shortcuts are arguments by authority

…and as we all know, argument by authority essentially means “propositionialStatement(x) is true, only because authorityFigure(y) says so.” Which of course isn’t very authoritative, especially given the insistence of the scientific method upon repeatability and verification, not “because I said so” arguments.

I’d in the past gotten the drive from Maine to Ohio down to about 16 hours. Usually I take 95 south into Mass, and get over to 84 west through Connecticut, and then head across PA on either I-80, which dumps you in Northeast Ohio, or I-76/70, which dumps you into Columbus. The last leg is I-71 south to Cincinnati.

On our recent vacation, we remembered that the purveyor of our favorite Indian restaurant in Portland, Hi Bombay, also by some fantastic twist of fate had opened a branch in Cincinnati. So we looked it up and went out to dinner.

The guy remembered us! He told us he was planning on moving back to Maine once his children were out of college, and has made the drive in 14 hours, 20-25 times, successfully because he still comes back to Portland frequently to check up on the other restaurant there. He said he went out 70 to 76 to the NJ turnpike, and then north on 95 to Portland. 14 hours, he claimed.

So despite my reservations (it looks like it adds about 200 miles to the trip), we opted for argument by authority in order to check out a different route. The good news is that we got to see the Manhattan skyline.

The bad news is that it rained nearly all of the trip, except at the end when it gradually morphed into snow, spending a lot of time in the freezing rain and sleet category. Surprisingly, the roads were not too treacherous; the worst part by far is poor visibility. You try concentrating on the same thing for 20.75 hours straight. Not an easy task. It was precipitating for probably 20 of the 20.75 hours of the trip.

But I’m home, safe, in one piece, exhausted, and a bit wired. And in surprisingly good mood. In some ways I feel like I’m grounding a huge amount of energy. Like the rain that followed us home ALL FREAKING DAY is washing away an outer layer of dust or something.

So yes, the shortcut wasn’t overwhelmingly short by any stretch of the imagination. I think that even with the weather conditions slowing things down, and without the handful of traffic jams we hit in NYC, the drive could be done in probably 18 hours under optimal conditions.

So in this case, the authority was wrong. Too bad for us.

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