John Gruber wrote about the misleading Popular Science article: ‘Do You Really Need to Properly Eject a USB Drive Before Yanking It Out?’.

This is terrible advice. It’s akin to saying you probably don’t need to wear a seat belt because it’s unlikely anything bad will happen. Imagine a few dozen people saying they drive without a seat belt every day and nothing’s ever gone wrong, so it must be OK. (The breakdown in this analogy is that with seat belts, you know instantly when you need to be wearing one. With USB drives, you might not discover for months or years that you’ve got a corrupt file that was only partially written to disk when you yanked the drive.)

This is a great analogy.

I have another analogy that might reflect the undiscovered effect of yanking out USB drives: smoking cigarettes. People will tell you they have friends or parents that smoke and go on to live long without ever suffering as a results of their smoking habit. So they believe that it is perfectly safe to smoke. You might not discover for months or years that you are suffering from the harmful effects of smoking such as “corrupted” lungs.

Always safely eject your media drives before removing it. I speak from experience having lost files through disconnections when I had a loose USB cable, USB plug not fully inserted and then it fell out, and when the dog yanked the cable out accidentally. I was not actively reading from or writing to the drives but files were still corrupted. Imagine the data loss if the drives were in use.

Again, it is sad to see how people would cling on to false articles to strengthen their mistaken beliefs.