Human beings generally find anecdotes highly compelling. We’re not transformed as much by facts and statistics as we are by stories.
But anecdotes aren’t often objective. Anecdotes are uncontrolled individual observations—sometimes no more than one.
Reported experience is subjective. Our recollections are ever-changing, and they’re often amazingly imprecise. We often misrepresent events to agree with the audience—even embellish with made-up minutiae to render our stories more compelling.
And for that reason, anecdotes are usually the weakest form of evidence. Anecdotes are subject to a host of biases such as confirmation bias, generalization, and cherry-picking. Moreover, for every anecdote, an equal and contrary anecdote can be proffered.
Idea for Impact: Be deeply suspicious of anecdotes. Arguments that draw on anecdotal evidence to make broad generalizations are liable to be fallacious.