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Is there any idiom or proverb that means "the evidence contradicts what you claim"?

There is a proverb in Persian that says:

"Should/ shall we believe the rooster's tail or the fox's oaths to God?!"

It's etymology is like this:

Once a fox who was passing a village, stole a rooster/ cock and put it into his backpack and ran away. But a villager saw him and informed everybody; so some villagers ran after him and finally got him in a corner. The villagers asked him to give back the rooster to them, but the fox repeatedly was saying:

"I swear to the God that I have no rooster with me, I don't know what you are talking about", but he didn't know that tail of the rooster was sticking out his backpack.

So the people replied him sarcastically and mockingly:

"Should/ shall we believe that rooster's tail or your oaths to God?"

It implies that "the evidence contradicts what you claim" ( i.e., we know that you are lying!) or " your actions contradict your words".

enter image description here


A famous merchant claims that his business is not doing well, for avoiding paying his taxes, but lives in a mansion and has many other luxurious items under his name. So the officials would say him:

"Mr.___! Should (or shall) we believe the rooster's tail or the fox's oaths? [ Should we believe what you claim (=not having good income) or what we have as evidence (=list of your properties) ?!] Unfortunately, all the evidence contradict what you claim and you should pay your taxes!!"

Is there any idiom or proverb in English that would convey the same connotation?


This proverb is used among politicians a lot! For example; you can see that its connotation is shown in the following picture. This man is a former president and has stated something about parliamentary elections, but one of his opponents has put this picture in his blog trying to say "the evidence contradicts what you said".

enter image description here

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Not a dupe, but related: An idiom meaning "sticking fingers in your ears does not change the fact". And, not to plug myself, but I'm particularly fond of my own answer to that question: And yet it moves.... – Dan Bron Mar 13 at 15:46
After seeing the images, the expression cock and bull story springs to mind :) – Mari-Lou A Mar 13 at 16:08
Not quite apt in this scenario, because it's used more as a compliment than a smear, but one of my favorite idioms is "we recognize the lion by his claw" (the original Latin tanquam ex ungue leonem was said of Newton by Bernoulli, upon encountering a writing which was intended to be anonymous). – Dan Bron Mar 13 at 16:16
For a few idioms used to express that the facts/evidence are undeniable there’s “caught with the goods/caught red-handed/caught with your hand in the cookie jar/caught with your pants down,” but none of these carry the notion that the culprit has denied/will try to deny his action as does the cool Persian one presented in your question. To make them work you’d need to preface them with something like: “Don’t dare to deny it because you were caught …..” +1 – Papa Poule Mar 13 at 21:38
Soudabeh -- If the Persian idiom were slightly different, I would have offered: "do you believe me or your lying eyes"? Curious -- is there a Persian idiom for that? – ab2 Mar 13 at 22:00

14 Answers 14

up vote 10 down vote accepted

"The evidence suggests otherwise."

This is similar to medica's answer, but it seems to be quite common, at least where I live (the Southeastern U.S.) Google's n-gram viewer seems to suggest this one is more common.

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This is really a better known answer than mine. +1. – medica Mar 14 at 4:45

The facts speak for themselves.

It's commonly used to tell people that there's no point in denying an allegation because evidence proving the allegation is overwhelming.

macmillandictionary.com definition:

used for saying that the facts of a particular situation provide all the necessary, true information about it

"You can't deny you took the rooster, the facts speak for themselves."

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In scientific circles, the expression "Nevertheless it moves" has some resonance as a way of implying "the evidence contradicts what you claim." The quotation is attributed to Galileo, speaking (or muttering to himself) after being forced to recant his support for Copernicus's heliocentric description of the solar system. The story is retold (with considerable skepticism as to the incident's ever actually having happened) in Wyndham Lewis and the Cultures of Modernity (2013):

Galileo was condemned in 1633 by the Catholic Church, and ordered not to repeat his belief that the earth moved [around the sun]. The story is told that 'the moment he was set at liberty, he looked up to the sky and down to the ground and, stamping with his foot, in a contemplative mood, said Eppur si muove; that is, still it moves, meaning the earth'. This was first published by Giuseppe Baretti in London in 1757.

