"Anecdotes Don't Equal Data" - Sez Who??

author, William Kelley Eidem
author, William Kelley Eidem

Anecdotes vs. Data

The headline that asks if anecdotes equal data or not might appear to be a trivial question of little consequence. But I promise you this question is THE most important issue for medical science today as well as to you reading this. The question is more important than any single disease whether it be cancer, Alzheimer's, autism or any other disease.

This question is especially posed to any scientist who is reading this who has also accepted the absurd notion that anecdotal accounts don't equal data...

By the time you are finished here, you will realize that the statement that is believed as "received wisdom" these days is nothing more than a 3rd or 4th generation 'old scientist's tale' that has almost zero basis in fact.

THE HOT STOVE TEST: Gathering the data

The first time you touched a hot stove it was a mere anecdotal event. You did not do a scientific study on the possibility whether it hurts your finger to touch a hot stove . Nor are there any peer review published data on this phenomena. Did you learn from burning your finger, or do you continue to burn yourself?

That's odd. You had just one or maybe two tiny bits of evidence. But you were able to draw a valid conclusion without the assistance of the New England Journal of Medicine or the Journal of the American Medical Association. You might have made your finding when you were just three or four years old.

But even at that young age, you applied your own scientific method and concluded rightly not to touch the stove again.

It's safe to say, you've drawn many other equally valid conclusions in your life. For instance, you might have discovered that not washing the dishes results in the dishes piling up in the sink.

If you've ever run out of gas in your car, and it came to a stop in a very inconvenient place, you've discovered - in a memorable way - that your car needs gas to operate. Yet is was a mere anecdote.

It's time to retire the silly canard that anecdotes don't equal data.


THE GREATEST SCIENTISTS RELY ON ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE!

Likewise, it is a hallmark of the mediocre scientist to ignore a good anecdotal account. Don't be one of those guys.

The great scientists, the famous ones, almost all relied on an anecdote to make their discoveries, great or small. For example, Alexander Fleming noticed no mold growing in one of just one of his vials.

""When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn't plan to revolutionise all medicine by discovering the world's first antibiotic, or bacteria killer," Fleming would later say, "But I suppose that was exactly what I did."

A single vial had been contaminated with a mold. The mold killed the bacterial infection that had been in the vial previously. His other vials were not 'contaminated' with a mold. But they did contain the bacteria he was attempting to grow, and those bacteria were growing in an uninterrupted fashion.

Ignaz Semmelweis is another famous scientist and medical doctor you probably know well. He discovered it is critically important for doctors to wash their hands before delivering babies, especially if that doctor had been working with a cadaver earlier in the day.

One associate of Semmelweis was accidentally jabbed by a scalpel and came down with a fatal infection. Closer inspection revealed that the illness resembled the infections that were killing birth mothers. The scalpel had been exposed to contamination.

Semmelweis proposed hand washing. It took many years for his peers to accept his discovery, but today everyone knows he was correct, just as he knew he was correct from the first. The reluctance to accept Semmelweis's anecdotal account meant many deaths to many more pregnant mothers.

Just like Fleming's major discovery, Semmelweis's huge discovery came from one anecdotal account.

One infection...one vial...one hot stove...it looks like a pattern is beginning to emerge.


NOBEL PRIZES COME FROM GIVING HIGH PRIORITY TO ANECDOTAL ACCOUNTS

Robert Furchgott was awarded a Nobel Prize because he paid attention to an anecdotal event. He was working with blood vessels from a rabbit. In preparation for a test he was about to conduct, Furchgott scraped off a thin layer of tissue he thought he didn't need from the blood vessel and noticed that the blood vessel contracted. He never did discover what made the blood vessel contract. He merely identified it as endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF.)

That's not DATA, right! Tell that to the Nobel Prize Committee.

Let this be a lesson to any scientist who is reading this: if you want to be a scientist who NEVER discovers anything, ignore the anecdotes.


LET'S GO ONE STEP FURTHER PAST ANECDOTES

Today, every physician believes citrus prevents and cures the deadly scourge known as scurvy. Did it take one or even 100 double-blind crossover studies to make this discovery?

Not quite. Dr. James Lind wrote A Treatise on the Scurvy in 1753 based on two sailors who greatly improved from six days of eating oranges and lemons.

