Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Every now and then I like to watch the Barrett-Jackson auto actions. I’m never going to be able to afford any of the cars they sell but I still enjoy looking at beautiful cars. Week after week people will show all sorts of cars and the commentators will give you explanations of what kind of restorations the car has been through, the history of the car and even focus on some of the details that may be either custom or were specific to that year and model. I don’t pretend to be an expert on any of the cars they show. I can guess the decade of most cars and on a few I might be able to get a little bit more detailed, but not much. The only possible exception to this would be air-cooled Volkswagens. I’m still not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I know more about them than any other make.

Well a few months ago they did a show that had quite a few classic VWs come across. I missed the show but I read quite a bit about it on a VW chat room that I visit frequently. From the discussions in the chat room it became quickly apparent that the commentators just had no clue what they were talking about when it came to the VWs. But that didn’t stop them from repeating nonsense with the same confidence that they did with other cars.

Now I don’t fault anybody for not being completely familiar with the brand that I choose to take particular interest in. People like different things and I’m completely OK with that. What bothers me is something different. Up until know I had taken them at their word that they knew what they were talking about. It is clear that at least in one category they were clueless. Sure the guys talking were probably just the talking heads recycling the facts that somebody was telling them about in their ear bud, but up until now I had trusted them. And the confidence with which they gave the facts was partially to blame for my lack of skepticism.

The show has been somewhat disillusioning since then. How do I know if what they are telling me about the Mustang currently on the block is true? Considering how much hogwash they dished out when it was the VWs up there, how do I know? Up until now they had my trust, but now I find myself asking questions. How much of this do they really know? How much are they just making up out of whole cloth and hoping that nobody will call them on it? I still watch the show periodically. The cars are no less amazing. I just have to take the narrations with more than a few grains of salt.

I had a similar event happen recently. A friend was telling a story about another subject that I know quite a lot about. In telling his story he messed up a few of the details with which I am familiar. I can look at the point of his story and his overall point is unaffected by the slight deviations. That being the case I found myself analyzing every detail. If he got that wrong, what else is not quite the way he told it?

As always when these things happen to me I get introspective rather quickly. Do I do this too? How many times have I embellished what I considered to be a minor detail? Have I sacrificed somebody’s trust in me just to tell a little bit better story? Am I doing it right now? Perhaps I need to take better care to be sure that I’m not guilty of the very same thing that I find disillusioning in others.


  1. You surprised me with the call for self-examination, as I wouldn't have gotten there directly from the auto auction example. What you encountered with the bad VW information is a lot like what everyone who's ever been interviewed for a newspaper story reports. If this authority gets *your* story so wrong, how can you trust them to handle information on other topics?

  2. I see you've signed up for the comment challenge. Good for you!

  3. I signed up for the comment challenge too, but today was busy and now I don't have time to read a bunch of blogs to comment on them! What will I do?!?

  4. I have it! I'll make 5 comments on YOUR blog!

    Don't you feel lucky?

  5. Oh, and I did read this post. I don't know anything about cars, but I'm guessing this is part of the problem with creating a weekly show. They probably do know a lot about cars but not everyone can know everything. Ass in a little testosterone and you have that "Dad thinks he knows everything" syndrome. You see it in science museums all the time where dads blatantly make stuff up to not look dumb to their kids.

  6. I mean does anyone really believe that those people on the cooking shows know THAT many recipes. Whatever. They have to make a show so they get people to send them in or something. Like Martha Stewart really knows all that about being crafty.

    Although I do believe that whatshisname that just quit MSNBC really does know everything there is to know about baseball. I saw him interviewed once and he could not be stumped!

    Good seeing you last night!