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Help - Advertisements - Using Numbers to Mislead Readers











































Select one even problem from exercises 1 through 10 on page 686.
Select one even problem from exercises 11 through 22 on pages 687-688.
As you answer the questions above, identify what types of misrepresentation or misuse have been demonstrated
(e.g., Suspect Samples, Asking Biased Questions, Misleading Graphs, etc.).

4. In many ads for weight loss products, under the product claims and in small print,
the following statement is made: “These results are not typical.” What does this say
about the product being advertised?
6. In an ad for moisturizing lotion, the following claim is made: “. . . it’s the #1
dermatologist recommended brand.” What is misleading about the claim?
8. “Vitamin E is a proven antioxidant and may help in fighting cancer and heart disease.”
Is there anything ambiguous about this claim?

14. “How often do you run red lights?”
16. “Do you think that it is not important to give extra tutoring to students who are not
failing?”
18. In an article in USA Weekend, this statement was made: “More serious seems
to be coffee’s potential to raise blood pressure levels of homocysteine, a protein
that promotes artery clogging. A recent Norwegian study found 20% higher
homocysteine in heavy coffee drinkers (more than 9 cups a day) than in non-coffee
drinkers.” Based on this statement, should we give up our daily cup of coffee?

Comments for Help - Advertisements - Using Numbers to Mislead Readers

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Apr 16, 2011
Help - Advertisements - Using Numbers to Mislead Readers
by: Staff


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Part III


16. “Do you think that it is not important to give extra tutoring to students who are not
failing?”

This question is worded to elicit a “not important” response. The double negative is just another manipulative technique.


18. In an article in USA Weekend, this statement was made: “More serious seems
to be coffee’s potential to raise blood pressure levels of homocysteine, a protein
that promotes artery clogging. A recent Norwegian study found 20% higher
homocysteine in heavy coffee drinkers (more than 9 cups a day) than in non-coffee
drinkers.” Based on this statement, should we give up our daily cup of coffee?

I wouldn’t. USA Weekend is trying to sell more issues of their magazine by using inflammatory language.

If you’re only drinking one or two cups of coffee each day, the homocysteine levels should not increase significantly.

The article does not define what “more serious” means. More serious than what ?

The article does not say what methodology was used in the study, or how many patients were studied (did the study compile results from 5 patients, or 50,000 patients?).

The article is vague about the effects of homocysteine. The article does not say what the exact relationship is between elevated levels of homocysteine and artery clogging.



Thanks for writing.


Staff
www.solving-math-problems.com


Apr 16, 2011
Help - Advertisements - Using Numbers to Mislead Readers
by: Staff


--------------------------------------------

Part II


6. In an ad for moisturizing lotion, the following claim is made: “. . . it’s the #1 Dermatologist recommended brand.” What is misleading about the claim?

This claim is extremely misleading.

“. . . it’s the #1 Dermatologist recommended brand” leads the reader to believe that dermatologists as a group (probably 10’s of thousands of licensed dermatologists) recommended the moisturizing lotion advertised as their top choice.

However, the reader cannot tell how many Dermatologists recommend the product because of the wording of the claim.

The statement uses the word Dermatologist instead of the plural Dermatologists. Only a single Dermatologist may recommend the moisturizing lotion. If so, that Dermatologist probably works for and is paid by the advertiser, or has a financial interest in the product.

In addition, the claim does not state what does #1 actually means. #1 in comparison to what (#1 compared to not using any moisturizing cream at all, #1 in terms of the highest price, #1 in terms of the shape of the jar)? The comparison is not stated, and no scientific evidence is provided.


8. “Vitamin E is a proven antioxidant and may help in fighting cancer and heart disease.”
Is there anything ambiguous about this claim?

This ad is ambiguous.

“May help” automatically means it “may NOT help”.


14. “How often do you run red lights?”

This question relies on a common TECHNIQUE USED TO MANIPULATE SURVEY RESULTS.

It is a favorite technique used for political/government/school surveys. It is also used by private business.

This kind of question will usually force you to select answers from among carefully scripted choices, such as: I run red lights once per week, twice per week, more than five times per week, etc. (Just select the best choice from among those listed. If you don’t run red lights, select once per week.)

If you answer this question at all, you automatically admit you make a practice of running red lights, whether that is true or not.

(Suppose you don’t have a driver’s license? Suppose you live in a rural area that does not have red lights? Suppose you always take public transportation?)

If you attempt to answer the question by providing an answer which is not one of the “approved” choices, you will probably be accused of not cooperating and may be punished in some way.

Similar questions are: “When did you stop beating your children/elderly mother/pet/etc.? “Do you want 50,000 helpless women and children to slowly die of starvation, or do you think the government should provide food? How often do you use cocaine? How often do you cheat on school exams?


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Apr 16, 2011
Help - Advertisements - Using Numbers to Mislead Readers
by: Staff


Part I

The question:

Select one even problem from exercises 1 through 10 on page 686.
Select one even problem from exercises 11 through 22 on pages 687-688.

As you answer the questions above, identify what types of misrepresentation or misuse have been demonstrated (e.g., Suspect Samples, Asking Biased Questions, Misleading Graphs, etc.).

4. In many ads for weight loss products, under the product claims and in small print,
the following statement is made: “These results are not typical.” What does this say
about the product being advertised?

6. In an ad for moisturizing lotion, the following claim is made: “. . . it’s the #1
dermatologist recommended brand.” What is misleading about the claim?
8. “Vitamin E is a proven antioxidant and may help in fighting cancer and heart disease.”
Is there anything ambiguous about this claim?

14. “How often do you run red lights?”

16. “Do you think that it is not important to give extra tutoring to students who are not
failing?”

18. In an article in USA Weekend, this statement was made: “More serious seems to be coffee’s potential to raise blood pressure levels of homocysteine, a protein that promotes artery clogging. A recent Norwegian study found 20% higher homocysteine in heavy coffee drinkers (more than 9 cups a day) than in non-coffee
drinkers.” Based on this statement, should we give up our daily cup of coffee?


The answer:

4. In many ads for weight loss products, under the product claims and in small print,the following statement is made: “These results are not typical.” What does this say about the product being advertised?

Success story testimonials often exaggerate the benefits of weight loss products by showing “amazing” results.

The phrase “these results are not typical” is included as a disclaimer in advertisements to provide legal protection for the advertisers against possible lawsuits.

In October 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued new guidelines which did not allow advertisers to use the phrase “these results are not typical” for diet ads – that is, unless they also stated the typical results purchasers can expect.

Since then, the FTC has issued similar guidelines for other products.

What does the phrase “these results are not typical” say about the product being advertised? The phrase means that almost no one will ever get the results shown in the ad.

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