Editor’s note: This letter is in response to “Anecdotal evidence is not reality,” published Jan. 23.
Anecdotal evidence. It sounds fancy, but most of the time it’s simply personal experience and it’s used by both sides of every good argument. Why? Because there is power in details. One person’s concrete account of an experience can elicit a response like no statistic could ever hope to and rhetoricians know it.
As a reader, I recognize the value and limitations of anecdote, but where would we be with a bunch of numbers and no personal accounts? Lost in the land of abstraction. Anecdote, gives life to numbers. Oftentimes, anecdote spawns numbers. As we saw in a recent letter, however; it can be an easy target for those who only find value in numbers. Let me share a quick anecdote about numbers.
Twenty years ago when I was a young adult crossing the bridge into informed decision-making, I reviewed some anti-gun statistics and quickly said to my husband, “I guess that makes things pretty clear.” And he, just as quickly, found some pro-gun statistics that were equally compelling. It was then that I learned the complexity of big issues – and the fickle nature of statistics.
People will always disagree, but we should be capable of meaningful discourse. For that to happen, we must be diligent in our listening. We must do our best to leave hypocrisy behind and we must be ready to give a little.(Can Trump really have gotten everything wrong so far? Every. Single. Thing?) Both sides of the current hot-button issues are supported by wildly intelligent, educated, worldly, compassionate people. If you haven’t wrapped your head around that yet and you’re still shouting “ignorance!” you’re not ready for a seat at the table.