An incidental lookup, spurred by curiosity, produced a surprise: Anecdote goes back to a Greek root and means “something unpublished.” So it refers to a story, in other words, that has not gotten the blessing by our custodians of knowledge, those editors of Nature, Science, Cell, EMBO Journal, Granta, The New Yorker, Paris Review, etcetera.

“Anecdotal” refers to the lack of scrutiny regarding accuracy, authenticity, representativeness and all those other qualities that sets a piece of text apart from the gossip and daily squabble.

An anecdote, I begin to understand, is the state of a text before it gets the blessing by a human or an institution, so it is not different from the solid, non-anectodal text except for a label attached that brands it as uncertified. An anecdote is converted into a non-anecdote in a blink of a second by the dictum of an appointed expert, without changing its substance at all.

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