To be fair, his work was only picked up by a few naval officers at first until 51 years later Rear Admiral Alan Gardner provided a very small amount of lemon juice in grog for the men on his ship for a very long trip to India. His sailors experienced almost no evidence of any scurvy despite the tiny amount of daily lemon drink they were given each day

Despite initial shortages of citrus in the UK, all British naval ships were provided with adequate amounts by 1800 or shortly thereafter.

It is for this reason that the British - rather than scientists - continued to rule the seas for the next 100 years or more. ;-)


THE DEADLY DANGER IN BELIEVING OR ACCEPTING THE NOTION "ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE DOESN'T EQUAL DATA" AS A FACT

On a more serious note, consider how scurvy would be treated today if the cure had not been discovered 260 years ago. We need look no further than how we treat cancer. You can be sure, that scurvy patients would be subjected to chemo and radiation!

And they would die.

Are we are doing doing the same thing now with cancer patients? Are cancer patients being brutalized because every scientist is taught to ignore their own best instincts? The answer is, sad to say, yes. The cures for cancer have been overlooked because for decades doctors and scientists have been taught to discount the anecdotal. The anecdotal is frowned up. It's considered amateurish and not worthy in scientific circles.

As a result, if the cure for scurvy had not been discovered, anyone trying to inform the public that their child's scurvy was made better when they ate a couple fresh oranges, would be derided, laughed at, or even ignored because, "Anecdotal evidence doesn't equal data!"

It's time to reopen our eyes.

This article might seem to be devoted to debunking a trivial statement. But this debunking is anything of the sort, as we can see from the anecdotal evidence. Yet, in the halls of science every single scientist lives by the blinkered notion that anecdotal observations don't equal data. The lie is spouted by practically every professor to his students. This has gone on for far too long.

For at least 70 years and probably back to the Flexner Report from nearly 100 years ago, most scientists have closed their eyes to the very things that would make them famous and help improve our collective health. Scientists have been taught to ignore. They have been shamed for trying to bring attention to anything categorized as anecdotal.

Believing anecdotes don't count a great deal is actually quite injurious to discovery.

As you've seen, anecdotal evidence has saved us all from burning ourselves repeatedly on stoves or with matches, from running out of gas on the highway, and has saved many millions of pregnant women from dying within days of giving birth, and saved probably millions of people from getting scurvy.

It is imperative that this incorrect belief be tossed out and never repeated again. Each and every scientist needs to be disabused of the idea that anecdotal evidence needs to be dismissed out of hand. We should be doing just the opposite, in fact.

Seek out the anecdotal! That is where the real treasures are.


PS. Now - if you are a scientist - go back to the dumb teachers - who most likely have never discovered anything - and who also taught you that canard, and tell him or her what I said. You could send them a link to his article. "Anecdotes don't equal data" is a foolish bromide that has cost us dearly and will continue to cost those who believe it.

Or better yet, share with us here the examples your professors used to put forth their argument that anecdotes don't equal data.

Your input is welcome here.as well. Please leave your comments, agreements or criticisms. Maybe we can fight about it. :-) Try not to call me a dummy because it might hurt my late mother's feelings.

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Comments 11 comments

Jonathan 3 years ago

If One anecdote isn't enough, how about 20,000?

In the 1950s an Austrian woman Paula Ganner was given 2 days to live. She took Kerosene (an Eastern European traditional medicine dating back several hundred years BC) and became well. She gave birth to a son who 3 years later contracted polio. She gave him Kerosene - and he became well. So she spread the word... And received 20,000 thank you letters. Here is the article: http://www.health-science-spirit.com/kero.htm


Jonathan 3 years ago

I should perhaps mention that Paula Ganner and many of the 20,000 who wrote to her were suffering from Cancer...


Kelley Eidem profile image

Kelley Eidem 3 years ago from Panama City, FL Author

Hi Jonathan,

Twenty thousand anecdotes. :-) The crazy thing is that the folks who believe in the false bromide that anecdotes don't equal data, would still disregard it - unless it was their mother or their daughter.

Interesting stuff worth further looking into, to say the least. I did a brief Google search after looking over the article you linked to and found various positive comments on earthclinic.com.

It's also important to mention that if someone were to decide to do this, they need to read the articles carefully make sure they have the right kind of kerosene and the dosage to help minimize any possible harm.

