How to sell a lie.
There are two pieces of lingo that are incessantly abused in commercials for two of the US’s biggest addictions. Movies and Medications. Sometimes using the latter to enhance the former. They both are generally overlooked and in some cases mistranslated by consumers.
The first is the phrase “Based on a True Story.” Now at first glance one might think “Oh neato banditto something like this really happened.” However they have already coined a phrase for when an event actually happened which is “Based on Actual Events.” The difference is subtle, and indeed both of these can lead to extreme exaggerations however the latter tends to have less than the former. The thing about a story is that it is always true if it has ever been told, as it stands even just making up the story for the movie makes it a true story. There is no such thing as a false story, unless we are to count stories that don’t exist and frankly how exactly do you tell a story that doesn’t exist? This “Haunting in Connecticut” is a great modern example. They could have ran with “Actual events” because indeed one of the many families that lived in the house banked on some hokey ghost story (which conveniently paid for their sick son’s medical bills). But they people who made this movie aren’t idiots and they know that it didn’t happen. Now if you just go to see movies for the enjoyment factor this doesn’t matter for you however for the throngs of people debating online how ghosts exist and using this movie as a citation (far more common than it may sound).
The second of my two peeves is actually a little more dramatic. What in the Earth is up with medications having commercials that only show (bad) actors or (and this is the kicker) mentioning either softly or only in size 8 text at the bottom of the screen “Results are not Typical.” If noticeable results are not typical then the medication should not be advertised as if it does anything noticeable. This is the most blunt example of marketing without regard for the safety of your fellow human. There is little evidence for the long term use of just about any modern medication however we find little worry in mixing half a dozen different chemicals and downing them daily.
A small change in the environment can kill the animals surviving there, one would think that jamming high levels of alien chemicals into ones own body would hardly result in merry returns. Perhaps its an ignorance that someday will be alleviated by a long education in medicine but for now I find it disturbing. It is borderline terrifying to watch such a large number of people globally ingesting substances they (and even in some cases their doctors) have little understanding of.
But that’s the thing about the miracle pill. It reminds me of something that thankfully the internet mega-resource Wikipedia had cited in full:
The source of Big Lie technique, from Chapter 10 of Mein Kampf:
… in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
—Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X