0870: "Advertising"

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Technical Ben
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:33 pm UTC

osmigos wrote:Well, it finally happened to me... Get out of my head Randal!

This is the exact reason I stopped paying any attention at all to advertising. They spend a lot of effort learning to say things that sound completely different from what is actually true.
One of my personal pet peeves is some car lots around here that advertise 'You pay less than WE pay'. Well, yes that is technically true... because they aren't actually in the car business, they're in the LOAN business. Makes me want to get rich solely so I can go down to one of these lots when they have that sale and buy 15 cars in cash up front.

You do realise the 20% discount is only available if you take out a 25% apr loan over 15 years right? ;)

maxh wrote:The last panel seems to be a misunderstanding. Although spending more on a given item with a set "normal" price clearly means one saves less money, the slogan clearly applies to the total purchase. For example, if one saves 15% via discount, the person who spends 10$ saves 1$50, whereas the person who spends 100$ saves 15$. By spending more, they save more. Whether the additional spending is a good idea is left as an exercise for the reader.


Oh, not when they apply a 200% markup the day before to give you "50% off" the next day. Done a lot here in the uk. Funny thing is, one TV company got a retail adviser to stop a Sofa store from doing this. So instead they just said "price is £x without any make believe discounts". That month, they tripled their sales/profit. Who would have thought that telling the truth in advertising would work?
Last edited by Technical Ben on Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:38 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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squall_line
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby squall_line » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:37 pm UTC

jalohones wrote:I work for a health education charity. While we do accept tax deductible donations, they form a negligible part of our income. We are government funded, but we're a non-government organisation. We do spend money telling people what we can give them for free, without expectation of any material gain in return.

So nyer. (OK, OK, we're an exception, but I'm claiming my possession of the Moral High Ground as exempting me from real logic(TM).)


No, you're not an exception, your logic is just flawed, even if you claim exemption from logic.

If you are government funded, then you DO expect a material gain in return for the things that you give to people for free. That material gain is in the form of government funding, which is wholly dependent upon someone's ability to write a grant proposal that shows that you are bringing in enough people (and will continue to bring in enough people) for the government to deem you worthy to continue to receive funding. So, the advertising dollars you spend convincing people to come in and receive something for free have a direct effect on future funding, as you would lose your funding in the next round of proposals if you weren't bringing in enough patrons.

In most not-for-profit organisations of that sort, donations keep the lights on, or barely pay the rent, but the government funding actually pays the rest of the utilities, all of the salaries, and all other expenses of the organisation.

rcox1 wrote:Or that is the BS some pseudo economist might put forth


Well, yes, a pseudo-economist might think that. An actual economist, or even a person who took a micro-econ or macro-econ course, would realise that the diagram is a budget constraint line, which renders the entire line of pseudo-logic that you posted completely moot.

As far as all of the people kvetching about the "dependent variable", no such thing exists on an economic diagram of a utility curve or budget constraint curve. Economists didn't "mess with everything", they didn't "reverse the axes", etc., because they aren't using a cartesian plane.

tehlaser
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby tehlaser » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:46 pm UTC

phlip wrote:Because society typically believes that fraud is a bad thing, and even supreme minarchy-hardon libertarians acknowledge that free markets depend on consumers having free and accurate information about the products they're considering buying.


You haven't talked to many supreme minarchy-hardon libertarians at length, have you?

A common libertarian position is that independent certification authorities (like, say, Consumer Reports, or the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or whatnot) are sufficient. This is supposed to hold even when the information they provide is non-free (you either have to pay for a subscription or the marketer has to pay and pass the cost on to you) and non-accurate (so long as it's "accurate enough" to avoid damaging the reputation of the certifier).

Personally, I believe we have ample evidence that human behavior is too shortsighted for these sorts of solutions. The short-term win of selling certifications tends to beat the long-term win of maintaining a good reputation, even if it shouldn't. This sort of behavior wrecks all sorts of economic predictions that don't seem to hold in the real world.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Gamer_2k4 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

The last panel is just wrong. Buying two items at the same sale price saves you twice as much money. It doesn't matter one bit that you weren't going to spend the money in the first place, or that you could have put it into a bank instead ("saving" it) or that you may not actually get any use out of the additional items. If you were going to spend ten dollars and only spent eight, you save two dollars. If you instead end up spending sixteen dollars on two items, you save four dollars. Four is greater than two, end of story.

tehlaser
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby tehlaser » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:53 pm UTC

arbivark wrote:some tv or radio stations might allow you to make "opposing opinion" commercials which mock the advertisers who falsely promise free stuff or use bad math in the ads.


