Too good to be true

November 19, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

In 1946, in an effort to sell more cigarettes, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company created a Medical Relations Division and advertised it in medical journals. This division produced the following ad with the slogan: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” They’d solicited this “finding” by giving doctors a free carton of Camel cigarettes, and then asking what brand they smoked.

By the mid-1950s, when tobacco companies had to confront good evidence that their products caused lung cancer, they decided to instead promote the idea that there’s no proof of a cause between smoking and lung cancer. To reassure a frightened public they formed The Tobacco Industry Research Committee to investigate. In charge of this committee, “will be a scientist of unimpeachable integrity and national repute. In addition, there will be an Advisory Board of scientists disinterested in the cigarette industry. A group of distinguished men from medicine, science, and education will be invited to serve on this Board.” (You can read the original document here).

In hindsight, this all seems pretty transparent. A classic coverup to keep an industry alive, despite the facts.

What’s fascinating to me about this history is the knowledge that little has changed today. When we read reviews that feel a bit self-serving, or when we’re told something that defies common sense actually works like magic, it probably behooves us to take a step back and check our sources of information.

I recently received an advertisement for a new brush on fluid that works like magic to “lower distortion, remove brightness, and eliminate sonic grunge.”

When something is too good to be true it probably isn’t.

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52 comments on “Too good to be true”

  1. There are always enough stupid folks to be convinced of anything, may it be by politicians, tobacco- or audio manufacturers or -press 😉

    If we take e.g. the sound quality story of digital audio from the 80‘s til now, there’s probably no comparable fraud in audio history for the one‘s and no clearer truth for others.

  2. We play many ‘games’ throughout our individual lives here on planet Earth.
    But one game that we all must play, & that will initially assists us in honing
    our critical thinking skills, is the game where we must sift through the constant
    barrage of crap (fake-news) that is presented to us on a daily basis.
    Of course most of us get a head-start in childhood with parental, fake-news,
    tales of the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Boogie Man &
    “And they all lived happily ever-after”.
    If you still can’t sort the wheat from the chaff by the time that you’re around
    25 years of age, with all that ‘training in bullsh!t’ from your childhood, well,
    I’m sorry, I really don’t know where you go from here…
    maybe a few remedial courses in healthy scepticism 😉

    1. Sorry, don’t want to go there, but can’t help. Here is my starting sentence of my post
      “…In 2021, in the effort to dominate the world, “information” is preferred choice to ….”
      Different is this ad, as well as others, try to lure consumers to buy the product. Customers don’t need to buy. However, when information being manipulated as weapon (same as trade. Those “down underers” knew this!) it is a totally different scale. “Information verify” has become extremely important…. But to access and to be able to judge by ourselves are another question.

  3. FR is guilty of wishful thinking. Modern American politics proves that if you shout about something loud enough, long enough and often enough, you can get a significant minority to believe you. It’s all salesmanship and the facts are often a minor inconvenient obstacle. Audio is no different.

  4. Instead of “When something is too good to be true it probably isn’t” it would be more accurate to say: “When something appears too good to be true it probably isn’t true” or “When something is too good to be true it isn’t true.”

    One can get into shades of truth. For example, “The government is here to serve you.” It reminds me of the “Twilight Zone” (or was it “The Outer Limits”) where the alien beings visiting Earth announced that their purpose was to “serve human beings.” In the end they were carting people off in their spaceship, fattening them up, so the people could “be served” as a meal for the aliens.

  5. Not only medical doctors are liable to be corrupted. The only exception are audio reviewers. They only communicate their individual and most subjective and unbiased opinions.

    1. paulsquirrel,
      I think you forgot to add the relevant emoji’s. The smiley face emoji, the winking emoji, the tears of laughter streaming down the face emoji and the sarcastic face emoji, if there is one.

  6. One of my favorite New Order albums is entitled “ Power, Corruption and Lies.”
    I think the title of that album applies very swiftly here.
    For a lot of people ignorance is safe. Many don’t cross over to the other side of the fence to take a look around and ask questions.
    This analogy is how I feel what is happening today. You have a ton of big businesses making false claims, but are still able to line their pockets with cash. I’m looking at you Big Pharma.

    In any case, deceit is everywhere these days in my world and I’m discovering that their are not a lot of good people with decent moral compasses out there, however thankfully the audio industry has been nothing but kind and honest to me. I’ve met some terrific people along the way and best of all the audio products that I’ve bought worked just as they said it would.

    Paul. You are one of those guys. You helped teach me the value and sheer importance of clean power and what one can do to acquire it. I thank you tenfold!
    You were right about everything and I sincerely cherish your honesty.

  7. Too good to be true…. Cover-up abounds on either side of the political aisle. The difference being ‘the how loud and how long the shout’, in addition to how much collusion you can get from from your friends domestically & abroad.

