, such as depriving someone of their bodily freedom - see individual capital, or damage to their reputation in the society - see social capital - can't be undone. It becomes impossible to do so if:
  • hearsay is granted status as evidence, since the doubt that the hearsay is true causes the outcome also to be in doubt
  • the source of the evidence is not trusted, e.g. the LAPD in the OJ Simpson trial, again since the doubt that the evidence is not forged or planted will cause the final outcome to be in doubt
  • authority has required a jury to defer to it on important matters of process, such as the time or outcome conditions of the trial, e.g. judges warning juries that chaos will result if they do not convict, or a strong on-the-record opinion by a dictator that someone is guilty, or a threat to resign combined with a threat to cause damage to the country or party if their victim is not convicted

A good evidence/source/authority system disciplines evidence to ensure that it is not ever the cause of the worst doubt. It usually relies on an adversarial process to do this effectively - see dialectic.

By contrast, good issue/position/argument system ensures that all factions with an opinion are heard out. This is not the same as using their positions or arguments to arrive at a decision. It is for this reason that the political system is not the same as the independent judiciary or Supreme Court of Canada - or of other countries. Such systems also ensure that alternatives are heard out and fully recorded - see dissensus.