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How to evaluate Bases? Critical Questions


Assertion
How reliable is the person who made this claim?
• Could that person be mistaken in some way? 
o Could they be mis-remembering? 
o Are they in a position to know? 
• Is that person impartial?  Could they have a reason to lie or misrepresent information? 
• How reliable is that person? 
Is the claim something that could count as knowledge, or is it merely someone's personal opinion?
 
By Definition
• Is the definition clear? 
• Does everyone agree with this definition?  
• Could two people mean something different by these expressions? 
 
Case Study 
• Is the case study relevant? 
• Does the case study provide a good basis or analogy for the claim? 
• Do the results of the case study concur with the claim being made? 
 
Common Belief
• Is this belief true or is it just a popular opinion, common misunderstanding or stereotype? 
• Is this belief really held widely across the whole population? 
• Is this belief well founded? 
• Is this belief free of serious dispute? 
• If the claim is a common generalization, is it true or acceptable in this instance? 

Data
• How reliable are the data?
• How likely is it that the data could contain errors? 
• Could the data have been tampered with? 
• Were the data collected using a reliable and appropriate research method? 
• Are the data relevant, and do they really support the claim? 

Event
• Is the event relevant? 
• Who reported the event and are they reliable? 
• Does the event support the claim or provide an appropriate analogy? 
 
Example
• How relevant is the example? 
• Is one example sufficient to establish the claim?  (Sometimes a single example is enough to establish a claim; at other times it isn't.) 

Expert Opinion
• Is the expert 
o a genuine expert in an area relevant to the claim (i.e. do other experts recognize his or her expertise)? 
o sincere? 
o trustworthy and disinterested (i.e. free of conflicts of interest)? 
o in a reasonable position to make this claim (e.g. if the claim is a prediction or hypothesis)? 
o justifiably confident of the truth of this claim? 
• Is the claim seriously disputed by other experts in the field? 

Law
• Is this Act or precedent relevant to the claim? 
• Has the law been superseded? 
• Do the details of the claim in question match the requirements of the law? 
 
Media
• Is this media report reliable? 
• Has the media report been manipulated in some way, for example, propaganda or commercial interest? 
• Is the media form a genuine information source or does it provide mere gossip and innuendo? 
• Does the media information provide a balanced view? 

Publication
How reliable is this publication?
• How respected or respectable is the author in the relevant field? 
• How respected or respectable is the publisher? "t 
• If the publication is on the internet, is it made available on a reliable institution's website? 
• If the publication is a journal, is it refereed or is everyone accepted for publication? 
• How recent is the publication?  Could the information be out of date? 

Quote
• Is this quote genuine, or is the person being misquoted or quoted out of context? 
• Is the quote relevant to the claim above it? 
• Does the quote really support (e.g. substantiate or illustrate) the claim? 
Remember that when you are evaluating a quote as a basis for a claim, you are not just saying, for example, "It's true that this quote was made by Shakespeare in Macbeth"; rather you are saying, "This quote provides solid/shaky/nil support for the claim above".
 
Statistic
How reliable is the statistical evidence?
• Are the statistics based on reliable data? 
• Was the sample used for the statistics sufficiently large and representative of the population about which it generalizes? 
• Are the statistics recent? 
• Are there other statistics in this area that show very different results? 
• Does the statistic come from a trustworthy, objective, unbiased and disinterested source (i.e. where there is no conflict of interests)?  (E.g. who financed the study and why?) 
• How big is the leap from the analysis of the data to the conclusion or findings? 
         o  Does the interpretation of the data rely on questionable assumptions? 
         o If the claim is about a causal link, is there evidence of causation or merely correlation? 

Web Resource
• Does the website provide reliable information for the claim being made? (Think about whether it is a .com, .edu or .org address). 
• Who operates this website? Are they a credible source? 
• Does this website provide balanced views or only one view? 

by Rationale
5 years ago

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