    The “magic paste” may have have some properties that help enhance electrical connections. If you consider any loss of a signal a form of distortion.

    Imagine if you were born in the later 1800’s and lived until the late 1900’s. There were so many technical marvels from developing the ability to mass produce and distribute electricity. Running pressurized water, reading by candle light to flipping a switch, taking a country drive instead of riding the horse, turning a knob and having something to listen to, turning a knob and having something to look at, pressing a button to cook instead of building a fire, walking down the street yapping on the phone while using its computer to get directions. And on and on…. Everyone of these things could have been described as too good to be true especially if they were written up in some science fiction story of the 18th century.

    Politics and business can both be closely related. Stretch or spin the facts to maintain whatever hold you have on your audience.

    Most of all believe what you know to be right and impose it on everyone and everywhere you can….

    1. I believe no one should impose anything on any one unless it is life threatening. People need to be guided to the light, and come to their own conclusions based on FACT. Imposing your viewpoints would be an IMPOSITION!

    1. Good morning JosephLG!
      I don’t know how old you are, but I’m guessing that you’re a few years older then I am.
      And perhaps you were around when what I’m about to talk about happened.
      Our very first electronic devices, started out with vacuum tubes.
      But as early as the late 1940’s, there were sonic experiments going on with transistors.
      But a lot of the people that heard them, didn’t like the sound of them.
      That kept tubes in use until either the late sixties or early seventies.
      But somehow along the way, there were a few companies that produced transistor amplifiers that used transformers on the outputs of them.
      Some have said, that they were as good as tube amps.
      But later on, the electronic manufacturing companies, decided that, they were too expensive to manufacture that way.
      And so, there were a lot of Cirket designs that didn’t include transformers on the outputs.
      But as they increased the power, also did the distortion got increased too.
      But here is where the misconceptions were.
      They said that not only transistors lasted longer then tubes, they sounded better then tubes.
      But here is my question.
      If transistors sound better then tubes, then why do musicians still turn to them?
      And looking at audio, how come there are still a lot of tube amps and preamps on the high end audio market?

      1. I am a musician and audio engineer as well as an audiophile. I love tube amps for guitar and bass for their distortion characteristics. I love tube mics and preamps for the rich harmonics they add. But as an audiophile, I love clean solid state amps because they preserve the recorded sound as-is without enhancing it. It’s not about fidelity. Quite the opposite.

        1. Good morning Bermansound!
          I can respect that.
          But I guess it’s whatever floats your boat.
          When a transister system is turned just about all the way up, my ears tells me real quick, that they don’t like the sounds they are hearing.
          So I guess, to each their own.

          1. That’s a very gross generalization. There are so many variables – circuit topology, fet vs. bipolar, etc. Driven hard (but not into clipping), solid state amps typically have much (order of magnitude) lower distortion than tube amps. But maybe it’s the distortion that makes tube amps sound so sweet.

            1. Good afternoon Bermansound!
              The real difference in the two, are odd order, and even order.
              Output transformerless amplifiers, have odd order distortion.
              I guess that’s why amps like those bother my ears when they’re turned just about all the way up.
              Amplifiers that use transformers as apart of the output Cirket, have even order distortion.
              Odd order distortion have numbers that look something like this.
              1 3 5 7 and 9.
              Even order distortion numbers look something like this.
              2 4 6 8 and 10.
              And so on, and so fourth.

      2. John, oh yes, I well remember when transistor radios arrived on the scene, followed by solid state televisions, radios and stereo equipment. Tubes were such a pain. I remember the smell of smoking circuitry and failed tubes in televisions and radios. “Solid state” was the selling point for nearly all audio and video equipment.

        I love my modded BAT VK-60 stereo tube amplifier, built like a tank, and my Pass Labs xa100.5 solid state monoblock amplifiers, praised for their “tubelike” sound. Both are very resolved, dynamic and transparent with solid, punchy bass. With tubed gear, you can make it approach solid state sound by choosing signal/driver tubes that steer it in that direction. Those select tubes tend to be characterized by a linear full-frequency response, low noise and minimal distortion. The best tubes, in my listening experience, tend to be rare N.O.S. tubes with exceptional test results. They don’t come cheap, and are harder and harder to find. I have a collection of “holy grail” tubes to last a lifetime for my tube amp, tube headphone amp and my BHK Signature preamp. The tubes are collectively worth more than the gear, but to my ears they are worth it.

