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Concept: Anecdotal evidence


The existence of ‘Learning Styles’ is a common ‘neuromyth’, and their use in all forms of education has been thoroughly and repeatedly discredited in the research literature. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that their use remains widespread. This perspective article is an attempt to understand if and why the myth of Learning Styles persists. I have done this by analyzing the current research literature to capture the picture that an educator would encounter were they to search for “Learning Styles” with the intent of determining whether the research evidence supported their use. The overwhelming majority (89%) of recent research papers, listed in the ERIC and PubMed research databases, implicitly or directly endorse the use of Learning Styles in Higher Education. These papers are dominated by the VAK and Kolb Learning Styles inventories. These presence of these papers in the pedagogical literature demonstrates that an educator, attempting to take an evidence-based approach to education, would be presented with a strong yet misleading message that the use of Learning Styles is endorsed by the current research literature. This has potentially negative consequences for students and for the field of education research.

Concepts: Education, Academic publishing, Educational psychology, Higher education, Teacher, Evidence, Anecdotal evidence, Learning styles


The Bawean warty pig (Sus blouchi) is an endemic pig species confined to the 192 km2 large island of Bawean in the Java Sea, Indonesia. Due to a lack of quantitative ecological research, understanding of natural history and conservation requirements have so far been based solely on anecdotal information from interviews with local people and study of captive and museum specimens. In this study we provide the first assessment of population and habitat preferences for S. blouchi by using camera trapping. From the 4th of November 2014 to January 8th 2015, we placed camera traps at 100 locations in the forested protected areas on Bawean. In 690.31 camera days (16567.45 hours) we captured 92 independent videos showing S. blouchi. Variation in S. blouchi trapping rates with cumulative trap effort stabilized after 500 camera days. An important outcome is that, in contrast to the suggestion of previous assessments, only S. blouchi was detected and no S. scrofa was found, which excludes hybridization threats. We fitted a Random Encounter Model, which does not require the identification of individual animals, to our camera-trapping data and estimated 172-377 individuals to be present on the island. Activity patterns and habitat data indicate that S. blouchi is mainly nocturnal and prefers community forests and areas near forest borders. Next to this, we found a positive relationship between S. blouchi occupancy, distance to nearest border, litter depth and tree density in the highest ranking occupancy models. Although these relationships proved non-significant based on model averaging, their presence in the top ranking models suggests that these covariables do play a role in predicting S. blouchi occurrence on Bawean. The estimated amount of sites occupied reached 58%. Based on our results, especially the estimation of the population size and area of occupancy, we determine that the species is Endangered according to the IUCN/SSC Red List criteria.

Concepts: Pig, Anecdotal evidence, Visayan Warty Pig, Philippine Warty Pig, Java Sea


The literature base regarding the development of sporting talent is extensive, and includes empirical articles, reviews, position papers, academic books, governing body documents, popular books, unpublished theses and anecdotal evidence, and contains numerous models of talent development. With such a varied body of work, the task for researchers, practitioners and policy makers of generating a clear understanding of what is known and what is thought to be true regarding the development of sporting talent is particularly challenging. Drawing on a wide array of expertise, we address this challenge by avoiding adherence to any specific model or area and by providing a reasoned review across three key overarching topics: (a) the performer; (b) the environment; and © practice and training. Within each topic sub-section, we review and calibrate evidence by performance level of the samples. We then conclude each sub-section with a brief summary, a rating of the quality of evidence, a recommendation for practice and suggestions for future research. These serve to highlight both our current level of understanding and our level of confidence in providing practice recommendations, but also point to a need for future studies that could offer evidence regarding the complex interactions that almost certainly exist across domains.

