I know 3 or 4 people who believed:

  1. You don't need to click "remove" before removing a USB stick. And that will not damage the USB stick.
  2. You should plug in the USB stick again after copying files to it, and checks if the files are already there. Sometimes things goes wrong and the files are lost.

...without realizing not clicking "remove" is the cause of losing files.

I thought this might be their reasoning:

  1. There are softwares lying to people or obfuscating things to people, such as some security warnings. There are things that very few people cares, such as to read the licenses carefully. And there are informations seemed to be outdated, such as to turn on the monitor first. In any case, what the program says can't be always trusted.
  2. They accidentally removed the USB stick before doing that once, and found nothing wrong in it. They tried again and again and nothing happens. So they believed that's very likely to be unnecessary.
  3. Long after that, They lost some files taken from elsewhere for unknown reasons. They thought, the only way to make exactly sure the files are there is to check the files after copying.

What's wrong with their reasoning, or are they wrong at all? To me it is obviously wrong, but how to describe or name this fallacy?

I remembered this related post on WorldBuilding: https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/19366/8578

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    While the situation is perhaps comical, I'm not quite grasping the philosophical meat to the question. I read (a) people are idiots about how USB drives and technology work (possibly as a life optimization strategy: don't waste your time learning or knowing things outside what you need) and then (b) ??? So I'm not seeing the question about philosophy. – virmaior Sep 30 '15 at 0:51
  • @virmaior Did you mean, that's just because they are idiot, and that's not a fallacy? And being idiot and believing something must be true doesn't mean some fallacy is happening? Or is it not clear what I am asking about the supposed fallacy? A common name is preferred, or some exact definitions if there is none. – user23013 Sep 30 '15 at 0:58
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    I take "fallacy" to mean as wikipedia suggests the poor use of reasoning in an argument. But people who don't use USB drives correctly don't seem to be making arguments or at least it seems like a stretch to call the unexamined performance of something in a mistaken way an argument. – virmaior Sep 30 '15 at 1:27
  • @virmaior To make it clear, I'm not seeing such a person recently, nor do I want to argue with such a person. And yes, sometimes they try to tell other people this is the correct way using USB drives. The reasoning part is my understanding, or my hypothetical scenario to make their arguments complete. – user23013 Sep 30 '15 at 1:38

I would say this is a case of an anecdotal fallacy. They found, through experience, that often nothing went wrong when they pulled the stick out. Thus they assumed that nothing ever goes wrong when they pull the stick out. Thus the loss of files must be an unrelated effect to be dealt with.

This is a particularly interesting one because the solution to this fallacy is another fallacy. One may appeal to authority and say "When they say to need to click 'remove,' you actually need to click remove." This is particularly important because the reality of what the USB spec and OS specifications define is often way more complicated than what an individual wishes to deal with.

  • I guess they didn't test it just once. Maybe they tested multiple times with multiple USB sticks on multiple computers, but didn't realize they should try to write some files before that. I mean they intended to get some scientific evidences but fails to do so. (What they really do is irrelevant, but this is what I wanted to know.) And when the bad things happened, the cost was so high that they didn't believe in experiences any more and just wanted to make it very sure, related to past beliefs or not. (I'm not sure whether they are in the same fallacy.) – user23013 Sep 30 '15 at 1:27

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