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FYS1010

Stories and Neuroscience

Is that story dangerous?

It can be if you accept it without question. "People will pay attention to certain narratives because they are ‘boundedly rational’ [meaning decision making can be limited by available information, a person's cognitive capabilities, and limited time], seeking shortcuts to gather sufficient information, and prone to accept simple stories that confirm their biases, exploit their emotions, and/or come from a source they trust" (as opposed to an source that has been verified by checking for bias and accuracy) from Paul Cairney: Politics and Public Policy blog: Evidence 

Stories can give us a starting point

But you should always seek to expand your understanding by viewing, experiencing or reading alternative views from sources that are as unbiased as possible, and be flexible so you can expand your worldview when faced with evidence that contradicts your own opinion or understanding.

Factual Evidence, Anecdotal Evidence, Empirical Evidence

Factual evidence is factual information. It can be independently verified. However, be wary of how facts are presented--calculation and interpretation of statistics can lead to presentations of "facts" that introduce bias or opinion. Direct quotes from people can be presented out of context in a way that affects their interpretation.

Anecdotal evidence presents information that has been collected casually or informally, with a reliance on personal testimony. Anecdotes sometimes make sweeping generalizations or represent extremes of experiences or observations, which may be at the expense of underprivileged or underrepresented populations.

Empirical evidence is information that has been gathered by observation or experimentation in a systematic and replicable fashion. It is expected the process could be replicated and have similar outcomes. However, empirical evidence can be impacted by beliefs and experiences. The experiment's design (for example, internet surveys) or selection of participants (for example, only men in medical research) are examples.

Look at any claim with clarity and use empirical evidence, expertise and factual evidence to develop a broader understanding of an issue or phenomena.