Man Up, Antiplanner! - 2
Leroy W. Demery, Jr.
The (self-styled) Antiplanner, a.k.a. our loyal “frenemy,” Randal O’Toole, pulled a remarkably careless - or callous - bit of sleight-of-hand in a recent blog post.
As described previously, O’Toole presented a statistic that was more than ten times greater than the actual value, stated by an authoritative source.
As we “numbers geeks” put it, O’Toole inflated the statistic by more than one order of magnitude. In other words, he shifted the decimal point one place to the right - and then some.
Inflating a statistic by one order of magnitude is a clever trick - if you can get away with it. If not, you might find yourself the object of ripostes such as the following classic:
Come on, Autoplanner, do you really expect anyone to take crap like that seriously? Weyrich, Paul M, and William S. Lind. 2004. Great Rail Disasters:" Same Old, Same Old.
I had planned previously to present in this post “the” erroneous statistic and related information.
However, I discovered that I, yours truly, must “man up” to an error in a previous post. It’s not a trivial mistake (but it does not require me to change any numbers). In fact, you might be moved to snicker just a bit (e.g. hmmm ... kinda careless and kinda stupid ...). However, unlike O’Toole (and his “good friend” Wendell Cox), we at Publictransit.us do not shy away from acknowledging and correcting errors.
While researching another topic, I came across information that contradicts a statement I wrote back in March (2010), in an article titled “Wendell Cox Flunks Math - 2 (... and also flunks Japanese ...)”:
“Hires,” in Japanese transport statistics, refers to passengers carried by rental car - and these are normally aggregated with passengers carried by taxi. The impeccable Japanese logic for doing so goes something like this: A “taxi” is a hired vehicle, with driver. A “hire car” (rental car) is a hired vehicle, without driver. In Japan, the “market characteristics” of these apparently dissimilar modes are sufficiently similar to justify such aggregation.
Although I do have a bit of “wiggle room“ on linguistic grounds, I shall not take advantage of it. Instead, I shall “man up” as follows: the paragraph above is not correct, the error is mine alone, and I regret this error. Wendell Cox’s aggregation of passenger traffic carried by “Hires and Taxis” together with “Private Passenger Cars” under the label “ Automobile & Taxi” remains questionable. However, that does not change the fact of my error. Thus the following addition to the article described above:
Correction: “Hires,” Japanese transport statistics, refers to chauffeured limousines. The market characteristics of taxis and limousines are quite similar (the latter is an “upmarket” version of the former). Aggregation of taxis and limousines (“hires”) is easily defensible, and Japanese statistical agencies do so. However, aggregation of “hires and taxis” with “private passenger cars” is less defensible. This is so because of significant differences in market characteristics. The only purpose we can discern - other than reduction of table size - is to make the “automobile”  share appear larger.
In Japan, ハイヤー “Hire,” may refer to a chauffeured limousine. Contrast with タクシー, “Taxi;” the distinction is virtually identical to that in the U.S. (as elsewhere).
However, in Japan, “Hire” (or “Hire Car”) may also mean “Rental Car,” and is often used in this context. One of many issues related to Japanese transport statistics that can trip up the unwary (or the weary; the only “excuse” I can offer is that I must have stayed up too late at the computer that night).
We denizens of Publictransit.us do try to be as accurate as possible in our reporting of facts. In addition, we take pride in correcting errors no matter who finds them - others or us. This process can take significant time and effort. Regular readers (... those few or you who remain ...) might remember that we went through several “iterations” of one post: “Moscow Metro: Minimum Headways and Maximum Service Frequencies.” We have not seen such updating by various loyal and disloyal opponents (although we’ve found a few apparent “stealth” corrections on Wendell Cox’s websites; details in a subsequent post).
And so, I reiterate: Man Up, Antiplanner!
As stated previously, I don’t seriously expect Randal O’Toole to “’fess up” to using an inflated statistic - inflated more than tenfold. He might attempt to plead ignorance, failure to fact-check or some other form of carelessness - but I don’t seriously expect that, either. There’s at least the proverbial “99 and 44/100 percent chance” that he will not bother to respond. Very well ... but time for a bit more fun before winding up this post:
Man Up, Antiplanner!
Because ... to quote that great actor, James Earl Jones, in voiceover character:
“I have you now!”
(To be concluded in a subsequent post.)