The idea here is something like "You can make me say it isn't so, but that doesn't mean it isn't so." It is thus something you might say not to an accused person who boldly denies something that the evidence clearly points to, but (at a safe distance) to someone who has just forced you to affirm something that you know isn't true. In any event, many English-speaking scientists (and others) will recognize the allusion when someone responds to an emotionally or politically powerful but unscientific attack by saying, "Nevertheless it moves."

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I love this answer (and the story), but it would likely leave most people scratching their heads wondering what was moving... – medica Mar 14 at 14:24
The story of Galileo is far more complex than the modern cultural mythology about him that we've all heard. For one thing, he was wrong: the heliocentric model he was absolutely convinced was true was actually false. (Yes, the Earth moves around the sun, but not in anything even remotely resembling the Copernican model he believed in.) An in-depth analysis can be found here. – Mason Wheeler Mar 14 at 17:30
I appreciate that you have prefixed this answer with the qualification "in scientific circles", but it's probably worth noting that to most other audiences the idiom is unlikely to be recognised (indeed, even amongst scientists, many would still be scratching their heads in response to "nevertheless it moves" without at least a little contextual assistance). – eggyal Mar 15 at 2:26
@eggyal: You and medica are right, of course. I was tempted to revise the wording to say, "Nevertheless, the earth moves"—but I was afraid that might cause even more confusion (and misinterpretation) if taken out of context. Perhaps the simplest way to clarify the nature of the reference is to include a source prefatorily: "As Galileo said,'Nevertheless, it moves.'" – Sven Yargs Mar 15 at 6:13

Similar: "Don't piss on my head and tell me it's raining."

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Perhaps a dictionary entry for our friend who may be unfamiliar with this turn of phrase? – Mari-Lou A Mar 13 at 16:47
Also "don't pee on my shoe and tell me it's raining." Slightly less... vulgar? Graphic? Disturbing? – Xen2050 Mar 13 at 19:57
@Mari-LouA - Sorry, it didn't occur to me to look it up - it seemed pretty straightforward. – Oldbag Mar 13 at 20:00
@Xen2050 - OK to the "pee". Not so much the shoe... Why would rain hit your shoe before your head? – Oldbag Mar 13 at 20:02
Maybe if you're wearing a hat, and it's easier to see your shoe than the top of your head, or it could refer to the bottom/sole of your shoe too. (If someone doesn't notice rain on their head, they may not notice pee either ;-) Anyway, I heard it describing a logic problem, if it's raining then your shoe is wet, but if your shoe's wet it's not necessarily raining - maybe someone's peeing on your shoe to convince you it's raining. – Xen2050 Mar 13 at 21:23

Appearances say otherwise.

It's not exactly an idiom, I don't think, unless you're very literal minded (appearances don't speak), but it conveys the meaning of your examples.

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+1, because I think this has the potential of nicely capturing both parts of the Persian idiom, especially if combined with some other idiomatic phrase/phrases that emphasize the culprit’s denial and/or that specify the contradicting appearance. For example, the OP could consider using it in a paraphrase of the “justification” used by some to explain their behavior in the pre-“no-means-no”/yes-requires-an emphatic-yes” “dating” world as follows: “Your lips say ‘no’, but your hand in the till/cookie jar says otherwise.” – Papa Poule Mar 13 at 22:50

I'm surprised that no one has already mentioned the duck test: When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck. (See the link for variants.)

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A shorter, perhaps more common form is: "Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck..." This can be confusing to those not familiar with the analogy, but it is common enough to have obtained near-cliche status, at least in the United States. – Charles Burns Mar 15 at 3:36

You could say that "[the person's claims] do not add up:"

Fig. [for facts or explanations] to make sense. (Considering facts as if they were figures.) Your explanation just doesn't add up!