Educate yourself before deciding if it is right for you and selecting the best form of kerosene.

The best to you.

Kelley, author The Doctor Who Cures Cancer

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Larry Wall 3 years ago

Briefly, I disagree with your conclusion.

Anecdotes should be considered, but the anecdote should be investigated in a scientific manner to see if there is a real connection to the disease.

Granted there are no definitive tests for Alzheimer's disease, which my mother-in-law has and ALS, which took my mother's life, have no definitive test, and the diagnosis is based on tons of anecdotal reports. Howver, I think the vaccines that have virutally eliminated polio, measles, mumps and rubella, will prevent shingles, the flu, etc are based on true science. Science may never cure, but it may prevent. I have several health issues. My doctor prescribes medication. My blood pressure and cholesterol are under control (I was already on a low cholesterol diet). Cataract surgery and an implanted lens is going to let me see out of one of my eyes better that I ever have before.

Some home remedies work. Some don't. No one collects data about those that do not work.


Kelley Eidem profile image

Kelley Eidem 3 years ago from Panama City, FL Author

Hi Larry,

You've been kind and gentle in your disagreement, Larry. Let's see if I can disagree some more and not seem disagreeable.

What we see with out own experiences time and again is that a good anecdotal account gives us the answer we need and does so long before trials do.

Historically speaking we've seen that anecdotes in the field of medicine. have been FAR more effective than relying on studies. In fact, the bromide has been used as a vicious weapon rather than for enlightenment.

The result is that false bromide has resulted in tens of millions of painful deaths.

I spoke of one anecdote in my three examples. The truth is that there have been literally thousands of anecdotal cures. But the poisonous bromide has taken all those wonderfully instructive anecdotes and thrown them into the fireplace.

You might not be aware of it, but vaccines are not benign in any sense of the word. There are anecdotes and more that indicate they are a major cause of Autism and many other problems, including shingles and cancer.

While science may never cure ( a bit of an over statement on my part, but the idea is still there) , anecdotal accounts have led to many cures, including scurvy and cancer. Semmelweis's solution led an to almost 100% effective way to prevent childbirth fever.

If we were to present the last 100 years of medical science, which is the time period when it became commercialized, versus what could have been achieved through allowing anecdotal medicine to be practiced, anecdotal medicine would win hands down.

Whether it is cancer, heart disease, etc. there are so many anecdotal treatments that surpass so-called scientific medicine by leaps and bounds.

In fact, scientific medicine has been an abysmal failure. I'll give you an example.

Chuck Kinsey used my anecdotal recipe for his cancer. The results were so good, that the pathologist wrote on the medical report in his own handwriting, "Wow!"

That one word tells you the results far surpassed anything he had ever seen in his entire career. My recipe slam dunked all his scientific knowledge. Since the pathologist is probably at least somewhat up to date with what goes on in medicine, it's safe to say that my recipe slam dunked the standard of care in the US period.

The best to you.

Kelley, author The Doctor Who Cures Cancer

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Richard Hackett 3 years ago from Wooster, Ohio

Oh, no, Kelley what have you done? IF the medical community accepts anecdotal medicine then they will have to admit that Hypothyroidism Type 2 does exist even though the thyroid blood test don't show it. Treatment with iodine and/or Armour Thyroid would eliminate and prevent most heart disease, diabetes type 2, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, kidney disease, metabolic X syndrome, gallbladder disease, breast, ovarian, cervical, prostrate and thyroid cancers, along with dozens of other ailments. The doctors might not have enough patients after curing just one disease of the thyroid gland.

I just raised my basal body temperature from 95.5 to 97.7 degrees in 3 months without drugs or a doctor's care! I usedLugols's solution and a proprietary supplement call Thyromin that feeds the thyroid gland. Why use drugs when one can get the body to heal itself. Oh, did I mention I take Asea, also.

Kelley keep up the good work.


Larry Wall 3 years ago

No, I will not share your article, because I do not agree. I almost died from a perforated colon. The skill of a surgeon saved my life. My son is bipolar, he is kept in check through medicine developed in the lab. Scientific studies outweighs undocumented observations.

Ultimately our health is dependent upon us maintaining healthy lifestyles, and it depends upon God giving the skill to doctors and scientists who now know how to put a new lens in my eye, once the cataract is removed that may eliminate the need for the glasses I have work for more than 50 years. It was the study of a young woman in college, studying speech pathology that trained me at the age of 20 to produce the LR and W sounds correctly, sounds you need when your name is Larry Wall.

