Insults to Intelligence

It’s no secret that advertisers think we’re stupid. Intel certainly isn’t the only one.

Case in point: Exxon Mobil is touting its “Synergy gas” that has “7 key ingredients, to help you get better gas milage” (The quote is from their website, not the TV commercial in the previous link.)

What are those wonderful ingredients? Well, start with “Fuel Detergent Number 1” and “Fuel Detergent Number 2”. Somehow those names, with their echos of Thing One and Thing Two from The Cat in the Hat don’t inspire much confidence, but OK, I can see the potential value.

Then there are “Anti Adhesion Compound,” “Corrosion Inhibitor,” and “Demulsifier.” I question whether a properly maintained engine really has enough problems with rust and water intrusions that these mystic chemicals really do much for mileage. But again, OK. Legitimate problems, even if I suspect they’re overblown in the ad.

Number Six is where we start getting into trouble. “Solvent Fluid.” According to Exxon Mobil’s website, “Changes in temperature can cause some ingredients to get jammed. Solvent Fluid helps break them up, preventing congealing and letting the good times flow.” Uh, which “ingredients” are getting jammed? The ones in your gas! Right, one of the magical seven ingredients is included only to keep the others from screwing up your engine. Picture me banging my head on the desk.

And then there’s Number Seven. Lucky Seven. “Marker Molecules.” According to the website, these “signal the dosage of the additive in the gasoline so the balance is perfecto.” Leaving aside the question of whether you can trust anyone who thinks “perfecto” is a real word, they’re saying that something they include to make sure they have the right amounts of the other things they throw into your gas somehow helps your mileage in and of itself. Even better, they’re implying that only their “Synergy” gas has marker molecules. Guess again. Every brand of gasoline includes marker molecules, because their real purpose is to identify the producer and track the gas to ensure that taxes have been paid and shipments haven’t been adulterated. Absolutely nothing to do with fuel economy.

It’s depressing to learn what big companies think of your intelligence, isn’t it? Kellog’s–yes, the big name in breakfast foods (or “foods” if you have low tastes like me)–is a sobering example.

I’m not going to apologize for eating the occasional Pop-Tart®. But after reading the instructions for heating them, I’m reconsidering my position. Yes, that’s right. Kellog’s thinks you need instructions for heating a Pop-Tart®.

According to the box in my cupboard, you can use a toaster or the microwave:

FOR TOASTER:
1. Warm pastry in toaster at lowest heat setting.
2. Cool briefly before handling.

FOR MICROWAVE:
1. Place pastry on microwave safe plate.
2. Heat on high for 3 seconds.
3. Cool briefly before handling.

I’ll spare you the list of cautions that are obviously included solely to ward of litigation from anyone who can’t follow the instructions.

But really, guys. If you’re getting picky enough to tell us to use the lowest heat setting on the toaster, regardless of our preferences in pastry crispness, and specifying that the number of the nuking shall be three, why not go all the way and remind us to remove the Pop-Tarts® from the foil bag before heating? And, gee, maybe you should tell us to eat them before they cool!

Sigh.

You know what’s really depressing, though? The realization that we may actually be as stupid as the big companies and advertisers think we are.

Consider this: there’s a YouTube video that claims you can access a hidden headphone jack on the iPhone 7 by drilling into the shell. The video has racked up over 11,000,000 views in the ten days since it went live.

Inevitably, the comments section is filled with posts from people claiming to have tried it and destroyed their phones. Maybe some of them are real. But that’s not the depressing part of the story.

The depressing part is the sheer number of news outlets reporting as fact that people have been drilling into their phones and warning people against it. Without having done any investigation of the claims

Don’t take my word for it. Google “iphone 7 drill” and cast your eyes down the list of results. The Guardian. Fortune. USA Today. All repeating slight variations on the same thing: “I can’t believe I have to say this, but don’t take a drill to your iPhone 7”.

Fact checking is apparently as dead as a drilled iPhone 7.

5 thoughts on “Insults to Intelligence

  1. why not go all the way and remind us to remove the Pop-Tarts® from the foil bag before heating?

    They save the “don’t nuke” admonition for the foil pouch.

    OTOH, they fail to warn us about putting the pouch into the toaster…

    Like

    • Yeah, ’cause toasted foil is nutritious and delicious. (And in the half-decade since that picture was taken, they’ve modified the warning a bit. It’s now in smaller text on the back of the foil bag.)

      Like

  2. Pingback: More TV Stupidity | Koi Scribblings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s