Hardly. "Hi there, I'd like to run an issue ad on a limited budget (because I don't expect to make any money off of it) that will drive your other ad revenue away."

The only way I imagine this could work (in the US anyway) is by exploiting laws such as the one that prohibits broadcasters from censoring ads from candidates for office. In general, broadcasters can and do refuse ads all the time.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Bounsy » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:00 pm UTC

A farmer I saw when I was a small kid (8 or so). He was selling some kind of fruit (or small bags of fruit) out of his truck for $0.25 each or 3 for $1.00. Sadly, some people were buying 3 for $1.00. Even more sad, this same thing happens in grocery stores all the time if you compare the unit price (especially when the smaller containers of X are on sale, but the larger ones are not). People still buy the big containers, thinking they saved money.

What I thought of first when I saw this, however, was a book we were required to read in my 9th grade math class: How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. It covers a lot of these kinds of exaggerated claims that are technically true, meaningless, or otherwise unverifiable. I think this book should be required reading for the Common Sense class that should be required to graduate from High School.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby tehlaser » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:03 pm UTC

Gamer_2k4 wrote:The last panel is just wrong. Buying two items at the same sale price saves you twice as much money. It doesn't matter one bit that you weren't going to spend the money in the first place, or that you could have put it into a bank instead ("saving" it) or that you may not actually get any use out of the additional items. If you were going to spend ten dollars and only spent eight, you save two dollars. If you instead end up spending sixteen dollars on two items, you save four dollars. Four is greater than two, end of story.


If you were going to spend ten and you instead spend 16, you've *lost* six dollars, not saved four. You seem to have adopted the intended redefinition of "save" as "purchase for less than some other price" which isn't savings at all. You even go so far as to use scare quotes around the word when used properly.

The economic and traditional meaning of saving is exactly equal to not-spending. If you were going to spend $10 on an item and instead spend $6 on that item and $4 on something else, you haven't "saved" anything. The only way to save on a sale is if you put the money you would have used to buy an item at a higher price into a bank or your mattress or similar.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Shadowman615 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:30 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote:There was a car commercial I saw today that said, "There's only one car that has the highest blah blah in its class!" Which isn't even true unless there is only one class of car.


Could be true if they used a combination, which they often do for those sorts of ads.

"There's only one car that has the highest resale value, best initial owner satisfaction rating, AND most cargo space in its class!"

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby zmatt » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:34 pm UTC

Khorbin wrote:
ebyrne wrote:Shouldn't "amount you spend" be on the x-axis in the third panel since it's the independent variable? I'm a long time reader and this is what finally prompts me to create a forum account... sad.


Someone already answered this, but it's because economists are dumb and reverse them. It annoyed the crap out of me when I took microeconomics in college.


Please explain how it is necessarily superior to have the independent variable on the x-axis? Is this some rule that is always taught to STEM undergrads? I have never heard this (historian here) although I have taken my fair share of econ, statistics, and science courses.

EDIT;
looked up independent and dependent variables on wiki and they mention nothing of this rule.
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Game_boy » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:36 pm UTC

dcollins wrote:(2) The free good is done for governmental community-health reasons.


They want to reduce government expenditure on healthcare that you'd require later on if you didn't follow their advice, and also make the current government look good in order to be re-elected by improving statistics. Both of these have an expected monetary value.

@zmatt

Yes, it's taught this way in all UK high school science for example. I probably would have lost 2-3 marks * 20 exams over my school career if I had not done this.
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tialaramex
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby tialaramex » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:37 pm UTC

The text annotation definitely doesn't work for non-commercial entities. I have received numerous advertisements from the government in which they

• Reminded me of free services they provide which I might want to make use of
• Explained new benefits available to some people (not me, I'm too rich) which would result in receiving actual money from the government
• Provided genuinely free vouchers to participate in activities which would encourage a positive health outcome (e.g. swimming, quit-smoking classes)

Beyond that it doesn't apply to commercial entities either, I have worked for a company which gave away its service for the first twelve months to try to gauge what people liked about it and how it should be changed before charging for it. The service was free, not "we will charge your credit card after 12 months" but just free. Anyone could sign up. We advertised, not anywhere expensive, but we did advertise, because otherwise who would know it was there? This cost a bunch of money, but the lessons learned were valuable. No money went from customer X to us, but the sum total of human knowledge was increased.

