Patent News

Nov. 12, 2015

IP Watchdog: Misleading patent troll narrative driven by anecdote, not facts, by Laurie Self

This post originally appeared in IP Watchdog on November 12, 2015.

There is a lesson in the latest book by Freakonomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephan Dubner that Washington policy makers would do well to read.

The passage from the book, Think Like a Freak, is about the use of anecdotes, stories and the persuasive power of narrative.
By “story,” the authors say, what they don’t mean is “anecdote.”

“An anecdote is a snapshot, a one-dimensional shard of the big picture. It is lacking in scale, perspective, and data,” they write. “An anecdote is something that once happened to you, or to your uncle, or to your uncle’s accountant. It is too often an outlier, the memorable exception that gets trotted out in an attempt to disprove a larger truth. … Anecdotes often represent the lowest form of persuasion.”

In contrast, they say, a story “fills out the picture.”