Amazingly Helpful Tips

Mark Erickson has a series of videos online where he gives you some helpful tips on a variety of subjects. His show, Infinite Solutions, is a bit cheesy graphics-wise, but you’ll be amazed after you see them.

For example, here’s one where he teaches you how to get your YouTube video subscriptions sent directly to your iPod as a podcast:

And here’s an even better one where he teaches you how to speed up your regular mail delivery without any increase in postage:

Impressive, no?

Just one thing.

He made it all up.

It’s all bullshit. Without any hint of satire, though, it’s easy to think he’s serious.

If you fell for it (even if just for a split second), did you ever consider what his background was? Did you question whether these seemingly unbelievable things might be untrue?

Or did you just accept it at face value because he looked like he knew what he was talking about?

At what point do you question what someone who sounds authoritative says?

And how do you distinguish someone who is telling the truth from someone who is trying to fool you? How do you distinguish those people from someone who is just honestly mistaken about what the truth really is?

(via Mental Floss)


[tags]atheist, atheism, gullible[/tags]

  • Joseph R.

    If these videos are completely untrue crap, then what was the point? Is Mark Erickson just trying to aggravate his postal carrier, or crash YouTube or something? Just wandering.

  • Adrienne

    I learned that nifty little trick from one of my first bosses: speak with authority and no one will question you, even if what you’re saying is a complete load of crap. Even someone who knows better won’t say anything for fear that they don’t have all the information. They assume you know something they don’t, and will stay quiet rather than risk making a fool of themselves by speaking out. (Obviously doesn’t work as well on the internet as it does in a meeting room with limited attendance).

  • http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/ Larry Moran

    I normally think of myself as a skeptical person but I have to admit that my bullshit detectors did not go off when I first saw the video. There were a few things that didn’t make sense but it wasn’t enough to make me think that the whole thing was made up.

    The point is very important. If you sound authoritative then you can get away with anything. On the one hand, it’s scary. On the other hand, I’m going to practice sounding authoritative ….

  • Susan B.

    I did fall for these at first, until I scrolled down and read that they were made up. I think it’s not unreasonable to believe it (without additional information) since the suggestions do sound reasonable and at the beginning you have no reason to believe it might be a trick. The fact that the videos are so nicely put together also suggests someone who puts a lot of effort and care into his work, and therefore would have carefully researched the things he’s suggesting.

    That said, before I made use of the “LPC code” for the mail, I certainly would have researched it myself before assuming it would work. A quick check on usps.com turns up no mention at all of an LPC code, and I would have grown suspicious.

  • I like tea

    Do I get bonus points since I looked up LPC on Wikipedia immediately after watching the video? I figured I’d use the code, but I also figured that if it exists, my local one can be found on the Internet rather than by going to the post office and subjecting myself to blank stares from the clerks.

  • Justin

    No one here who watched these videos, and got “fooled” should feel any shame.

    I cheated and skipped past watching either video and found out the ruse before I could fall for it. After reading the comments following I went back and watched with an eye for the satire or the con. I was almost ready to trust the guy even after I knew he was pulling my leg.

    Later on I thought to myself if I had watched the videos in question would I have been fooled? I had to answer most likely , but not for the reasons proposed. If you did fall for it “even for a split-second” it may have been due to the clever format of the video or how the creator sounded like he was an authority.

    Another reason we might have been fooled was because we assume Hemant will bring us trustworthy information. When he titles a post “Amazingly helpful tips” it might influence how we perceive the information following such words.

    I think the lesson here maybe more then just questioning what people tell you, but to question even the people who you normally trust. Even a nice guy like Hemant might be trying to con you.

    So if you were fooled maybe it was because someone you trusted told you it was good advice, disarming you for the con.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Like Justin said, a lot of people who read this blog will be fooled by these videos simply because Hemant recommended them. After all we’re regulars here because we like and trust the author. So in this case, it isn’t actually the guy in the video who’s the authority, but Hemant.

  • Scotty B

    For example, here’s one where he teaches you how to get your YouTube video subscriptions sent directly to your iPod as a podcast:

    Did you question whether these seemingly unbelievable things might be untrue?

    [disclaimer: I didn't watch the videos because I can't at work] The first idea didn’t seem that outrageous because you can, in fact, put YouTube videos on your iPod, just not through a subscription service. If you are interested in doing this, just go to http://vixy.net/

    Piece of cake,
    Scotty B

  • Cade

    I remember a while back when they fooled me with a different video. They claimed that if you followed a bunch of random steps with your gmail account, and log in a whole bunch of times to get to a “Google TV” site. Then they did a follow up video saying that you had to log in even more times to get to the Google TV site. It didn’t help that there were testimonials for it, too. They stole hours of my life and I want it back.

  • http://clayne.net Cameron

    The important thing to note here is that, even though these claims are all false, they are also testable.

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