And beyond even that, a new credit card company started up in my country. To get new customers they offered 0% interest for 12 months AND they offered balance transfers by simply writing a cheque. Lots of people I knew signed up, wrote a cheque for the maximum amount, and paid it into their savings accounts. As twelve months approached, they withdrew the same amount, paid off the card and destroyed it. Free money. The bank wrote all this off as a cost of attracting new business.

The explanation inside the album Dispepsi by Negativland of how Coca-cola and Pepsi advertisements achieve almost nothing despite the enormous cost is relevant and worth reading. The album itself, won't be to everyone's taste.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby radtea » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:14 pm UTC

While mathematical incompetence is annoying, advertisers frequently provide useful information when they behave stupidly.

My favourite form of advertising is "LOW INTRODUCTORY PRICE" and all its variants. First month free, whatever. Every single one of those translates to: "MASSIVELY OVER-PRICED!" If the regular price wasn't outrageously high, they wouldn't be afraid to mention it.

I also love anything that uses professional sports figures as shills, claiming that the product was necessary and good for them. Since pro sports people are universally genetic freaks whose lifestyle is completely alien to mine in every respect, the use of them as shills is a clear statement by the advertiser that the product is useless and irrelevant for me. There was some canned soup or something a while back that had (American) football players shilling for it--huge guys who are probably eating twice my healthy caloric intake. If they found whatever they were shilling for a satisfying meal, it would be nothing but a gateway to obesity for me. So no thanks, eh?

So if you learn to read ads intelligently with the use of a few simple rules they can often be used to avoid a host of unsuitable, inappropriate and over-priced products.

Mostly it's just a matter of asking, "Is this what an honest person selling a useful produce or service would say to raise awareness of their company in the market?" If the ad contains anything beyond that, it is certain to be pushing something useless or over-priced.
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SirMustapha
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby SirMustapha » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:22 pm UTC

alexriehl wrote: :roll: *Yawn* The point of this comic is to be funny.


... ... funny? What on Earth is funny about that comic? Now you are shitting me.

Just look at the comic and see how serious it is! Just look: in a graph with a clear, unmistakable downward slope (yeah, the same graph in which he switched the axes around, but who cares? Randall is GOD, right?), he pointed an arrow at it and wrote "Downward slope". You say that is funny? That's a clear sign that Randall wants you to take it seriously, because that is seriously a downward slope! If he had done the same thing but wrote "upward slope", that would be funny, and the comic wouldn't be serious. But no: a downward slope is a downward slope.
Last edited by SirMustapha on Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:27 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

nealh
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby nealh » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:23 pm UTC

1.Capitalism is a great system assuming that the buyer is rational and informed.
2.Advertising reduces information or muddles buyers.
->Therefore Capitalist societies should ban advertising (too bad most such societies are also democracies with free speech).
IMO.
Don't get me started on "the buyer is rational".

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby bmonk » Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:32 pm UTC

osmigos wrote:Well, it finally happened to me... Get out of my head Randal!

This is the exact reason I stopped paying any attention at all to advertising. They spend a lot of effort learning to say things that sound completely different from what is actually true.
One of my personal pet peeves is some car lots around here that advertise 'You pay less than WE pay'. Well, yes that is technically true... because they aren't actually in the car business, they're in the LOAN business. Makes me want to get rich solely so I can go down to one of these lots when they have that sale and buy 15 cars in cash up front.


Actually, I find it defuses advertising even better to analyze it and see where the untruth is hidden, or the insinuation shows up (as in, "Use this shaver and get a girl like this to rub your face"). That way it loses its power to trick me--and sometimes I get amused by how blatant the whole ploy is. And sometimes I learn of a useful product to try and see if it really does half of what they suggest for me.

Bounsy wrote:A farmer I saw when I was a small kid (8 or so). He was selling some kind of fruit (or small bags of fruit) out of his truck for $0.25 each or 3 for $1.00. Sadly, some people were buying 3 for $1.00. Even more sad, this same thing happens in grocery stores all the time if you compare the unit price (especially when the smaller containers of X are on sale, but the larger ones are not). People still buy the big containers, thinking they saved money.

What I thought of first when I saw this, however, was a book we were required to read in my 9th grade math class: How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. It covers a lot of these kinds of exaggerated claims that are technically true, meaningless, or otherwise unverifiable. I think this book should be required reading for the Common Sense class that should be required to graduate from High School.


Then there was the store that couldn't sell some cheap items at the regular price, so they put a poster on the items offering them for "50% OFF"--only they doubled the price by mistake. Later that day, every one was gone. Moral: people can't ignore a "bargain".

