This section is about the concept of scientific evidence in pure science. For the legal term see Scientific evidence (law).
Scientific evidence is evidence which serves to either support or counter a scientific theorem 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. Standards for evidence may vary according to whether the field of inquiry is among the natural sciences or social sciences.
Anecdotal evidence is an informal account of evidence in the form of an anecdote, or hearsay. The term is often used in contrast to scientific evidence which are types of formal accounts. Anecdotal evidence is often unscientific because it cannot be investigated using the scientific method. Misuse of anecdotal evidence is a logical fallacy and is sometimes informally referred to as the "person who" fallacy ("I know a person who..."; "I know of a case where..." etc. Compare with hasty generalization). The problem with arguing based on anecdotal evidence is that anecdotal evidence is not necessarily typical; only statistical evidence can determine how typical something is.
Hasty generalization, also known as fallacy of insufficient statistics, fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, leaping to a conclusion, hasty induction, law of small numbers, unrepresentative sample or secundum quid, is the logical fallacy of reaching an inductive generalization based on too little evidence. It commonly involves basing a broad conclusion upon the statistics of a survey of a small group that fails to sufficiently represent the whole population. Statistics in general can have many problems, especially in surveys where the questions can assume too much, be too vague, or be too misleading.
Statistics is a mathematical science pertaining to the collection, analysis, interpretation or explanation, and presentation of data. It is applicable to a wide variety of academic disciplines, from the physical and social sciences to the humanities; it is also used and misused for making informed decisions in all areas of business and government.
Statistical methods can be used to summarize or describe a collection of data; this is called descriptive statistics. In addition, patterns in the data may be modeled in a way that accounts for randomness and uncertainty in the observations, to draw inferences about the process or population being studied; this is called inferential statistics. Both descriptive and inferential statistics can be considered part of applied statistics. There is also a discipline of mathematical statistics, which is concerned with the theoretical basis of the subject.
The word statistics is also the plural of statistic (singular), which refers to the result of applying a statistical algorithm to a set of data, as in employment statistics, accident statistics, etc.
Induction or inductive reasoning, sometimes called inductive logic, is the process of reasoning in which the premises of an argument are believed to support the conclusion but do not ensure it. It is used to ascribe properties or relations to types based on tokens (i.e., on one or a small number of observations or experiences); or to formulate laws based on limited observations of recurring phenomenal patterns.
- Faulty generalization
- Hasty generalization
- Abductive reasoning
- Deductive reasoning
- Retroductive reasoning