The Logical Philosopher

Saturday, October 06, 2007

This post has been recommended by 4 out of 5 dentists

I spent part of my weekend with JT, who is our resident dentist in our group of friends. Apart from feeling self conscious about not flossing enough for the weekend, I learned something very value we can all draw from. Something we can all apply to about 80% of our lives.

Upon entering JT's bathroom I noticed not one, but two tubes of toothpaste sitting upright on his bathroom counter. One Crest and the other Colgate.

I peered around the corner and yelled out to my host. "Hey JT. I noticed you have two kinds of toothpaste. Which one do you use? I all of a sudden feel inferior with my tube of Aquafresh here."

"As long as it doesn't include diethylene glycol, you'll be fine. But for the record I use both. Or whatever I bring home from the office." I must have looked perplexed because he offhandedly finished his professional opinion with a "No preference really."

It was then I realized that about 95% of the statistics I hear in the form of advertising seem made up. Years of overexposure to corporate advertising turned into a statistical epiphany. "You mean to say, you're that 5th dentist we keep hearing about?"


So now you know - when 4 out of 5 dentists recommend Colgate, that 5th dentist? Well, it's not that he doesn't recommend it, but rather he uses them all, or has no preference. Suddenly that 2nd doctor's opinion has greater statistical weight of being different.