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“If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. Eh?

A post on the Lone Sysadmin blog today reminded me of this old warhorse of a platitude, and why it bugs me. It took me a while to pinpoint just what it was that annoyed me, but it can be categorised as a false dilemma fallacy.

“Fixed” and “broken are two extremes, but in the real world I rarely encounter anything or anyone that is totally in either state. “Broken” is not an either-or proposition, but a grey scale: something can be fractionally broken, and it takes a judgement call on someone’s part to decide whether it needs fixing or not.

In other words, the statement permits the speaker to oversimplify a situation, and avoid dealing with its real complexity. A perennial gripe of mine!

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Written by brian t

July 13, 2006 at 10:53 pm

Posted in philosophy

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