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A fallacy in expat discussions

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A fallacy in expat discussions

Postby ladislav » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:17 am

I call it "the fallacy of anecdotal denial".

I came up with this term because the closest fallacy I could find in books on logic was “
hasty generalization” and “fallacy of insufficient evidence”. This was not enough to describe it.
In online discussions among expats be it in Japan, Thailand, the PH, etc., people complain about a certain problem in the country when a ubiquitous" I-am-alright-Jack "expat writes something like this:
“I’ve been in this country for (an X number of ) years and I’ve never had any problems”.
An alternative form of such a denial is:
“I’ve never seen it. I’ve never heard of it” (Hence, it does not exist.)
These often come up when there are discussions on crime, racism, sexism, unemployment, or when simply describing different faults of a host culture ( online usually)
Here’s an example of such a "discussion" :

- DateinAsiaDotCom has many scammers. You’ve got to be careful!

- Well, but I’ve been using DateinAsiaDotCom for 10 years now and I’ve never had any problem. I’ve gone out on oodles of dates.


Such Anecdotal Denial is usually coupled with victim blaming. Here’s an example:

- DateinAsiaDotCom has many scammers. You’ve got to be careful!

- I’ve never heard of anyone being scammed on that site and I’ve used it successfully for a number of years- and never even one problem! If you had problems with it, it’s because it’s you who are a fool.Maybe you attract such people because you are a cheater and a horny maniac that likes to exploit locals. If so, you deserve to be swindled. My friend also used DIA for 10 years and he never was cheated.

Here is some more:

-The Japanese are generally a very racist people who don’t like to rent to foreigners, and Japanese women are not particularly crazy about foreign men.

-Nonsense! The Japanese are lovely people and they love foreigners. I lived in Japan for 30 years and not even once had I met or seen or heard of any racism against foreigners or by Japanese women towards foreigners.

Japanese women absolutely love foreign men and pretty much throw themselves at them. I was able to date hundreds of them. If you 'd experienced racism or rejection in Japan, you need to look at yourself in the mirror. It must be your arrogance, racism and Ugly Americanism that turns those ( angelic) people against you.

Here is yet another example:

- The islands off the coast of southern Mindanao are very dangerous places, especially Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-tawi.

- This is bulls--t! I’ve been to every island there and never had any problems! If you had any issues with the locals, it is YOU who needs to change and examine your attitude. Maybe it’s something you exude that makes local people respond to you in such a way.

Because statistics and/or opinion polls are usually missing from such discussions, they are left with anecdotal evidence. Thus, those who have been lucky (or plain blind to any kind of negativity or what is going on) use personal anecdotes to deny any such bad realities.
They also do not see risk as a serious factor to be included. In some areas ( physical or virtual), risks are higher for a certain kind of events than in others. That means that there, you run an increased probability of something like that happening to you. And just because you did not see or hear of something -- or it did not happen to you( yet), it does not diminish this risk.
Last edited by ladislav on Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A fallacy in expat discussions

Postby Johnny1975 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:30 pm

I've never come across this problem. Maybe there's something wrong with YOU!

Just kidding. You're so right. I'm glad someone can articulate it, because it's something that bothers me. Slightly off topic, but women love arguing in that way.

I think when two people have different experiences of the same thing, place, etc, they should work together to try to figure out the reason. Maybe it really is the negative experiencer's fault as to why things didn't work out for them, or maybe they were just grossly unlucky, or maybe it was something else. Maybe for the luckier person there was some factor that made things easier, a factor thet they themselves are unaware of and take for granted. But mature people should be able to discuss this constructively.

I've always found it interesting how people can get a very different impression of the same thing. for example, people say that filipinas on dating sites are mostly scammers. Well I've rarely been told or asked anything by a filipina that tells me she's a gold digger or whatever. It's happened, but it's rare. If most of the ones that I've chatted with are scammers, then they've got to be the lamest scammers ever. But I would never say to someone "maybe it's you".

I've heard that Panama is not very cheap to live in, but some people say it is. I've heard that in Thailand most people speak at least a bit of english, but Victor Pride from Bold & Determined says otherwise, and he's been living there for a long time so that must be true in his own experience, but it still seems odd considering that others say english is commonly spoken. So it's confusing. Some say that the heat+humidity in SE Asia is tolerable, at least after a short while, yet Winston still can't get used to it, and he's been going there for years.

Each person is slightly different, their outlook varies, their luck varies, they go to different parts of a country, they mix with different crowds, they conduct themselves differently, and so on. That's a lot of factors, and that's why people's accounts vary so much. In order to get a big picture of what's possible, what's likely, what's common, what's to be expected, you have to have a conversation where you discuss and compare all the factors. But as long as people have the kind of attitude that you describe, such conversations will remain rare, which is a shame.
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Re: A fallacy in expat discussions

Postby davewe » Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:16 pm

ladislav wrote:I call it "the fallacy of anecdotal denial".


