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Define "Evidence"

 
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 01:17 am
Many threads contain posts asking for or submitting "evidence" for or against certain theses in question.

But what is meant by the term evidence?

Take my hammer toe, for example. It's ugly.
And it's evidence.
But evidence of what?
And can it be used for proof of anything? If so, how does it fit into the argument? Perhaps it is simply data. But then, should it not be evaluated/measured for degree of variation from what is normal?

OK, I know I have already drifted from the topic. But my purpose is to call attention to the diffuse application of terms such as, first of all:
Evidence, but also:
Data
Hypothesis
Fact
Test
Theory
Law
Truth
Falsifiability
Necessary
Conclusion
Sufficient
Science
Technology

Not necessarily in that order and not a complete list.

It seems to me, if you wish to present a coherent argument, you should have at least a basic understanding of rhetoric. Every time you drive your car to buy pizza, you rely on the trusted conclusions of others. Do you understand why?

Here are a few discussions from a2k archives that may be interesting.

Evidence related to global warming briefly discused here

Evidence versus Proof

What is the difference between necessary and sufficient?

Thomas said here
Quote:
After all, facts are what establishes the truth or falsehood of any claim about the world.


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Type: Question • Score: 17 • Views: 10,978 • Replies: 210

 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 06:00 am
Nowadays "evidence" is commonly mostly used to refer to material causal connection that leads to possible proof. Of course the older more sensible use of the word goes way past material evidence as rational inference and deduction can be presented as a more a abstract process of evidence with valid logic reasoning.
One can speak of evidence instead of proof when one finds necessary but not sufficient conditions to establish knowledge upon something yet unknown or poorly established.
So I make myself clear on my particular definition evidence is not speculation nor opinion. The term/coinage evidence is to say the least, tricky...
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 06:00 am
@neologist,
In "argument" (like in a court), evidence requires that the statements presented as fact are able to be proven true and re repeatable.
In court the qualifications of the on presenting the evidence is under review by all sides, and the evidence is subject to cross examination (in court, I am exposed to various rules of evidence, such as the DAUBERT RULES and the LEMON TEST. There are others but these re pretty much all that I am exposed to (Whenever I present forensic evidence).

Falsifiability . If there is a way for a statement to possibly be proven wrong, its falsifiable, and is (according to Karl Popper--science)
.
For exa,mple if I say that "mammals descended from synapsid reptiles in the late Permian", is falsifiable if I can find a fossil mammal earlier than the late Permian or that I can show that it descended from "Fish".


SCientific Evidence is usually under review by peers and dispassionate reviewers to determine whether a statement of a body of "facts" can be shown to be true and repeatable and falsifiable.

If we present a proposed "fact" that,
Mammals descended from fish in the Devonian" the burden of "proving this statement is on me as the presenter.

farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 06:03 am
@neologist,
In science, I waa always taught that a LAW could be presented as an equation.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 06:16 am
@farmerman,
The validity of any equation depends on what you assume for the terms to comply isn't it ? The logic itself needs grounding which requires assumptions granted. Hence why evidence is way easier to establish then actual proof.
We don't have true proof of anything unless we agree to it socially, what we usually call sufficient reasoning reviewed by peers and specialists...that's the kind of proof we deal with. Of course if time has thought us something was that the kind of proof we deal with today may itself evolve. Once upon a time there was plenty of evidence the Sun went around the Earth...many confused such evidence with proof. Not hard to admit proof is even trickier then evidence...
Scientists are a new younger and bolder breed of philosophers that have unlearn a great deal about language and learn a great deal about everything else...I am of the opinion we need a better breed of scientists in the future if we are to keep science to find real trouble among popular opinion. I have the best interests of science at heart. Most people including scientists themselves often fail to see the point.
layman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 07:58 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
Falsifiability . If there is a way for a statement to possibly be proven wrong, its falsifiable, and is (according to Karl Popper--science)
.
For exa,mple if I say that "mammals descended from synapsid reptiles in the late Permian", is falsifiable if I can find a fossil mammal earlier than the late Permian or that I can show that it descended from "Fish".


It's a lot more complex than that, of course, Farmer. I can say that, at the very center of the planet Jupiter there exists an enormous underground city governed by highly intelligent apes. This is "falsifiable," but it is not "science."
layman
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 08:10 am
@neologist,
Offhand, Neo, I would say that "evidence" is not "proof." I don't think that's controversial by any means, yet you see some people talk about them as though they are synonyms.

In general, "evidence" is anything that might have some bearing, pro or con, on a decision about a given matter (say the guilt or innocence of a suspect). At a very minimum, to be called "evidence," the particular matter to be considered must be, in some way, RELEVANT to the issue in question.

This itself can be hard to determine, because what seems "relevant" often depends on what we already know (or think we know). That difficulty aside, many people will readily proffer as "evidence" something that is completely irrelevant to the issue. That is often because they have lost sight of, or never understood to begin with, just what the issue is, i.e., what question are we trying to answer.
0 Replies
 
layman
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 08:23 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Quote:
The validity of any equation depends on what you assume for the terms to comply isn't it ?


