More and more nowadays, we hear the words “scientifically proven”, or “clinically proven”, used to justify the sale of such and such toothpaste, vacuum cleaner or miracle cure. You see the big guy in his white lab coat, looking so serious and knowledgeable, the archetype of the guy-you-must-trust. He talks so eloquently about how his patients all rave about this product, and how it will make your life so much better etc. And it really pushes my buttons.
Because these guys are actors. Everything is fake. The white lab coat is an old but very effective method used for selling all sorts of products and services, from alcohol to tobacco to toothpaste and even exercise equipment.
It represents the authority figure who knows more than we do, saving us the hassle of having to think for ourselves. We see someone (usually a man) dressed in a white lab coat, and we feel safe, in the hands of the expert who will take care of us. This is reinforced by our experiences of hospitals, in which people in uniform really take our lives in their own hands, and we really have to let go and trust them. On TV, however, it’s all fake, and they want us to believe that it’s real.
It bugs me because, even though I know it’s fake, it still influences me and I’m not always aware of it. I know that sometimes I buy something because, some time in the past, I saw an ad that made me think: “this looks OK, I wonder if it works?”.
What about the claims of being “clinically proven”? This is frequently plastered over hair care products, make-up or other cosmetic products. What does “clinically proven” mean? Well, the advertisers would like us gullible customers to believe that it means “rigorously tested and shown to be so good you can’t live without it”. However, it really means nothing, because you can’t prove anything scientifically or clinically. Besides, if someone makes a claim that something has been tested, but fails to provide references and results from the actual test, it’s probably false advertising.
Customers don’t care though, even if you point this out to them. They don’t ask questions like “Who conducted the research?”, “Who funded the research?”, “Who were the participants in the research, and how were they selected?”, “What measures were taken, and how was it decided that the results warranted the label of ‘clinically proven’?”.
These are questions that actually matter, but the advertising companies don’t want people to know about the scientific method, or how experiments are conducted and science is published and peer-reviewed. They just want to sell their products, no matter how good/bad it is for us. It’s a greedy, dishonest business overall, and it’s a shame because advertising could be very useful and beneficial if it was conducted ethically.
More broadly, I think about the fashion industry, the women’s magazines, pornography, the music, film and game industries and how they all feed into each other to suck the goodness out of our lives in the form of money and time. They shape our thinking, limit our imagination, structure our day-to-day lives and restrict our potential. They’re led by conspiring men and women who will stop at nothing to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else. It’s a war that is destroying our society from within, eroding our morals and tearing at the very fabric of humanity.