Fume Troll wrote:Since we all became terrified of the flu, my employer has started placing packs of sanitizing wipes in all public spaces. The blurb on the one they use must be one of the most qualified statement's I've ever read; it claims that it "kills 99.99% of most common germs that may make you sick". In other words "most of most of most of most of most germs."

All of which also ignores the fact that we're fighting viruses, not germs...


And also the fact that wiping out the (good) bacteria helps reduce protection from the viruses, and from bad bacteria...



My latest favorite ad is the one that claims sugar from corn is no worse than cane sugar. Well, yeah, but too much of any sugar is bad for you...
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby zAlbee » Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:40 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:... ... funny? What on Earth is funny about that comic? Now you are shitting me.

Just look at the comic and see how serious it is! Just look: in a graph with a clear, unmistakable downward slope (yeah, the same graph in which he switched the axes around, but who cares? Randall is GOD, right?), he pointed an arrow at it and wrote "Downward slope". You say that is funny? That's a clear sign that Randall wants you to take it seriously, because that is seriously a downward slope! If he had done the same thing but wrote "upward slope", that would be funny, and the comic wouldn't be serious. But no: a downward slope is a downward slope.

Holy crap! Maybe if you keep yelling enough, people will stop enjoying it!! Damn kids, ruining your non-enjoyment!

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WhiteDragon
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby WhiteDragon » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:20 pm UTC

jarickc wrote:After years of following XKCD I needed to make an account to respond to this.

My pet peeve is "for only a fraction of the price" As 2/1 is a fraction it always upsets me. I believe this is more vague than "up to 15% or more" as it contains all real numbers. I always hope that the fraction is negative but know I will always be disappointed.


That's true of both statements, but only if the price is an irrational number. If the price is rational, then any fraction multiplied by it is still a rational number.

but now that I think about it, would a number such as 1/pi be considered a fraction? If so, then I retract my comment.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Turing Machine » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:24 pm UTC

phlip wrote:Because society typically believes that fraud is a bad thing, and even supreme minarchy-hardon libertarians acknowledge that free markets depend on consumers having free and accurate information about the products they're considering buying.


What fraud?

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Turing Machine » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:27 pm UTC

mojo-chan wrote:These kinds of lies are actually enshrined in law, known as torts. A tort is something which a trader says that it is assumed a normal person would understand is untrue or at least unverifiable. "Best fish and chips in the country" or "lowest prices in the south" are example, the assumption being that most people would recognise that the trader has not tested every other take-away or checked every other shop. It seems an odd thing to allow because if ordinary people really did fully understand that these claims were lies then surely they would have no impact on them, save making them distrust the untruthful salesman.


You're talking about puffery, not torts.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby ubikuberalles » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:28 pm UTC

phlip wrote:
jalohones wrote:When I break into marketing I'm going to advertise "98% fat free lard" and then sell containers that are only 2% full of lard. I'll make millions.

Unfortunately, these things are measured by weight, not by volume... so you're going to need to ship a lot of empty space to make up 98% of the weight...

Inject the lard with lots of water. Problem solved.
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Turing Machine » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:38 pm UTC

nealh wrote:1.Capitalism is a great system assuming that the buyer is rational and informed.
2.Advertising reduces information or muddles buyers.
->Therefore Capitalist societies should ban advertising (too bad most such societies are also democracies with free speech).
IMO.
Don't get me started on "the buyer is rational".


You're missing some premises. This isn't a valid argument even if the premises you have stated are true.

The second premise is, of course, not categorically true.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby WhiteDragon » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:39 pm UTC

Fume Troll wrote:Since we all became terrified of the flu, my employer has started placing packs of sanitising wipes in all public spaces. The blurb on the one they use must be one of the most qualified statement's I've ever read; it claims that it "kills 99.99% of most common germs that may make you sick". In other words "most of most of most of most of most germs."

All of which also ignores the fact that we're fighting viruses, not germs...


I think viruses are a subclass of germs... From Wikipedia:
A pathogen, (from Greek: πάθος pathos "suffering, passion", and γἰγνομαι (γεν-) gignomai (gen-) "I give birth to") an infectious agent, or more commonly germ, is a biological agent such as a virus, bacteria, prion, or fungus that causes disease to its host.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Griffin » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:45 pm UTC

What fraud?


When you intentionally communicate something, and the person on the other end interprets that communication the way you intended, and then gives you money based on what you communicated, and the thing you communicated is untrue, that is fraud.

