Personally I find it hard to differentiate between solid experience and best-effort guessing. Not to mention gut-feelings, which make the whole situation even more complex.
A friend of mine, Tristan, linked this wonderful website the other day: YourLogicalFallacyIs.com, and I thought “Hey that’s a great tool for learning when to use data.” Related to my two earlier posts on using data to drive the process of making decisions this tool may help you spot the occasions when belief or personal values are getting in the way.
For example, the anecdotal fallacy, concerns:
[using] a personal experience or an isolated example instead of a sound argument or compelling evidence.
Anecdotes have their place in story-telling. Use them there, or possibly when explaining a complex argument, but not as the single part of a decision. There are more sides to the story.
Note here that I’m not arguing there is no value in experience or gut feelings. There’s certainly room for that too. Perhaps sometimes it is the only “data” available (although I have a hard time believing that…). Experience, in my opinion, is extremely useful when evaluating and interpreting data.
Print (or buy for that matter) the logical fallacy poster and stick it on a wall close to you!