Absolutely, and this is true of any conclusion of any kind, not just those pertaining to the validity of "equations."

Quote:
Once upon a time there was plenty of evidence the Sun went around the Earth


Yes, and there still is. None of that "evidence" has just "disappeared."

Neo asked what a "fact" is. Is it a "fact" that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west? Sure it is, IF you assume that the earth is motionless. But perhaps not if you assume otherwise.

In that sense there are no "facts," just conclusions which are founded upon various assumptions.
0 Replies
 
layman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 08:55 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
I said:
Quote:
Offhand, Neo, I would say that "evidence" is not "proof." I don't think that's controversial by any means, yet you see some people talk about them as though they are synonyms.


Fil said:
Quote:
Once upon a time there was plenty of evidence the Sun went around the Earth...many confused such evidence with proof.


You are right here, Fil, especially when you say that "many confused such evidence with proof." But, in a subtle way, you give the appearance of doing that yourself by beginning with the phrase "once upon a time."

You seem to imply that since we no longer believe the conclusion (since we have now "proved" otherwise) the facts on which the previous conclusion was premised are no longer evidence supporting the conclusion which was drawn from it. Those facts still exist, and they are still evidence (but certainly not proof) that the sun goes around the earth.

I'm sure you know the difference. I'm just pointing out the way these valid distinctions can be blurred by linguistic "shortcuts."
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:26 am
@layman,
Agreed.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  4  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:31 am
@layman,
Theres a big difference twixt "False" and falsifiable".
Falsifiability is a pretty well established process and is not a means to refute silly assertions.

Actually, your Jupiter statement is NOT falsifiable at this juncture, we have neither the tools or the skills to set up an argument TODAY.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:35 am
@farmerman,
Agreed !
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:37 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Quote:
The validity of any equation depends on what you assume for the terms to comply isn't it ? The logic itself needs grounding which requires assumptions granted. Hence why evidence is way easier to establish then actual proof


yes. However, what I stated was that A LAW is representable by an equation, as opposed to a Theory. (The confusion here is that many people make believe that there is a hierarchy where a LAW resides on top and thats just not the case.


A theory is a set of ordered concepts that explain phenomena. In a theory, all evidence supports the theory and NO EVIDENCE refutes it.

I learned it that way from M KING HUBBERT hisself and Im stickin with it cause every other explanationis too wordy

farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:43 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Quote:
Once upon a time there was plenty of evidence the Sun went around the Earth
If " facts-in-evidence" are later found out to be false, they were never evidence.
layman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:45 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
Quote:
However, what I stated was that A LAW is representable by an equation, as opposed to a Theory...many people make believe that there is a hierarchy where a LAW resides on top and thats just not the case...




Yeah, and often a "law" is in no way connected to any theory.

Newton, for example, invented (discovered, if you prefer) a "law of gravity."

At the same time, he refused to propose any "theory" of gravity, i.e. some hypothetical explanation of why the mathematical correlations between mass, distance, etc. exists.
layman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:47 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
If " facts-in-evidence" are later found out to be false, they were never evidence.


Your definition of "evidence" is quite different than mine, then, Farmer. Like some others, you seem to think that evidence is inextricably connected to "truth" and/or "proof."

I am taking your supposed meaning of "false" in the context it was given here. You said this after quoting Fil:

Quote:
Once upon a time there was plenty of evidence the Sun went around the Earth
neologist
 
  2  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:51 am
@layman,
layman wrote:
At the same time, he refused to propose any "theory" of gravity, i.e. some hypothetical explanation of why the mathematical correlations between mass, distance, etc. exists.
Perhaps only a rudimentary hypothesis was needed.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:55 am
@layman,
Agreed.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 09:58 am
@layman,
as an applied kinda guy, yep, I have to reject as "evidence" that which can not repeatably prove to be true..

We used to believe that people with TB were vampires because theyd sleep and cough up blood which could dry on their chins overnight.
The evidence was the blood .The conclusion of vampirism used that "evidence " .

0 Replies
 
layman
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 10:00 am
@neologist,
Quote:
Perhaps only a rudimentary hypothesis was needed.


Well, Neo, now we're getting into some of the more difficult questions you raised in the original post.

Before long, the assertion that "matter attracts other matter" came to be called the "theory of gravity." But is that a theory? It is a hypothesis, sure but it is not supported by any hypothetical explanation of "why" matter attracts matter.

Some take the position that the assertion IS an explanation. I don't, nor do many others (including Newton).

Quote:
It is inconceivable, that inanimate brute matter should, without the mediation of something else, which is not material, operate upon and affect other matter without mutual contact … That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance, through a vacuum, without the mediation of anything else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it. (Newton)
0 Replies
 
 

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