Top8 Bullshit Tactic: Statistics On Steroids

(Author's Note:  This post is male friendly)

I have been absent just a teeny bit while.
Not that I have been lazy, but my writing seems to have momentarily lost its mojo.  Could be PMS.   And I refuse to post anything substandard so I slightly lowered my standard at least for now.
Anyway, back from a great party!   The Liberty Ball 2011- so great that I had to commemorate this post’s picture to it – even as the Ball organized by a very good friend of mine, the fabulous James Rogers
doesn’t have anything to do with the bullshit I am about to divulge to you. 
On to today's business of bullshit-
Those who have read my past posts would know of my –
Top Ten Bullshit Countdown aka the top ten tricks I use to make you spend money. 
These are so far :
and now on to number 8-

Top 8 Bullshit Tactic: Shoot my Statistics with steroids
It is a scientifically proven fact*  that if I give two descriptions and one is supported by statistics, no matter how ambiguous the words that accompany those numbers- you will find the numbered description- more credible.
(*just google it- there must be some other asshole who claims that crap out there)
For example,  Consider this-
"This lipstick has so much moisture that you’ll need Baywatch to rescue your lips from drowning"
Against this-
"98% of women found a 30% difference in moisture even 6 hrs after application"
See what I mean?
Also, of course because we do know Baywatch does not rescue drowning lips.

Magical- yet, so easy to do.

Give me any crappy product and I can weave a convincing steroid shot statistic about it.
Just a good sized panel and lots of ambiguity.
First- I choose a big enough panel (a group of testers) so that even if I get 1 or 2 negative answers, the % of positives is still a high enough number.  
To illustrate-
  • In a panel of 6, if 2 said no – that means 4/6 or 67% positive feedback.  Not good.
  • In a panel of 10, if 2 said no- that means 8/10 or 80% postive feedback.  Good but not high enough.
  • In a panel of 20, if 2 said no- that means 18/20 or 90% positive feedback.  That is good!
So, my panel size has to be at least 20. Can be much more but that unnecessarily increases my costs.

Then, I ask my panel an ambiguous question where a positive answer is almost inevitable.

For example-

Lab Tech :  Did you notice a difference in moisture of your lips when you applied the lipstick.
Tester  1    :   Well... just very slightly.
Lab Tech :  So, that's a yes.  Thank you.

Lab Tech :  Did you notice a difference in moisture of your lips when you applied the lipstick.
Tester      :   Yes. It felt drier.
Lab tech :    Yes or no only please.  Did you notice a difference?
Tester      :   Yes- but….
Lab Tech : That will be all thank you.
Lab tech writes-
"I therefore conclude that out of  23 women tested, 100% found a difference in their moisture level after lipstick application."

Just how widespread is this bullshit practice?

Well, one of my readers (who I cannot name just yet because I haven’t asked her permission to be quoted and named) working from one famous retail channel has this to say, and i quote …

I work in premium beauty at *** and dealt with clinique, chanel, dior, lauder, clarins, ysl, etc and I felt like I was the only one in all our meetings thinking 'this is bullshit!' when they spouted all of these amazing product claims for their upcoming launches.
When we came to promote their new wonder anti-ageing products, we asked them for clinical trial information since *** has a strict legal department that won't let us say anything unless its been proven.
No clinical trail info ever emerged from any of the brands despite all their assurances that they had been conducted (by them!). I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them.
And do you ever wonder, why at this age of high speed information dissemination and transparency, these brands do not publish these clinical tests?

I tell you why-

because it cannot withstand scrutiny.  

My fellow beauty bloggers, want to have a bit of fun seeing your brand names squirm?  
Ask them to publish their tests.  C'mon try it!  
It will be like asking that supposed "single" suitor of yours to see his flat.  Heehee.  

Now, though statistic-steroid-shooting biatch I may be, do not be too hasty to cast that stone.
As there is this wonderful thing called the placebo effect working for you, me and the good of all mankind.   So long as you believe, so shall it be- why else do you think religion is so popular.

And so, your lips will feel drowning in moisture as my statistic suggested it would be.

Who's your beauty messiah?  Who is?

Most of you may not know and I will take this chance to brag about it - that this may be the only beauty blog that attracts real hetero non-makeup wearing male readers.  It could perhaps be due to my infallible unisex logic or the fact that I swear a lot.  But I am pretty sure it is not because of my modesty.
Since we are on the subject of bragging- I was named best beauty blogger by a Finnish newspaper.  At least, that is what google translate said.  Heehee.  Thank you! 
Anyways – male readers, before you snicker at our feminine foibles, do not even think that you are exempt from this placebo effect of shoddy statistics.
See exhibit 1 here, something from the film Anchorman, based on a true story. 
Placebo effect:   "60% of the time, it works everytime!"

