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Evidence-based decisions are based on data, not one anecdote. But anecdotes are still valuable.

When I was younger, I once told my boss that I was going to change a plan based on something I had just observed. He said, "Oh so you're going with a sample of one?" I blushed, and that incident, I think, was the beginning of my fascination with decision making, which was sparked again when I saw this quote. 

"The plural of anecdote is data." --Raymond Wolfinger

Researching this quote, I was surprised to discover that the word 'anecdote' causes some confusion. Anecdotes are sometimes not seen as real information, but that's incorrect. A single, unsubstantiated anecdote might be viewed with suspicion, but a true observation, placed correctly in context, can be very powerful. It can launch an investigation. 

Listen to anecdotes, they may reveal something, but then use them as a reason to collect meaningful data. 

Stumbling and Mumbling: An Appeal for Ground Truth, 2016-Dec

What I’m appealing for here is for journalists (and economists) to get their shoes dirty, to look for facts on the ground rather than quotes from “senior sources” who are themselves often ignorant or careless of ground truth; in fairness, many do so ... people like Kate Belgrave and projects like Migrant Voice or Unpaid Britain.... Remember the original and correct meaning of Raymond Wolfinger’s words: the plural of anecdote IS data.” All of this, however, is a long way from a lot of the journalism we get.

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