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Thread: What is evidence in science?

  1. #1 What is evidence in science? 
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    Here is my attempt at a concept of evidence in science:

    Any fact man knows leading him to know another fact.

    For example, knowing the fact of decomposition in a human cadaver is evidence of a person's death.



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  3. #2  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    what of the decomposition of flesh due to necrotic bacteria? The human is still alive, but decomposition is occuring, at the same time what of the ice-men and peat-bog men who have been frozen or sunk into anoxic environments and are not decaying but have been dead for hundreds or thousands of years?


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    what of the decomposition of flesh due to necrotic bacteria? The human is still alive, but decomposition is occuring, at the same time what of the ice-men and peat-bog men who have been frozen or sunk into anoxic environments and are not decaying but have been dead for hundreds or thousands of years?

    Of course in actual usual situation we have to check whether the cadaver is displaying conspicuous signs of ongoing life notwithstanding the decomposition going on in some spots of the body, but if all the signs of irrecoverable decomposition are present then that is evidence of a person's death.

    That is however one piece of evidence of death, there are other pieces of evidence of death; to be sure check also other evidence indicators of death.



    I like you to give an example of evidence in science, but first give your concept of evidence in science.





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  5. #4  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    There is, of course, no easy answer, and no single definition. There are some guidelines, which are probably as close as we can get to answering the question.

    For example : evidence should be empirical. meaning real world, gained from experiment or observation. Evidence from speculation, imagination, emotional learning, or introspection is not scientific evidence. This excludes religious and 'spiritual' experiences, for example. Evidence from calculation or modelling is somewhat more scientific, but will always be held in some suspicion until verified by empirical testing.
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  6. #5  
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    What the heck does this cadaver example to do with the alleged topic, about what is evidence in science?
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  7. #6  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    There is, of course, no easy answer, and no single definition. There are some guidelines, which are probably as close as we can get to answering the question.

    For example : evidence should be empirical. meaning real world, gained from experiment or observation. Evidence from speculation, imagination, emotional learning, or introspection is not scientific evidence. This excludes religious and 'spiritual' experiences, for example. Evidence from calculation or modelling is somewhat more scientific, but will always be held in some suspicion until verified by empirical testing.
    In would add measurable and repeatable to that. This is what makes the evidence objective. (Without wishing to start a long debate about the nature of "reality".)
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne View Post
    What the heck does this cadaver example to do with the alleged topic, about what is evidence in science?

    Well, it is science to want to know and it is practical science indeed, to know when to bury someone dead for it might be that he is not really dead, as has happened I am sure time and again, and the poor dead luckily was saved at the last moment before embalming which will definitely kill him, or before burial without embalming or cremation without embalming.

    This simple example in close circumstances will be useful to know exactly what is evidence in science when we are dealing with things more rare and distant and say very complex.



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  9. #8  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    going back to the topic of the OP, which went into specifics far too soon

    starting with an off-the-cuff definition of evidence, being information or facts as an indication that something is true or false, how does scientific evidence differ from other types of evidence ?

    for starters i'd say that scientific evidence must relate to facts or information that is relevant for assessing the validity or otherwise of a scientific hypothesis
    in order to be admissible as scientific evidence, it needs to (1) test the hypothesis in a way that the truth value can be established, (2) it needs to be repeatable, so that other people can redo whatever test is made to confirm the truth value of a hypothesis, and (3) it must be independent of personal opinion or witness accounts
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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