Archive for the ‘Oxymoron’ Category

“Anecdotal evidence” is an oxymoron

September 17, 2007

[Definition] Oxymoron: two terms that contradict each other; a contradiction in terms.

Interesting stories (i.e. anecdotes) don’t prove anything.  They could be far from the typical. Anecdotes are not evidence.

Example: a person saw a crow drop walnuts onto a street as a car was approaching.  The car ran over the walnut, breaking it apart.  The crow then flew down and ate the contents of the walnut.

This is an interesting story, but in no way does it prove that crows are clever enough to learn such a neat trick as using human drivers to prepare their meals for them.  In fact, a scientific study was done and it concluded that crows do not possess this ability.

Lesson learned: an anecdote is just that – an interesting story.  It doesn’t prove anything.

— Extracted from Unspun by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson