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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:00 pm
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Presenting evidence

Like this post (1): ttruscott
What is evidence?

"Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence

"Ground for belief or disbelief; data on which to base proof or to establish truth or falsehood."
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/evidence

"the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid."
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/evidence

Origin: Middle English: via Old French from Latin evidentia, from evident- 'obvious to the eye or mind'
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/evidence

Sources of evidence

We are not composing graduate level theses here. So, any source of evidence is acceptable. This includes any website such as Wikipedia, personal websites (however, not your own website), Youtube videos, podcasts, etc. Of course, all the usual sources of evidence are acceptable: books, articles, journals, magazines, etc.

Strength of evidence

Not all evidence carries the same force. The better quality your evidence, the weightier your evidence would be. Quoting from a prestigious university would carry more weight than quoting from a high school senior's homework posted on his personal website.

Also, if you present evidence from commonly accepted sources, then it would give your evidence more strength. Even better is to present evidence that is from your opponent's side. So, if you are a non-Christian and you present evidence from a Christian website, it would be strong evidence.

Acceptability of evidence

Some things do not count as acceptable forms of evidence. Though they can be presented, they do not bolster one's arguments and do not fulfill rule 5 (Support your assertions/arguments with evidence).

Examples include:
- opinions and assertions
- anecdotal evidence
- what most people believe

Empirical/Non-empirical evidence

Though the best forms of evidence are empirical evidence (things that can be measured, observed, quantified), non-empirical evidence are still allowed, but in a limited context. Philosophical and metaphysical arguments usually do not involve empirical evidence, but rely on non-empirical evidence. However, the hard sciences relies on empirical evidence and do not accept non-empirical evidence.

Multiple sources of evidence

It is best if you can present more than one source for your evidence (or at least be able to present more than one if asked). If there's only one place in the whole world that you can find evidence from, then it will be held suspect. But, if you can find two dissimilar sources that say the same thing, it will carry more weight.

Quote mining

Be careful not to quote others and lift their words out of context. For example, saying God does not exist because the Bible states, "there is no God" would be an example of quote mining.

Accessibility of evidence

Evidence should ideally be accessible by the general public. When quoting material not accessible by the general public (professional journals, out of date books), provide substantial quotes to allow the reader to understand the material. Journal abstracts are typically accessible to the public and may be quoted freely.

Referencing evidence

Evidence presented should provide a source. References should be as specific as possible. If you quote a book, provide the book information as well as the page number. If you quote a website, give the full URL.


Last edited by otseng on Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:54 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:00 pm
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Evidence should ideally be accessible by the general public. If you quote a journal that is only available to subscribers, since it cannot be verified by readers, it will not have much value for debates.


The vast majority of the strongest, most descriptive evidence is in journals which are usually not available to the public. Generally, if I cite a journal in debate I have access to it and I will post a large portion of it, but their value is significant in debates.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:02 pm
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What is scientific evidence?

The issue of evidence came up recently in the Science subforum; specifically, the issue was what constitutes as evidence for a scientific theory.

A scientific theory is nothing more than a set of explanations; and evidence for a specific scientific theory is the consistency to which the explanation fits with observations of the natural world. If the explanation confirms what is known about the natural world, then the explanation under discussion has support. Scientific evidence is therefore the observations, experiments, theories within other fields, predictions, possible falsifications, etc. that support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis.

By the way, scientific theories need to be (A) based on a large number of observations, (B) useful (must make definite predictions about the results of future observations), (C) falsifiable, (D) correctable, and (E) provisional (open to experimental checking, and can not assert absolute certainty).

otseng wrote:
... Evidence should ideally be accessible by the general public. If you quote a journal that is only available to subscribers, since it cannot be verified by readers, it will not have much value for debates.


The professional literature is a gold standard in science and should serves as a strong source. However, many of the current and recent articles will be available online only through subscription. Fortunately, your local public library probably has some of the more widely read periodicals available on location or via loan. Article abstracts are always available online, and may still serve as useful sources on this forum. Most people aren’t going to understand anything beyond the abstract anyhow.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:23 pm
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nygreenguy wrote:

The vast majority of the strongest, most descriptive evidence is in journals which are usually not available to the public. Generally, if I cite a journal in debate I have access to it and I will post a large portion of it, but their value is significant in debates.

I think citing large portions of it would be a good compromise.

nursebenjamin wrote:
Article abstracts are always available online, and may still serve as useful sources on this forum. Most people aren’t going to understand anything beyond the abstract anyhow.

Yes, usually abstracts are accessible to the public. And they serve as a good source for evidence.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:28 am
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Re: Presenting evidence

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This is an excellent summary! Could we attach a link to this page at rule 5 in the rules page?

otseng wrote:
Empirical/Non-empirical evidence

Though the best forms of evidence are empirical evidence (things that can be measured, observed, quantified), non-empirical evidence are still allowed, but in a limited context. Philosophical and metaphysical arguments usually do not involve empirical evidence, but rely on non-empirical evidence. However, the hard sciences relies on empirical evidence and do not accept non-empirical evidence.

On this matter, I'd simply like to underscore the need to keep clear whether the conversation is scientific or philosophical. Not only has it been a difficulty here, I've noticed an decrease in the ability to distinguish between these fields in published work as of late.


Last edited by Jester on Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:35 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:02 am
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Re: Presenting evidence

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I've updated the OP with the discussions about journals.

Jester wrote:
Could we attach a link to this page at rule 5 in the rules page?

Done.

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