Spuds - Finally, a cigarette that's good for you!......???

So apparently there was a brand of cigarettes called "spuds". Also, apparently, they were good for your cold, helped soothe a hoarse voice, cured your cough, and moistened your throat.

Click for big.

Sure, it was 1943, and we should go easy on them because the scientific method hadn't been invented yet, and nobody knew cigarettes were bad for you, right? Of course not. Let's get started.

What advertisers want most is for you to glance at the ad for a few seconds, accept their message and not look at any small writing. And most of all, do not pay attention to what the copy is very carefully NOT saying... probably because there are laws expressly forbidding them from just lying to you. However, deceptive implications and suggestions are super great. Ads like this from The Past are less sophisticated in the way they try to deceive you, but this still goes on today. Let's identify some logical fallacies.

Good for your cold. "Thousands do this, therefore they must be right." This is a perfect bandwagon fallacy. It's the old "Twenty thousand mothers can't be wrong." argument. They sure can be wrong. Also, the careful use of "seems" eliminates any objectivity and falsifiability from the argument. You can't prove or disprove how something "seems".

"They're not a remedy". A fleeting shred of truth, but then back to the deceit. "But many find them more agreeable". Bandwagon again, along with some of the anecdotal fallacy. In the end they're just comparing the experience of smoking Spuds to other cigarettes. "Pleasing" is subjective. What the ad is not saying is that their cigarettes will heal a stressed throat, but they'd be happy if you got that impression. Assuming that you have to smoke something is a false dilemma fallacy. "You must either smoke spuds or 'ordinary' cigarettes. The other option is smoking nothing, which would be better that anything else.

"Does not produce...acrolein". This is a red herring argument. Absence of acrolein doesn't mean the other compounds present in the smoke aren't bad for you. Their proud acrolien-related announcement is intended to distract you from thinking about all the other myriad chemicals present in cigarette smoke. This statement about acrolein could still be true if the cigarettes created plutonium when burnt.

"Enjoy the feeling...". Subjective and not provable.

"If your throat is over-strained, you better smoke Spuds" (paraphrased). This is another false dilemma argument. better still to stop smoking. To suggest that only Spuds can give this feeling of cool refreshment (something subjective) avoids a lie. Saying "only we can give you this ambiguous thing" is safely meaningless.

It's likely that everyone who worked at the Axton-Fisher Tobacco Company is now dead. It's also likely that everyone who worked there at the time this ad was prouced smoked Spuds. If these two things were verifiable, we could then enjoy the most fun-to-say logical fallacy by assuming that all of the workers are dead because of smoking Spuds. This would be a "post hoc ergo proptor hoc" fallacy, or "after this, because of this". Some of the workers may have, in fact, been killed by the marketing department after announcing that their cigarette line would be called "Spuds".


Post a Comment