Pants on fire


On today’s Huffington Post, health author John Robbins discovers something very strange in a lawsuit against Coca-Cola over vitaminwater:

The lawsuit, brought by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, alleges that vitaminwater labels and advertising are filled with “deceptive and unsubstantiated claims.” In his recent 55-page ruling, Federal Judge John Gleeson (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York), wrote, “At oral arguments, defendants (Coca-Cola) suggested that no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitamin water was a healthy beverage.” Noting that the soft drink giant wasn’t claiming the lawsuit was wrong on factual grounds, the judge wrote that, “Accordingly, I must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true.”

In other words: Yes, the advertising was misleading, but who cares? Nobody believes this stuff, right? I mean, what kind of educated consumer would believe that sugar-water is actually healthy?

This reminds me of a libel case years ago, in which a celebrity sued a tabloid for printing lies that were injurious to the celebrity. (Sorry, can’t remember the exact details.) The judge sided with the tabloid because, hey, who believes anything printed in the tabloids anyway?

It’s like Coca-Cola wants us to put their advertising claims on the same level as Bat Boy.

In older news, a 2007 survey found that 38% of teenagers polled believe that lying and cheating are necessary to succeed in today’s world.

In Britain, a 2005 survey showed that 46% of company managers believed that it’s acceptable to lie to customers, if it means safeguarding the company. (This raises the question: Were the other 54% lying on the survey?)

So, what am I getting at? Our culture has become so used to dishonesty, that it doesn’t seem to matter any more. Our governments lied to us and sent thousands of our soldiers to their deaths in a war that never should have happened? “Typical.” In Hollywood, movies often depict heroes who string together webs of lies from beginning to end. Then our hero gets the girl anyway, because he did it all out of love for her, so it’s okay.

Some people believe that we are entering a new era of authenticity. In some ways, we no longer believe the crap that is fed to us. We can see through it. But we’re still lying anyway.

Is it even possible to have an honest society?

What do you think?

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About Craig

Craig lives in Calgary, Alberta.
This entry was posted in accountability, business. Bookmark the permalink.

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