Fraud is intentional deception for personal gain - and many of these advertisements and claims are just that.
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby jpuderer » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:02 pm UTC

"Up to 15% or more" is not inclusive of 15%. Should be:

A U B = { x: x < 15 or x > 15 } = { x : x != 15 }

Anything except 15%

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby The Tuxedo Rabbit » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:29 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:
What fraud?
Fraud is intentional deception for personal gain - and many of these advertisements and claims are just that.


Well, one could argue that all intentional activities are for personal gain.

Fraud, in my opinion, is specifically for some kind of economic/material gain.

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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Steeler » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:56 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote:Then there was the Wendy's commercial where they had two things for one price. The two things were half a salad and either a drink or a hamburger or fries or something, and the one price was five bucks. That's worse than almost every value meal or dollar menu out there.

Wendy's used to have a "Double your Beef for a Dollar" campaign where you could get an extra hamburger patty on a single-patty hamburger. I always wanted to keep on applying that deal to the same hamburger, and put the restaurant out of business with $50.
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby phillipsjk » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:34 pm UTC

WhiteDragon wrote:but now that I think about it, would a number such as 1/pi be considered a fraction? If so, then I retract my comment.


I am fairly certain irrational fractions are allowed in calculus: they are used to express exact values, where a rounded number would be incorrect.

In commerce, rounding is acceptable because the standard units of currency are only sub-divided so far. Something like 6 decimal places should usually be enough. Edit: If you are programming an e-commerce site, the use of Integers instead of floating-point is suggested; you don't want to round out pennies or even dollars when dealing with large amounts.

Wendy's used to have a "Double your Beef for a Dollar" campaign where you could get an extra hamburger patty on a single-patty hamburger. I always wanted to keep on applying that deal to the same hamburger, and put the restaurant out of business with $50.

I don't recall the commercial you are talking about, but after the initial doubling, you would no longer have a single-patty hamburger.

Even if it was worded in such a way you could double repeatedly, they would refuse to sell once you exhaust the stock in the store. This would likely happen before you reach $15.
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby MSTK » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:40 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:
Khorbin wrote:
ebyrne wrote:Shouldn't "amount you spend" be on the x-axis in the third panel since it's the independent variable? I'm a long time reader and this is what finally prompts me to create a forum account... sad.


Someone already answered this, but it's because economists are dumb and reverse them. It annoyed the crap out of me when I took microeconomics in college.


Please explain how it is necessarily superior to have the independent variable on the x-axis? Is this some rule that is always taught to STEM undergrads? I have never heard this (historian here) although I have taken my fair share of econ, statistics, and science courses.

EDIT;
looked up independent and dependent variables on wiki and they mention nothing of this rule.


I've been taught this rule as a STEM undergrad (at least, for scatterplots and line graphs). And even in High School.

One of the principle reasons is the mathematical idea that a line graph should be a plot of a function [imath]f(x) = y[/imath]. That is, f(amount you spend) = amount you save. The input is the "location" of the value, on the "ground", and the value of the function is the "height" over the location. This principle extends to the convention of [imath]f(x,y) = z[/imath] for functions with two independent variables, and could be argued as the only logical one.

Even in the wikipedia article, that you mention, mentions independent and dependent variables in mathematics as inherently a function [imath]f(x) = y[/imath]. Where x is the x axis and y is the y axis.

I'm not sure how intuitive/natural the "vertical line test" is, but it inherently assumes that the independent variable is on the x axis. For any one value of your independent variable, you should only have one dependent variable value. This doesn't work if you flip the axes; two different independent values can have the same dependent value (ie, a projectile trajectory goes up then back down and crosses the same height at two different points in time). This point however is on the assumption that the vertical line test is more intuitive than the horizontal line test, which isn't necessarily true, so you can ignore this if you don't feel so.

There's also the idea that you normally read from left to right, not down to up. So if you're graphing a function of time, it wouldn't make make much sense to have the time axis be the y axis, because then time would flow down to up. This is the same, but to a lesser extent, for every independent variable that can be naturally ordered from lowest to highest. Admittedly, in cultures where reading from down to up is the norm, this would change things.

Of course, not all graphs will be functions or graphs over time or over naturally ordered values. But I would venture to say that the majority of all graphs are. As for the minority of graphs that have no preference, wouldn't it be better to establish a convention? So there is never ambiguity?