Exhibit 1: Hetero male under placebo effect


  1. LOVED your comment on why religion is popular! Of course the lipstick felt more moisturizing! It's NEW! And it contains some random vitamin in obscure amounts!!

  2. AWESOME post!!! You know, I never even made the connection of how ambiguous the term "difference" is when spouting off claims. *dope slaps self*

    Even 20 is a VERY small sample size. And I wouldn't particularly trust it. Having had a couple too many biostats/ epidemiology courses, I've learned that any sample size under 30 means you can't do any regular tests of significance. You can only do 1 test, and even that isn't really something to be trusted. Thus furthering your point even more.

    WOOHOO! gotta love those Finnish! you'll take over the world soon. or maybe just Europe.


  3. Congrats, you truly deserve the nomination!
    We love your work here in Europe, and I can assure you, I spread the word about your blog here in Italy. Of course, there aren't many people who understands English fully well here, but you know...I've done my part! LOL

    And I LOVE this post. Whatever the field is, I always hate those statistic percentage with no study that you can consult.
    They never tell you how the statistic has been conducted, what the index are calculated on, what panel they had...even in tv news, when they give you the bullshit about "how our exportations are getting better", they never tell you that they only consider one department because the rest of them are so miserable you'd want to leave the country to go to an African state...

    It's sad that even Clarins has that policy, because I truly love their products and think they're one of the best brands around. Most of the times their products do what they least for me eheh

  4. Amazing post. It's good to read something that brings you back to reality!

  5. Loved this post.
    I always read on ads on the magazines how many people they use for testing and it now makes sense that they use only about 20 something. I always thought...that's so tight. They have millions and they only test it on a few. But you made it all clear.
    The funny thing is when you see a lot of people on youtube or on their blogs raving about a product that is utter sh** in your eyes. That person looses credibility on my eyes. I know that products work differently on different people but comeee onnn!
    Have a fab week!
    I'll be here waiting for your next post.

  6. Love your post.. its refreshing in a world where everythings 'fantastic'. Its a case of the emperors new clothes..

  7. Love your blog! I used to read a lot of makeup blogs, but gradually started feeling like it was a massive scam... people searching the world for the newest $120 lipstick that is THE GREATEST LIPSTICK EVER AND WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE, SERIOUSLY. A $5 lipstick works for me, when I bother with makeup.

    Just wanted to ask, I was reading some older posts, the "Bullshit Police Arrests The Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara" one in particular, when you asked people to name what the ad brought to mind, and said there was a subliminal message going on. I can't for the life of me figure out what you meant, so they must have done a bad job of it! Could you let your adoring public in on the secret?

  8. Hi K!
    I see you are catching up on the sarcasm!

  9. Hi Yvonne!

    Thanks for the kudos! You are right, we can and do test with more sometimes and when we do- we then make sure you know that we tested with more!
    The tests done are for regulations purpose so we can claim the percentages. So the wording fulfills regulations and baffles the consumers.
    Gawd, all this BS can get any cosmetic loving female jaded:-(

  10. Thank you Lydia! I saw your tweet- thank you!

    Yes, there is a wise man that said (shitmaydadsays) Bullshit is the fuel to everything.
    So, I am not actually promoting total anti-bullshit, i doubt if that is possible- but just awareness that it is BS and decide which ones we are cool with.

    That information is fortright and the power of choice be yours.

  11. hello Giddy Princess! (I cannot make those fancy heart things-im icon challenged, all i can muster is a smiley :-)

    Thank you, thank you.

    I welcome suggestions for improvement as well- I have received very valuable info just now from thoughtful readers.

  12. Hello Mercedes!

    thank you and have a fab week as well! Busy week ahead of me but hopefully i can post another mid week:-)

  13. Hi Thissultryred-

    Oh thank you! I do appreciate that you say it is fresh.:-)
    I get jaded most of the time- haha!
    And I cannot help it- some day, i will explain why one gets to be jaded after working awhile in cosmetics. (been at it for about 18 years!) It's actually coming out of my ears- haha!

  14. Hi Liz!

    Thank you for this very good observation- i thought i was the only one paranoid about it.
    I have blogs that i REALLY love and follow (gawd, i should visit them again soon- been awhile) and I am sure that my top faves are beyond these scams (because their voice is just so gawd- sincere filled with both pain, passion and hope and power and insecurity-really! there are amazing blogs out there!)
    But others, I noticed are getting into the machinery already. Lots of them, and i am saddened about this. But I am sure the real voices are evident and will prevail. I hope.

