Anecdotal evidence is worthless

Sep 2018
6,579
1,086
cleveland ohio
#1
I just want to say one important thing, most of the arguments i see here, and i wont even call them arguments are anecdotes this journalists, that feminist , this radical politician, i see few studies and even fewer credible ones from credible sources, my point is, it is hard to take many people here especially the conservatives , seriously when they lack basic critical reasoning skills, an anecdote proves little or nothing about the point you want to make, anyone can find a cherry picked example to back up there point
ONE ANALOGY I FOUND is spot on using an analogy to prove a point is like determining the average height of an american by stating the height of the three tallest players in NBA Basketball, anecdotes you post here are worthless
Anecdotal evidence (also proof by selected instances, or, more pejoratively, anecdata) is use of one or more anecdotes (specific instances of an event; stories) to either support or refute a claim. The use of anecdotal evidence to draw a conclusion is like using the NBA all-star teams to estimate the average height of Americans.

Whereas anecdotal evidence is sometimes the starting point of a proper scientific investigation, it is all too often the ending point and every point of a pseudoscientific investigation. In the world of pseudoscience, an anecdote is the equivalent of a peer-reviewed, double-blind, repeatable scientific experiment with consistent results.

Anecdotal evidence is often used in politics, journalism, blogs and many other contexts to make or imply generalisations based on very limited and cherry-picked examples, rather than reliable statistical studies. A classic instance was Ronald Reagan's story of a "welfare queen" who was abusing the system, who Reagan attempted to portray as indicative of the average welfare recipient. It turned out she didn't even exist when some reporters finally decided to look for her.

Anecdotal evidence is especially vulnerable to confabulation or outright deceit.

Remember: the plural of "anecdote" is not "data".[note 1] Anecdotal evidence - RationalWiki
 
Likes: Biff
Nov 2018
2,443
1,122
Montana
#2
bill sands, in your charmingly disordered way, you have hit it over the fence. Unfortunately, those who should read and follow your advice will not. It is central to all propaganda, including explanations to reinforce self-delusion, to create anecdotal "evidence" as a substitute for rational thought.

This sort of disturbed thought and messaging driven by anecdote and poor critical thinking is central to all the political and social problems we have now as demonstrated by religion-based bigotry, libertarian hypocrisy, Trump inflamed xenophobia, paranoia in the extreme Right, diversity intolerance, and many other situations. It is a particular problem with the Right as these folks tend to be anti-intellectual and suspicious of academia perhaps due to their own educational inadequacies or unconscious sense of inferiority. Donald Trump learns from Faux TV and Sarah Palin learns from the pictures in People magazine. It is no surprise that Sarah Palin and Donald Trump do not read much or consider the ideas of others to be worth consideration. The Right survives, even thrives, on ignorance.

As a specific example of the danger of "anecdote" consider that the Rwandan genocide was promoted by false anecdotes about criminal and immoral actions by Tutsi. The Nazi demonized Jews. Southerners disparaged blacks who were lynched based upon rumor. We are seeing similar demonization of refugees on the Southern border and undocumented immigrants by Trump. Consider also his attempts to control the messaging from news media.

The only solution is to continue to press the critical analysis of faulty reasoning and hope that a few of these folks will have enough residual childhood curiosity and interest to allow a few new ideas to enter what has become petrified, nearly genetically encoded, prejudice and stupidity.