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# Anecdotes are not "piles of statistics".

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 06:51 am
I've been thinking that we haven't delineated the difference between data and statistics. Statistics is just one way of interpreting/analysing data. It isn't data.

Just thought I'd mention that.
maxdancona

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 06:58 am
Quote:
statistics

1: a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of masses of numerical data

2: a collection of quantitative data

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/statistics

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 07:26 am
@maxdancona,
So we're going with definition no.2?

Makes me feel icky. Data is not information, information is not knowledge. Library science 101. Probably irrelevant to what you're trying to achieve.
maxdancona

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 07:32 am
Quote:
Makes me feel icky. Data is not information, information is not knowledge.

I don't really know what you are getting at here. Data is information. Knowledge is the collection of things we know... some of what we know comes from data.

The point is that anecdotal evidence is not reliable.

If you want an an objective understanding, you need to look at all of the information available... this includes the information that doesn't support your pre-conceived notions.

This is why statistics (properly obtained) are a valid, objective way to look at things.

maxdancona

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 07:37 am
@maxdancona,
There is statistical evidence that childhood vaccinations prevent serious diseases and save lives. There is anecdotal evidence that vaccinations cause autism.

Do you get your kids vaccinated?
0 Replies

Kolyo

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 01:12 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I can give you anecdotes of kids dying from playing baseball. How would you suggest I decide if baseball is more important then playing with pitbulls?

There are relevant statistics about the risks of little league.
Anecdotes are what I turn to when I don't have relevant statistics handy.
maxdancona

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 01:27 pm
@Kolyo,
The is exactly the problem. Without the relevant statistics handy, you can make bad assumptions about the real risks. There are some pretty horrifying stories of kids dying from little league.

0 Replies

neologist

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 02:07 pm
@maxdancona,
Yet the prisons are full of those convicted by a preponderance of anecdotal evidence.
0 Replies

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 02:45 pm
@Ticomaya,
Ticomaya wrote:

No, but statistics are "piles of anecdotes." Take a bunch of anecdotes, and you got statistics.

You may try a prove your case by citing to statistics, but I can point to my anecdote to prove that -- at least in that one instance -- your statistics were wrong.

While you might be able to argue that statistics are merely a pile of anecdotes it would be wrong to argue that a pile of anecdotes is always statistics.

Statistics require that the data (anecdotes) be selected in a random and in an unbiased fashion. A pile of anecdotes is rarely scientifically selected at random.

Selecting one instance where something occurred when statistics say it would happen rarely doesn't disprove the statistics. It would only mean you are selecting your anecdotes to confirm a bias. The statistics would say it can happen, there just might be a question of how often it happens.
0 Replies

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 02:57 pm
@Ticomaya,
Ticomaya wrote:

You might tell me, as one other poster at this forum has done in the past, that -- statistically speaking -- a child is more likely to die in a car crash than by a pit bull attack; regardless, I'm not going to let my young child play with a pit bull. Why, because -- anecdotally speaking -- I have personally seen the mutilation caused by a pit bull to a 10 year old boy. That's an anecdote I bring to the table. Now, does that anecdote reflect my bias, or does my bias reflect my anecdote?

That would be an example of misusing statistics. You or the person that told you that is misusing the statistics to try to make them mean something they don't.

The first statistic is the likelihood of something happening in the normal course of day to day events. It fails to take into account the chance of a child meeting a pit bull compared to attacks.

Let me show you in a more exaggerated form. Death statistics would show that very few people die from jumping out of an airplane without a parachute at 5,000 feet. However that doesn't mean you are likely to survive jumping out of airplane at 5,000 feet without a parachute.
0 Replies

Lustig Andrei

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 02:58 pm
I assume you all know the 50-50-90 rule? If the statistics show that your chances are 50-50 then it's a sure bet they're 90 percent against you.
maxdancona

3
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 03:40 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Well Andrei, the 50-50-90 rule is wrong 40% of the time.
0 Replies

ossobuco

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 04:04 pm
On pit bulls, there are variations re upbringing, and probably statistics on that.
0 Replies

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 04:18 pm
@maxdancona,
Oh, sorry, basic library information science

maxdancona

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 04:44 pm
I have never encountered that pyramid before Hingehead. It is interesting and I have a few comments.

1) Data is at the core, and is labeled "objective facts". I agree with this completely. Objective facts are the foundation of knowledge and the basis of good decisions.

2) Anecdotes aren't mentioned in this pyramid. I think there is a good reason for this. The term "experience" is the closest you get... but experience is not the same as anecdotal evidence.

3) I like the term "measurable efficiency". Getting objective feedback on your ideas is invaluable.

4) I don't like the idea that Information is "A message meant to change receiver's perception." Maybe this is phrased poorly, but it sounds manipulative.

I change my perception when there are facts (i.e. objective data) or a logically valid argument that contradicts my pre-conceived notions. I love it when this happens, this is for me the best way to learn.

To me, knowledge should be objective... and my present understanding of knowledge should be open to questioning (I hope Thomas doesn't read this ). The problem with anecdotes is that they support your existing bias and have the effect of closing your mind to contradictory evidence.

cicerone imposter

1
Tue 27 Jan, 2015 06:07 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
I have never encountered that pyramid before Hingehead. It is interesting and I have a few comments.

1) Data is at the core, and is labeled "objective facts". I agree with this completely.

I change my perception when there are facts (i.e. objective data) or a logically valid argument that contradicts my pre-conceived notions. I love it when this happens, this is for me the best way to learn.

/quote]

Why is it that so many of our political leaders and those of religion depart from
this simple truth?
0 Replies

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