As you may know, Brandolini’s law states:

The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it.

I am looking for a term that shows the asymmetry between just making a hypothesis or claim or allegation (which is easy to do, hence the derogatory remarks like "empty theorizing") and providing a proof or evidence for the claim (which takes a lot of energy). If you use it strictly, Brandolini’s law is only applicable to bullshit or wrong claims but not for reasonable claims (that is, claims that may be right).

Is there a recognized term for this that covers both types of claims, meaning that they could be bullshit or factual but that the proof is always hard?

ChatGPT suggested asymmetry of proof and verification asymmetry, but neither of these is a popular or recognized term even though both make some sense. The closest thing I could find conceptually is burden of proof.

I guess the burden of proof idea also comes from this asymmetry. Is this a recognized issue in general, meaning that hypotheses are cheap but proofs take work? If so, what words or concepts do philosophers, thinkers, or scientists use to address this issue?

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    'Is this a recognized issue in general ... ie hypotheses are cheap, proofs take work?' is a question for a science or maths forum, T. A word / expression naming the phenomenon if true is perhaps better sought on a science website also, though this might be general enough a question for ELU. Commented Mar 30 at 19:29
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    The usual observation is that creating something takes far longer than destroying it. But in this case it seems to be the opposite - some wally comes up with a stupid idea in a few seconds, but apparently it takes hours to rip the idea apart. Is that a thing? It doesn't make much sense to me. Usually, we assume that the real truth of a situation should be self-evident once it's actually spelled out. For example, even a ten-year-old should be able to demolish primitive "flat earther" thinking in a few sentences, if he knows what arguments to put forward. Commented Mar 30 at 19:38
  • As this is a single word request, you need to give an example sentence with the required word as a blank
    – Greybeard
    Commented Mar 30 at 20:41
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    Not quite the same thing, but a one-way hash argument is a (bad) argument for which Brandolini's law is true, i.e. it's simple to make but hard to refute. The claim isn't actually true of everything, since some arguments are so stupid or wrong they can be immediately refuted.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 31 at 22:06
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    @FumbleFingers, this site provides plenty of examples of a similar phenomenon: the questions that seek an explanation of a carelessly written passage to which the author obviously devoted no more than a few seconds, and the contributors to this site then spend several person-hours thoughtfully explaining what is wrong with it.
    – jsw29
    Commented Apr 8 at 20:13

1 Answer 1


This is not 'value-neutral', but a simple way to say it is

mud sticks

said to mean that people are likely to believe something bad that is said about someone, even if it is not true

From Cambridge Dictionary.

The normal usage applies to people, but it illustrates how difficult it can be to refute random allegations. All the perpetrator needs to do is to appeal to the emotions of the reader, with no proof required. Having stirred those emotions, even a complete proof of their falsity may not be enough to counteract it.

  • Almost like The Big LIe. Commented Mar 31 at 1:25
  • Is this about throwing shite at a wall and seeing if it sticks? Somehow just "mud sticks" doesn't do it for me...
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 31 at 14:52
  • @Lambie I'd guess that it has more to do with "mud-slinging".
    – user888379
    Commented Mar 31 at 14:55
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    @Lambie It does - and my thinking is that "mud sticks" is a succinct way of saying "tarnishing a reputation is easier than burnishing one"
    – user888379
    Commented Mar 31 at 15:01
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    Thank you for the answer and yeah, the term seems to be related to what I have asked for, but it is even more restricted than Brandolini's law for me for it only relates to gossip about people. What I am looking for is a term that would cover the general idea that the effort involved in putting out a random theory (anyone can conjure up a random theory) vs. validating your random theory (which is way hard) is very asymmetrical .
    – Tangent
    Commented Mar 31 at 17:47

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