We have learned through history. We have learned not to use leaches or burn people at the stake. Science has extended our lifetimes. I respect the right to your beliefs, but I do not agree. My sister and sister-in-law both had cancer, surgery, chemo and radiation. Both are doing well today. My mother died of ALS. It was not pretty. We have both voiced our opinions, I consider this conversation to be closed. I wish you well.


Kelley Eidem profile image

Kelley Eidem 3 years ago from Panama City, FL Author

Hi Richard Hackett,

The biggest key isn't so much for doctors to admit the bromide is specious, although that would certainly help a great deal if it happened. But as you correctly point out, they might be the last to admit it because they might find themselves woefully underemployed.

The bill of goods is sold to the general public. Each time an additional patient stops accepting the bromide, it costs the medical industry up to a half a million dollars per patient.

And then that person tells his relatives, coworkers fellow church members, etc.

Your decision to use Lugols, ASEA and the other product probably costs doctors and hospitals a ton on money in lost income over the coming years! Good for you.

The best to you.

Kelley, author The Doctor Who Cures Cancer

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Kelley Eidem profile image

Kelley Eidem 3 years ago from Panama City, FL Author

Thanks for your input, Larry.

I respect you're decision to leave your final remarks.

These are mine.

No one has said you might not have needed a surgeon for a perforated colon especially if it was caused by an injury. If it was caused by a disease, in most cases, there would have been powerful anecdotal natural medicines that would have prevented the eventuality.

The topic here is whether or not anecdotal medicine is superior to scientific medicine and whether the bromide that anecdotes don't equal data is true or not.

I believe I've ripped the false bromide to shreds.

Cataracts can be cured quite effectively with anecdotal medicine. There is no need for a surgeon when someone has cataracts. Cataract surgery never improves eyesight. It merely stops the progression for a time. Anecdotal medicine reverses cataracts.

Likewise, the most common visual impairments have been reversed too many times to count with the Alexander Bates Method.

Speech therapy isn't so much medical science. I'm glad you were able to work with a speech pathologist to train you how to overcome the disability you had. That is a wonderful thing!

Science has not exptended out lifetimes. Proper sanitation and the reduction of infant mortality has done that. But today in the US infant mortality is increasing at an alarming pace.

The average person of 25 today lives barely longer than the average person who was 25 in the year 1900. That's because infant mortality accounts for almost all the increase in average lifespan.

In fact today's 25 year olds are developing diseases that used to be reserved for the people of 60 or 70. So the future is dim for them.

Meanwhile, as I pointed out in my last comment, but it appears not to have sunk in, my anecdotal recipe for cancer is far superior to what doctors offer. It doesn't maim and it doesn't produce more cancer. In addition, it gets rid of it, too.

My anecdotal method trumps all the science that the FDA has approved so far. If I can do that - and I'm not the only one with anecdotal cures from cancer - then there is a tremendous amount wrong with the "data from the last 100 years.

No matter what words I might use to describe how wretched science has been in treating disease, it doesn't begin to capture just how abominably terrible it has been compared to the results achieved with anecdotal medicine. The difference is not much more difficult to see than the results from touching hot stove.

The best to you.

Kelley, author The Doctor Who Cures Cancer

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JJK 3 years ago

The thing is that most anecdotes are just not investigated further (phase III clinical studies) due to lack of a clear bussiness case (e.g., high dose Vitmain C). A thorough scientific investigation is always welcome, however, in many cases the potential return on investment is not enough to finance rigorous science. What is left then is the anecdotal evidence (case reports). As I see it, in many cases this is more than enough to give it a shot...


Kelley Eidem profile image

Kelley Eidem 3 years ago from Panama City, FL Author

Hi JJK,

Thanks for your reply.

Let me respond to this part of what you said, "What is left then is the anecdotal evidence (case reports)."

What I'm saying is that the anecdotes are the treasures rather than the leftovers. Of someone wants to devote years to proving anecdotal cures, let them have at it. Meanwhile, each one of us has a brain and can see we don't necessarily need years to see the obvious.

As important, we need to expose and destroy the bromide itself. It's a lie.

The best to you.

Kelley, author The Doctor Who Cures Cancer

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