October 16, 2011

10 Things List of Things Won't Tell You

Have you seen articles like these?  10 things Airlines won't tell you.  10 things Social Security won't tell you13 Things Your Hairstylist Won't Tell You, etc   These '# things [someone] Wont' Tell You' lists seem to pop up every other day.   I'm starting to hate these lists.  

Here are 10 things that "wont tell you lists" wont tell you:

1.  The lists are written by writers who aren't experts on the topic.   They don't really know what they're talking about.  I'm writing this list.  Am I an expert on this topic?   Did the author of the other list tell you that they aren't an expert?
2.  The items on the list may be public knowledge.   The words "won't tell you" make it seem like the people or organization in question are hiding stuff from you.   But the items on the list are not necessarily hidden at all and there aren't any lies being told.  For example the social security list is full of items that are public knowledge and documented explicitly on the social security website. 
3. The list is full of opinions.   Just cause someone writes a list of stuff doesn't mean that any of it is a fact.   The writer will put in their own opinions or just write down someone elses opinions.
4. The items on the list are not necessarily true in all cases and don't necessarily apply to you.    For example the #4 item on the list of things restaurants allegedly won't tell you is that there are cameras watching you eat.   That is undoubtedly not true at many if not the vast majority of restaurants.  It may be true at some restaurants but its not true in all cases and probably won't apply to you.  Just because some building contractors have some poor practices that doesn't mean that all building contractors will treat their customers poorly.
5. Items on the list may be simple common sense.    You really don't need your college professor to tell you that the 22 year old TA is not a seasoned and highly trained teacher.
6.   There is always another side to the story.   There could be very good reasons that the organization or group does what it does.  
7.   Its kind of stupid to think that the people would tell you some of this stuff.    Sleazy used car salesmen are not going to tell you how they trick you.   No business is going to tell you every bad thing about themselves and most businesses have enough sense to not run around advertising their faults. 
8. Items on the list are redundant or virtually the same thing.  
9.  The list is padded 'cuase they want to have 10 things on it.   The number 10 is a nice round number but 7 or 8 doesn't sound so good.   They want to have 10 things on their list so it makes for a better headline.    Thats why the last item on this list is gibberish and why some of the items in this list are not as good as the other items.
10.   Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

 Next time you're reading a list of things that someone "won't tell you" please take it with a grain of salt.

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