Thursday, July 22, 2010


These two are only loosely related to the subject of his blog, but they make me laugh. The one above is from which might be the best web site on the internet.

I HATE Advertising. I can't even watch regular TV any more. TIVO has ruined me for good. I just spent an hour watching un-TIVO'd TV at my parents' house and I reached for the remote to fast forward like 10 times. That's more than once per commercial break. I hate ads because they are programmed to be played at a louder volume than normal TV. I hate them because they are (with a few exceptions) unoriginal and mindless. But mainly, I hate them because of how they misuse and abuse statistics to influence the masses.

I blame the government as much as anyone else. There needs to be better truth in advertising laws. For example, how is it that I can save hundreds of dollars with every car insurance company? That can't possibly work unless I am on some sort of MC Escher inspired never ending staircase of savings. I've got it! I will just keep changing companies and because I can save with each one, eventually they will be paying me right? I realize that they are using hand picked stats with very specific amounts of coverage to prove their point, but does anyone get to know what that given set of data is? The worst part is that because I can't trust all of these claims, I don't trust any of them. Each ad might as well be someone saying, "Hey, we also sell car insurance."

Other ads claim "#1 in customer service" or "America's favorite hot dog". Rarely do they go into how they came to this bold statement. Occasionally, they mention some sort of national poll which I am immediately skeptical about. What was the sample size, who were the subjects, what was the method of randomization, and how many times did you do the poll before you landed on the result you were looking for? OK, that may be the Statistics nerd in me talking and I get that few others care about these things, but these companies should have to put this stuff on their websites so that nerds like me can look it up and tell everyone else if the claims are legitimate. Well, no such rule exists. Companies can say that they are the best at something with basically no proof. I think that there is a rule that if a company says something like "clinically proven", there must be some study that proves what they are saying. But the company is not required to make that study public so what good is that to me?

Lastly, here are a pair of phrases that get me every time. First, be on the lookout for the words "up to". As in, "you could lose up to 10 lbs." So, I could lose nothing or even gain weight? Awesome! With that in mind, I am starting my new "do nothing" diet. Just pay me $20 and you could lose up to 5 lbs in the first week alone. I'm sure that in a random sample of, say, 1000 people, at least one person would lose 5 lbs right? The other phrase is "no one does _____ more/better". As in, "No one provides a better picture than Sony." The thing is, they are not actually saying that they do it better than anyone else, just that they do it at least equal to everyone else. By way of ridiculous analogy, and this is true, no one alive today has been to Mars more times than ME! And if anyone tells you otherwise, they are a big, fat liar!


  1. I usually watch my TV here in the living room and fast forward past the commercials so I am not as annoyed as you were. You were watching the family room TV which does not have a DVR. You were helpless, trapped, at the mercy of those drat commercials. You may not remember, but way back at the beginning of cable channels the idea was that you pay premium and get NO commercials. Now, you pay more and still get commercials. PBS used to be purely commercial free. Movie theaters used to show films with no commercials other than previews because we paid money for our ticket and that was enough. Now....well, now I have no faith that paying any additional amount of money will rescue us from commercials. Wait...yes there is still one thing...I could watch a DVD.

  2. I saw the first picture, and I thought you were going to be hating on green tea. Glad to see it was just commercials...

  3. I love green tea. Why you gotta hate on green tea!?

    Diet Dr. Pepper Tastes More Like The Original! (More than what? More than before? More than other sodas?)

  4. Well, one way to get away from those commercials... come visit us (I guess you'd still be paying, for a plane ticket)!! We have what I lovingly call "info" mercials, but not like you know them. They are 30 secs, in the middle of our shows, but they are about (military) history, local events and such. Most of them filmed here in Germany by those that run our AFN station. The kids LOVE getting to see real ads when we come visit..LOL But I do agree with you, I'd like to see the companies data. ~~ Debby

  5. So I am not a big commercial fan, but I really do like the infomercial. I love the English guy that sells the stone pots and pans. Those bad boys can melt cheese. CHEESE!!! What will they think of next. By the way those pans are not $29.95... they are 10 payments of $29.95 and about $50 S/H. That said, THEY MELT CHEESE!

  6. If I act now, can I get a payment knocked off? I mean 10 payments is a bit steep, but 9 payments of $30 and $50 shipping and handling? That seems reasonable. I mean $320 for the ability to melt real cheese? How could I pass that up?