anecdotal vs. statistical knowledge

How can, or should, we balance the cold math of statistical knowledge with the often emotional experience of anecdotal knowledge?

Maybe only 1% of people are killed by gunshots
but for that person and that family that is a devestating event.

Anecdotal arguments mislead
when the emotional weight of one incident overrides the statistics and range of the group as a whole.

But anecdotes are still necessary.
Our emotions often determine the severity of an event,
though not its frequency.

There is always a multiplicity of responses, which we can and should experience in sequence to see the variety, and the varieties of experiences. We just cannot experience this diversity simultaneously.
We only experience a particular simultaneity at any one time.

Anecdotal is for the visceral.
Statistical is for a weighing of your luck.

You must temper statistical with the actual, the actual with how representative it is.

Anecdotal arguments can be seen, and experienced.
Statistic cannot, just the numerical results in numbers or graphs.

Both are necessary.
But if it is your house that is burning
it is no comfort or consolation to know that less that less than 1% of people experience a complete house conflagrations.

[ back ]