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Chapter 8: How Good is the Evidence: Personal Observation, Research
Studies, and Analogies
How good is the evidence: personal observation, research studies, and analogies?
o Publicly verifiable data – data obtained under conditions such that other qualified
people can make similar observations and et the same results
o Control – use of special procedures to reduce error in observations and in the
interpretation of research findings
o Precision in language – precise and consistent in language
Problems with research findings
o Varies in quality
o Often contradict one another
o Don’t prove conclusions
o Researchers have expectations, attitudes, values, and needs that bias the questions they
o Speakers/writers often distort or simplify research conclusions
o Research “facts” change over time
o Varies in how artificial it is
o The need for financial gain, status, security, and other factors can affects research
Scientific research is subject to public
Research uses control to minimize
Scientific research is precise and
consistent in the use of language
Research varies greatly in quality and
Research findings often contradict one
another and facts can change over time
Research findings can only support
Scientific research is a human activity; it
can be distorted and is not free of
Impossibly certainty fallacy – assuming that a research conclusion should be rejected if it is not
Clues for evaluating research studies
o What is the quality of the source of the report?
o Does the report detail any special strengths of the research?
o How recently was the research conducted, and are there any reasons to believe that the
findings might be changed over time?
o Have the study’s findings been replicated by other studies?
o How selective has the communicator been in choosing studies
o Is there any evidence of strong-sense critical thinking?
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