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“Pics or It Didn’t Happen” and “Show Me the Receipts”: A Folk Evidentiary Rule

Posted by on Monday, November 27, 2023 in Articles, Volume 76, Volume 76, Number 6.

Timothy Lau | 76 Vand. L. Rev. 1681

“Pics or It Didn’t Happen,” “Show Me the Receipts,” and related refrains are frequently encountered in online discussion threads today. They are typically invoked to demand corroboration in support of a claim or to declare from the outset that a claim is supported by some sort of proof. In many ways, they are the functional counterpart of legal evidentiary objections in online discussions. They embody a folk evidentiary rule, democratically and organically developed by the people.

The topic of “Pics or It Didn’t Happen” is much broader than can be covered in a symposium piece. As such, this Article seeks to provide a brief exploration into the use of the rule, drawing out some of the underlying evidentiary principles and pointing to some of the pitfalls of proof by “pics.” It also explains the importance of studying “Pics or It Didn’t Happen” for scholars of law and of evidence law in particular.

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Timothy Lau