93% fat free means 7% fat, but if you listen fast all that registers is this product is 93% fat free and 93% is close to a one hundred so it must be a good product and “fat free” means it’s healthy. In today’s world you can’t listen or read fast because if you don’t stop to think you’ll be taken in by what I would term deceptive advertising, but what advertising executives call creative advertising. Just this morning I saw a “pilot’s” jacket in LLBean advertised as being “synthetic nylon”. Now the word synthetic means, fake, ersatz, phony. You would think the material would have its own name and not have to go by ersatz nylon, but there it is, for the original nylon flight jackets of military lore were 100% nylon. Some years ago I received an “Economist” day/date planner and stamped on the back of the red “leather” cover were the words, “Genuine imitation Corinthian leather.” This wasn’t just some old imitation leather but real imitation Corinthian leather. At least it was truth in advertising but with a twist, by throwing in Corinthian you were told that you were somehow receiving an upgraded product that was worth more.
For those of a certain age you’ll remember the send in boxtops, and postage, gimmicks the cereal manufacturers placed on the backs of cereal boxes. Live sea monkeys, but they really weren’t; diving submarines, baking soda not included. But on the cereal boxes and TV ads they looked so real. They hooked your imagination and you enjoyed the product in you mind until it actually arrived in the mail, four to six weeks later, and if you hadn’t forgotten about it by then, you were disappointed that it didn’t meet your expectations, but there was always the secret decoder ring you had ordered. Maybe it wouldn’t break the first time you tried to decrypt the message from Flash Gordon or Captain Midnight.
Now our so called news media uses the same approach; on the internet we call it click bait; on TV and radio it’s called a tease so we’ll stay on the channel through the interminable advertisements and then, and then, and then, we’re disappointed because it wasn’t what they advertised with their explosive adjectives. It was bad enough when they were just doing it with leads but now the explosive adjectives have found their way into the actual reading of the news. So, if we listen fast, or skim through an article, allowing only the verbs and adjectives to catch our eye, we’ll be uninformed as to the true nature of the situation. Thus, each of us must question that which is delivered into our in-box or TV news program. I haven’t found a single news entity these days that doesn’t have an agenda, nor a single news reader who doesn’t put spin onto the news ball. Some of them are so egregious I can feel the spit coming off the news ball as they throw it towards me. Sometimes it makes me laugh that describing someone having a firm grasp of the obvious can be delivered in such a provocative and pompous manner.
Nowhere is the caution “Caveat Emptor” more consequential than in obtaining news. You need to strip away the adjectives and adverbs, looking solely for the Who, What, Where, When and How. If you can do that, and be amused at what the news writers and presenters are doing to the story, then you’ll be much less stressed and more informed.