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#1 2011-01-15 15:12:23

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2152

anecdatal << anecdotal

When we rely on stories and ignore hard evidence, anecdotes can be the antithesis of real data. The same anecdotal stories can provide real data, however, if handled with proper statistical care.

Is the link between data and anecdotes, whether synonymal or antonymal, the reason that dozens of web pages speak of “anecdatal” evidence? Some instances of “anecdatal” are undoubtedly spelling errors, and a few may even be puns, but I wonder if a residue are the result of inadvertent semantic influence.

Four examples from the web:

Book description: “Told with wit and humour, it is an intriguing and anecdatal account of the important role of the British Military Administration gave its ordinary soldiers during the crucialpost-war period before Malaya embarked on her journey towards nationhood.”

Forum comment: “Can’t say I’ve known enough of any other particular immigrant demographic for remotely significant anecdatal conclusions.”

Discussion group:Anecdatal and all, but I think there’s definitely a connection between stress and lowered fertility.”

Global warming discussion: “In this thread we have already seen a table. As if the anecdatal evidence of a table can deconstruct a body of scientific work.”

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#2 2011-01-15 15:41:18

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: anecdatal << anecdotal

Is the link between data and anecdotes, whether synonymal or antonymal, the reason that dozens of web pages speak of “anecdatal” evidence?

Kem, checking anecdata on ‘OneLook’ dictionary search there were 3 dictionary definitions. Here’s one, and a cite:

(an.ik.DAY.tuh; an.ik.DAT.uh) n. Anecdotal evidence used as data in an attempt to prove a hypothesis or make a forecast.
But some social scientists who make a study of criminal behavior reject what Richard J. Gelles, director of the Family Violence Research program at the University of Rhode Island calls the “anecdata” of women’s advocates. “The trouble is the real scientific data doesn’t bear out the anecdotes,” said Gelles.
—William Hamilton, “Crimes of Passion Spark Intense Debate,” The Washington Post, August 14, 1994

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#3 2011-01-15 16:32:15

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2152

Re: anecdatal << anecdotal

The three dictionaries you mention are WordSpy, Wiktionary, and Urban Dictionary. These three “dictionaries” often enshrine puns as lexical entries. WordSpy (a web site I used to read frequently) only lists neologisms. We’ve puzzled over Urban Dictionary on this forum before-some of its entries may reflect the compiler’s sense of humor rather than actual usage. Wiktionary is a wiki—nuff said. Many entries in these dictionaries are proposals for new English words rather than reflections of widespread English usage.

Last edited by kem (2011-01-15 18:49:14)

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#4 2011-01-15 18:00:40

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: anecdatal << anecdotal

As far as neologisms go anecdata sounds like a pretty good one, but it’s too bad that the word-shaping occurs near the end of the word where it might be overlooked. (Even so, the next time I hear someone use the term “guesstimate” I’ll ask him if he can support it with “anecdatal” evidence).

The thing about anecdotes is they don’t have much about them which is quantifiable except that they are countable … which is indeed a legitimate basis for data collection. So the notion is not all that far-fetched within a broader scientific context.

Seems like some people really like the anecdata concept…

Anecdote + Anecdote = Anecdata?May 20, 2009 … He advocated for the use of the term “anecdata” – accepting examples from practice as evidence that communication works for development. ...
blogs.worldbank.org/anecdote-anecdote-anecdata – Cached

Urban Dictionary: Anecdata3 posts – 3 authors – Last post: Jan 11, 2010
The usage of multiple points of anecdotal data to confirm any stipulation, often used to “prove” pseudo-scientific claims of illnesses and …
www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Anecdata – Cached – SimilarGet more discussion results

Word Spy – anecdata Jan 8, 1996 … (an.ik.DAY.tuh; an.ik.DAT.uh) n. Anecdotal evidence used as data in an attempt to prove a hypothesis or make a forecast. Also: anec-data. ...
www.wordspy.com › A – Cached

anecdata – WiktionaryDec 5, 2010 … That is one of those stories that I call “anecdata”—these horror stories over which we try to construct theories about how something is or …
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/anecdata – Cached – Similar►

Last edited by jorkel (2011-01-15 18:25:02)

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