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Inductive Reasoning

When examining all data would be impossible or impractical, inductive reasoning leads to a generalized conclusion from particular instances. You start with evidence about some members of a class or category. This becomes the basis for your conclusion or theory about all members of that class.

Because extrapolating from a limited sample to reach a general conclusion involves uncertainty, inductive reasoning generates only hypotheses or working assumptions. If additional information continues to support your predicted pattern, it strengthens the hypothesis. But even one well-founded contradiction suggests the need to modify or develop a new theory. The march of science is recorded in the rejection of one theory (such as assuming electricity to be a fluid) and the creation of another that better explains new evidence.


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