TV Commercials Can Ruin Your Life and Health

TV Commercials Can Ruin Your Life and Health

The question for me was, could TV actually teach? I knew it could, because I knew 3-year-olds who sang beer commercials!
– Joan Ganz Cooney, American television producer, one of the founders of Sesame Workshop, home of Sesame Street (b. 1929)

[DISCLOSURE: The purpose for this article is to make readers aware of the effects of following life and health advice offered by TV commercials. These are science based facts, not opinions. The science part is left out to make it easier to read.]

Children, adolescents, even adults learn about life and life skills by watching television. As odd as that may sound, they have few other convenient sources for information they need. Today’s parents literally know almost nothing about parenting and the needs of children other than food, clothing and shelter.

For most of human history children learned about life from their parents and neighbours as they worked and played alongside their parents in fields and workshops. Today children are separated from their parents for almost all of their waking day, leaving surrogates to do the job of teaching them about life.

TV fills that role magnificently as it seeks to mold the minds of children to become devoted consumers of particular products as they get old enough to spend money. The prime objective of programming is to entertain people long enough that they will stay around for the next set of commercials.

But what are television commercials teaching? Is it worthwhile life advice? No. Do parents realize that they have turned the job of teaching almost everything their children learn over to pathological commercial interests who want people to follow what they teach with the same devotion as people give to their religions or their preferred political party? Again, no.

First, I want you to think about all the TV programs you know. Which among them has role models you believe children should follow? Of course we need buffoons to laugh at and actors to play conflicted characters for drama. Would you change lives with any of them?

As you think about the TV programs you know, one that would interest kids, adolescents or poorly educated adults, can you think of any you would like to represent life in your home or workplace? Even one? I can’t.

TV news is filled with violence and perversion. Shows that emphasize personalities tend to have them conflicting among themselves. Comedies show people with personality problems, social problems, even mental illnesses (never identified as such). Dramas (mostly soaps) show people with lives that no one would want to emulate.

Commercials are where real life teaching takes place. Commercials pay the freight for programming. And they are often better produced. Their messages are meant to be taken literally, also to create a long term following. That’s why you see the same commercials repeated over and over. And over. And over. As a hypnotist would do when putting a volunteer into a trance. The rule of thumb in TV advertising is feed the same message to people ten times or more and they will believe it. Anything.

Let’s set aside anything to do with political or religious advertising as it is filled with so much brain twisting propaganda and distortions of truth that networks and stations should be required to flash warning signs before and after them. Networks don’t bother big advertisers because there is too much income at risk.

Let’s begin our look at commercials for personal care at the top. Hair care companies may have done the most and best research about hair care than any commercial product manufacturer. But their products only heal what other products have broken. In fact, most hair would be best treated with a simple soap wash every few days. The hair of a person who eats a healthy diet will look good so long as the natural elements of hair are not stripped away by chemicals. Wash, rinse with clear water, then leave the hair alone for a few days, other than brushing.

Any commercials to do with mouth care are deceptive, if not outright harmful. I have not seen one teeth brushing commercial in decades that shows a person brushing their teeth in a way that would avoid cavities. On the contrary, the ones I have seen would promote cavities and sensitive teeth. Neither is necessary, but both keep other industries like dentistry and teeth cleaners alive and flourishing.

The mouth (along with the skin) is a secondary part of the body’s immune system. After the major immune system component in the gut, the mouth is the first line of defense against attack by diseases. Kill all microbes in your mouth and you destroy one component of your immune system. Wash your body with soap thoroughly in a daily shower and you will decimate another part. Take doctor-prescribed antibiotics and you will destroy the major component of your immune system. That’s what these products you see advertised do. The advertisers make fortunes on your devotion to their somewhat or totally harmful products. Your doctor will come to know you intimately from your frequent visits.