        1. Good morning JosephLG!
          I know exactly what you are saying about tubes failing, and taking critical components right along with them when they blow out.
          When I was a small boy, and I was just learning how to work on things like that, I came up with an idea of how to keep that from happening.
          On both the plates and cathodes of tubes, I yoost to put fast blow fuses between them.
          And so, if a tube started to fail, it would blow the fuse, which would protect the critical components that were in the Cirket with it.
          Just replace both the tube and the fuse, and you’re back in business!
          Giving what you said about small signal tubes bringing any vacuum tube audio equipment to solid state status, there is a family of power tubes that I heard that, will do the same thing.
          But all depending on how you set them up, they will make your amplifier output more power to your speakers.
          I don’t know how true this is, I haven’t had a chance to test that as of yet.
          In spite of the fact that these tubes that I’m talking about are current production tubes, they are crazy expensive.
          And they are taller then the typical KT88 tubes.
          They are the KT120 tubes.
          Those tubes have been on the market for about 11 years.
          But sense then, they upt the game by producing two more tubes.
          Those other two tubes are the KT150, and KT170.
          I haven’t heard anyone of those three tubes as of yet.
          But I was told by Micle Allen of Jolida, that they will work in my Jolida JD-1000P power amp.
          I haven’t had a chance to try them out yet, because I haven’t had the money to pick those tubes up yet.

  8. More than curious, I think today’s Paul’s Post is mislabeled. The attempt to keep people smoking is an example of the “classic coverup”. Deny the truth, produce false evidence and data, and fight and deny to the end. “To good to be true” usually applies when someone tries to swindle you by getting you to buy something new or invest in something new that they grossly misrepresent. If someone tells you they can double your money overnight you better run the other way.

    1. Someone offered to double my money the other day. I kept on moving….
      Later stopped at a casino for dinner and to get some show tickets.
      Watched the roulette wheel for a few minutes. Thru a c-note on 13 – walked away with 35 c-notes. . Then ran for the door…. Now do I save or splurge…. Or display in a plaque titled “too good to be true”. Is Ben smirking?

      1. My uncle Saul had a way of doubling your money instantly.

        He would ask some fool for $100 bill, rip it in half and pass it back. Absolutely true story. Then he would laugh his ass off and nobody ever challenged him because he was connected.

            1. If someone tears my $100 bill in two, I want to retain the piece that is more than 50% and shows the full serial number. It is still $100 legal tender, though I doubt the cashier at 7-Eleven would accept it.

              1. My uncle used to have his son scotch tape the two halves together perfectly so The person with the torn bill could bring it to the Bank and exchange it easily nut you are 100% correct Joseph

  9. Carlin always ranted “Stop bending to our corporate masters”. We are being manipulated by big business on a minute by minute basis.. our health and well-being are of no concern to a board of directors… Theranos is a prime example of what a Sociopathic Narcissist is capable of.

    Insulin cost $90 per unit in this country and $12 per unit in Canada. The Sackler‘s have killed countless numbers of people, paid some restitution and still walk away with multiple billions of dollars. It never ends.

    Some of us lived through the whole cigarette denial error. Think about how long it took for our government to do something to stop the sale of cigarettes to minors. I’m going to give you another example:

    When my first son was born, I remember my wife coming home one day with baby pajamas each one wrapped in a clear plastic package. I was sitting in the chair holding him when she came in to show me what she had bought. I took one of the pajama packages out of the bag and as I opened it I got violently ill. All I can say is never trust a large corporation that sells to the mass public. I dare all of you to read the link below:

    Everything that we see on TV or online commercials is a sham. Anyone see the new Subway commercials with about 5-6 of the biggest sports hero’s advertising the wonderfulness of these highly processed foods which are now considered by orthodox medicine as the number one cause of our early demise. Money corrupts even these ultra wealthy superstars yet they will advertise products that they would never eat or use especially Subway sandwiches, right Steph, Tom, Serena and the others who prostitute themselves for money when they are already super rich. Greed and power rule the day

    Corporations and politicians only care about the same two things… Greed and power and they can accomplish these goals because we are a stupid society and we don’t “Question Authority” (remember the T-shirt).

    Enough said. I think I’ve made my point.

  10. Ha, the moment PSA launches a new device and PmcG describes the soundquality, his words of praise are often to good to be true.
    But ah well, I guess PSA is like any other manufacturer. (what a shame, that just killed a part of me).
    They all attempt to persuade a (more or less) gullible public to spend their money.
    Takes me back to a previous post : judging the “expert-stories” (including on this site) on their merits requires a healthy dose of critical thinking.

  11. Agreed. I would rather smoke a joint than a cigarette but there should not be any advertisement to push socially accepted drugs whether alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana.

  12. How stupid were they? Who ever heard of any camel smoking a cigarette?

    And, why would I want to smoke a cigarette that camels liked? Who would believe that camels even smoked to begin with?

    Now, they were dumb.

    Now, if Pfizer made cigarettes? Now, that’s a different story.

  13. Pikpen, you got me looking closer at that ad (click it to enlarge). That woman displaying her “T-zone” (“T” for Taste, and “T” for Throat) with the caption “That is your proving ground for any cigarette” — hilarious. You can’t get any sluttier than that.

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