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Advertising - Qualified Perceptions
So, there's this Skymall magazine on airplanes, that tries to sell you things from all sorts of other catalogs. Being a compulsive reader of things, I tend to read it. Some of the things that they're selling, though - have they no shame?

harrock was appalled by the combination iPod dock-with-speakers / toilet paper holder. And I can sympathize with that. But I was most appalled by this one, sufficiently so to write it down for later:
"Wouldn't a rejuvenated fresh complexion be worth a simple application once an evening for just one month? The Wrinkle Terminator creates a well-rested, fresh face without the embarrassing pulled look of a face lift. Here's the research behind it: Wrinkled and flabby skin lacks what dermatologists call "The S Complex Gene." Via a "copy sound wave," this gene can now be restored, simply and electronically. Using your every day facial cream and an electronic copy sound wave function adjusted to your own body chemistry, Wrinkle Terminator produces beautiful results in just one week, but even deep wrinkles and creases will disappear with 30 days of regular use.
I'm not sure why this bothers me more than ads for magnetized bracelets to enhance your golf game, or advertisements for shampoo which focus on the amino acids for your hair to eat, or "power conditioners" for your stereo, but it does. Are there levels of outright falsehood that are worse than others? It seems like once you get to patently untrue, it all ought to be the same...

Current Mood: angry appalled

10 comments or Leave a comment
mjperson From: mjperson Date: December 28th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nah, you always get extra bothered by talk about genes. Ooh! The "We'll do something to his genes, and then he'll get younger, and all will be well." plot in sci-fi always breaks you, for instance...

Just like I always get extra bothered by physics-y madness...

I never buy perpetual motion machines, you never buy amino acid hair booster...
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 28th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
That wrinkly skin is caused by the lack of an S Complex Gene only brings me to normal levels of "Bah!". It's the use of a "copy sound wave" to transport the gene in your facial cream that sends me to new levels of spluttering outrage.

But yeah, part of me is still a biologist at heart. :)
(Why didn't we use copy sound waves for all our transfection experiments!)
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: December 28th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Would you have been mollified if the text had included something explaining how the copy sound waves were tuned to the resonant frequency of the deactivated nucleotide sequence?

Or would that have been just as bad, maybe worse? How about if they had been selling a facial cream full of shiny new copies of the S Complex Gene that got stuffed into your skin cells?

Did you buy the Skymall crossword puzzle? I'm curious to see if it works.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 28th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Both of your variants would have appalled me less, because they'd be a little closer to conceivably true things. :)

Being appalled and all, I haven't bought anything from Skymall. But I think I remember Games Magazine talking about the world's largest crossword, and they didn't mention anything about opening portals to Gael'toth, so it probably doesn't work either.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: December 28th, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
How is the first one any closer to something conceivably true? I just added a bogus explanation for why two bogus things are connected. Or was it that I changed the gene from "missing" to "deactivated?" Pretend I said "missing" there -- is it still less appalling, and closer to something plausible?

I'm wondering if what's really appalling is that the original demonstrated not only total ignorance of biology and physics, but also of the idea that biology and physics are distinct disciplines. The original didn't even bother to include in their explanation any babbling to connect the silly physics to the silly biology.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 28th, 2006 11:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
The fact that you turned it from "missing" to "deactivated" was in fact what made me like it better. Genes do turn off; they don't generally go missing. Though that's possibly a subtle distinction - the *product* of the gene could be said to go missing, and it's the gene product that's being restored with the sonic copy wave. But maybe I'm giving them more benefit of the doubt than they really deserve there.

I think the idea that it's two totally different fields being catastrophically wrong at once (and one of them being biology) may be what makes me more bugged by it, you're right. :)
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: December 29th, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I was thinking that the problem was not that two different fields were being defiled, but that they were so lazy in generating pseudoscientific gobbledegook that they didn't bother to connect it up.

OK, would you have been less appalled by this?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 29th, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is definitely less appalling, though I think that's because I don't understand the end of the first paragraph. Japanese researchers call the result the copy sound wave. What result? Call *what* the copy sound wave? The gene controller? Something else? This ad cleverly suggests that the lack of intelligibility is due to a mis-translation from the Japanese, which seems more reasonable than "we just made some stuff up."
jaedian From: jaedian Date: December 28th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
It doesn't even sound like they are putting a copy of the gene into the face cream. Just magically creating it with the sound wave generator!

The one that always gets me is when they refer to the immune system as the auto-immune system. I have seen it several time on TV. Once in a non-fiction science type show!
ironrat From: ironrat Date: December 29th, 2006 12:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
The somewhat relevant Penny-Arcade strip...
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