Commercial Culture is Full of Misdirections and Evasions

T.H. Huxley's formulation was

The foundation of morality is to . . . give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibilities of knowledge.

Clement, Hume, Paine and Huxley were all talking about religion. But much of what they wrote has more general applications - for example to the pervasive background importunings of our commercial civilization: there is a class of aspirin commercials in which actors pretending to be doctors reveal the competing product to have only so much of the painkilling ingredient that doctors recommend most - they don't tell you what the mysterious ingredient is. Whereas their product has a dramatically larger amount (1.2 to 2 times more per tablet). So buy their product. But why not just take two of the competing tablets? Or consider the analgesic that works better than the 'regular-strength' product of the competition. Why not then take the 'extra-strength' competitive product? And of course they do not tell us of the more than a thousand deaths each year in the United States from the use of aspirin, or the apparent 5,000 annual cases of kidney failure from the use of acetaminophen, of which the best-selling brand is Tylenol. (This, however, may represent a case of correlation without causation.) Or who cares which breakfast cereal has more vitamins when we can take a vitamin pill with breakfast? Likewise, why should it matter whether an antacid contains calcium if the calcium is for nutrition and irrelevant for gastritis? Commercial culture is full of similar misdirections and evasions at the expense of the consumer. You're not supposed to ask. Don't think. Buy.


Carl Sagan reviews the silly rhetoric in medicine commercials.

Folksonomies: science rhetoric junk science medicine advertising

/society/sex (0.499669)
/religion and spirituality (0.468387)
/food and drink (0.451313)

pervasive background importunings (0.933699 (neutral:0.000000)), aspirin commercials (0.738495 (negative:-0.529814)), mysterious ingredient (0.723703 (negative:-0.381704)), painkilling ingredient (0.718652 (negative:-0.529814)), T.H. Huxley\ (0.717048 (positive:0.226653)), unintelligible propositions (0.711509 (negative:-0.619524)), breakfast cereal (0.684108 (positive:0.568241)), general applications (0.683243 (neutral:0.000000)), competitive product (0.683012 (neutral:0.000000)), commercial civilization (0.678180 (neutral:0.000000)), best-selling brand (0.677386 (negative:-0.521053)), vitamin pill (0.675956 (positive:0.568241)), Carl Sagan (0.672955 (negative:-0.428869)), silly rhetoric (0.672273 (negative:-0.428869)), kidney failure (0.665828 (negative:-0.539082)), United States (0.662406 (negative:-0.469195)), annual cases (0.661378 (negative:-0.539082)), medicine commercials. (0.654410 (negative:-0.428869)), similar misdirections (0.650343 (negative:-0.760808)), Commercial culture (0.644710 (negative:-0.760808)), calcium (0.509521 (negative:-0.458825)), doctors (0.496663 (negative:-0.529814)), evasions (0.482266 (negative:-0.760808)), analgesic (0.481312 (positive:0.270451)), acetaminophen (0.481023 (negative:-0.539082)), gastritis (0.473905 (negative:-0.458825)), /p (0.467012 (negative:-0.321650)), formulation (0.466471 (positive:0.226653)), tablets (0.462976 (negative:-0.472637)), causation (0.462682 (negative:-0.223308))

aspirin:Drug (0.733260 (negative:-0.499505)), gastritis:HealthCondition (0.477185 (negative:-0.458825)), Carl Sagan:Person (0.461230 (negative:-0.428869)), T.H. Huxley\:Person (0.451845 (positive:0.226653)), United States:Country (0.419726 (negative:-0.469195)), Huxley:Person (0.382776 (positive:0.264639)), Paine:Person (0.363327 (positive:0.264639)), Hume:Person (0.362453 (neutral:0.000000)), Clement:Person (0.343896 (neutral:0.000000))

Paracetamol (0.960566): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Pharmaceutical formulation (0.907137): dbpedia | freebase
Aspirin (0.853122): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Vitamin (0.840046): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Ibuprofen (0.826166): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Dietary mineral (0.627153): dbpedia | freebase
Breakfast (0.620758): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Codeine (0.613428): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Sagan , Carl and Druyan , Ann (1997-02-25), The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Ballantine Books, Retrieved on 2011-05-04
Folksonomies: science empiricism rationalism