“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!