Bait and Switch...

Step right up for 3-card Monte...
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Scott Mayers
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Bait and Switch...

Postby Scott Mayers » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:41 am

"Bait-and-Switch" is one of the never ending con that exists almost everywhere and one of the biggest and hardest things to defeat. The obvious cases are as described by the Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bait-and-switch . But whether it is used to gain money or sell ideas, it is not simply just something that is done intentionally.

Economically, you can witness this in even the most apparently popular products and services that do not even get noticed. Take Coca-Cola, for instance. When they decided in the nineteen eighties to change their flavor, they were counting on the name itself to sell something completely new for which the population had not even experienced before. Although we didn't like it, they at least had the chance to draw attention to it and then when they re-introduced their original formula, it was welcomed with a renewed vitality. For some of us who have very sensitive taste buds and/or sense of smell, even though the original had been replaced for the most part, you can discern how sometimes they have reverted to altering their product to sometimes taste less than its usual quality. It dawned on me, as one of these people who can tell, that such organizations can rely on another technique that has been most effective to encourage people to continue their loyalty: intermittent alterations.

The Skinner box experiments of the past has demonstrated that by intermittently altering whether a reward is received upon training an animal to press a button to receive food, if the reward is random and unpredictable, the animal will act compulsively by pushing the button at all times and with more rapidity even at times they are not hungry. So by doing the same with product quality, such as Coca-Cola, they can alter their ingredients by intermittently cheapening them for many unpredictable intervals and do two things: save money in ingredient costs on a large scale and enhance the addictive behavior of those who are loyal to the original flavor [I admit that I'm one myself.] I believe that this is one of the factors that go into enhancing strong addicts of illicit drugs which are initially fed in more purer formulations.

Of course, this can also backfire. Unilever had slowly improved their product labeled, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter", to a very convincing degree until a few years back when they declared a "New and Improved" version which degraded the taste to cheap salty margarine. I complained and they simply declared that tests have indicated that people preferred this new flavor. I just simply stopped buying any of Unilever margarine in any brand (like Becel).

Another totally different area this technique has been applied successfully is almost anywhere we naturally communicate ideas between each other where we use words as symbols to reference one definition and then transfer to a different definition within context of an argument to prove something more favorable. For more purposely intended deception, take the word, "free", for example. Many products and services like coupons use the word, "free" in them to attract people unaware that they are using the term in a unique and unconventional way. This is often done by use of an asterisk that leads you to their particular definition for which it often redefines, Free to mean buy one product and get a second for free, where this second version refers to its conventional meaning.

This is most effective in cults and conspiracy theories to a high degree. Besides tricking people into not recognizing the error, it is used to isolate the members of the group into a whole vocabulary where they think the terms they use applies to the way outsiders use and interpret the same things falsely. For an interesting challenge, check out Mark Passio's page, http://www.whatonearthishappening.com to see this in practice. The first portion of his intro documentary seminar, he spends almost an exhausting two hours demonstrating his capacity to appear reasonable, logical, and fair. He defines "natural" in what seems to be fair at first, adds it as a normal description to "natural law" using what appears originally like a mundane and fair definition. But then just at the end of the first two hours (his first video of three), he slips in the transition to what he wants you to think of it by simply granting "spirit" to be included as part of what "natural" means on an inappropriate connection to the Egyptian origins of the term, "N'tr" to how they used it to mean "God". (This is not completely correct and is improperly connected to modern uses.)

Do others have similar ideas where this is used?
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Re: Bait and Switch...

Postby AKALuke » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:40 am

I don't think what you've described is technically "bait and switch" - but never mind.

Do I think the Coca Cola personnel responsible for ingredient sourcing are thinking about operant conditioning, intermittent reinforcement schedules, extinction burts and the like? Nope.

But sure, we're not immune to conditioning, deliberate or not.

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Re: Bait and Switch...

Postby Scott Mayers » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:54 am

I wasn't defining a formally legal definition of bait-and-switch. The context is clear and represents real forms of this type of deception.
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Re: Bait and Switch...

Postby Scott Mayers » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:58 am

I might, however, be mistaken to posting this here as it might encourage such companies to take this idea to heart if they hadn't already realized this.
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Re: Bait and Switch...

Postby Pop Haydn » Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:47 pm

That's why they have marketing departments--to explain to them how to do this.

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Re: Bait and Switch...

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:56 pm

Scott Mayers wrote:I might, however, be mistaken to posting this here as it might encourage such companies to take this idea to heart if they hadn't already realized this.

If they do, the GOP will blame Obama.
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Re: Bait and Switch...

Postby kennyc » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:09 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Scott Mayers wrote:I might, however, be mistaken to posting this here as it might encourage such companies to take this idea to heart if they hadn't already realized this.

If they do, the GOP will blame Obama.


And if they take it to heart can we be assured heart disease and death will result?
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Gawdzilla Sama
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Re: Bait and Switch...

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:20 pm

kennyc wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Scott Mayers wrote:I might, however, be mistaken to posting this here as it might encourage such companies to take this idea to heart if they hadn't already realized this.

If they do, the GOP will blame Obama.


And if they take it to heart can we be assured heart disease and death will result?

They have hearts?
Chachacha wrote:"Oh, thweet mythtery of wife, at waft I've found you!"

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Re: Bait and Switch...

Postby kennyc » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:23 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
kennyc wrote:
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Scott Mayers wrote:I might, however, be mistaken to posting this here as it might encourage such companies to take this idea to heart if they hadn't already realized this.

If they do, the GOP will blame Obama.


And if they take it to heart can we be assured heart disease and death will result?

They have hearts?



Oh....right..... :?
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