Analytical egalitarianism, anecdotal evidence and information aggregation via proverbial wisdom

Journal of Economic Methodology 11 (4):411-435 (2004)
In this paper, we compare how individuals acquire and process information relative to their scientific counterparts. Individuals rely on a heuristic, what we call 'proverbial wisdom', while experts rely on models. We then examine the properties of 'proverbial wisdom' relative to models. As a preliminary step towards comparing models and proverbs, we propose commensurate idealizations of models and proverbs. We then demonstrate that aggregated anecdotal evidence can improve upon the expert's model-based estimation if the model is not exactly correct. Thus, neither the expert nor ordinary people dominates the other and so we allow for the possibility of the relationship of exchange. Our technical construct - what we call the median of anecdotal evidence - supports the possibility of analytical egalitarianism by providing a theoretical counter-example to analytical hierarchy. Our evidence consists of the sort of Monte Carlo study employed to study estimation procedures in non-ideal circumstances.
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DOI 10.1080/1350178042000280612
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