Testimonials...

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Scott Mayers
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Testimonials...

Postby Scott Mayers » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:29 am

I'm getting pissed at how our search engines here in Canada are being increasingly ignoring how we search. I'm trying to find something out there regarding any skepticism regarding testimonials. It's impossible! I get results on either questioning reviews or by another search that only favors promoting others to tell their stories through testimonials through Internet service interests trying to get you to use their blogs as clients.

Anyways, if anyone knows of any good resources on this topic, let me know. I'm certain that I can't be the only one who questions how these things are inappropriately being used. Most people around me thinks that I'm being unusually concerned as if I'm trying to beat up on people's life stories. But I see that these are usually used to trick people into buying into false success stories by people who would (or should) succeed regardless. They usually 'sell' their stories in order to promote some suggested 'secret' product or service you are encouraged to invest in later.

Am I the only one who sees this? Advice welcome. Thanks.
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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Monster » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:11 pm

Scott Mayers wrote:I'm getting pissed at how our search engines here in Canada are being increasingly ignoring how we search. I'm trying to find something out there regarding any skepticism regarding testimonials. It's impossible! I get results on either questioning reviews or by another search that only favors promoting others to tell their stories through testimonials through Internet service interests trying to get you to use their blogs as clients.

Anyways, if anyone knows of any good resources on this topic, let me know. I'm certain that I can't be the only one who questions how these things are inappropriately being used. Most people around me thinks that I'm being unusually concerned as if I'm trying to beat up on people's life stories. But I see that these are usually used to trick people into buying into false success stories by people who would (or should) succeed regardless. They usually 'sell' their stories in order to promote some suggested 'secret' product or service you are encouraged to invest in later.

Am I the only one who sees this? Advice welcome. Thanks.

What do you mean by "our" search engines? Are there Canada-only search engines?
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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Poodle » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:42 pm

Try Googling "use of testimonials in marketing". You'll get chapter and verse on it - not from skeptics, but from the people who use testimonials in advertising, which I presume is what you're looking for.

Do you really need skeptical viewpoints on this? Testimonials are either genuine or they're not.

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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Scott Mayers » Tue Oct 21, 2014 3:34 pm

Monster,
In the last few years, all our Internet service search engines force us to use redirected Canadian versions. Google.com redirects us to Google.ca and there are more increasing restrictions excused to "preserve Canadian companies & cultural interests" and, from a bullying case where a girl committed suicide, they acted inversely to the American concerns against spying its own citizens by passing a law to enable our enforcers to have relatively open access to everything and anything through our ISPs. But this is going too far here for my immediate concern. I'm hoping that if others elsewhere can determine other sources for the issue of 'testimonials' from where they are, I can go from there.

Poodle,
I already did a quick search here at the Skeptic Magazine portal above to see if they had anything. I discovered that they have a course that includes this. But it only provides an outline for the course and so is not free. I did notice mention on the marketing aspects. Why I was asking is because I find this being used in one of the groups I attend (MeetUps) where the intent of the group is intended to be casual coffee discussion on self improvement. The organizer doesn't intend for it to be used for schemers but it seems to be attracting them regardless. I'm one of the only skeptics there & contrary to originally thinking that I might be unwelcomed, most of the regulars actually do since many haven't actually had the chance to know one.

But on the issue of those who come to testify, we sometimes get those who appear to be voluntarily telling their story. Only for me, at least, I recognize that some of them are only using it to end with open invites into some investment that many seem to be unwary of the tactics. I begin to raise it with some but they seem to think that I'm being unusually oversensitive and don't feel that some of these are innocent.

So I'm asking with respect to those type of testimonies that relate to concealed intents to sell or recruit others, not the more direct means through product advertising or infomercials, etc.
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Re: Testimonials...

Postby digress » Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:16 pm

I remember attending a Sunday sermon one weekend and the pastor took about 15 minutes to let volunteers in the audience testify. I'll never forget the old lady who stood up and passionately said, I went outside a few days ago and saw a white dove fly over my head. I know it was God. She went on to say there were no white doves in the entire region and to see one was a miracle.

btw here's Matthew 3:16 as a side note, "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove..."

