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By Ken Silvestro

Psychological Perspectives

Proof is in the Pudding


October 20, 2022

By Ken Silvestro, Ph.D.

I want to introduce the idea of psychological proof. Why, you might ask? Well, because it differs from scientific proof, which is the well-established, standard way of proving something, and today, for many people, simple beliefs seem to be in vogue as proof. Beliefs, however, are not a form of proof.

So, what is non-scientific or psychological proof? As the column title suggests, it's an experiential form of proof; however, a single experience is not sufficient for a psychological proof.

Although experience is psychological in the form of a memory, or associated with an emotion or thought, or as an expression from our hidden psychology (the unconscious), a single experience that might prove something to you might not prove anything to someone else. So, a single experience isn't a psychological proof.

How, then, does experience become a psychological proof? Psychological proof develops as repetitive experiences occur. In addition, the repeated experiences do not need to be exactly the same, only similar.

For example, I'm sure you experienced many dreams in your lifetime; though each dream differs, each dream also is similar as an experience.

Your repetitive dream experiences psychologically prove to you, and only you, that dreams exist.

If we survey one-thousand people, however, and discover each person also dreams, then the repetitive dreaming experience of a thousand people is psychological proof that dreams are part of human nature.

Now, if we consider the different dream images in dreams, though the images differ, some will be similar. For example, images of a dark figure, a scary person, or a violent person all elicit similar thoughts or feelings, even similar meanings.

Here, again, your repetitive experience of these frightening images can indicate to you that dark and scary images exist in your psychology, but you don't know if that's true for other people. If we extend this example to include dreams throughout recorded history and determine that similar frightening images occurred throughout the centuries, then we have psychological proof that frightening images are part of human nature.

As another example, consider how everyone gets ill at one time or another. Of course, illnesses vary, but the repetitive experience of illness in the population, psychologically proves that illness is part of human nature.

Psychological proof seems quite simple and not worthy of notice, so what is the point? Scientific proof with statistical analyses and experiments is one important way to prove something, but consistent repetitive human experiences among people or throughout time, is another. Psychological proof is most valuable in understanding human nature.

(Ken Silvestro, PhD 406-677-7282 •


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