The Hotels.com commercial featuring a resplendent Captain Obvious was, pardon the repetition, an obvious attempt at sarcasm or irony or inside jokery that winds up being a painful reminder of just how many decisions are made on the basis of what is right in front of our faces, even if it isn’t true. It is the power of a compelling anecdote that can drive legislation, propel a point-of-view or undermine public confidence.
The anecdote that underscores the outsized influence of anecdotes is the persistent gap between what science tells us and what we are willing to hear. The disconnect is not so much in the breadth of research or depth of understanding, but in the way that complexity can turn black-and-white in gray. Gray makes people uncomfortable and can lead to a groundswell of opposition to what might otherwise be of long-term benefit. More»