Skin care products are a travesty against good skin health. To begin, cosmetics for women produce a look that studies have shown men do not prefer over the look of no cosmetics. Men know that cosmetics mean “fake” and act accordingly. Women who claim that they make themselves up to make themselves feel better have self esteem issues. Are they trying to compete for attention with other women or attract them?

Clothing fashions are another issue of brainwashing. A man or woman who believes that he or she performs better at work because they look better is a victim of effective advertising and self deception. Most bosses look at job performance before apparel. Should you be known for your good looks or your job skills?

Teeth whitening was originally used by movie actors to make them stand out from other actors on set. Teeth whitening, like fashion and cosmetics, was an industry founded by people who wanted to sell something that people did not need, except to impress others. Generally speaking, those with real talent and skill do not subscribe to that kind of fake.

People who whiten their teeth to look better in real life do indeed stand out. They stand out as being needy, prepared to do anything to get attention. Anyone who chooses a life mate based on white teeth, fashionable clothing, beautiful makeup, type of footwear or kind of car driven is bound for breakup when the fake wears off. Yet that is what TV commercials teach in North America, where the divorce rate is now well over 50% and a majority of kids in school classrooms live in single parent households.

Generally speaking, if you depend on TV commercials or programs to tell you how to live your life you will live a troubled life. And probably in debt.

When you think about buying something you have seen advertised on TV, remember that the choice is yours. Will the long term disadvantage of harm to you outweight the short term benefits? Of this you may be certain, the advertiser always wins. The advertiser has no obligation to benefit you, only to make you believe that you will benefit from the product. What will you believe?

You may think that what you have just read is opinion by one person. It’s not. I don’t care what you do or wear or how you live your life. That is your business not mine. I don’t have time or interest in meddling in your life.

I do take an interest in helping people to think about choices they make, what effects those choices have on themselves and on others. If you “dress for success” to impress others, you will have bought into the model that industry leaders want. You will be a follower, not a leader. A consumer, not an independent innovator.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about inexpensive solutions to major social problems. If you have hear the word “sheeple” you understand that what you have read above is indeed a social issue.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

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How True Is What We Believe?

How True Is What We Believe?

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.
– 

George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer, Nobel laureate (1856-1950)While I like Shaw’s quotation, I would alter that last part a little. We may believe that our country is superior to all others because we have been told that. What we believe is what we think and what we think we believe is true. If we believe something is true, we accept it as true and valid. Yet our belief is based on what we have been told by others.

Once we think something, we believe it. “If I think something and have no questions about it or doubts, it must be true.” If we believe it’s true, we will believe it as fact.

Once we believe something, our conviction is hard to shake. One example might be cars. Some people will go through their entire lives owning few cars that are not Fords. They believe in Ford cars. “GMs are crap.” Other people devote themselves so much to General Motors cars that they wouldn’t be caught dead owning a Ford. That devotion might be based on their experience. But more than likely it’s based on what their fathers believed about GM and Ford cars. Seldom does either group have any hard evidence that their car of choice is the best, though they will tend to accept the advertising of their preferred choice as more true than the advertising of other manufacturers.

For many years my wife and I owned a couple of coffee shops. We believed our coffee was the best. The owner of the company that supplied our system’s coffee also supplied coffee to coffee shop franchises that competed with ours. He told us once, in confidence, that ours was better than the others, even giving some evidence to support the claim. A few years later he denied both the evidence and the claim that our brand was superior. (He even denied the additive that was proven to make coffee addictive.)

Our customers were so devoted to our coffee that they would not buy coffee in other coffee shops. Customers in competitors’ shops were equally convinced that their favourite brand was best. Over a period of years, several of the original stores closed. The customers all transferred their loyalties to their new favourite shops and coffee brands, without hesitation. Their new brand was best, because they drank it (though they would never admit that as their reason).

Because they believed something, it must be true. People don’t think of their beliefs that way, but when you argue them to a fine point, they hold fast that their beliefs are true even without supporting evidence.

