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4 Bumps

Empirical Evidence?

I found this really interesting- at a Professional Development seminar we had a whole presentation on empirical evidence and how overused and misused the term is- I see the word on her quite a bit- so I thought I would post:

Empirical evidence is not the only type of evidence
Empirical evidence is not the measure we use in our court system
Lack of empirical evidence is not proof
Empirical evaluation is not the best measure of human behavior

This was brought up as part of data based standards for kids and the dangers of the growing trend of demanding empirical evidence for everything-
Example: just because you can not "prove" a child is reading at the 4th grade level does not mean they are not- just because you can not "prove" autism in a child does not mean they are not and it is not impacting them..

Your thoughts on the over or misuse of "empirical" evidence-

 
soyousay

Asked by soyousay at 12:55 PM on Jun. 17, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 26 (27,669 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (12)
  • I think the main problem is when "lack of empirical evidence" is automateicall ydeemd "evidence of the contrary".. This applies to those Atheists that, for example, claim that G-d doesn't exist becuase there's no empirical evidence to support that idea. First, they cannot claim there's NO empirical evidence. Second, lack of evidence doesn't automatically prove evidence of non-existence. There wasn't any empirical evidence that the Earth is round and that there was land we didn't know about. I'm sure Christopher Columbus and those who agreed with him suffered their own share of mockery and incredulity. Well, the lack of evidence didn't mean they were wrong, they actually were right on. We had no empirical evidence whatsoever of the existence of Pluto and what do you know? It's right there.
    So yeah, I do think that argument is abused and misused a lot, sadly.

    Sharon
    momto2boys973

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 9:38 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • You're right that behavioral issues are extremely diificult to empiracly prove, because there's really no ethical lab way to study behaviors while eliminating all other possible influences but one.

    ..and I agree that it is limmiting to only consider knowlegde and ideas that can only be empiracly proven.
    Dkhilly

    Answer by Dkhilly at 3:35 PM on Jun. 17, 2011

  • LOL!! so glad someone else caught on..i was thinking i was the only one getting a laugh out of it.
    dullscissors

    Answer by dullscissors at 4:12 PM on Jun. 17, 2011

  • (cont)

    I guess, what I'm trying to say is that there are entire classes and even graduate programs of people that sit around and think and discuss this stuff--I took undergrad classes in the both the philosophy of science and in research methods...and the actual meaning and application is much more complicated than a work seminar, or even the schooling of an average person ever gets into
    thalassa

    Answer by thalassa at 4:41 PM on Jun. 17, 2011

  • Oh and then I got the "evil eye" because NP posted some vote down fairy thing on another post and I laughed at the wrong time...

    Your inability to summon up an emergency cough is NOT my fault!
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 1:12 AM on Jun. 18, 2011

  • mainly being if you only use "empirical evidence" you are likely to miss the big picture- empirical data is not the best data in all situations- he actually used the word "cop-out"- and "lazy" ie- if you can not understand it , you can not grasp it , if you can not explain it- people tend to fall back on "data" and the search for "empirical proof"-



    I love that! Sometimes the person claiming "emperical evidence" does not realize it can easily be turned, ahem, I mean applied to themselves just as easily. You are brilliant!
    2tinyhineys

    Answer by 2tinyhineys at 3:42 PM on Jun. 22, 2011

  • It seems more to me that as it stands, this ispartly  a gross oversimplification and  partly a statement about quantitative data rather than the nature of emiricism.


    While there are other types of evidence for other fields (in terms of philosophy, law and policy debate), scientific evidence is almost universally empirical. Empirical research is the process of the quantitative or qualitative analysis of direct observation. Different fields of science have varying techniques and expectations of what evidence is valid and how it is collected and analyze, its not like its held to the same universal standard from physics to sociology.

    thalassa

    Answer by thalassa at 4:39 PM on Jun. 17, 2011

  • (cont)
    The other problem is the difference between laymen and professional terminology and understanding. "Proof" is a bit of a dirty word in science (versus the media, who loves it)--empirical evidence doesn't prove (nor does is seek to prove) anything. Data either supports or rejects is a hypothesis, it doesn't prove it. Additionally, though Popper's ideas of falsifiability are the most accepted and taught, verification is also a valid process, and even Popper admits that the absence of falsification *can be* evidence of verification, depending on the experimental scope...which applies to the idea of the "absence of evidence not being evidece of absence".
    thalassa

    Answer by thalassa at 4:39 PM on Jun. 17, 2011

  • He had a PHD and was quite versed-the seminar was for teachers- we all have Masters and above- I guess what I am trying to say is he had some great points- mainly being if you only use "empirical evidence" you are likely to miss the big picture- empirical data is not the best data in all situations- he actually used the word "cop-out"- and "lazy" ie- if you can not understand it , you can not grasp it , if you can not explain it- people tend to fall back on "data" and the search for "empirical proof"- We were talking about students, performance and learning- He was challenging us to rethink how we think- but I think it applies to lots of different situations-

    soyousay

    Comment by soyousay (original poster) at 4:56 PM on Jun. 17, 2011

  • He also talked a bit about simplification- and I think that applies in this section as well- too many times it seems that people try to out-word each other in the hopes that the other will back down- if you have to use extreme examples, what ifs and hyperbole-you probably don't get it as much as you think you do- Again- talking about educated students but applies in life as well-

    It was awesome and really spoke to the 'lots of talk and getting no where" type of situation-
    soyousay

    Comment by soyousay (original poster) at 4:58 PM on Jun. 17, 2011

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