Evidence, or “Why should I believe it?” – Introduction


This is the first of a 5 part series (which may be broken up into smaller sections) I’m titling “Evidence or “Why should I believe it?” It’s an essay I’ve wanted to write for almost a year now and is to be included in a future critical thinking course that was inspired by several sources (including but not limited to: an excellent college level critical thinking textbook that I highly recommend: Asking the Right Questions, A Guide to Critical Thinking, 9ed, (however, the 10th ed is out now), the lectures of 2 of my university professors, the input and guidance of another professor, and my own personal knowledge accumulated through my minor in philosophy).

The first part of the series describes what evidence is and its property of quality. In addition I’ll go over 5 of 9 major types of evidence after which the more popular types (and thus, more lengthy exploration) will follow in their own threads. I decided to break this essay into parts instead of have it all in one thread because I felt it would be easier to digest and thus allow for more efficient and relevant discussion.

The reason for this essay is to give readers a stronger tool in their critical thinking “toolbox” that will hopefully create stronger arguments. Often times we think that as long as we have a response to the question “Do you have any support?“, that it is enough to support our claims and do so in an adequate way. But as explained throughout this essay, this is simply not the case. There are a variety of types of evidence that we must consider and each has its certain quality or dependability. We ought to strive to use the most dependable evidence we can in our arguments. It is my hope that this essay (and its following sections) will help make those arguments stronger and our participants just a bit wiser.

I do not claim to be an expert. I do not claim to not need to grow more in my ability to evaluate arguments and evidence. I do not claim to have the answer to every challenge in regard to proper argument analysis. And I do not claim to be able to consistent 100% of the time in providing proper form and proper evidence in my arguments. It is a practice that we all must continue to practice and strengthen with never-ceasing focus and energy. I do claim to have a fair grasp of argument analysis having studied extensively both formally and informally in the fields of critical thinking and philosophy. I’ve also worked as a TA for a professor in a critical thinking course and have almost completed my minor in Philosophy while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, making the Dean’s List.

Lastly, there may be a few typos and errors. As I am made aware of them, I will correct accordingly. If you have any suggestions or ideas on how to further expand on the ideas presented in this essay, please share them and I will consider revising this essay as needed. For those who are curious, I created the flowcharts using iMindmapInspiration, and Snaggit.

The Outline

The following is the outline for this multi-part essay.

I Evidence is the Reason to Believe a Factual Claim.
II Dependability of Evidence
1. Evidence defined in more detail
III The Types of Evidence
1. intuition
2. personal experiences or anecdotes
3. testimonials
4. personal observations
5. case examples
6. appeals to authorities or experts (Part 2)
7. research studies (Part 3)
8. analogies (Part 4)
9. statistics (Part 5) 


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