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Inductive Reasoning - Be a Skeptic Who Employs Common Sense

Inductive Reasoning - Be a Skeptic Who Employs Common Sense

– Jean Fisher

Combine skepticism and common sense through the process of inductive reasoning. Learn the three basic types of inductive reasoning: part-to-whole, prediction, and extrapolation. Improve your logic skills.

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Inductive Reasoning - Be a Skeptic Who Employs Common Sense

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Inference is the process of drawing conclusions by making observations and applying logic. Combine skepticism with commmon sense in the process of inductive reasoning and improve your decision making skills.

Part-to-Whole and Data Analysis

Inductive reasoning is the process of making observations and, through inference, forming a generalization. A very simple example would be the part-to-whole model:

Is this a valid conclusion? Probably not. The logic of inductive reasoning requires a measure of skepticism combined with a good dose of common sense.

The skeptic looks at the conclusion--all people pull their shades at night--as possibly false. Common sense is then applied to consider reasons why the conjecture might not be true.

There appears to be much room for doubt about the uniformity of shutting curtains after dark. Sampling only the surrounding neighborhood does not supply enough data. More neighborhoods must be visited after dark to reach an accurate conclusion.

The open-curtain example uses a part-to-whole approach. One part of the population--the people in my neighborhood--always close their curtains at night, therefore all curtains are closed after dark.

Prediction Requires Experience

Applying experiences from the past in attempt to predict the future is inductive reasoning. The results of stormy weather illustrate:

This time the skeptic would consider the idea that the beach might be clear of seaweed following a storm. Common sense, however, supports the prediction of seaweed on the shore tomorrow.

Experience increases accuracy when using inductive reasoning in the form of a prediction. The more times you have seen the ocean shore after a storm, the more likely you are to offer an accurate prediction of the results of that storm.

Extrapolation and the Unknown

Extrapolation is the third type of inductive reasoning. Extrapolation is projecting information from known data to draw a conclusion regarding the unknown. A bird watcher might make an inference using extrapolation:

Let skepticism and common sense challenge this inference.

Extrapolation is useful when it is impossible to test enough data to verify the conclusion. A dedicated scientist would need plenty of time and patience to count the bird population in a neighborhood with a high degree of accuracy.

Inductive reasoning is very useful in everyday life. Decisions such as taking an umbrella to work, or selecting a movie for the whole family to enjoy will be more successful through the use of inductive reasoning. Remember to question conclusions, use your experience and apply your intelligence.

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