Concepts: Knowledge, Policy, The Current, Evidence, Scientific evidence, Challenge, Anecdotal evidence, Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses


A perceived recent increase in global jellyfish abundance has been portrayed as a symptom of degraded oceans. This perception is based primarily on a few case studies and anecdotal evidence, but a formal analysis of global temporal trends in jellyfish populations has been missing. Here, we analyze all available long-term datasets on changes in jellyfish abundance across multiple coastal stations, using linear and logistic mixed models and effect-size analysis to show that there is no robust evidence for a global increase in jellyfish. Although there has been a small linear increase in jellyfish since the 1970s, this trend was unsubstantiated by effect-size analysis that showed no difference in the proportion of increasing vs. decreasing jellyfish populations over all time periods examined. Rather, the strongest nonrandom trend indicated jellyfish populations undergo larger, worldwide oscillations with an approximate 20-y periodicity, including a rising phase during the 1990s that contributed to the perception of a global increase in jellyfish abundance. Sustained monitoring is required over the next decade to elucidate with statistical confidence whether the weak increasing linear trend in jellyfish after 1970 is an actual shift in the baseline or part of an oscillation. Irrespective of the nature of increase, given the potential damage posed by jellyfish blooms to fisheries, tourism, and other human industries, our findings foretell recurrent phases of rise and fall in jellyfish populations that society should be prepared to face.

Concepts: Function, Jellyfish, Periodic function, Order theory, Functional analysis, Evidence, Scientific evidence, Anecdotal evidence


Medical crowdfunding is growing in terms of the number of active campaigns, amount of funding raised and public visibility. Little is known about how campaigners appeal to potential donors outside of anecdotal evidence collected in news reports on specific medical crowdfunding campaigns. This paper offers a first step towards addressing this knowledge gap by examining medical crowdfunding campaigns for Canadian recipients. Using 80 medical crowdfunding campaigns for Canadian recipients, we analyse how Canadians justify to others that they ought to contribute to funding their health needs. We find the justifications campaigners tend to fall into three themes: personal connections, depth of need and giving back. We further discuss how these appeals can understood in terms of ethical justifications for giving and how these justifications should be assessed in light of the academic literature on ethical concerns raised by medical crowdfunding.

Concepts: United States, Law, Philosophy of science, Knowledge, Appeal, Evidence, Scientific evidence, Anecdotal evidence


Disease outbreaks can have substantial impacts on wild populations, but the often patchy or anecdotal evidence of these impacts impedes our ability to understand outbreak dynamics. Recently however, a severe disease outbreak occurred in a group of very well-studied organisms-sea stars along the west coast of North America. We analyzed nearly two decades of data from a coordinated monitoring effort at 88 sites ranging from southern British Columbia to San Diego, California along with 2 sites near Sitka, Alaska to better understand the effects of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) on the keystone intertidal predator, Pisaster ochraceus. Quantitative surveys revealed unprecedented declines of P. ochraceus in 2014 and 2015 across nearly the entire geographic range of the species. The intensity of the impact of SSWD was not uniform across the affected area, with proportionally greater population declines in the southern regions relative to the north. The degree of population decline was unrelated to pre-outbreak P. ochraceus density, although these factors have been linked in other well-documented disease events. While elevated seawater temperatures were not broadly linked to the initial emergence of SSWD, anomalously high seawater temperatures in 2014 and 2015 might have exacerbated the disease’s impact. Both before and after the onset of the SSWD outbreak, we documented higher recruitment of P. ochraceus in the north than in the south, and while some juveniles are surviving (as evidenced by transition of recruitment pulses to larger size classes), post-SSWD survivorship is lower than during pre-SSWD periods. In hindsight, our data suggest that the SSWD event defied prediction based on two factors found to be important in other marine disease events, sea water temperature and population density, and illustrate the importance of surveillance of natural populations as one element of an integrated approach to marine disease ecology. Low levels of SSWD-symptomatic sea stars are still present throughout the impacted range, thus the outlook for population recovery is uncertain.