I have heard (OK, read) you rail about anecdotal evidence before but it's the only kind of "evidence" you will ever find on a discussion forum; people sharing their experience. This is true not only of expat forums but forums on every topic. One guy on a Chevy forum loves his Chevy and says it's been indestructible, the next guy hates his, claiming it's a POS. You can throw out stats but in the end what we discuss is experiences.

I accept all anecdotal evidence as long as it is legitimate; meaning the guy actually went to a place or did a thing and gave his opinion. Someone saying, "I hear Mindanao is dangerous and full of terrorists and I will never go there," ain't anecdotal evidence nor an opinion I would take very seriously since it's not based on experience.

I think where we go astray is often with the original question. A question such as "Is Mindanao dangerous?" will receive two kinds of answers: "Yes it is dangerous. There are terrorists there;" or "I have lived there 10 years and never had a problem."

The better question and discussion would be based on this: "I am moving to Mindanao. Based on the fact that there are terrorists, what methodologies should I use to keep myself safest?" Notice I said safest, since no one can ever be 100% safe.

Or: "I joined online dating service X. What methods should I use to find the best women?" Then you get away from the blanket positive or negative anecdotal responses and get into a genuine discussion about how to maximize your efforts. But those responses would be based on guys who have actually walked the walk and had success. The guy who says "I joined that site and quit after 3 days cause it didn't work for me," won't have much to add to the discussion.
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Re: A fallacy in expat discussions

Postby zboy1 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:29 pm

The simple answer: results will vary, according to looks, class, race, sex, gender, religion, and wealth.

No two people will experience the same things in a country.
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Re: A fallacy in expat discussions

Postby Ghost » Tue Sep 15, 2015 5:49 am

YMMV (Your Milelage May Vary) - this is the unavoidable fact of HA. Personal experience with boots on the ground trumps statistics when it comes to...well, just about everything because certain countries work better for certain types. For me, it depends on what statistics we are talking about and what the person giving the anecdote is like. If the statistics are about birthrates, for example, then I value that highly and interpret the importance of it in certain ways. (Which also looks to be right on the money.) Likewise, if a newbie poster comes here and brags about some anecdotal experience I assign it no or little value. I give it much more value if a long time poster shares his experience.
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Re: A fallacy in expat discussions

Postby OutWest » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:13 am

davewe wrote:
ladislav wrote:I call it "the fallacy of anecdotal denial".


I have heard (OK, read) you rail about anecdotal evidence before but it's the only kind of "evidence" you will ever find on a discussion forum; people sharing their experience. This is true not only of expat forums but forums on every topic. One guy on a Chevy forum loves his Chevy and says it's been indestructible, the next guy hates his, claiming it's a POS. You can throw out stats but in the end what we discuss is experiences.

I accept all anecdotal evidence as long as it is legitimate; meaning the guy actually went to a place or did a thing and gave his opinion. Someone saying, "I hear Mindanao is dangerous and full of terrorists and I will never go there," ain't anecdotal evidence nor an opinion I would take very seriously since it's not based on experience.

I think where we go astray is often with the original question. A question such as "Is Mindanao dangerous?" will receive two kinds of answers: "Yes it is dangerous. There are terrorists there;" or "I have lived there 10 years and never had a problem."

The better question and discussion would be based on this: "I am moving to Mindanao. Based on the fact that there are terrorists, what methodologies should I use to keep myself safest?" Notice I said safest, since no one can ever be 100% safe.

Or: "I joined online dating service X. What methods should I use to find the best women?" Then you get away from the blanket positive or negative anecdotal responses and get into a genuine discussion about how to maximize your efforts. But those responses would be based on guys who have actually walked the walk and had success. The guy who says "I joined that site and quit after 3 days cause it didn't work for me," won't have much to add to the discussion.


Yes, it all ends up as personal perspective. When i'm in Luzon, many Filipinos think I'm nuts foregoing to Mindanao, much less living there. They make throat cutting jestures and say things about Muslim terrorists. While I do know of the dangers, and often receive first hand accounts, I tended to rely on the the " fact" that I had not seen anything that threatened me personally.
My perspective changed somewhat two years ago with the bombing in Limketkai Mall, as we had been at that very spot a number of times, and my wife's family knew one of the victims. When a statistic becomes personal, it looms larger on your threat horizon.
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Re: A fallacy in expat discussions

Postby nomadphilippines » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:11 am

i think the bigger falacy is that some people just dont understand you need a BIG sample size to really know the truth


some guy gets 'scammed' by a girl on date in asia and posts about it and one other guy says the same thing happened and now the site is 'full of scammers' even though those are 2 of 10,000 meet ups that happened during the time frame


a guy goes with a 'freelancer' and gets set up and now all freelancers will set you up and you should only go with bar girls etc.


shit happens, there are no absolutes, but something happening .001% of the time shouldnt be scaring you off from living your life


ive never had a problem with a dating site girl or freelancer and have been with plenty of both, one day i may get 'scammed' but that doesnt mean it hasnt been worth partaking.... and i would continue to partake after
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