email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My Deception Detector

Everyone seems to have some special talent.  Some people know instinctively who to trust.  Others can tell compass directions even down in the subways.  Some can choose the perfect gift every time.  Others can field a hard-hit ball, or dodge a speedy object (I saw a guy who could catch arrows aimed at him once), have great balance, etc.

I have a false-statement flag in my brain.  Most people don't (or else there wouldn't be deceptive advertisements).  I call it my "bull-shit meter".  I don't mean that I'm a skeptic who simply suspects every statement.  That's just a negative way of viewing the world. 

But I can hear statements that immediately don't ring true to reality.  Its not even concious, as if I heard the statement, thought about it carefully, and disagreed with it.  It's an immediate "WHAT?"  I don't even have to be paying attention for the "flag" to register.  I just "hear" false statements better than most.

Sometimes I'm doing housework with the TV on and the *DING* happens.  I even have to work to figure out what caused it.  Its usually a commercial and I see the ending of it enough to watch for it the next time, to find out what the *DING* was about. 

The latest one is some drug that specifies that (paraphrased) isnt for weight loss but can help in weight loss.  After paying attention a couple times, I realized that a side effect was diarrhea.  Well of COURSE that causes weight loss, DUH!  But it took several intent listenings to catch the deception.

Well, I heard one a week ago that really bothered me and I couldn't figure out what was getting my BS detector activated.  It was for some astronomy online or DVD class.  I should mention that (so far as I can tell) I am (mostly) immune to advertising.  Well my BS Detector helps, but I also buy products after research, and that helps too.

I finally caught the part of the ad that got my subconcious detector buzzing...

One part said "find out why Venus disappears at Midnight".  That didn't make sense and it really bothered me.  I'm a science-type guy.  And that "at midnight" part bothered me.  Why "at midnight?"  That's a pretty specific time...

I did some back-of-the-envelope" sketches and couldn't find anything special about "midnight.  Well, actually, one part was obvious.  At midnight, we are looking at the outer solar system, and Venus is in the inner solar system. 

Now I know the basic general distances of planets from the Sun.  Each one is "sort of" 50% further from the sun that the previous one.  Its nowhere near exact, but its a general estimation.  So with Venus having a smaller orbit nearer the sun, as the Earth turns, your spot on it turns away from the Sun.  And since Venus is closer to the Sun than Earth, your spot on Earth turns away from Venus, too.  It just takes longer because Venus is further from the Sun.

In fact, Venus is "about" 45 degrees from the Sun from our maximum POV.  Sometimes zero, but never more more than about 45 degrees.

File:Inner Planet Orbits.jpg

So that ad for the astronomy "class" just burned me up and NOW I know why.  "At Midnight" is a deceptive come-on, it sounds "special" to midnight.  We only see Venus a few HOURS after sunset or a few HOURS before sunrise, not just "can't see it at midnight". And THAT is what set my subconcious BS-Detector off, even though I had to spend some time figuring out exactly why.

1 comment:

Megan said...


It does sound like a special skill to have, Mark. I guess it's kept you out of difficulties all your life. (Or perhaps it's put you in the thick of difficulty when you've called someone out on their B-S!)

Sydney, Australia