    Oh yes that Revlon subliminal. been thinking about it awhile. Your guess is right- they have done a crap job. I cannot salvage anything out of it. I am thinking of posting another exercise then the subliminal analysis. Oh gawd, so many blogs to do, so little time:-)

  15. just keep on blogging ;)
    heehee, the second I read "blabla women noticed a difference in moisture" my brain poked my underconsciousness - or the other way round, I'm not sure - and I thought "which difference? good or bad? it doesn't say" ... *g*

    just a few hours ago I bought a new cream from "nivea", very popular brand here in Germany and I suppose in the rest of Europe as well.
    I needed a new face-cream as a base for my mineral foundation and I didn't want to drive 30 minutes to the store that sells my usual face-cream ... so I walked around and took a look at the normal store-products, the bigger brands and stuff like clinique and sante ... and then bought the nivea because I used the classic version of this in the past ... and all the other creams claimed anti-age and vitamin XYZ and anti-wrinkle and moisture-depots and stuff ... I chose the normal, classic tube that can be used for face, body and hands ^^ I think I might be comparatively safe with this one ^^

    You know, after reading your post, I thought again of researching the ingredients in those anti-aging creams and the usual suspects like aloe vera and camomile and hyaluronic-acid and build my own cream ^^ I know of some girls in my forum who make their own mineral foundation and their own masks, creams can't be that difficult.

    Do you know that card game "magic the gathering"? I once had a card that said "I trust what I make for myself. Do you trust more in what's made for you by others?"

    I often think of that when I'm shopping.

  16. Any man that thinks men aren't just as suckered in by the bullshit as women hasn't seen (or has already been been suckered by) one of those repulsive Axe commercials (or even the new Old Spice ones, but I love those, Isaiah Mustapha is HOT)...or a car commercial...or a liquor commercial...

  17. /me hands Rowena a big cup of hazelnut-cappuccino with baileys irish cream and a dollop of whipped cream with mocca-chocolate sprinkles on top :)

    and a lemon-yogurt-muffin to accompany the cappuccino :)

    ah no, don't send it back, lemon-yogurt-muffins can be sooooo delicious and juicy! :)

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  19. Haha- Sandi-
    Men are sooo easy- just tell them this product will get you laid and they are yours!

  20. Hey Caitlyn!
    Gawd- that sounds nice! It would be nice to have coffee face to face sometime:-)

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  22. hail to our beauty messiah! hail! :)

  23. beauty messiahs get hails? ^^ I only knew this from the Discordians ... you know, hail Eris, all hail Discordia ^^ that stuff *g* ask wikipedia, they'll tell you *g* principia discordia and such ^^

    I dunno why, but when I think of Discordia, I always think of Anoia, too (Anoia is the discworld goddess of things stuck in drawers ^^ not a real goddess, though. But funny. ^^)

    Rowena, yes, coffee would be very interesting *g* but as we are very far apart, this might never happen :(
    but we still have your blog *g* tell us more beauty secrets *gg* I would like to know about lipglosses, for example.

    If they really can go bad or if I can use them for many many many years ^^ (there is one I have that is I suppose 10 yrs old, it's still pinkish-clear, not flakey, doesn't smell rancid or bad or something, but I'm still not sure if I dare use it again ^^.

    On the other hand, no one knows how long "new" lipglosses in the store have been lying in those shelves day after day ... )

  24. Hey Lili!
    Heehee- funny that i am feel conscious about others hailing me.
    I usually beat others into haling myself.
    Could it be the start of modesty?

  25. Hey Caitlyn!
    Your comment got me running back and forth to Wikipedia-wicked girl. Haha!

    Anyway, I am sorry everyone if I am taking time to post. I have been travelling, then doing some wheeling and dealing of sorts. Ah, why didn't i marry rich? Why? Why?
    Anyway- please do not think that I am ignoring my blog- I actually have this knot in my stomach that gets bigger and bigger each day that passes without posting- but heck, i couldn't live with bad posts either.
    Also am in a conundrum about this blog and am actually having a backlash from the industry (i am basically being pressured to keep some big secrets a secret or else...).
    So... hope to post soon- Toasting a virtual coffee to y'all!

  26. And lipglosses react to sunlight.
    They might not be lethal or so- but the effect is not as good.
    A visual check will do to tell.
    You wouldn't die from rancid but perhaps it is not best to lay it to rest if it does that.

  27. I've always given those "over-fluffed" stats the side eye. Thanks for confirming the fact that they just fudge the numbers to make the stats come out "good". I didn't know that the questions were so ambiguous and they only restrict it to yes or no responses. So in essence, the trials are set up to get great results, cannot be replicated, and if asked, said clinical trial results cannot be produced in fear of giving away trade secrets!

    Sorry, big stats nerd here, but I really really understand where you're coming from. Ladies and gents, don't buy into the hype!

  28. thanks for your blog for more make up see make up for


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