What counts as evidence? What different types of evidence exist? Why would different fields value evidence differently? How does an understanding of rhetorical audience affect what and how we offer evidence for our views?
What can count as evidence is information , facts or data suupporting or contradicting a claim , assumption or hypothesis . So for anything to count as an evidence it has to be supported by a claim , assumption or hypothesis or theory . Evidence is always used to prove some thing for example an organization is doing well or not can only be judged by the increase in net profits it generates from its business operations . So here the claim is organization is doing well and evidence for the same is increase in net profits from business operations . Here increase in net profits will not count as evidence if claim that the organization is doing well is not there .
Now the different types of evidences which I can think about are :
1. Data : It refers to numbers or figures researched by a creditable research institution whose findings can be relied upon to make an inference . For example is the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) data indicates whether a country is doing well or not . But for it to be creditable it has to come from a relevant government department or institution which has been assigned the job of researching on the same .
2. Facts : It refers to happenings which have actualy happened and are now established . These are generally related to evidences used in criminal investigations where the law has to rely on facts to make judgements related to certain crimes .
3. Expert Opinion : Here basically the opinions of experts in their respective fields can be considered as more creditable than others and as facts . Most common example is that of a doctor .
4. Examples : These are true stories , historical events or cultural connections which can act as evidences .
5. Documentary Evidence : These include laws , administrative policies , letters , diaries , court decisions , speeches & or interviews which can serve as evidences .
6. Physical Details : These related to the physical dimensions or attributes which we can touch , smell , sense , hear or see which can serve as evidences .
Different fields value evidences differently because they have their own perspectives with respect to which they look upon the evidences . For example if the operating profits of an organization increase over a period of time . With this respect marketing and sales may feel that because of their efforts the profits have increased because they brought in more revenues and more sales . The operations guys who are in the same boat may feel that they have decreased the cost of production leading to increase in operating profits . Simillarly if the defects decreases the quality department may say that it as evidence to their quality control related efforts and in the same boat production department may say it is on account of their enhanced focus in making correct products .
Understanding of rhetoric audience is very important when we offer evidence for our views because if we do not understand them the audience may not give any value to our evidence . For example if we go by above expamples quoted by us if our audience are banks from whom we are contemplating taking loans it will be better if we give present financial figures as evidence about our financial performance and if need to take any certification or authorisation from any quality circle the evidence will be more about the defect free products we produce .