What Is Evidence?

Scientific evidence is evidence which serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis . Such evidence is expected to be empirical and properly documented in accordance with scientific method such as is applicable to the particular field of inquiry.

Okay so let’s break this down. From the Miriam Webster online dictionary empirical means: 1 : originating in or based on observation or experience 2 : relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory 3 : capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment

We want to focus on the third definition here. Evidence MUST be backed up by experimentation or direct observation. Unfortunately even observations can be flawed because according to psychologists, people perceive things in their world differently based on what are called filters. Filters are aspects of upbringing such as religion, beliefs, personal perceptions of the world, etc.

Anecdotal evidence is not actual evidence because it is a story someone told or it refers to something someone claimed to see.

For instance, I once saw a video of what people claimed was a ghost moving around outside at a gas station. Upon actual examination it turns out that the “ghost” was an insect  walking around on the camera lens. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdfRlhqVeIM) This was promoted BY the TV station as a possible haunting.

That’s one more reason you should always ask yourself “What does the evidence say?”

On Monday we’ll discuss how evidence is gathered. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing…The Scientific Method!


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