“Honesty is such a lonely word…” Billy Joel
If one thing is true today, it’s that ascertaining the truth about anything is getting more and more difficult. Lying has become so embedded in our culture, it’s no wonder so many people are quick to embrace conspiracy theories and the increasingly outlandish claims of politicians. Technology plays a major role in this situation. One aspect of it, TV advertising, has been feeding us lies for so long, I suspect many people have pretty much ceased to notice.
The other day, I saw a commercial for dish washer soap pods in which a good looking and apparently rational fellow chirped that he no longer waits until the washer is full to run it. He explained that doing a half load of dishes in the machine “uses 80 percent less water” than hand washing so we can wash without guilt. What he doesn’t mention is:
1. The more loads you do, the more water you use. If you do two half loads, you will use twice as much water and electricity and also dump more polluting detergent into the water supply.
2. The more you run the machine the shorter its useful life.
3. 80 percent less than what? A full sink of dishes or a few dishes? Experts advise if you have just a few dishes, do them by hand.
4. Breakage of dishes is more likely in a partially filled machine.
But here’s the most important thing he doesn’t say: The more loads you do the more of those little cubes you use. Double loads equals double profits for the soap company.
This commercial is but one example of how advertisers use misleading claims or outright falsehoods to grab a bigger chunk of your paycheck.
A half century or more ago none other than the lovely Chiquita Banana lied through her pearly whites that you should “never put bananas in the refrigerator.” Bananas stay fresh in the fridge for weeks, but if you leave them out they rot in a matter of days. Chiquita didn’t tell us the reason for leaving them out and we didn’t ask, but clearly the faster a banana spoils the more bananas you have to buy.
Advertisers have been sued and fined for making blatantly false statements ranging from “scientifically proven” miraculous weight loss without dieting to getting the equivalent of a gym workout by just walking around in a pair of shoes.
Not that it stops them from continuing to deceive us.
Among the many ads that make blatantly false claims, chewing gum that “kills germs,” tampons that make women feel great even though they do nothing to relieve the discomforts of menstruation, grooming products that turn guys into chick magnets, dating sites that guarantee you will find your one and only as they fill the sites with fake profiles, fast food pictured as much larger and more appetizing than it is when you buy it, bracelets that instantly cure arthritis, get rich quick schemes that make only the advertiser rich, “all natural” ingredients that include tons of sugar and salt (which are truly both natural— as is arsenic), “clinically proven” (by which clinic?) beauty products that turn back time featuring models who are twenty-ish or aging movie stars whose images are totally airbrushed, body creams that change the proportions of your body, and a raft of products that are “doctor recommended.” We are not told if the doctors are medical doctors, medical doctors with the ethical qualifications of Donald Trump’s physician who, after carefully examining all former candidates alive and dead no doubt, confidently proclaimed Trump the healthiest person ever to run for president, or just people with PhDs in advertising. Remember when doctors recommended we all smoke Camels?
Among my favorites are the car commercials. We all know a car will magically transform you into a different person, but a more subtle lie is the one promulgated by the images of drivers gleefully speeding their shiny new vehicles over empty city streets and open highways. Nary another car in sight. If they could make a car that creates that situation where I live, one of the busiest traffic areas in the nation, put me on the waiting list and don’t bother to tell me the price.
One thing I never got was why celebrities who earn more money than God from their honest career activities, feel the need to lie through their teeth to loyal fans for a few more pieces of silver.
Now, with the advent of advanced special effects and AI, commercials are becoming more and more creative and, to me at least, more and more incomprehensible. When I’m not trying to figure out what they are actually advertising, I’m marveling at how they can manipulate people to buy, for example, an insurance policy by running some humorous vignette that has nothing to do with insurance. If you look at the Consumer Reports ratings of insurance companies, you will see that the ones that advertise the most perform in the middle of the pack.
Given how people seem to be suckers for such dishonesty, it’s no wonder politicians have taken lying to new heights. Sadly, the words of P.T. Barnum hold true, but now I think there’s a sucker born every 30 seconds.
Well, what would you expect from a race of sentient beings who the protagonist of my novels, A. Lester Lord, former god of Earth, explained are “Z” level beings? This means we are, among the many millions of sentient species scattered throughout the universe, possessed of the lowest IQs.
That explains a lot doesn’t it?
I’d say it was proven by the guy who saw a cartoon commercial for Red Bull in which a person took a drink of it, sprouted wings and flew with the birds. The man sued Red Bull because he drank the stuff for ten years and sprouted nary a feather. Could anyone be so gullible? Could any court find in favor of such an absurd claim? Was that guy a moron or a consummate con artist with good lawyers?
Red Bull settled out of court to the tune of tens of thousands and then started explaining in subsequent commercials that you really will not grow wings by consuming their product. You tell me. Which of the two parties is the more stupid.
If you’re looking for truth, here’s a tip. Don’t watch TV and, when you read the newspaper, just skip to the comics.