python vs perl lines of code

Ben Finney bignose+hates-spam at
Thu May 18 04:19:47 CEST 2006

Edward Elliott <nobody at> writes:

> Ben Finney wrote:
> > I responded to a post that seemed to claim that anecdotes about events
> > can be treated as data about events. They can't; that's what I'm
> > arguing.
> And conveniently ignoring the key part of my post.  Here it is again for
> those who missed it:
> "Before the days of cheap video, lots of scientific data was gathered by
> lone observers recording unrepeatable events.  You build statistics by
> accumulating a vast number of such observations over time."
> Sounds like anecdotes can become data to me.

Note the transformation though. You're not collecting data *about the
unrepeatable events*, you're collecting data *about the reports*.

Thus my assertion: anecdotes about events cannot be treated as data
about those events. At best, they are data about *reports* of events.

> It's a stupid argument anyway.  Anecdotes *are* data.

They're a different kind of data though. Anecdotes about UFO sightings
says *nothing* for or against the existence of UFOs, only about the
incidence of people reporting sightings of UFOs.

Treating an anecdote about X as though it were a data point about X is
a fallacy. Treating an aggregate of anecdotes about X as though it
were data about X is a very common practice, but is equally a fallacy.

 \         "The reward of energy, enterprise and thrift is taxes."  -- |
  `\                                                   William Feather |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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