Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence. In law, rules of evidence govern the types of evidence that are admissible in a legal proceeding. Types of legal evidence include testimony, documentary evidence, and physical evidence. The parts of a legal case which are not in controversy are known, in general, as the “facts of the case.” Beyond any facts that are undisputed, a judge or jury is usually tasked with being a trier of fact for the other issues of a case. Evidence and rules are used to decide questions of fact that are disputed, some of which may be determined by the legal burden of proof relevant to the case. Evidence in certain cases (e.g. capital crimes) must be more compelling than in other situations (e.g. minor civil disputes), which drastically affects the quality and quantity of evidence necessary to decide a case. Scientific evidence consists of observations and experimental results that serve to support, refute, or modify a scientific hypothesis or theory, when collected and interpreted in accordance with the scientific method. In philosophy, the study of evidence is closely tied to epistemology, which considers the nature of knowledge and how it can be acquired.
Michael Peres is a journalist, software engineer, radio host, founder, and traveler. Peres is the editor and chief at Peres Daily News and covers topics relating to entrepreneurship, politics, entertainment, and daily events. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington.