Research or Personal Experience: What Comes First?


You’re getting ready for your day and casually skimming over a news article, when you encounter a statistic that stands out to you. “Is this statistic true?” you ask yourself. “That doesn’t seem quite right.”

In our era of analytics and information, it’s only a matter of time before we encounter a finding that contradicts what we understand to be true. So how do we determine what to believe?

First, consider the source of the statistic or information. Is this a reliable person or organization? Do they have a history of biasing information to support a certain narrative? Was the research conducted in a credible way? If you can’t verify the quality of the information it may be wise to interpret the findings cautiously.

If the source of the information holds up, consider your own blind spots. Is it possible that this information may speak truth about a reality we ourselves have not experienced? Just as we understand the limits of the research process, we must also acknowledge that we can’t fully understand the experiences and perspectives of others.  

Lastly, consider searching out other people and sources of information to help you discern. Are there other research articles that address the same topic? Do you know anyone who is knowledgeable about the topic you’re questioning? That additional input (both personal and research based) can provide the information you need to construct an informed opinion.

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