Concepts: Demography, Population, Water, Population density, Evidence, Outbreak, Anecdotal evidence, Asteroidea


Anecdotal evidence suggests that people coming into contact with cattle while participating in outdoor pursuits can sustain severe, even fatal injuries. This has negative implications for farmers, cattle and the public. This study outlines findings from a review of published literature, UK media reports and internet guidelines currently available to the UK public for walking near cattle. A total of 54 cattle attacks were reported in the UK media from 1 January 1993 to 31 May 2013; approximately one-quarter resulted in fatality and two-thirds involved dogs. Walking with dogs among cows, particularly with calves present, was a problematic context. Twenty pieces of commonly occurring advice were found within various guidelines. However, there are no definitive approved guidelines, no published studies describing the prevalence of cattle attacks on members of the public and no system in place to document them. Attacks by cattle are underinvestigated and further work should assess their public health impact.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Cattle, Veal, Evidence, Scientific evidence, Calf, Anecdotal evidence, Immigration to the United Kingdom since 1922


A growing body of evidence is documenting the significant role of cognitive factors in influencing gambling behaviors. Although measures of cognitive biases have been developed, further validation of these scales is needed among non-Western samples. The 21-item Gamblers' Belief Questionnaire was originally developed and validated by Steenbergh et al. (in Psychol. Addict. Behav., 16: 143-149, 2002). The scale then has been widely used in the gambling research of the West. The present study was designed to examine and validate the Chinese version of Gamblers' Belief Questionnaire (GBQ-C) using 258 Chinese participants. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated the 2-factor model provided a good fit to the data as evidenced by various model fit indices (CFI = .91, RMSEA = .08 and SRMR = .05). Additional evidence for the validity of the GBQ-C was provided by significant correlations with other relevant measures (range .40-.75). In sum, the present study provides support for the GBQ-C as a valuable tool for assessing gambling cognitions among Chinese samples.

Concepts: Psychology, Critical thinking, Validation, Cognition, Factor analysis, Cognitive bias, Anecdotal evidence


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a risk factor for problematic cannabis use. However, clinical and anecdotal evidence suggest an increasingly popular perception that cannabis is therapeutic for ADHD, including via online resources. Given that the Internet is increasingly utilized as a source of healthcare information and may influence perceptions, we conducted a qualitative analysis of online forum discussions, also referred to as threads, on the effects of cannabis on ADHD to systematically characterize the content patients and caregivers may encounter about ADHD and cannabis.

Concepts: Psychology, Educational psychology, Internet, Internet forum, Evidence, Scientific evidence, Usenet, Anecdotal evidence


Peer review is the main institution responsible for the evaluation and gestation of scientific research. Although peer review is widely seen as vital to scientific evaluation, anecdotal evidence abounds of gatekeeping mistakes in leading journals, such as rejecting seminal contributions or accepting mediocre submissions. Systematic evidence regarding the effectiveness-or lack thereof-of scientific gatekeeping is scant, largely because access to rejected manuscripts from journals is rarely available. Using a dataset of 1,008 manuscripts submitted to three elite medical journals, we show differences in citation outcomes for articles that received different appraisals from editors and peer reviewers. Among rejected articles, desk-rejected manuscripts, deemed as unworthy of peer review by editors, received fewer citations than those sent for peer review. Among both rejected and accepted articles, manuscripts with lower scores from peer reviewers received relatively fewer citations when they were eventually published. However, hindsight reveals numerous questionable gatekeeping decisions. Of the 808 eventually published articles in our dataset, our three focal journals rejected many highly cited manuscripts, including the 14 most popular; roughly the top 2 percent. Of those 14 articles, 12 were desk-rejected. This finding raises concerns regarding whether peer review is ill-suited to recognize and gestate the most impactful ideas and research. Despite this finding, results show that in our case studies, on the whole, there was value added in peer review. Editors and peer reviewers generally-but not always-made good decisions regarding the identification and promotion of quality in scientific manuscripts.

Concepts: Scientific method, Value added, Philosophy of science, Peer review, Evidence, Scientific evidence, Pseudoscience, Anecdotal evidence