Exploiting Ignorance

In business, as in life, clarity and transparency matter.  The easier we make it for others to understand us and our motives, the easier it is to communicate and interact with others.

Lately in the business world, there have been waves of protestors claiming that vaccines cause autism, that organic fruit are pesticide free, and that there is no acceptable level of any chemical that can ever be ingested.  There is no science behind their claims other than the flawed studies, anecdotal stories, and misinterpretation of facts to back their claims.

However, when entrepreneurs and companies decide to play to those protestors, there are many problems that arise.

For one thing, playing on the fear of those who believe that there is no acceptable level of any chemical that can ever be ingested is to deny the reality that everything has chemicals in it … even clean, crisp, clear, cool water …


… and even the air that we breathe!

There will always be some who will take facts and frame them out of context to stir up controversy and, in some cases, to provoke unwarranted negative emotional responses that will then translate into sales for their products or services.

Many of us are familiar with the television ads where an actor wears a white coat to deliver a message.  Sometimes the white coat implies a doctor; sometimes the white coat implies a scientist. These commercials and ads are successful because people in general regard the person in the white coat as a trusted professional even when the commercials and ads carry disclaimers stating that the person in the white coat is an actor, and not a doctor or a scientist.

Society has always had a subculture that thrives on fallacies, and who claim that anything that threatens that subculture’s belief system is a shill for whatever group they perceive to be their enemy.  The typical targets for enemy status are any government, large corporations, and Big Pharma.

Truth in advertising is important but then again truth in business beyond advertising is just as important.  So while it’s true that girl scout cookies aren’t made from real girl scouts, beware of those who will exploit ignorance and try to convince others that those cookies actually are made from real girl scouts.

Yes, some will believe the incredulous claim, but if you have built your business on facts, transparency, and trustworthiness, chances are that your business won’t be the victim of pseudoscience and those who love to roust the rabble.

Elyse Bruce

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