A few years ago I was considering buying a Hyundai. A friend of mine then offered a sober warning:
“I recommend you don’t get a Hyundai. You see, my buddy bought a Hyundai Excel back in the eighties and had nothin’ but problems.”
This friend is a bright fellow. So why was his advice so terrible? He didn’t bother to consult JD Power and Associates, or Consumer Reports, or the Lemon-Aid Guide. He didn’t check out residual values and estimated ownership cost in Kelley Blue Book. He didn’t bother to read any reviews by automotive journalists in such esteemed publications as Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine and Cars.com. All he goes on is a single anecdotal report of a friend about one car two decades before. To be sure, he may have acquired additional supporting evidence for his views. Every time there is a Hyundai recall he makes a mental note, every time he sees a Hyundai broken down on the side of the road, he nods knowingly. And so he does think he has lots of evidence to support his advice. And yet it all traces back to one bad experience.
It’s bad enough when people form their beliefs about cars based on a fading anecdote wrapped up in years of unrestrained confirmation bias. But the really disturbing thing is that many people root their beliefs about God and religion in dated anecdotes of no better evidential value than the Bad Hyundai objection.
“Christianity? No thanks. I went to church back in the eighties and had nothing but problems.”