When and how should we use numbers as evidence?
Last month I cured an incurable autoimmune disease using laughter. I excitedly emailed Dr Kataria to tell him the news and he replied. “You only have anecdotal evidence”. Having completed two evidence based practice (EBP) university research studies myself, I went on a quest to fully understand his point, and here’s what I found.
Anecdotal evidence is a “one off” example of the impact that laughter had on this person. Yes their symptoms were gone, but as there was no medical evidence as to why, they were not cured. We have all had these stories but that’s all that they are. It is a one off that is interesting, but it’s not evidence, so should not be quoted as such.
Conventional western medicine requires an evidence based practice research study before they will even consider the above to be true. They are expensive, take a long time to complete, involve lots of people, and even then may not be adopted as factual.
In the middle of all of this we have Practice Based Evidence (PBE). This is where we have lots of people telling the same or similar story. For example, what if we had 1000 stories, with credible evidence, that says that 1000 people manage their chronic pain, without their prescribed medication, since having joined a monthly Laughter Club? Now that’s interesting! So when we quote data, numbers, research, or evidence, it’s important to be as accurate as possible.
Here are 5 things to help us use numbers effectively.
1. Personal Stories. Document a list of your personal stories. You will end up with hundreds of them to quote and reference. Videos are good as support.
2. Other people’s stories. Being connected internationally to other laughter leaders and teachers allows us to gather stories from around the world. I generally use this to highlight that my story is not necessarily a one off.
3. Indications of numbers through estimates. When you don’t have exact figures, it’s acceptable, but dangerous, to estimate. Your estimate may be accepted, based on your source. Be careful if there is data that disputes your claim.
4. Practice based evidence (PBE). Going to the trouble of getting some data yourself is valuable. Conducting a questionnaire, or survey, and converting it into numbers and graphs, becomes real in many people’s eyes. This is turning a one off story, into intentionally gathered data from many.
5. Evidence based research. At the end of the day there is nothing like a university lead research study that has been published. If you don’t have one yourself then go looking for someone who does. I have two, with another about to begin in 2018, so happy to share these.
If you have any further questions regarding numbers and data then please feel free to email me at email@example.com at any time. Any recommendations for future topics are also appreciated.
Merv Neal is a Laughter Yoga Master Trainer and the CEO of Laughter Yoga Australia and New Zealand. He has successfully owned and operated his own businesses for more than 43 years. He has created a Laughter Yoga Business Training Program, as well as the Business Mentors and Coaches Program, to help others to take Laughter Yoga to commercial organizations, and/or to create a Laughter Yoga business of their own. More information can be found at http://www.laughteryogaaustralia.org or http://www.mervneal.com