Defining Inference

An inference is a conclusion based upon available information. We infer all the time, sometimes less wisely than others. For instance, we are pulled over by a policeman when driving across town and infer that we've made a moving violation. Or this: we receive a phone call from the Internal Revenue Service and infer that we're about to be audited. But we can't properly infer anything from the sketchy information provided here. The policeman could be looking for a lost child and hoping that we've seen her. The IRS could be calling to send us a lifetime achievement award for our conscientious income tax reporting. (All right, so that last one is unlikely, but you get the idea.) In order to convince an audience that an inference is correct, we must provide evidence sufficient to support our claims or suppositions.

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