Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tourists, Scams, Advice (and a few Generalizations)

"5 Scams Foolish Tourists Always Fall For"

"Your passport is fresh and awaiting new stamps. Your bags are packed. You've put a hold on your mail, arranged for someone to water your plants and picked up a set of travel-sized toiletries for your carry-on. You're definitely ready to travel. Maybe you're looking forward to eating exotic cuisine, adventures in foreign countries, visits to historical landmarks.

"You're probably not, however, expecting to be the victim of a tourist scam.

"In 2008, more than 25 million Americans traveled overseas. To a seasoned scam artist, that's a lot of potential victims!..."

The rest of the article - on a series of pages - follows the familiar 'countdown' pattern:

5: Fake Police Officers
4: Create a Distraction, Steal Your Wallet
3: Money Changing "Errors"
2: Unscrupulous Cabbies
1: "Good Samaritans"

A few comments:

First, kudos to the author: despite the generalization in the title, the article isn't written with the assumption that all foreigners are thieves and con artists - or that all American tourists are rude, crude, excessively wealthy swine.

#1, for example, starts out with a definition, and a qualification of sorts:

"A good Samaritan is a person who goes out of his or her way to assist a fellow human being. When you're traveling in an unfamiliar country, you might hope for a good Samaritan to help you find your way. Unfortunately, however, some "good Samaritans" are actually con artists in disguise...."

And, a little later, some specific scams to watch for.

#2 could use a bit of a disclaimer. I've run into similar cabbie scams in America. And no, I do not think that all taxi drivers are unscrupulous. As with any other identifiable group, all it takes is a few bad apples to make a really bad impression.

#4? Seriously: That tactic probably goes back to the Mesopotamian city-states, and the markets of Luoyang. I doubt that there's a place on Earth, where people live in cities, where this isn't practiced.

#5? This isn't a strictly tourist-centered phenomena, either - but, as with all five examples: there's good advice here.

Bottom line? A good refresher course - or eye-opener - for someone planning to travel.

About Generalizations

You've probably heard this one:

" 'No generalization is worth a damn, including this one.' "

I haven't tracked down who is credited with saying or writing that: or whether it's what happened to these quotes, after getting run though the minds of others:

" 'No generalization is wholly true-not even this one'
~Quoted in Owen Wister, Roosevelt: The Story of a Friendship (1930). [Cited in The Yale Book of Quotations, edited by Fred Shapiro.]

" 'Too broadly generalized conceptions are a constant source of fallacy.'
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, in Lorenzo v. Wirth. 170 Mass. 596, 600 (1898)

(From "Forgot who said it." on Quotations Page Forums, The Quotations Page)

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