Anecdotal Evidence

TheKettleBellPhysioBlog, Evidence, The Kettlebell Physio, Uncategorized0 Comments

I’ve watched magician Dynamo on the TV get a ring around the stem of a champagne class, walk on the river Thames, levitate and vanish in the middle of crowded shop. I’ve seen it, but of course I don’t believe it. That’s the point of magic; we know that it’s not real but our eyes and brain deceive us. Nobody can defy the natural laws of physics, but a magician certainly appears to be able to do that.

Seeing is believing and believing is seeing.

The British doctor Richard Asher noted in one of his essays for doctors:

“If you believe fervently in your treatment, even though controlled tests show that it is quite useless, then your results are much better, your patients are much better, and your income is much better, too. I believe this accounts for the remarkable success of some of the less gifted, but more credulous members of our profession, and also for the violent dislike of statistics and controlled tests which fashionable and successful doctors are accustomed to display.’

Asher R. Talking sense (Lettsomian lecture, 16 Feb, 1959). Transactions of the Medical Society of London, vol LXXV, 1958-59.

The plural of anecdote is not data and if something defies the laws of nature it is simply not valid, regardless of how many times one may have seen it occur. As Dynamo continues to fool people with his magic, the human body will continue to fool manual therapists.

A common way anecdotal evidence becomes unscientific is through fallacious reasoning such as the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy – the human tendency to assume that if one event happens after another, then the first must be the cause of the second.

Thanks to Lars Avemarie for sharing the graphic

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