We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Proof-Texting?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Proof-texting is the use of out-of-context quotes to support an argument. Most often, proof-texting is used in the quoting of religious texts, although scholarly texts are often used. The technique is somewhat related to and is often combined with sophistry, which uses garbled logic to support an illogical claim. Proof-texting is generally disdained by experts as an attempt to deceive a gullible audience, and is often considered a logical fallacy of authoritarian bias.

In a typical proof-text, a person will use a quote, often a Biblical verse, as evidence for their related argument. For example, if a person was arguing that it is fine to disobey speed limits on roads, they might point out that the texts of their religion say that only God’s law matters, and since God didn’t set the speed limit, there is no reason to follow it.

This type of argument is frequently called the fallacy of appeal to authority. In this use of incorrect logic, the arguer basis their position on an idea handed down by an authority figure, such as God. Most proof-texting bases itself on the presumed infallibility of its authority figure. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the argument makes any sense, if the authority figure said it, it must be true.

Another method of proof-texting is by bringing together two quotes from the same source as conclusive evidence for an argument. In this form the arguer suggests that because both quotes come from an authoritative source, they are not only true but must be related. For example, if a book began with the line “Joe shot himself,” and ended with the line “and they all lived happily ever after,” a proof-texter might imply that everyone lived happily because Joe shot himself, which is by no means a necessary logical conclusion.

The bad reputation of proof-texting lies in its ignorance of context. While it is of course possible to draw arguments and connections logically from religious or scholarly texts, the context of the quote is often deliberately ignored to aid an argument. Occasionally, an out-of-context proof-text can be used to argue the absolute reverse of the original quote. For instance, in the example “Joe shot himself,” the reader is left with a possibly incomplete picture. If the actual sentence is contextually sarcastic or ironic, it could very well mean that Joe didn’t shoot himself.

Proponents of proof-texting suggest that, because of its unfavorable reputation, any use of textual support is now too easily dismissed as inherently fallacious. This practice in itself is a logical fallacy, commonly referred to as a “fallacy fallacy.” It is certainly possible to build a logically sound argument using textual support from authoritative sources, and this practice forms the basis of many religious and scholastic teaching. With proper attention to context, proof-texting can be a useful tool in teaching.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Language & Humanities. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.