Selling the Problem May 7, 2012Posted by Ubi Dubium in Rants.
Tags: Catholic, con-artists, devil, Evangelists, marketing, religion, scam, Skepticism
We’ve all heard the pitches: “This product is the greatest thing ever! It does this and that and this other thing, and all for the Low LOW PRICE of just $19.95! But wait, there’s more! We’ll throw in this other crappy thing that didn’t sell on its own, just pay separate shipping and handling!”
And they show us the product miraculously solving everyday problems. Laundry stains? Oxy-Clean will fix that. Dirty toilets, plumbing leaks, broken stuff, spills? They’ve got products to fix those too. And what makes this stuff so sellable is that it’s solving problems that everybody has. They don’t have to convince you that stains are a problem, or that plumbing leaks are bad.
But how to sell a product that doesn’t solve any problems that people actually have? Here’s one of my favorite examples of that: Kinoki foot pads.
Here’s a sample commercial if you missed when these were being hawked on late-night TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL78yNLlLmo
What does this even do? It supposedly removes toxins from your body. Through your feet, yeah right. But before they can get you to accept that these pads work, first they have to convince you that you have these mysterious toxins, and that you need them removed. Otherwise, they have no chance of a sale. So the first thing they have to sell you is that you have some problem you didn’t even know you had.
So they start off the ads with a big scary “you have toxins” message. Throughout the rest of the ad they talk about the effects of getting rid of the “toxins” and it’s all highly subjective stuff, like feeling refreshed and energized. (Exactly the kind of things that the placebo effect explains really well.) And how is it that “toxins” can come out of your feet? They throw some Japanese mumbo-jumbo around, use some fancy words like “reflexology” and voila! Gullible people bought a lot of these things. But nobody would have bought them at all if they didn’t first sell you on the problem.
(OK, these things are a complete hoax, of course. The pads are filled with a compound that turns brown when exposed to moisture, like, say, sweaty feet. )
SELLING THE PROBLEM.
Religions spend a lot of time on that, because if you don’t accept that you have a problem you won’t buy their solution. So they spend a huge amount of time working on convincing people that they have problems that they can sell you a “fix” for.
People mess up sometimes, but the preachers tell them that it’s “sin”. They say that people are full of this evil force called “sin” and need it removed, and that they can’t remove it themselves. Even beautiful little babies are full of this awful “sin”.
Sometimes people feel lonely, or frustrated, or feel like they want to get more out of their life. The preachers tell them that this is actually a “yearning for god”. (Today I had an evangelist try to tell me that I had a “yearning for god” when I told him that my years of churchgoing had been pointless and empty and a waste of time. Yeah, he really said that.)
Oh, and when bad things happen? Some of the Fundies will say that’s the devil at work. Better watch out for that devil, he has it in for you personally. No, it’s not just an impersonal universe that doesn’t give a flip about your happiness, it’s demons being sent to torment you. Can’t see the demons? Oh, that’s just the way the devil wants it so he can trick you.
Death, death is mysterious and scary right? No, death is terrifying, because there’s HELL waiting for you. Nobody wants to go there, right?
And sexual urges are one of the most common things for the parasites churches to latch on to. They take perfectly normal hormonal urges and wrap them up in a great big massive dose of guilt. Wet dream? Sin! Masturbation? Sin! Sexual attraction to someone other than a properly heterosexual spouse? Sin Sin SIN! They take just simply thinking about sex and tell people that it’s evil and bad. This one is particularly powerful, since pretty much everybody has some issue with sex in their lives. They take every normal thought and turn it into something to feel bad about. The Catholic church is especially good at this one.
Now they’ve created the problems, so they are ready to sell you their cure.
All it takes is one low Low LOW payment of all your rationality! But WAIT, there’s MORE! You can also have a feeling of smug superiority and weekly reminders of how horrible the problems are that they cured you of, even though the problems don’t seem to have gone away. In exchange they will take great wads of your time, all of your personal integrity, and 10% of your income. If you act now, they can indoctrinate your children too! What a deal! You too can be saved from all this stuff that wasn’t actually a real problem! And they’ll throw in FEAR as a free gift! ORDER NOW!