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Where’s the science? It’s just an anecdote…

Posted by  Andrew Rixon —December 18, 2005
Filed in Business storytelling

Batman BeginsAnecdotes and anecdotal evidence are considered fairly sceptically by scientists and science as a whole. Science is very much concerned about verifiability and repeatability and although an anecdote is certainly repeatable, verifying an anecdote is a whole other story. Scientists do fear the anecdote, and rightly so. Scientists face a lot of frustration with how the sharing of a mere anecdote is able to convince people against their theories despite the apparent strength of their scientific data. (I would hazard a guess that the Flat Earth Society is an example where at least a few scientists would be tearing their hair out…)

And as Batman’s embracing of the bat, his greatest fear, enabled him access to a deeper power in himself, it looks like scientists are doing the same with the anecdote. The following list compiled by Ron Graham shows where scientists are quite happily using anecdotes and anecdotal evidence:

  • deciding how and to whom to apply for research grants
  • deciding directions for new and unstarted research
  • deciding what questions to ask human subjects in gathering empirical data
  • deciding what and when to publish

About  Andrew Rixon

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