A plea for rationality

Date:30 August 2012 Author: Alan Duggan

This morning, I was about to brush my teeth when I noticed a new tube of toothpaste lying beside the washbasin. The hook for consumers (such as my wife): it contained extract of green tea and – wait for it – chrysanthemum. Under the heading, “Power of Science”, the packaging explains that a scientific formula containing fluoride and calcium helps to prevent cavities and strengthen teeth. Elsewhere, it states that the FDI (La Fédération Dentaire Internationale) “recognises that twice daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste such as (brand name) is beneficial to oral health”. Well, duh.

Look, I know a little about marketing, and the need to differentiate one product from a zillion others in a highly competitive environment, but there comes a point where my bullshit detector buzzes so loudly that I cannot ignore it. It’s just toothpaste, people: if it cleans your teeth and leaves your mouth feeling fresh, that’s basically all that matters.

The cynicism of all this amazes me, as does the naiveté of consumers who happily embrace anything perceived as “natural” or “healthy” without question.  Chrysanthemum? Green tea? Herbs? What’s next – extract of mouse dung with elements of St John’s wort? The other day, I noticed the word “organic” on the package of a distinctly inorganic product. WTF? Do these marketers think we’re dumb? (Answer: yes.)

My plea: please question everything and always assume that someone, somewhere, is trying to pull one over you. There is no such thing as “quantum healing” (it’s just a term that sounds sort of cool and you know, scientific), fairies do not exist, we are not being observed by mysterious beings from another part of the Universe, and Nostradamus was either a nutter or a con artist ahead of his time. Your next move is to visit these two sites and exercise your intellect:
http://www.skeptic.com
http://skeptic.za.org

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