Cornell University Johnson at Cornell University

Newsmakers

Getting fleeced

Professor Henry Schneider Professor Henry Schneider

As part of his economics research, Professor Henry Schneider set out to explore the honesty of experts – in this case, auto mechanics. After sabotaging his car by loosening the battery cable and sucking out coolant, he took his car to more than 40 garages and explored the rate at which garages accurately determined the cause of his car trouble. Only about 20 percent of the garages correctly diagnosed the problems, and several suggested costly repairs he just didn't need. An article about the study, "When Trust in an Expert Is Unwise," was published in The New York Times (11/7/07). As Schneider notes: "If you're an uninformed consumer, it's going to be very hard to know if you're getting good service."

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