Advertising depends heavily not on persuading people that the advertised product is better not based on evidence, but on persuading them that the product is best because they have heard the advertising so often they have come to believe it. In the advertising industry it is accepted among big advertising agencies that a person who receives the same advertising message ten times or more will believe it. Big industries spend fortunes on advertising to deliver the exact same message to your television screen a few dozen times each evening or day. The most bought products tend to be those that are advertised most heavily. People believe what they have been told. Told often.

I have had people tell me that when they want to buy a product they know nothing about, they ask people who already own that product which brand and quality level they prefer. “I would rather take the word of someone who has experienced a product,” they say. They will take someone’s word about a product, even the word of a stranger who has experience with the product or at least an opinion, rather than do some research themselves to learn tested and proven facts about it. They believe something about the product because they have been told.

People tend to vote for candidates in elections that either belong to parties they have always voted for or that have the strongest presentations in the community. The latter means television advertising or lawn signs. The more signs people see, the more they believe that the candidate must have great support. They vote for the candidate they believe will win because they equate numbers of yard signs with popularity. Most voters know very little or nothing about the political persuasions of the candidates they vote for. When their candidate is elected, then later helps pass laws they believe are bad, they simply justify it by claiming that “politicians are all crooks.”

We each like to believe that we have chosen, as adults, the best religion to belong to. In fact, most belong to the same religion (or lack thereof) as adults as they were introduced to by their parents when they were children. When people change to a different religion than the one they were brought up in, it is usually the one in which they find greatest acceptance by others of that religion. Religion is a social association, so attending service with friendly people is a very persuasive factor.

Many people around the world wonder how terrorist organizations manage to persuade individuals to commit suicide as they kill many others in events such as suicide bombings. Studies of suicide bombers suggest that most of them came, alone, from small rural settings to the city to find work. They don’t find work or friends, but they do find a few people who welcome them into their small religious community. That social acceptance begins the process of brainwashing that eventually shows itself in suicide bombing. The bombers believe that the religious beliefs of the sect must be best because they have been accepted where no one else would welcome them. Eventually they believe what they are told about what will happen to them–how they will be welcomed in heaven–when they kill the enemy.

Suicide bombers do not make the connection that life here on earth, in the present, is good because it hasn’t been for them. Except in one case where they were accepted by a group and promised something greater in the afterlife. [I have often wondered how those lonely country boys would fare in heaven if they were “given” 72 virgins. When you think about it, not only does it not make sense, it is totally unrealistic. In fact, dangerous. Virgins know nothing and can be clumsy or insensitive.]

This tendency to believe what we have been told is worldwide. Politicians, religious leaders and advertisers depend on it. If people are told something often enough, most people will believe it. No matter how wrong it seems and how unsupported it may be. Do you suppose that US troops are still looking for those “Weapons of Mass Destruction” they heard so often that Saddam had in Iraq? The believers never thought that someone else would benefit from a lie that was told so often. Told by those who would benefit. And it worked.

The only way to change a society that depends on the gullibility of its people is to teach the children to ask questions, to doubt, to wonder, to investigate, to think. It would not be hard to effect such change. It would be cheap, almost without cost. But it would require people who care to urge those who create curriculum for schools to change the way kids are taught. Today most kids learn to not think, only to obey and believe.

Our kids need to learn differently. Your kids and mine. The people who one day will decide our living arrangements when we are too old to do for ourselves. If we want them to think of us instead of themselves first, we will have to teach that now. Most kids today learn that they are the most important people they will ever know.

Remaining quiet and letting others decide for us is what got us where we are now. What our parents did, which was to trust that someone who cares would do the right thing. So, how do you think that worked out?

Bill Allin is the author of Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for people who want things to change for the better. Social problems depend on our doing nothing, were created because we let others make decisions for us. This book shows a path for change without great cost or revolution.
Learn more at

http://billallin.com

http://billallin.com

Do You Know Who’s Bending Your Mind?