MSTK
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby MSTK » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:46 pm UTC

Fume Troll wrote:Since we all became terrified of the flu, my employer has started placing packs of sanitising wipes in all public spaces. The blurb on the one they use must be one of the most qualified statement's I've ever read; it claims that it "kills 99.99% of most common germs that may make you sick". In other words "most of most of most of most of most germs."

All of which also ignores the fact that we're fighting viruses, not germs...


I believe you are thinking of "bacteria", not "germs". Viruses and bacteria are two different things (one is a living organism, the other is not, etc.), but they are both classified as germs, in the professional medical sense.

Granted, where you were trained, they might have given a different (and unorthodox) definition of germ, but I think it's unfair to say that the santizing wipes are being misleading with that statement; they are consistent with the majority of the practicing medical community.

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squall_line
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby squall_line » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:02 pm UTC

tialaramex wrote:The text annotation definitely doesn't work for non-commercial entities. I have received numerous advertisements from the government in which they

• Reminded me of free services they provide which I might want to make use of
• Explained new benefits available to some people (not me, I'm too rich) which would result in receiving actual money from the government
• Provided genuinely free vouchers to participate in activities which would encourage a positive health outcome (e.g. swimming, quit-smoking classes)


Incorrect. As I stated to jalohones earlier, the funding that those programs receive keeps them active and pays the salaries of those involved. The non-commercial entities advertising those services to you (which are not free, they are paid for by taxes collected from the populace, assuming they're not part of a spending deficit) do, in fact, receive a material and monetary benefit from your taking part in those services. If people stopped using smoking-cessation programs, the funding would be directed to other services and programs, and the programs would dry up.

tialaramex wrote:Beyond that it doesn't apply to commercial entities either, I have worked for a company which gave away its service for the first twelve months to try to gauge what people liked about it and how it should be changed before charging for it. The service was free, not "we will charge your credit card after 12 months" but just free. Anyone could sign up. We advertised, not anywhere expensive, but we did advertise, because otherwise who would know it was there? This cost a bunch of money, but the lessons learned were valuable. No money went from customer X to us, but the sum total of human knowledge was increased.

And beyond even that, a new credit card company started up in my country. To get new customers they offered 0% interest for 12 months AND they offered balance transfers by simply writing a cheque. Lots of people I knew signed up, wrote a cheque for the maximum amount, and paid it into their savings accounts. As twelve months approached, they withdrew the same amount, paid off the card and destroyed it. Free money. The bank wrote all this off as a cost of attracting new business.

The explanation inside the album Dispepsi by Negativland of how Coca-cola and Pepsi advertisements achieve almost nothing despite the enormous cost is relevant and worth reading. The album itself, won't be to everyone's taste.


Wrong, wrong, and anecdotal/aprocryphal.

The service that your company charged zero dollars for, and advertised for, was used as market research. The company would not have done that market research if they didn't expect to see a monetary benefit from doing that research. As you stated, the lessons learned during the product trial were valuable, which means that they had value, and they provided the company with a direction to take the product in once they started charging for it (or they found that the product didn't have enough value to sustain the company's goals). If the company was not interested in making additional profit from the product or service, they wouldn't have bothered with the free trial run, and they would have just charged from the start, while incorporating lessons learned as they went along in the process.

As to the credit card company, if you think that every single person who opens up a credit card on a promotional zero-percent interest plan actually does what you describe, and manages to pay off their promotional balance before it comes due, you need to get out into the real world some more. I see people every day default on or miss deadlines on payments on zero-percent interest credit cards. Credit card companies wouldn't do this if they didn't think that they would make more money in the long run than they would lose from the promotion, which, again, means that they expect a material and monetary benefit from the program.

There is no such thing as negative money. If a credit card company stays "in the red" for long enough, it folds, plain and simple. You can't get back "into the black" by just magically writing off losses from a promotional zero-percent interest period and make it all go away before the next year's returns. In fact, as long as everyone was paying back their balances at the end, like you claim your friends did, the credit card company didn't lose a single red cent. It all gets balanced out in the end, and if that company is still in business now, you can bet that they've made more money from that promotion than they spent on it.

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squall_line
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby squall_line » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:06 pm UTC

MSTK wrote:Of course, not all graphs will be functions or graphs over time or over naturally ordered values. But I would venture to say that the majority of all graphs are. As for the minority of graphs that have no preference, wouldn't it be better to establish a convention? So there is never ambiguity?


Economics != STEM
Diagrams != Graphs
Therefore, 'conventions used in economics diagrams' != 'conventions used for STEM graphs'
Q.E.D.

