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Klaus Krippendorff


Linguistically, the word “reliability” occurs in contexts of relying on something, for example, on one's tools, someone else's service, given measuring instruments, or data. In the conduct of science, the reliability of data is an important bottleneck for the construction of theories or scientific conjectures, and for giving reasonable advice. Data usually are the primary and therefore the most direct representations of typically transient phenomena that researchers are interested in theorizing, conceptualizing, or explaining. Interviews, public happenings, historical events, natural catastrophes, even scientific experiments do not last long enough for important details to be inspected (→  Research Methods ; Experimental Design ). Moreover, phenomena cannot be compared unless they co-occur. Analysis, comparison, and research of diverse transient and non-synchronous phenomena cannot proceed without relying on sufficiently durable representations of them: data for short. Even archaeological artifacts that have endured natural decay, often thought to be direct and unmistakably obvious data, are not data unless they can be seen as the products of a distant culture that archaeologists seek to understand. Observations, when committed to memory, may seem individually more real than phenomena talked about by others, but they have no intersubjective status until they are recorded, described, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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