Anecdotal Evidence

I was looking for the German equivalent for anecdotal evidence and had to conclude – after consulting the internet and two more native speakers – that there isn’t such as thing as a translation of that expression, which – of course – makes it an interesting one.

That vaccination causes all sorts of mental health issues is based on anecdotale vidence - at best. pic: sfbaypeds.com

The expression “anecdotal evidence” is used when referring to evidence from anecdotes.  This implies a small sample – too small to be statistically relevant and therefore the data is unreliable.  That does not mean the fact for which one has anecdotal evidence is necessarily wrong – just that the available set of data isn’t strong enough to support the conclusion in a scientific sense.  Frequent problems are a biased sample or cherry-picked cases.

The expression does not necessarily have a negative connotation as it implies hat the person using it is aware of the potential issues and does not try to hid them.  If you say something like “What I am saying is based on anecdotal evidence” everybody will know that you aren’t making any scientific claims about the accuracy.

So, as long as one notices that what one is presenting is anecdotal evidence by nature and states this there is no issue.  The problem is people who mistake anecdotal evidence for real, scientific evidence and particularly those who are trying to sell us anecdotal evidence as the real thing – which is happening more often than we should like, especially by politicians to further their agenda.

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