magnifying glass Types of Evidence

The following are examples of evidence often used to support points of view, endorse medical treatments, recommend products, and much more.

Personal Experience
Eyewitnesses are often in a position to make a factual claim.

If you were outside this morning you probably know what the weather was like. However, keep in mind that as reports get farther away from the eyewitness the less reliable they are. Hearing from someone about something they saw on TV a week ago is less reliable than experiencing it yourself.

Experts
People who have specialized knowledge on a topic tend to be reliable sources of facts.

Ask yourself if the person is really an expert on the topic. For example, doctors can reliably report on a certain drug or therapy, but beware of famous people endorsing products. Just because Jim is a great football player does not make him an expert on car insurance, medications, or most other topics.

Research Studies and Reports
Research studies are often created by experts after months or even years of research.

Although research studies tend to provide facts supported by reliable evidence, it's important to ask yourself a few questions. Are the people writing the report experts on this topic? Am I seeing only a part of the study that may have left out key information? Are people writing the report biased in some way?

Statistics
Just as with research studies and reports, statistics compiled by experts can be reliable sources of information.

When using statistics you do need to think about the source of the statistics and their context. A news story that selectively chooses statistics from a large report can lack important context to explain those numbers.

photo flickr AuntieP

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