By the age of six the average child will have completed the basic American
education. … From television, the child will have learned how to pick a
lock, commit a fairly elaborate bank holdup, prevent wetness all day long,
get the laundry twice as white, and kill people with a variety of
sophisticated armaments.
– Russell Baker, columnist and author (b.1925)

Could Baker possibly be right? Is it that easy? Surely making contact with people who could facilitate any of the illegal situations he mentioned would prevent most people from even considering the acts as possibilities.

Children six years old can find people who will sell them marijuana and other drugs, right outside of their schools in some cases.

Anyone who knows how to use the internet can contact someone who will provide them with anything. Of course you, who are reading this, would not likely search for a web site that offers plans to make a dirty bomb, or access to fissionable materials, or war weapons of any description. You don’t want those things, so you assume that no one else does either, other than very bad people.

You may even assume that web sites that offer free education within a warm brotherly group of people who will support the joiner every step of the way (perhaps until the person ignites the explosives strapped to his or her chest) are monitored by government agencies somewhere. And they are. Some. But new ones come into existence every day.

No law enforcement agency can act to indict until they gather enough evidence to prosecute the perpetrators and put them behind bars. How often do you hear of that happening? Rarely, if ever? Yet there are dozens of sites waiting to “help” people out there. (A majority of suicide bombers are rural young people who go to the city and find thsemselves lonely, without jobs or friends.)

Russell Baker was only partly right about television being the primary source for “basic American education.” What the television also purveys is propaganda (called advertising) designed to help people fall into a dependent lifestyle where they believe they need various kinds of products to make them beautiful or young, or at least to smell good all day long.

Television has nothing on the internet as a source for information and even products that most of us would call totally anti-social.

In general, what we call terrorists gather together into cults based on contacts they make over the internet. Criminals source whatever materials they need without having to see the supplier using the internet. Charitable organizations find people willing to contribute to worthy causes on the internet, though the organizations themselves may be bankers for terrorist organizations.

Organized crime gangs are the source for most of the spam we receive in our email inboxes. Yes, that same spam that takes so much of your time to delete. Yes, including the young girls who are bored and want to talk to lonely men by email: “Here’s my email address!” Write so I can learn that yours is a valid address. Yes, the same outfits that send heart wrenching messages with cutesy graphics that ask you to forward it to everyone you know (and, by the way, never remove the email addresses that came with them because those emails call home to the gangs with all those addresses).

Does that mean we should close down the internet entirely and return to a simpler time? It couldn’t happen. For one thing, the very organized crime gangs that send the spam and gather personal information have enough money to bribe enough politicians and bureaucrats to prevent the internet from being closed down.

Should we have a new version of the internet that is monitored by authorities to ensure that nothing bad is available to people? A new form of internet is coming, but it won’t have those safeguards. The bad guys will cry “invasion of privacy” and “loss of our constitutional freedoms” in the media and in advertising so no future internet will ever be safe. They will get good people they can dupe to do the crying job for them.

I get very little spam on my computer. I could count on my fingers the number of times it gets hit with viruses, spyware or malware. Why? Because I know what to expect from the internet and I avoid the kinds of activities that will cause me grief.

Can everyone’s computer be as free of viruses, malware, spam, trojans and disk-destroying codes as mine? Yes. That would require everyone to learn what I know and what others who operate their computers safely on the internet know.

Having everyone know that much requires our education systems to teach this information. It requires parents to encourage school boards to put it in their curriculum. Parents will never know enough and will never be able to keep up with advancements in technology (including rogue computer code) so it would have to be taught in classrooms.

That’s not likely to happen either. Our culture teaches us not to take responsibility for anyone but ourselves. And maybe our children, which some do obsessively, making the kids permanently paranoid. Look at the number of people who daily harm their own health with tobacco, drugs, alcohol, lack of exercise and self-adopted stress to see that many people don’t even look after their own best interests.

Don’t expect those people to help you change school curriculum. Or to change anything.

When was the last time someone consulted you about what should be placed on the curriculum of the schools in your area? Likely never. A few people make decisions like those with very little input from outside, even from politicians.

