||Are there important differences between reanalysis data and familiar observations and measurements? If so, what are they? This essay evaluates four possible answers that relate to: the role of inference, reliance on forecasts, the need to solve an ill-posed inverse problem, and understanding of errors and uncertainties. The last of these is argued to be most significant. The importance of characterizing uncertainties associated with results—whether those results are observations or measurements, analyses or reanalyses, or forecasts—is emphasized.