If this is the kind of testimony you are dealing with Scott, good luck.
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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Scott Mayers » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:12 pm

digress wrote:I remember attending a Sunday sermon one weekend and the pastor took about 15 minutes to let volunteers in the audience testify. I'll never forget the old lady who stood up and passionately said, I went outside a few days ago and saw a white dove fly over my head. I know it was God. She went on to say there were no white doves in the entire region and to see one was a miracle.

btw here's Matthew 3:16 as a side note, "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove..."

If this is the kind of testimony you are dealing with Scott, good luck.

I'm not against the testimony in light of others recognizing what precisely they are. What bugs me is that even many intelligent people tend to judge one's personal account of themselves as unbiased. It doesn't mean to assume that they are lying. That woman could really have seen the 'Spirit of God' as she perceives it. I only fear those who use it with intent to deceive where they count on others to believe they have credibility.

For example, I find it odd that people even take seriously even the most successful people to tell us their 'secrets of success.' Because we are biased to present ourselves in a good light by default, if we are happy and prosperous but have no direct understanding why we got there, instead of crediting reality to things like 'luck', we prefer to declare that we somehow derived it through the power of our superior wills. And then by extension, we insult others simultaneously by implying that the reason all those others who didn't succeed is because they somehow didn't deserved it, or they didn't try hard enough, or just... didn't want it.

On one recent discussion, I brought up a comparison in how we inappropriately credit some apparently credible motivators who tell about how they overcame such great odds who seem obviously more likely not to fail no matter what they do. [Anthony Robbins comes to mind, for instance.]

It's like listening to someone speak at how they won the lottery as follows: "I won because I wanted to win, it's as simple as that." implying that all the other millions of people who both lost and contributed to the jackpot were simply being 'negative' Nancys who simply chose to lose!???

While I agree with you, digress, I feel that if I say nothing, I feel like I'm participating in the scams that most of us here are trying to defeat. Yet, by speaking up, you also defeat yourself by being the bearer of bad news whom everyone just despises anyways.
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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Matthew Ellard » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:38 am

Scott Mayers wrote:Advice welcome. Thanks.


You will find judicial opinions on the accuracy of testimonials in commercial claims, at the Canadian consumer law courts or consumer focused community groups.
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/home

I manage Australian media personalities, whom I generate revenue for, through endorsements. I retain all script control. My boys and girls never say "This is the best product ever for reasons X". They are only ever allowed to say "Yes, this seems a good idea" or "I'm going to give it a go myself" or they interview someone for "their" opinion. I do this so they never get sued for misrepresentation or utterances or false and misleading conduct or the worst of the lot..."unconscionable conduct".

:D

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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Scott Mayers » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:11 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Scott Mayers wrote:Advice welcome. Thanks.


You will find judicial opinions on the accuracy of testimonials in commercial claims, at the Canadian consumer law courts or consumer focused community groups.
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/home

I manage Australian media personalities, whom I generate revenue for, through endorsements. I retain all script control. My boys and girls never say "This is the best product ever for reasons X". They are only ever allowed to say "Yes, this seems a good idea" or "I'm going to give it a go myself" or they interview someone for "their" opinion. I do this so they never get sued for misrepresentation or utterances or false and misleading conduct or the worst of the lot..."unconscionable conduct".

:D

Thank you. I see that it is not exactly in your best interest to question the value of 'testimonials' here without losing power in your ability to remain profitable through endorsements. I'm probably making too big of an issue with it.

I just had an epiphany!...maybe I should tell my own life's story in how I overcame my lack of faith in other people's testimonies until I had an epiphany that made me realize that others too could gain through my own sad story for denying the power of testimonies!

The problem is, my story is too long and I'd need time to testify. And.. a place to tell this too...with a place for those to even have the fortune to hear my story.

