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← Anecdote vs. fact

Graxan's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Graxan

Some excellent responses, thanks all.

So from what's been said so far, as a result in not being able to know everything, it seems there is a reliance we have on other people who have a) Specialised(*) in an area of expertise or b) have claim to an experience that is not common-place. Due to social and evolutionary pressures we are programmed to take these pieces of information at face value.

This then, is where errors are able to creep in to the cultural information gathering process. These errors being caused by people's false informational claims, which would include:

The desire to climb in social status, either through claims to greater knowledge and gaining deference from others or through direct misinformation in order to disadvantage others.

Mass-hysteria induced affirmations such as in religious ceremonies or faith healing,

Repetition of misinformation, whether this is known or unknown, as a social bonding tool, e.g. story telling.

Rejection of information causing social problems. (Hurt feelings as mentioned by Jussie)

I think there is some obvious value to the anecdote as it seems that many of these will contain truthful information, but as I mentioned originally it bothers me that if this is a naturally developed method of passing information along then why does it allow for such massive errors?
The answer must lie somewhere in human social behaviours. If you assume for a moment that the anecdote is a pure form of passing along information then something else could be polluting the process, e.g. as I mention above, lying, mass hysteria, control. Etc.

  • The phenomena I most often experience with regard to my own role in ICT is what I call the 'Expert Syndrome'. You will often note that in a group of people, everybody will defer to that individual who has some knowledge which seems to drive in them the desire to artificially expand on their minor amount of real knowledge on the subject to the point that anything they put forward is fiction and immediately obvious as wrong to a real specialist. But, the damage will have already been done.
  • Comment 17 by Madellen8

    I’m not personally sure than philosophy and science can be so tightly interwoven, so all I’m trying to do here is engage in a discussion on an observed behaviour in people. I’m not a philosopher though and have only brief acquaintance with such terms as epistemology etc. I also harbour some suspicion to a number of posters who I’ve come to see as being armchair philosophers, who will always try to bend a fairly logical and scientific discussion out of shape through philosophical jargon. I have to admit my irritation with this (Although it’s not happened yet on this particular discussion though!)

    Wed, 21 Sep 2011 09:22:44 UTC | #873472