Musk v. Times, and the Comparison Fallacy / by Damon Lavrinc

I’ve been sitting on a draft of the Musk versus NYT thing since this morning, mainly because I’m waiting for actual facts to back up the Twitter claims. Without that, there’s no story, despite the myriad of headlines currently topping Google News.

So for now, let’s just focus on one line from Musk’s Twitter diatribes: “Also lining up other journalists to do same drive." 

The Top Gear test track comes to mind.

As much as we like to geek out on what hotness is topping the Top Gear Leaderboard, it’s utterly pointless. You can’t compare different cars on different surface conditions in different weather situations and claim that car X is faster than car Y. Physics (and commonsense) doesn’t work that way.

The same goes for Musk’s nascent plan to get other journalists to drive the same route in an effort to discredit the NYT’s findings. It’s impossible to recreate. Driving styles, weather conditions, traffic density… all of it can’t be magically and methodically put back into place to make it an apples-to-apples comparison. If Tesla tries – and journalists unwittingly take Musk up on the offer – it won’t prove anything. Even worse, it will keep the story in the news cycle that much longer.