Health Care: Enough with the Anecdotes

I suspected Megan (a.k.a. Jane) was on to something when the usual suspects pounced on her comments about the abuse of anecdotes in various writings about health care. That impression was confirmed when I read the following:

Single-payer advocates drag out some American woman who didn’t get a breast cancer exam until it was too late … and opponents counter with the Canadian guy who died on the waiting list … You can always find someone in any system who has slipped through the cracks; this is not a particularly good guide to health care policy.

The reliance on anecdotes by various partisans in the debate is, sad to say, due to intellectual laziness. It’s much easier to discuss the problems that Aunt Mabel had with some hospital in

Dubuque than to pore over dry statistics relating to such things as per capita health care expenditures and their relationship to outcomes. Unfortunately, the tedious work of objective analysis has to be done if American health care is to be “reformed? in some way that doesn’t make it worse.

Comments 2

  1. piglet wrote:

    On March the 17th, you offered this as an enlightening post about Canadian health care: “My father is a textbook example in many year battle against Cancer.?

    I think your remark is absolutely to the point: “The reliance on anecdotes by various partisans in the debate is, sad to say, due to intellectual laziness. It’s much easier to discuss the problems that Aunt Mabel had with some hospital in Dubuque than to pore over dry statistics relating to such things as per capita health care expenditures and their relationship to outcomes.?

    Nice embarassment you’ve created for yourself. With posts like that, nobody will ever take you serious ;-)

    http://ezraklein.typepad.com/blog/2007/03/arguing_health_.html

    Posted 28 Mar 2007 at 3:48 pm
  2. Catron wrote:

    That quote was included among a wide variety of observations that Jeff made on his weblog. I neither “offered? it in my post nor relied on it to support my argument. Anecdotes are legitimate if used to augment objective data. It is the reliance on them as the primary foundation of an argument that I object to.

    And, speaking of “creating embarassments,” your last sentence should end with the adverb “seriously” rather than the adjective “serious.”

    Posted 28 Mar 2007 at 5:59 pm

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *