Clifford's injunction

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Clifford's injunction can be stated as asseveration "It is wrong, always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." It was afirmed by the nineteenth-century British matematician W.K. Cliford and Berlinski ironically remarks that it is perhaps correct to guess Clifford believed what he wrote, but what evidence he had for his belief, he did not not say. Berlinski further points out that the concept of sufficient evidence is "infinitely elastic," and depends on context. Something like Cliford's injunction is often misused as the premise in a popular argument for the inexistence of God and supporters of this application schizophrenically fail to adopt the same standard on their own beliefs[note 1] thus violating the parity of reasoning.[2]


  1. Some of the beliefs upon insufficient evidence of contemporary atheistic scientists are enlisted in the Book "What we believe but cannot prove"[1]


  1. (2006) "Sam Harris", in John Brockman: What we believe but cannot prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the age of certainty. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-084181-2. 
  2. David Berlinski. "3.Horses Do Not Fly", The Devil’s Delusion. Basic Books, New York, 2009, 47. ISBN 978-0-465-01937-3.