Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Adventures of Replacing a Moto Guzzi Oil Pressure Switch—Part 4

An interlude to muse about motorcyclists 

In my professional life, I've mostly worked as an analyst focused on gaining insights from data to communicate to others so they could make informed decisions. There are critical thinking lessons analysts learn to apply in their investigations to help shield against making judgment errors or incorrect assessments. One of these lessons is particularly important and I abbreviate it as follows:
Always avoid never and never use always.

This is a condensed version of the sweeping generalization logical fallacy. Everyone has heard a sweeping generalization. It's when someone takes an aspect of an individual and applies it to a large population of those individuals. It works in the other direction too: ascribing a characteristic associated with a large population to an individual. For example,
  • My Toyota Camry is a lemon; I'll never buy another one. In fact, Toyota Camrys are among the most reliable cars on the road.
  • Everyone has a smartphone. I don't have one. (Actually, I do have one now. Up until a few months ago, I carried a flip phone.)

The sweeping generalization fallacy, in my opinion, is also the root of prejudice and bigotry. Many people extend the bad behavior they experience at the hand of an individual to an entire population. For example, a young teen riding a skateboard crosses in front of someone and displays a rude gesture, now that someone believes all young teens on skateboards are rude. From the other perspective, young boys in the early 1960s hear stories from their fathers, or watch television and movies, about war in the Pacific and then proceed to bully a US-born classmate of Asian descent solely because of the shape of his eyes. You can imagine better examples.

What's all this to do with motorcycles and oil pressure switches and fuel fittings?

I received feedback on my previous posts that can be summarized as:
  • Why don't you take your Moto Guzzi to the dealer and let them fix it?
  • Don't you find it laborious/wearisome/frustrating to do these kinds of repairs on your Guzzi?
  • Do you wish you owned a different make of motorcycle that would be less prone to these kinds of irksome problems?

To address this feedback, I risk falling into the sweeping generalization fallacy by making general statements about motorcyclists. My preamble above is intended to let you know I realize the inappropriateness of this. I endeavor to guard against extending any general statements to a particular individual. If you feel like I'm talking about you, it's your conscience that condemns you. :)
I notice motorcyclists are a different breed. Most consider themselves individualists, rebels, free thinkers, mavericks, people-who-break-the-mold. And motorcycles are a way to project this individualism. I can relate; I understand this attitude. But I also notice that for most of these motorcyclists, only one brand of motorcycle exists. And not only that, but many of these riders buy their mono-brand bike and outfit it with the same set of chrome accessories as their buddies. Engulfed in a pungent cloud of new leather and loud pipes, these motorcyclists ride in herds of sameness that challenges the individualism they declare. So I'm not very surprised when these folks ask me about having a dealer fix my motorcycle or if I wish I had a different brand of motorcycle.

For me, a motorcycle isn’t a projector of my personality. I think of it more as a magnifying glass to investigate myself. I've ridden two-wheeled motorized vehicles for over 45 years--the only thing I've done longer is breathe. I relish riding solo, but also enjoy the company of others on rides. I’ve attended numerous rallies including Bike Week (my wife and I attended every one from 1997 to 2005) with an occasional visit to Biketoberfest over the years. I've done the Iron Butt Association's 1000 miles in 24 hours. I’ve ridden when the air temperature was 17o (is it possible to freeze your cornea?). All of these motorcycle experiences have taught me a little about me. The same goes for replacing discontinued oil pressure switches and having to engineer a new fuel fitting because parts aren’t sold separately. 

Fixing these bits is a way for me to tell me something about myself. 
It’s like I’m talking to myself. 
Maybe I’m crazy.
The next blog post will be back on the repairs.

To be continued…

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