what is " emperical data"

Postby yuzhouyuzhou » Mon Jul 10, 2006 2:07 pm

can you tell me what is " empirical data"

cheers
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#1

Postby Michael Lank » Mon Jul 10, 2006 3:08 pm

Empirical data is data that is collected through observation/experiment, as opposed to be theoretical. From the ancient Greek for 'experience'.
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#2

Postby rowh » Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:55 pm

Michael Lank wrote:Empirical data is data that is collected through observation/experiment, as opposed to be theoretical. From the ancient Greek for 'experience'.
Although that is all true, it is not quite the whole story. Most people use "empirical" to imply a degree of scientific validity, not just any observation, experiment or experience.

For example, I might tell you that I have observed a bicycle high up in a tree. It would be unusual to call that observation "empirical". It was just my personal experience. I might have been mistaken or hallucinating.

But then I might tell you where to find the tree, and you could confirm that anyone who looks into the tree can see the bicycle there. (Though perhaps not at this time of year, when the tree is in leaf.) That makes the observation "empirical" in the usual sense, because anyone who cares to can observe the same thing.
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#3

Postby jurplesman » Wed Jul 12, 2006 5:29 am

Michael Lank seems to be closer to the mark. Data must be measurable.


See one definition here.

You are probably thinking of empirical evidence as dictinct from the "data' bit.

We may be splitting hairs here.
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#4

Postby Michael Lank » Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:21 am

Empirical data can strictly be used for any data acquired from observation/experience, though of course in everyday use we do not use it for things we see.

The other issue is the reliability and validation of the data. This doesn't just apply to bicycles in trees, but also scientific experiment - scientists also hallucinate, make mistakes and of course are funded to 'prove' certain things!

Data is not always measurable - qualitative research data is not usually measurable. Data just means 'information'.
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#5

Postby Stephen Brown » Wed Jul 12, 2006 2:05 pm

Hi

Michael is correct. The term is derived from empiricism, the philosophical doctrine that argues that all useful or synthetic knowledge comes from sensory experience. However, as with terms such as empiricism or empirical data/evidence (positivism is another) others, and other disciplines, often use them with much less precision, leading to these terms being interpreted much more widely and loosely. For example, postmodernists and people from cultural studies are often guilty of this.

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