Find out who makes the major decisions within your local school system, your department or ministry of education. Propose these ideas at political meetings where politicians meet the people, such as before elections. Speak to the leaders of Home and School associations in your area. These people can all work behind the scenes to make changes happen.

Don’t go to the head of the local elected school board or the director of the local school system. These people effectively have no influence over curriculum decisions. They will listen to you, then ignore your requests.

Curriculum change is a political issue, not an education issue. If you want change, you must act in a political way. Acting in a reasonable way with well reasoned arguments with the wrong people (those who don’t matter) will gain you nothing but frustration.

It doesn’t require a revolution to change school curriculum. It requires people to talk about the subject they want changed, and talk and talk until enough people know about the need for change that the decision makers in the back rooms decide it’s a good idea.

Change is hard, which is why school curriculum changes very little over long periods of time (though its methods of presentation change). Talking is easy.

So talk. Tell others you talk to to spread the word around as well.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who won’t be naive victims of bad guys who sound really good on the television or over the internet.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

How Advertising Molds Your Beliefs

The tourist business is overrun with people bored with themselves.
– Joan Clark, An Audience of Chairs

A majority of people on vacation have one of two possible objectives: to relax and have fun doing much the same things they could have done at home (with some adjustments) or to have experiences they can share later with others at home (to have stories to tell and pictures to share).

Many cities position themselves as vacation destinations by advertising the wealth and diversity of their shopping facilities. Vacationers going to these cities spend time shopping for items they could likely have found in their own cities if they had taken the time to look. They spend money wining, dining and entertaining themselves in settings only slightly different from what they could have found at home.

Bus tours usually move at such a pace that passengers don’t have time to learn anything more than they could have learned in an evening on the internet or by watching a few programs on selected specialty television channels. With no lost luggage, broken elevators or arrogant bellhops.

Those who “get away” to warm destinations during their own winter or who go to relaxing places beside water want to unwind from the hectic pace they maintain in their city lives. They could have done much the same activities at home if they had been able to separate themselves mentally and emotionally from their work lives long enough to enjoy the facilities in their own home communities.

If it seems as if I believe that most people live in cities they want to escape from, you’re right. In most countries in the western world, around 85 percent of their population live in urban areas, most in large cities. As of the beginning of 2008, for the first time in human history, more people on our planet will live in cities or similar urban areas than live in rural settings.

We have become a world of city dwellers. Yet most of us know deep down that cities may not be the best places for us to live. We migrate to cities because they have jobs to offer.

We no longer want to do jobs that require hard work, the kind that farmers and those who live in relative wilderness areas must do to survive. Moreover, we don’t have the skills those people need. We have to move to cities where employers will give us jobs and teach us what we need to do them. We get higher education to learn how to learn, not how to do. Yet we only learn the minimum we need.

We don’t want to live lives requiring us to do manual labour, requiring the back more than the brain. Yet most cities dwellers, when studied closely, know so little about what they should know to live successfully, efficiently and comfortably on their income that they waste a good deal of their time and money on purchases and activities that achieve nothing for them. But they make business owners happy.

By doing little that is physically demanding, they gain weight. So they go to exercise clubs, do workouts at home and go running so that they get the kind of physical activity they would have gotten if they worked on a job that required physical effort as well as some thought. They need the exercise to release some of the tension they build up through living stressful lifestyles. Stress being a consequence of “success” in big cities.

Some city folks with enough money buy cottages or cabins, by a lake or somewhere in woods or a rural area. Because they know virtually nothing about living outside a city, they spend money to transform their rural properties into something resembling suburban communities, but with more trees and maybe some water nearby.

Are they bored with themselves, as Joan Clark said? They don’t know. They believe they are doing what they should, meaning that they believe they are living well because they are living the way everyone else in their community lives, doing what they do, spending what they spend, vacationing the way their neighbours vacation.