MSTK
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby MSTK » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:17 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:
MSTK wrote:Of course, not all graphs will be functions or graphs over time or over naturally ordered values. But I would venture to say that the majority of all graphs are. As for the minority of graphs that have no preference, wouldn't it be better to establish a convention? So there is never ambiguity?


Economics != STEM
Diagrams != Graphs
Therefore, 'conventions used in economics diagrams' != 'conventions used for STEM graphs'
Q.E.D.


Not to seem pretentious, but I'm actually (genuinely) curious for the reasons the conventions were chosen for economics diagrams.

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squall_line
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby squall_line » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:29 pm UTC

MSTK wrote:
squall_line wrote:
MSTK wrote:Of course, not all graphs will be functions or graphs over time or over naturally ordered values. But I would venture to say that the majority of all graphs are. As for the minority of graphs that have no preference, wouldn't it be better to establish a convention? So there is never ambiguity?


Economics != STEM
Diagrams != Graphs
Therefore, 'conventions used in economics diagrams' != 'conventions used for STEM graphs'
Q.E.D.


Not to seem pretentious, but I'm actually (genuinely) curious for the reasons the conventions were chosen for economics diagrams.


The are very few "conventions" in economic diagrams:

-Quantity on the horizontal axis, and Price on the vertical axis in a supply/demand diagram.
-Primary good on the horizontal axis, All Other Goods (AOG) on the vertical axis in a price-consumption curve.

Neither diagram has any knowledge of or relation to the idea of "dependent" or "independent" variables, especially price-consumption curves, which are represented in the last panel of the comic.

Even for those that argue that supply/demand curves have dependent (quantity) and independent (price) variables, they really don't, but STEM people have found it necessary to assign one or the other to try to make sense of the diagrams, and then work themselves into a tizzy when they decide that they're "backwards" on the diagram. (Of course, if one were to point out the shape of a supply/demand curve, STEM people would quickly realise that, if the axes were reversed, S/D curves would violate the vertical-line test. Thus, if STEM people claim that the axes are "backwards", it's because they assigned them incorrectly...)

hailthefish
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby hailthefish » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:35 pm UTC

The image name was changed to "mathematically_annoying.png" which no longer trips up the ad blockers.

RequinB4
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby RequinB4 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:51 pm UTC

MSTK wrote:
squall_line wrote:
MSTK wrote:Of course, not all graphs will be functions or graphs over time or over naturally ordered values. But I would venture to say that the majority of all graphs are. As for the minority of graphs that have no preference, wouldn't it be better to establish a convention? So there is never ambiguity?


Economics != STEM
Diagrams != Graphs
Therefore, 'conventions used in economics diagrams' != 'conventions used for STEM graphs'
Q.E.D.


Not to seem pretentious, but I'm actually (genuinely) curious for the reasons the conventions were chosen for economics diagrams.


Economic ideas generally have more than two variables involved. For instance, what changes the price of wheat? Well, neoclassical economics says it's the intersection of supply and demand. But supply and demand are themselves functions of many, many, many variables mapping to, respectively, quantity supplied and quantity demanded. So to not confuse undergraduates with multiple-valued functions, we just draw pretty graphs of two useful variables, price and quantity. Since we've butchered the model anyway, we can define it however we'd like.

As to why quantity is on the bottom rather than the left, it's because the idea is derived from polling a bunch of people and asking them how much they value, in dollars, a particular good. Then you'd order all the people in a line by their value, highest going first, and you get a nice downward sloping demand curve. This is useful because when we look at firm behavior we can quickly see what happens if they are able to price discriminate, that is, sell to everyone at different prices (ideally closer to their maximum value). Additionally, revenue, profit, consumer welfare become nice simple shaded areas that correspond to different people's value.

tl;dr - to make it easier for undergrads to understand/the original people to come up with.

RequinB4
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby RequinB4 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:53 pm UTC

RequinB4 wrote:
MSTK wrote:
squall_line wrote:
MSTK wrote:Of course, not all graphs will be functions or graphs over time or over naturally ordered values. But I would venture to say that the majority of all graphs are. As for the minority of graphs that have no preference, wouldn't it be better to establish a convention? So there is never ambiguity?


Economics != STEM
Diagrams != Graphs
Therefore, 'conventions used in economics diagrams' != 'conventions used for STEM graphs'
Q.E.D.


Not to seem pretentious, but I'm actually (genuinely) curious for the reasons the conventions were chosen for economics diagrams.