[The Free Dictionary]

This means that a person's claims do not substantiate the evidence.

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I also hear "Does not compute" – pepper May 2 at 6:44

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

From World Wide Words:

The proverb literally says that you won’t know whether food has been cooked properly until you try it. Or, putting it figuratively, don’t assume that something is in order or believe what you are told, but judge the matter by testing it; it’s much the same philosophy as in seeing is believing and actions speak louder than words.

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This idiom is about the uncertainty in the outcome of an event, not about evidence or claims being made. – ringo Mar 14 at 5:18
You must take that up with Michael Quinion who wrote 'don't ... [blindly] believe what you are told ...'. Of course, the uncertainty is addressed ('don't [just] assume that something is in order'), but an easy deduction is that the pudding looks good to eat (or there'd be no need for a cautionary spiel), licensing the 'you need to really examine the evidence rather than just the claim being made' extension to the metaphor. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 at 16:49
I've always heard this phrased, "The proof is in the pudding", though your version is definitely more self explanatory (since it is more verbose) – Kevin Wells Mar 14 at 22:33
@Kevin Wells There's an article in Phrase Finder that claims that 'The proof is in the pudding' is erroneous, but it's probably considered an acceptable variant by now. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 at 23:19
I've heard "The proof was in the pudding" used as a variant of this phrase to give the exact sense of the OP's question. – SeanR Mar 15 at 10:15

One expression that is quite similar to the fox and rooster example is Who shall I believe, you or my own lying eyes?

This is a common inversion of a line in the Marx Brother's movie Duck Soup: "Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" which is said ironically by a character caught brazenly lying.

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"All evidence to the contrary."

This one is pretty common. Reference: http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/40593-quot-Evidence-to-the-contrary-quot

And in anger (topical). :-) http://qz.com/587608/despite-all-evidence-to-the-contrary-trump-tries-to-go-birther-on-cruz/

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Please include some reference, if possible. – NVZ Mar 14 at 10:46

res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself,

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"The facts speak for themselves." was given as an answer yesterday.  As this site is English Language & Usage, giving a Latin translation of essentially the same text isn't particularly useful (since this Latin phrase would not be recognized by most English speakers). – Scott Mar 15 at 0:34
@Scott I think you're being a bit harsh here. It may only be understood by a (non-trivial) minority of English speakers, but (probably because of its use in the Law) it is one of those Latin tags which a lot of us will know - I hadn't thought of it before I saw dyima's answer, but it instantly rang a bell for me. – AAT Mar 15 at 11:57
res ipsa loquitur was the first thing that came to my mind, as well. (I was scanning the answers to see if it had already been provided) @Scott I consider the exclusion of Latin phrases from an "English" site is not appropriate since so much of English comes borrowed from Latin. – K. Alan Bates Mar 15 at 15:20

You can't argue with reality.

I don't know if this really qualifies as an idiom, or if it might instead be classified as "something people often say," but it is commonly said. It's one of my favorite sayings, and it gets lots of hits in Google.

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The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate. – Charles Burns Mar 15 at 3:38

Consider to lie through one's teeth

Also, lie in one's teeth. Utter outrageous falsehoods

This expression presumably alludes to a particular facial grimace one assumes when lying. [c. 1300]

[The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms via The Free Dictionary]


Mr.___! Stop lying through your teeth!! [Should we believe what you claim (=not having good income) or what we have as evidence (=list of your properties) ?!] Unfortunately, all the evidence contradict what you claim and you should pay your taxes!!"

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In the special circumstance where the evidence that is contradictory to the person's claim is their facial expression, you can say, "the truth is written all over your face."

It's written all over your face

If you say "it's written all over your face", you're saying that the expression on someone's face is showing their true feelings or thoughts.

Source: englishclub.com

While I realize this doesn't answer the OP's question for every circumstance where contradictory evidence puts someone's claims to the lie, it's a very useful phrase to know when the evidence is the person's own behavior and facial expression.

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