Friday, July 27, 2012

alert warning

If you watch The Daily Show online, you've probably seen the ads for something called "5-Hour Energy", an unholy concoction of caffeine, niacin, and various amino acids. I'm not letting anything like that anywhere near me, but I was intrigued by the wording of the latest ad, which features a serious-looking woman brightly informing us that Doctors Recommend It.

What she said specifically was that "Over 73% who reviewed 5-Hour Energy said they would recommend a low-calorie energy supplement to their healthy patients who use energy supplements."

That's a remarkable weasel statement, because what it actually means is that 73% of them said that well, if you're going to take an energy supplement anyway, it might as well be a low-calorie one. Nothing about whether they actually advise taking one, just that they don't think it would do any harm.

What struck me, though, was the 73%, which Serious Woman thinks is an awfully high number. Not as high as the number in the classic ad that this one should remind you of, the one that famously said, "Sugarless gum is recommended by four out of five dentists for their patients who chew gum." Four out of five is 80%. (The actual number in that case was 85%.)

And what, one wonders, does the fifth dentist recommend? Gum with sugar? No, Cecil Adams had the answer: "Fact is, the fifth dentist usually recommended no gum at all. Not the kind of advice a chewing-gum company wants to play up real big."

So, 15% of the dentists would tell gum-chewing patients to quit gum-chewing altogether. And would 27% of doctors tell partakers of 5-Hour Energy to quit the stuff entirely? Maybe so. At any rate, this is not as encouraging an ad as its makers seem to want you to think it is. Maybe it was made by Mitt Romney's ad agency.

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