Astroturfing – what is it… how do we spot it… and protect ourselves from it

One of the most devious forms of propaganda is affectionately known as astroturfing.

According to Wikipedia:

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants. It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection.

In simple speak, astroturfing is a fake grassroots’ campaign. We are given the idea that a rapidly growing number of regular people are spreading a message…

But in an astroturfing campaign, the effort is funded by big-time interests. And these interests gain financially (and/or worse – gain control over our minds).

In fact, the “fake news” label is usually associated with astroturfing.

Continue reading “Astroturfing – what is it… how do we spot it… and protect ourselves from it”

Ever wonder why retailers always have sales? (Now you know)

All my life, I have known a dirty little secret about retail sales. The secret is this: (most) sales are phony…

Retailers raise the regular-selling price, then put the same items “on sale.”

It blows my mind that so many smart people fall for this stupid marketing scheme.

And now, this NBC News article confirms the worst-kept-retail-marketing secret:

Researchers tracked the prices of six to 10 big ticket items at seven national chains – Best Buy, Costco, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears and Target for 44 weeks starting in June 2014. Most of the price checks were done online, but spot checks of in-store prices were also conducted to make sure they matched those offered online. (Read the full report Sale Fail, including survey results for each store.)

Some of the stores did run valid sales – limited-time price reductions on the selected merchandise. But Brasler said Sears, Kohl’s and Macy’s offered what he called “fake” sale prices.

Here are their key findings:

Sears displays the most “on-sale” schemes. Out of every 9 items tracked, 8 has been almost always on sale.

Kohl’s had 8 of the 9 items checked on sale more than 50% of the time.

Macy’s had one item almost always on sale and four that were on sale 70% (or more) of the time.

Do these findings surprise anyone?

Here is proof that most cars sold here in the USA are safer than ever

The guys over at TFLnow give an exhaustive review of the latest new car crash-test ratings for this year.

The good news is cars continue to get safer year after year. This is why I am such a HUGE fan of new-car leasing.

The bad news is some popular cars are not as safe as we would think – watch this:

Correlation is not causation (what does this mean?)

All my life I have heard the phrase, “correlation is not causation.”

And like many, I had no clue what it meant.

But today, I use this phrase all the time. And boiled down, “correlation is not causation” means that just because two things correlate does not necessarily mean that one causes the other.

I find it is best to use examples to better explain this:

Every time my face breaks out with acne, the sun rises in the east. This scenario is 100% correlation. But we all know the sun rising does not cause my face breaking out.

Thus, correlation is not causation.

Here is another interesting example…

When Crisco was invented in 1911, scientists discovered atherosclerosis developed about a decade later. This is why we have this war on transfats today.

Statisticians have claimed that Crisco both correlated and caused heart disease. But there has never been a proper scientific study showing a causal link between trans fats and atherosclerosis. I have not seen a single study proving this causation (and I have been hunting one down for most of my adult life). Thus, correlation is not causation…

By the way, there is WAY more potential causal evidence that the introduction of chlorinated water into our water supply is more likely to have a direct link to heart disease.