Economic ideas generally have more than two variables involved. For instance, what changes the price of wheat? Well, neoclassical economics says it's the intersection of supply and demand. But supply and demand are themselves functions of many, many, many variables mapping to, respectively, quantity supplied and quantity demanded. So to not confuse undergraduates with multiple-valued functions, we just draw pretty graphs of two useful variables, price and quantity. Since we've butchered the model anyway, we can define it however we'd like.

As to why quantity is on the bottom rather than the left, it's because the idea is derived from polling a bunch of people and asking them how much they value, in dollars, a particular good. Then you'd order all the people in a line by their value, highest going first, and you get a nice downward sloping demand curve. This is useful because when we look at firm behavior we can quickly see what happens if they are able to price discriminate, that is, sell to everyone at different prices (ideally closer to their maximum value). Additionally, revenue, profit, consumer welfare become nice simple shaded areas that correspond to different people's value.

tl;dr - There aren't really very many conventions, and few ones are just there make it easier for undergrads to understand.

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Steeler
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Steeler » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:13 pm UTC

phillipsjk wrote:I don't recall the commercial you are talking about, but after the initial doubling, you would no longer have a single-patty hamburger.

Even if it was worded in such a way you could double repeatedly, they would refuse to sell once you exhaust the stock in the store. This would likely happen before you reach $15.
The single-patty part was never stated outright. However, I think in reality they'd refuse to double even past two patties. It's just a fun thought.
"What would happen if did you first know that do I say tell me about your feelings about him that you came to me the real reason explain anything else that you came to me?"
-Emacs Psychiatrist upon repeated presses of the enter key

Belua
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Belua » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:33 pm UTC

The first panel would be fairly funny, if in fact that was an advertisement used. I'm serious. Google "up to 15% or more on car insurance", which is what Randall is obviously referencing. It doesn't actually exist. The quote is, "15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance." Of course, the can in there renders the advertisement fairly invalid anyways - 15 minutes can save you 15% or more, but it may not! - but that wasn't the joke that Randall made.

The "joke" in the second panel, while only applying to certain situations where the advertiser's goal is direct monetary gain, fails mostly because of its poor execution. Its wording is extremely confusing, which would ruin the joke if it was funny in the first place.

As for the third panel, pointing out a fact about money that anyone with common sense would realize does not make a joke. Spoonfeeding your readers by labeling a graph with a negative slope, "negative slope," only makes it worse.

Finally, the overall joke, when it comes down to it, is that advertisers use misleading or ambiguous wording to make their products look more appealing. Isn't that kind of a given?

sotanaht
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby sotanaht » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:24 am UTC

The first panel here I agree with completely. Even without the "or more" part, simply having "up to" makes it the most annoying thing in advertising. "Entire store up to 50% off" really means that some products may or may not be discounted at a maximum of 50%, however it is possible that no items are discounted at all. 0% is less then 50%, therefor the statement would be accurate with no sale at all. The only certainty is that nothing is discounted more than 50%, which adding the "or more" to basically means they may as well not have a sign at all for all the information it provides.

The third panel seems accurate to start with, but there is one fatal flaw in the logic. Define "save". The definition used is that money saved is equal to the amount of money you have left after spending it. The definition the advertisers are going for, which is entirely accurate, is that money saved = total non-sale cost - amount spent. With that definition the ad is true. Even more so, it is true on either definition if the the product happens to be one that you would have bought anyway in the future, you end up saving money (that you would definitely not have otherwise) if you buy it now.

The second panel is generally true, but false in specific cases. If it would cost money to remove or dispose of an item, it is possible that printing up "free" flyers would save more money in the long run, and therefor without any money coming directly from the "buyer" both parties benefit. It can be more accurately stated that the flyer-maker expects a net profit due to the flyer greater then the cost of the flyer, the problem is that it does not matter where this profit comes from, so long as it is caused by the flyer.

Afrael
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Re: 0870: "Advertising"

Postby Afrael » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:30 am UTC

Whether you find it funny or not depends on your personal sense of humour. Some people find a joke amusing if it presents a known fact, but in an unexpected/funny way. I cannot think of an example off top of my head, so I will take one from a book I am currently reading, Ptolemy's Gate (quote from memory because I am too lazy to search for the exact place in the book.)

I was completely shocked to see the girl standing next to the table.*



*I found the table less apalling than the girl's presence. The table itself was perfectly polished.


In this example, the reader's first expectation would of course be that the persona is apalled by the girl, not the table. Then, it is lampshaded (I think that's what they say on TVTropes, that site from hell where you lose your soul.) This creates a comical effect.


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