Personal Experience

Although Americans strive to be analytical, objective, scientific, what most persuades them is experience. For Americans experience is fact, real data, empirical, irrefutable. Theory, logic, rigorous analysis are seldom more convincing than hearing a person say: “I was there. I saw it with my own eyes” or “We tried the approach and it worked”.

Empiricism is the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience. As a philosophy, it emerged with the rise of experimental science and was developed in the 17th and 18th centuries by thinkers such as John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. The idiom “seeing is believing” signals the belief that people can only really believe what they experience personally.