Anecdotes, testimonials and personal studies
‘Ask for Evidence’ warning that anecdotes are not a trustworthy basis for inferring treatment effects.Key Concepts addressed:
Journalists often use anecdotes or personal stories to make their stories seem more relevant to people’s lives or emphasise why a piece of scientific research matters. They are usually presented as case studies of individuals’ experiences, which may not include any facts or figures.
Often, a personal story won’t be based on any credible scientific research at all. For instance, a website that sells a cure for cancer that uses magnets might include stories of people claiming they’ve benefitted from it, even though no human study of “magnet therapy” has ever been done.