And these all cost money, right? So I'll probably have to ask other to either help cover costs by charging an entrance fee for event. I might even be able to simply pass a donation plate around so that its voluntary because you know how others might not be able to afford it and I wouldn't want to deprive those less fortunate than me, right? And then there's my own time too. How can I spend time testifying if I can't cover the loss of time I could be generating working for McDonald's instead.

Then, there's transportation costs too. And hotel expenses. Perhaps it might be wise to even hire you, Matthew to help with those celebrity endorsements who can also testify how they too discovered the power of testifying...how without such, they too would have still been stuck in their own miserable existence laughing at the brazen absurdity those other pretty people on T.V. who appear only to be succeeding by endorsing their own stories about how fortunate they became selling songs about the songs, thinking they're all that!

So let's get this thing rolling. Does anyone here want to hear my story? What would you pay if you knew that you too could learn of my secret to success? It's priceless, right?
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Re: Testimonials...

Postby SweetPea » Wed Oct 22, 2014 3:12 pm

Hey Scott!

Wait for it - scammer with a hockey stick graph. ;)
How do the Deniers get so lucky?
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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Matthew Ellard » Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:33 pm

Scott Mayers wrote:Perhaps it might be wise to even hire you, Matthew to help with those celebrity endorsements who can also testify how they too discovered the power of testifying.
The power is in their existing audience, existing media exposure and that their public persona matches the product to be endorsed. When I looked after The Seekers they had already sold 50,000,000 albums, were old and perfect to endorse a retirement fund campaign. (I lost them because the manager died of old age....Whoops)

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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Scott Mayers » Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:41 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Scott Mayers wrote:Perhaps it might be wise to even hire you, Matthew to help with those celebrity endorsements who can also testify how they too discovered the power of testifying.
The power is in their existing audience, existing media exposure and that their public persona matches the product to be endorsed. When I looked after The Seekers they had already sold 50,000,000 albums, were old and perfect to endorse a retirement fund campaign. (I lost them because the manager died of old age....Whoops)

I found a Wikipedia entry on "testimonials" and it dealt with the aspects of it used in advertisements. I noticed that at the bottom, it has a paragraph of notice on FTC interests to the problems in that area and have apparently restricted some measures of abuses there.

I am not as concerned by the 'fact' that testimonials add value to supporting commercial interests. It only bugs me that the audiences are surprisingly most affected by it to such an unusual degree. I think simple education is all that is necessary to allow people to recognize the distinctions but because of the advantages that things like product or service industries or religions/cults have by those most ignorant, it seems to be downplayed in its significance to be used as a powerful device in abuse for most in a destructive way for society.

Even the best of us are not immune even knowing this. I know I'll at least pay attention to irrational testimonial ads in the form of endorsements or even how we naturally do this through things like 'peer' pressures. But I think this is one of the most important factors that contributes to irrational beliefs that even us skeptics seem to fear addressing.
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Re: Testimonials...

Postby Matthew Ellard » Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:18 am

Scott Mayers wrote: I found a Wikipedia entry on "testimonials" and it dealt with the aspects of it used in advertisements. I noticed that at the bottom, it has a paragraph of notice on FTC interests to the problems in that area and have apparently restricted some measures of abuses there.

Testimonials and endorsements are covered by "consumer protection laws" which became international, after being defined in the UK in the 19th century. If you buy a $1 thingy it is not economic to take that that person to court and sue them. Therefore laws evolved that protect the consumer without the consumer initiating a court action.

If you buy a $10 lawn pesticide based on a testimonial by Art Drysdale, in which he says "This lawn pesticide is guaranteed to remove 100% of weeds" and it doesn't do that, you get your money back.

If you buy a $10 lawn pesticide based on a testimonial by Art Drysdale, in which he says "This is the best product ever ! " then this is "mere puff" or hyperbole, not intended to be taken seriously.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlill_v_ ... ll_Company
This is the first law case every law student reads as it first defines "a mere puff".

Scott Mayers wrote: It only bugs me that the audiences are surprisingly most affected by it to such an unusual degree.
That's a whole different kettle of fish. That's in the realm of using psychology in advertising.
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