Saturday, March 28, 2009

How Many Morons Does It Take to Screw Up An Article About A Light Bulb?

At the New York Times, it's all the anecdotes that are fit to print:

Take the case of Karen Zuercher and her husband, in San Francisco. Inspired by watching the movie "An Inconvenient Truth," they decided to swap out nearly every incandescent bulb in their home for energy-saving compact fluorescents. Instead of having a satisfying green moment, however, they wound up coping with a mess.

"Here's my sad collection of bulbs that didn't work," Ms. Zuercher said the other day as she pulled a cardboard box containing defunct bulbs from her laundry shelf.

One of the 16 Feit Electric bulbs the Zuerchers bought at Costco did not work at all, they said, and three others died within hours. The bulbs were supposed to burn for 10,000 hours, meaning they should have lasted for years in normal use. "It's irritating," Ms. Zuercher said.

Irritation seems to be rising as more consumers try compact fluorescent bulbs, which now occupy 11 percent of the nation's eligible sockets, with 330 million bulbs sold every year. Consumers are posting vociferous complaints on the Internet after trying the bulbs and finding them lacking.

If someone bitches about it on the internet, it must be true.

I've been using CF bulbs for years. I've never had one fail to work or burn out prematurely. In fact, I've bought them on sale (4 for a dollar) and the problem I have is that I've got a bunch of them sitting on a shelf because the current ones haven't burnt out. Based on my experience, therefore, CF bulbs are infallible.

I am sure there are defective CF bulbs. I've purchased traditional bulbs that didn't work, probably because they were dropped in the store and the filament was damaged. Oddly enough, I didn't nurse my grievance at the offending globes or bitch about them on the internet or elsewhere or store them away in my laundry room as proof I'm not insane...SEE, IT'S THE GODDAMN BULBS' FAULT AND I CAN PROVE IT! I either returned them to the store or, more likely, just tossed them.

The problem with the Times article is that it's devoid of any information about the failure rate of CFs or any comparison to the failure of other forms of lighting. You can write an article about defects in any product or service, but there's no point to such an article unless it provides substantive information about the overall utility or cost of the product (actual failure rate, cost per defective bulb, savings/benefit for properly working bulbs &c.) And even less of a point to an article whose headline ("Do New Bulbs Save Energy if They Don't Work?") suggests that the article will provide an answer to the question posed.

I could go on, but while writing this I see this guy already made the same points and I've just wasted my time writing this.

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