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Online Research | Fact, Observation & Inference | Critical Thinking
|Statement of fact
||Statement of inference|
|Made after observation or experience
||Made anytimebefore, during or after
|Confined to what one observes; cannot be made about
||Goes beyond what one observes; may concern the past,
present or future|
|Limited number possible
||Unlimited number possible|
|High probability (not certainty as perception dependent
on individual interpretive processes)
||Represents some degree of probability|
|Tends to bring people together and further agreement
||Tends to create distance between people and more likely to cause disagreement|
- Observation is contact with the world through the use of the senses.
- Observation equips us with the material for thought, reflection and
- Observers exposed to the same sense impressions do not necessarily
see, hear, feel, taste or smell the same things.
- Observation is influenced by experience, knowledge and emotion.
- Attention plays an important part in observation.
- One can be trained to be a more effective observer.
- Some people are more reliable witnesses than others.
- The trained observer sees significant details.
- A sharp eye for details is an important skill for many professions:
scientists, physicians, artists, instructors, accountants, among others.
- We draw inferences on the basis of observations,
or on conclusions drawn from previous observations.
- Inference is the interpretation of facts. (A
statement of fact is an observation statement that can be verified by the
use of the senses.)
- Valid inferences are based on sufficient and
- Inferences express probability, not certainty.
- Our training and background provide a basis
for our inferences.
- Inferences enable us to assess and evaluate
conditions and make predictions.