Bored? They don’t believe they are bored because they’re doing what their social norms tell them they should be doing. They believe they are happy because they do what advertisers tell them they should do to be happy, which happens to be to spend money on the advertised products. They don’t even know if they are truly happy because they don’t have a clear idea of what happiness is. To them, happiness is what they are told it is by advertisers.

People who don’t think for themselves must depend on others to do their thinking for them. Industries do that and tell people what to do, how to act, what to believe, through their advertising. They do this so subtly and with such incredible persistence that few have any idea that their belief systems are being slowly molded different from what any of their ancestors believed.

They aren’t bored, just ask them.

Boring, for sure. It’s a challenge to find anyone in a city with whom to have a truly interesting conversation because most people are conditioned to spew small talk all day long. At parties, they must inhale alcohol and drugs to lose their inhibitions enough that they feel liberated, thus happy, they believe. At these most opportune times to exchange thoughts on worthy subjects, they fill their time with small talk and contrived nonsense.

But they’re not bored and they are happy. Advertisers have told them they aren’t bored and they must be happy if they have bought advertised products. They believe it.

They aren’t bored with themselves because they believe they aren’t bored with themselves. And they believe they aren’t boring. Which demonstrates textbook examples of how people can be made to believe anything if it’s presented to them in an effective manner and shoved at them often enough.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how, what and when to teach children in ways that will grow them into interesting, vibrant self-sufficient adults.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

Getting The Best Out Of People

If you cannot mould yourself entirely as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking?
Thomas á Kempis, Roman Catholic monk and author (ca.1380 – July 25, 1471)

It’s so common we could say it’s a part of our human nature. We expect things of others that we don’t expect of ourselves.

Or we expect more of others than we do of ourselves. We allow ourselves the maximum leeway (give ourselves a break) because we understand the circumstances under which we are living and working, but we don’t understand the constraints others have so we don’t give them much slack.

If we could mould another person exactly to our liking, what would that make us? God? Slave owner? Mystic? Magician? Brainwasher? In truth, if we did mould someone exactly the way we would like them to be, that would mean having control over their behaviour, which means over their life. That would be against the law of every country and the moral code of every religion of today.

Rather than being disappointed at how others don’t meet up to our standards to satisfy our needs (even if we are paying for the service), we should celebrate the fact that we have people we can depend on to some extent. Many people have isolated themselves from others so much that they have no one to turn to when they have needs they can’t meet themselves. That’s really a state of helplessness.

We can’t get people to do whatever we want them to do, even if we pay them. However, we can encourage them, coax them along, express the unfortunate state we find ourselves in because the job we want done has not been completed. Encouragement helps. Patience, when it’s demonstrated as patience and not as shutting up and taking what we get, is appreciated.

Three friends who I depend on for various important tasks I can’t do myself–one fixing cars, the second fixing computers, the third doing odd jobs like welding and other skilled projects–routinely take longer than I would like to complete what they do for me. However, by explaining how important the job is to me and attempting to show patience by understanding the time problems they have themselves, I usually get more than I pay for when each job is done. If not, I often get special favours later.

We have no real way of knowing the problems that others live with and the effect these problems have on them. What we can do is to explain the problems that are bothering us and hope that this spurs the others to act on our behalf sooner or more completely. And we can be patient with them when they need it from us.

Every person in our lives, no matter how important they are to us, will eventually disappoint us. No exceptions. However, there is no rule telling us that we have to hold their faults against them. We can achieve more by overlooking their short term disappointments while focussing on the long term benefits we derive from associating with these people.

A saying people have around where I live is: Look at the donut, not at the hole.

Give most people an opportunity to deliver their best for you, even when they are under pressure, and most times they will come through much better than strangers we pay more would. True, we don’t have the opportunity to tell our friends and associates what we really think of them at the time we need to most, but holding back pays of in the long run if we manage our relationships properly. And it builds better relationships.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems
, a book about how, what and when to teach children what they need to know to be competent and confident adults.
Learn more at
http://billallin.com