A Fresher Take on the World's Biggest Lies
By Terry Mitchell
Last month, I did a column about the world's biggest lies. Based on popular demand, I have decided to do a sequel. Here are ten more common, everyday fallacies that I am debunking. Actually, I've added an extra one this time for good measure. Enjoy!
(1) 500 TV channels. All too often, the truth falls victim to popular belief. Such is the case with the supposed 500 TV channel universe. This myth started getting repeated in the early 1990's. By now, it has been repeated so often that most people believe that many cable and satellite TV systems offer as many as 500 channels for subscription. In reality, I know of no cable or satellite TV provider that offers that offers this many channels. Let's suppose that, when you were a preschooler, you began hearing rumors about the existence of a five-legged horse called a "quinthorse." Now let's suppose you are 40 years old but have never seen a quinthorse either in the flesh, in pictures, in the movies, or on TV, even though you are still hearing rumors about it. Would you still believe such an animal exists? Based the history of the 500 TV channels myth, many people in that situation apparently would.
(2) The candidate from the independent party. Think about it. This is actually an oxymoron and tantamount to saying you paid toll on a freeway! If a candidate is indeed an independent, he/she couldn't be a member of a party; if he/she were a member of a party, he/she couldn't be an independent candidate.
(3) We're doing it for the children. Yeah, right! This is nothing more than an excuse to restrict the rights of adults. The Parents Television Council (PTC) and other so-called "family values" organizations are prime examples of what I'm talking about. They claim they want to protect children from the influence of inappropriate material available over the airwaves, but their real goal is to regulate what adults can see on TV or listen to on the radio. How do I know this? Because, if their true goal was to protect children, they would be emphasizing technology like the V-chip, which helps parents control what their children watch on TV. Instead, they emphasize the removal of programming from the airwaves, so no one can see it. Even if we could incorporate some kind of super-advanced technology in the V-chip that could automatically detect when children are present and shut off inappropriate programming, the PTC and others would still reject it. If censoring broadcast content from adults is what they want to do (as it quite obviously is), then they should have the moral integrity to admit it and quit hiding behind the "it's for the children" charade.
(4) The highest standards of ethical conduct. Almost every large corporation has this line written somewhere in its standards of conduct and code of ethics. It's there because their corporate lawyers say it has to be and not because most corporate mucky-mucks actually believe in it or adhere to it. I know I sound cynical, but that's the way things are in the real world. Most corporations will bend or break any rule they can as long as they believe it will be to their advantage and they think they are not likely to get caught doing it. Corporate honchos are some of the worst purveyors of the "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. Of course, this is not an excuse for employees to engage in illegal or unethical behavior, as each individual is responsible for his or her own actions.
(5) Below dealer cost/invoice. Many automobile dealers will deceitfully include this phrase in their advertisements. However, it's just not true. If you believe a dealer is going to sell you a car for less than what he paid for it, then I have some ocean-front property in Kansas that you might be interested in. Sure, they might be able to produce a so-called invoice with a price on that's less than what you might be paying. But wait - that dealer is getting a rebate or an incentive from the manufacturer (that he's keeping and not telling you about) that ultimately lowers the actual cost of the vehicle to him. Rest assured that this cost is less than what you are paying.
(6) If you're not moving forward, you're moving backward. This is a nice little catch phrase that motivational speakers and spiritual advisors like to use, but it's not true in the real world. I know people who have been in the same job for years, just getting a cost-of-living pay increase every year. They have not improved their skills and it hasn't hurt them, despite the fact that they have been told that they would move backward in their career if they didn't. They have not moved forward, nor have they moved backward. They have just maintained their position in their career. Others just maintain their position in life and are happy to do so. We all know people like that and they are not moving backward.
(7) It's for your own safety. This is a favorite of people in positions of authority, but it's generally a euphemism for "I'm in control of you." If it is truly for anyone's safety, it's more likely for that of the person making the statement and/or creating the rule. For example, you've heard of people being handcuffed, locked up, or otherwise detained "for their own safety." If their safety was truly the concern, better methods, such as assigning them a bodyguard or allowing them to stay in a highly secure facility, could be used.
(8) Wrinkle-free, wrinkle resistant. Don't throw away your iron! Clothing that is supposedly wrinkle-free or wrinkle resistant will still wrinkle, just not as much so as other clothing. This will happen even if you follow the garment care directions to the tee. Washers, dryers, and overcrowded closets can wrinkle any material, regardless of the label says.
(9) You can cancel at any time. Really? There are always conditions placed on any cancellations. For example, most companies will not allow you to retroactively cancel last month's subscription, even though a month later technically qualifies as "any time." Also, once your subscription and/or obligation begin, don't expect any reminders about the fact that you can cancel. Companies will play up this "cancel at any time" feature until they've made the sale. Then there's dead silence on this issue.
(10) Risk-free. So-called risk-free offers are generally made on mail-order items. The risk-free period usually lasts 30-90 days and allows consumers to send a product back for a full refund if not satisfied with it any time during that time frame. However, completely risk-free they aren't. For one thing, we all know there's some risk involved in everything, even getting out of the bed in the morning. More specifically, doesn't the risk exist that you might accidentally damage the item before you can send it back? I doubt that you would get a full refund in that case. What if you misplace it and can't ever find it? What if you lose your receipt? What if you mail it back without insuring it and it gets lost in the mail? What if you forget to send it back before the cutoff date? Don't those possibilities constitute risks? My point is that while those full refund offers might represent a reduced-risk method of purchase, they are certainly not risk-free.
(11) Less is more. If you're a cereal maker, for example, this would be an ideal lie to propagate. Why, you are constantly decreasing the size of the cereal box while increasing the price. Naturally, you would want people to believe something like that. Thinking they are getting more when they are actually getting less, consumers would willingly pay the higher prices. Sadly, this happens every day as consumers fall for this big lie. Now, granted, less could be all you need. It could be all you want. It could even be just as satisfying. But there's no way that less could logically ever be more than or even just as much as more.
About The Author
Terry Mitchell is a software engineer, freelance writer, and trivia buff from Hopewell, VA. He also serves as a political columnist for American Daily and operates his own website - http://www.commenterry.com - on which he posts commentaries on various subjects such as politics, technology, religion, health and well-being, personal finance, and sports. His commentaries offer a unique point of view that is not often found in mainstream media.