An anecdote and a statistical analysis walk into a bar

The bar is dark and dingy, well-used, with a bit of danger in the air. The sort of bar that wouldn’t be out of place in a Clint Eastwood movie.

The anecdote has been through a lot. There’s the drama with his family, sure, but also the fight he had with his boss today. He needs this job, what with the payments coming due on the house, not to mention his gambling debts…

A guy walks up to the anecdote and taps him on the shoulder. A bad move at any time, but today, it’s particularly ill-advised. Putting down his beer, the anecdote turns, in a rage, about to punch the stranger in the face.

At the last moment, fist poised to strike out, the anecdote stops. This stranger–he seems somehow familiar. Could it be? Is it his long-lost brother?

The valid statistical analysis, the one that’s correct, useful but hard to believe if you haven’t been trained in statistics? He’s in the corner, being ignored.

The most effective statisticians are the ones who aren’t afraid to tell a story. Because anecdotes are the way we navigate the world.

       


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