May 16, 2009

Skepticism Can Save You Money

A child watching TV.
A child watching TV. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most parents, including even the most devout Christian parents, teach their children at least one important and accurate lesson about skepticism: Do not believe everything you see on TV. Imagine a child watching a commercial and then asking the parent for the item in the commercial. The parent has a friend who recently bought one for his or her child and reported that the product did not perform as advertised and broke way too soon. The parent is not about to waste money on something believed to be such a poor product, and so they explain this to the child. "I know it looks cool in the ad, but it doesn't really do that and breaks easily." In other words, it is important to be skeptical of claims made by those selling something.

I would say that is a fairly important lesson. Unfortunately, this lesson is not learned well, or at least not retained, by everyone. How many of you have found yourself tempted to buy a ShamWow (and not just because their prostitute assaulting spokesman is fighting Scientology)? If you count yourself among those who have been tempted, check out this video.

Knowing something about Consumer Reports, how they work, and how they are not ad-supported, I have to say that I am far less likely to ever purchase a ShamWow after seeing this video. How about you?

The point should be obvious by now if it wasn't sufficiently clear from the title of the post. Skepticism can save us money. This is one of the many ways we can benefit from the application of skepticism in our daily lives. We know that skepticism is an important part of science, and many of us point out that it is at least part of the reason we are atheists. But one need not be a scientist nor an atheist to benefit from applying skepticism. It can help prevent us from making a variety of poor decisions too.