There is a Japanese proverb that means "No matter what theories and assumptions you discuss, if they do not match the facts and examples, your argument is meaningless".

Question: Is there an English equivalent of this Japanese proverb?

[Edit] The Japanese proverb is not only used in the context of science. I am looking for an English proverb that is close in meaning to "Facts/real-life experiences/etc outweigh reasoning/common sense/what Wikipedia says/etc".


2 Answers 2


Its not really a canonical proverb but "Evidence trumps theory" has quite a lot of use:

Empirical evidence trumps theory. In the hierarchy of evidence, EBM favours empirical evidence over theoretical knowledge (source)

A fundamental value of science is that evidence “trumps” theory, in the sense that if evidence and theory clash then, generally, it is the theory that should be either discarded or modified (source)

Bottom line: theory is good, but experimental evidence trumps theory.(source)

Other examples can be freely found.


There's a saying, "It's all fun and games until reality bites you in the ass".

  • 2
    I don't understand the downvotes - particularly given that Reality bites is a known collocation with exactly this sense. Anyway - have a counterbalancing upvote on me! :) Nov 12, 2023 at 12:41
  • @FumbleFingers Thanks for the counterbalance. :-)
    – TimR
    Nov 12, 2023 at 13:25
  • Well, There's always one, as they say. So I don't usually think anything of it if there's just one inexplicable downvote. But it's very odd that you got TWO downvotes for such an "on point" answer. I find it hard to believe two silent downvoters both took issue with "ass" here. (For reasons that aren't exactly obvious, the BrE spelling "arse" always seems coarser to me, so yours is effectively the "sanitized" version! :) Nov 12, 2023 at 18:02
  • "reality bites" is a known collocation, but I can find one single example of this as an expression (and that is in a tweet)
    – James K
    Nov 12, 2023 at 19:57
  • That was how the first fairy tale my mom ever read me ended. I can't remember the name, but I'll search for it.
    – TimR
    Nov 12, 2023 at 21:04

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