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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Anecdotal Evidence

I have to take a break from Layla’s adventures for the day. My day job was slammed on AOL by a so called journalist, using an unnamed mechanic with thirty years experience whom the reporter gives the pseudonym ‘Max’. The report details how ‘Max’ knows used parts were installed in place of new on a high percentage of jobs, and it is still done in seven to ten percent of jobs today. ‘Max’ actually has the audacity to quote percentages concerning facts he has no way in hell of knowing. This leads me to my point today, which I’m sure many of my writer friends already know. Using anecdotal evidence to buttress a claim slamming an entire industry is the lowest form of reporting, but seems appealing to far too many ‘journalists’ today.

For those unacquainted with the term anecdotal evidence, I give this simple example. You walk down the street one day and see a calico cat run out in front of a car and get killed. You then assume all calico cats are so stupid, they will run across the street in front of on coming traffic (a belief I secretly hold). After seeing this, you use your anecdotal story as evidence to write a book called ‘All Calico Cats Are Stupid And I Can Prove It’. When confronted about your evidence, you immediately state the only calico cats you ever saw all ran out in front of traffic. This will be the same statement this moron reporter will make too, when confronted about his story: every mechanic he’s ever met says the auto repair industry installs used parts in place of new.

Here’s my anecdotal evidence, which I detest using, in reply to this clown. I’ve turned wrenches for over thirty-five years. At no time, either as a mechanic working at other shops, or as an auto shop owner myself for twenty-five years have I ever installed used parts in place of new. When I was a sailor on board ship, we told each other anecdotal stories. They were known as ‘Sea Stories’; because although they were entertaining, no one knew if they were true or not. Little did I know the old ‘Sea Stories’ would one day be used to slander whole industries, races, and religions.

Here’s the AOL link:


Jordan Summers said...

Come on, Bernard, don't you think that's fair reporting? ;)

BernardL said...

Sure I do, Jordan. It's the same standard of reporting I've come to expect from the press. It makes me want to go out and find my own 'Max' ex-reporter, who for thirty years has been slandering people with fictional sources. Oh... wait a minute... that's been done. :)

Virginia Lady said...

One of favorites of the story is the 'clean repair' shop. I know plenty of people who feel that anything outside of a dealership showroom is filthy is regards to cars. They'd be looking for a long time for a shop that clean.

Grease and oil are a part of a repair shop, if there isn't any evidence of it around, I would be suspicious of the repair shop, not trusting of it.

I agree with you Bernard, the press today manages to 'report' their own version of the news.

BernardL said...

I suspect this 'reporter' copied the 'Max' tips for finding a good repair shop right out of the Triple A guide, and did some creative writing on 'Max's used part accusations. A neat shop with ASE certifications is a good tip, VL; but as you say, some smudges are unfortunately necessary in this business. :)

Stephen Parrish said...

Using anecdotal evidence . . . seems appealing to far too many ‘journalists’ today.

Possibly true, but you just used anecdotal evidence (one AOL article) to support this claim.

BernardL said...

Thanks for noticing, Stephen, that's exactly what I had in mind. :)

Dave F. said...

It's an easy story to write. That's all. The writer is lazy and wrote a story from "experience" and met the deadline. I'm so cynical that I would ask if the writer had car repairs or 3000 mile checkup recently and got behind in his or her work. You see, then two or three "probing" innocent and silly questions can be the entire interview.

BTW - as we all should know - Insurance companies insist on buying used parts because they find them cheaper. AND, back in 1977, when I needed the front strut on an imported car, my father drove to a used car lot and retrieved one from a wreck. It took hours where the import took months.

BernardL said...

You're right, Dave, used parts have always been a choice for the consumer, if the shop goes along with it, and the customer knows up front there can be no warranty. Selling used parts as new is a different ball game. Thanks for commenting.