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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:

Friday, March 7, 2008


I had opened up the big shop door, and was walking into my back room to do a little work on my taxes.

“Excuse me… excuse me… excuse…” a man began screaming out while standing near my roll up door entrance. He quieted as I returned to the front.

He had his below the hip pants on with cuffs dragging fashionably on the ground, complete with a couple layers of loose tops. On the plus side, he didn’t smell like he’d hit the bottle before coming over this morning. The man had a shopping cart. Hanging over all sides of the cart rested a mattress with a bungee cord draped around the middle. I’ll call my visitor Bedding.

“Can I help you?” I asked, not picturing any probability of it.

“Man… I need you to loan me a dollar for the bus,” Bedding blurted out.

“Well, there are three things wrong with that,” I began pointing out. “One, I don’t give out money here. Two, the bus stop is in the opposite direction of where you’re headed. Three, you couldn’t get the cart on the bus with you.”

Bedding looked at me with a mixture of disgust and outrage. When he saw how unaffected I was at his disapproval, Bedding smiled slowly.

“Want to buy a mattress?” Bedding asked.

“Absolutely not,” I replied with a touch of my own disgust. I hadn’t expected that one.

“It’s new,” Bedding informs me indignantly.

“I’m sure.” I wasn’t, and after it had hitched a ride on the shopping cart for a tour of East Oakland with Mr. Bedding, the mattress had a rode hard and put away wet look.

“Give me some rope so I can tie it on better,” Bedding told me.

“Ah… no.”

“Man, you ain’t very helpful.”

“So I’ve been told. Luckily, not by my customers.”

“I won’t ever bring my car in here,” Bedding stated solemnly, while hunching forward to get his mattress laden cart moving.

“I’ll make a note,” I replied with a wave, making a quick mental outline of the conversation to write on the blog instead of doing taxes. :)