Over The Fence
A collection of musings, some stories, investigations, and an occasional rant.
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Beware The Monetization Of Fear

Sex sells. Fear sells even better.


It's been called fear porn, and just like sex porn it's designed to capture your attention by triggering your most primitive desires. Porn triggers your sexual desire. Fear triggers your desire to avoid pain, embarrassment, injury, and death. In both cases they are extraordinarily good motivators, including the motivation to buy stuff. It is said quite often that sex sells, and that is true. Fear sells even better.

Monetizing Fear.

Monetizing fear is big business and one of the biggest marketing practices on TV, in print, and on the web today. Very little is said about it though, and that is strange, and makes me a little suspicious.

What am I talking about? Lets look at a few examples.

This food can kill you.

Lets take fish for example. It could have heavy metals in it, like mercury. It could be radioactive if it was anywhere near Japan. If could be lacking essential fatty acids if it was farm raised. Are any of those things going to harm you, or even kill you? Are they even dangerous at all?

It's hard to tell what is the real danger because of all they hype, and here is where the monetization comes in. An article may dramatically exaggerate the danger of mercury, in order to do what? In order to sell you something else, like

  • a pill to make the mercury go away,
  • or treatment with an expensive chelating agent at the doctors office to remove it from your body,
  • or safe organic fish grown somewhere clean,
  • or any number of other products and procedures to protect you from the deadly mercury.

So is the mercury really all that dangerous? How can we know if all the experts have a serious conflict of interest in that they have something to sell you, even if all they have to sell is a published article in a scientific journal. Me thinks the whole mercury scare could be just a load of crap designed to sell you stuff. Or not. Who's to know for sure?

We're all going to die.

Well, yes, we are all going to die, someday, and that's kind of scary in itself. But it's even more terrifying to think we will all die at once in a fiery blast, and that it will happen soon. Maybe it will be a comet or an asteroid. Maybe it will be Planet X swinging by the sun. Maybe it will be a super sized solar mass ejection heading our direction, the often predicted kill shot. Or maybe that's all a load of crap designed to sell a book, or popularize a late night talk show and bump up their advertising budget.

There is a lot of dangerous stuff in our galaxy that could easily wipe us out. But what are the odds? The predictable probabilities of any of these extinction level events happening in our lifetimes are pretty close to zero. And if there is evidence of a clear and present danger, how will we know if the experts all have something to sell?

Don't watch doctors on TV.

There are numerous medical practitioners who have found fame and fortune on TV or on the Internet. I'm constantly hearing from friends and family "eat this", "don't eat that", "take this pill", etc. and it all came from some TV doctor. Think about that, though, in the light of what makes TV profitable. For that show or Internet ad to remain popular it needs sponsorship, big money deep pocket sponsors, and they all have something to sell. So if the show doesn't sell the stuff the sponsors are promoting, then their ain't no show. The daily deluge of "eat this" and "don't eat that" is most probably just a load of crap designed to sell you something. If you heard it from a TV doctor, don't tell me about it, cuz I'm not interested in what they have to say.

Enough for now.

I could rattle on for many pages and many hours about this, but I think I've made my point. If someone is telling you something scary, be scared, not of what they are telling you, though, but be scared that it is all a con job, a load of crap designed to sell you something.


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