Anecdotal evidence

The ‘here’ in the first para refers to Secular Cafe, from which this is reposted.

In a number of threads, here and in other places, I’ve seen discussions – sometimes more than a little vituperative – concerning the value or otherwise of anecdotal evidence.

To start with my current position on it before commenting further.

I think that anecdotal evidence is evidence, but with three little caveats.

It is often, IMV, poor evidence, it is sometimes evidence of something other than what the anecdote purports to be evidence of, and it is rather infrequently later confirmed by later observations which have physical rather than anecdotal evidence behind them.

Having got that out of the way, an in-exhaustive list to identify the sort of alleged phenomena in which anecdotal evidence raises its head, in no particular order but as they spring to mind, with a few exceptions which I am anxious to include.

Ghosts, the effectiveness of clairvoyance, the effectiveness of astrology, the effect (or otherwise) of the full moon on madness,  hospital admissions et al, sightings of monsters on various lakes, UFO sightings, alien abductions, the power of prayer, what may broadly be called religious or spiritual experiences, unusual and hard or impossible to replicate physical phenomena.

For all of these, and others, I’d see it as important to keep a few things in mind.

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