Monday, September 15, 2008

Word of mouth. But whose?

This happens all the time. I have to call it out when it happens on my own blog.

I was going to just leave a kind response to "anonymous" who said in a comment on my recent post that I was wrong to be skeptical about the Brain Fitness Gym/Program. No need to argue or scoff.

It's something to do out of respect for someone when you don't know their full story.

Here's the comment (cut and pasted):

I stumbled across your blog looking for more information on Dr. Merzenich. I bought my parents the Brain Fitness Program 3 years ago. You couldn't be more wrong about your conclusions. they are completely different people. the last 5-7years I had seen them slipping. They are right back on track these days. They continue to use the program every 6months or so. they love it and I couldn't be happier with the results.

'Great. I'm glad it worked for you' is what I would have said. As I said in the previous post: I don't know the particulars of the program. I agree that a mind can benefit from regular stimulation and continued learning. I just think you can do a lot of those mental calisthenics for free. But "anonymous" was so pleased with the purchase and I felt just a little bad for speaking dismissively of something that helped his or her parents so much.

But I don't feel at all bad anymore. Take a look at the time-stamp on the comment.

I occasionally check my comments against my stat counting software by comparing the time of the comment to the time of a visit. Typically a comment comes in just a couple minutes after the page view is logged.

Perfect. We have a match. A comment coming in about three minutes after the page loaded.


The comment comes from the Posit Science Corporation in San Francisco. Somebody browsing around while on the job? Just before clocking out at 5:00? Keep in mind that the commenter supposedly came across my blog while looking for more information on Dr. Merzenich.

Dr. Merzenich is the Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Posit Science. Why would anyone at the company get on the internet to do a little more research on their boss? And even if you really are doing a little research on your company's founder, there's the ethical matter of full disclosure. Let us know that the testimonial is coming from someone who stands to profit.

Since I've known very well that this sort of thing goes on why am I posting on it?

Because it's my blog and I'd like to provide you, my readers, with relevant information that you don't have. Especially when someone pushing a $365 product is using this space to mislead you.

But mostly because I'm amused by how stupid Posit Science was to leave such a trail. Maybe their videos have a section on how to be more sneaky.


  1. I stumbled across your blog looking for information on consumer fraud, and you couldn't be more right about your conclusions.

    Also, I think most people would be startled by the amount of information StatCounter or Google Analytics can give you about a person. I know how many fillings you have.

    Full disclosure: I also have fillings.

  2. That drink is too close to the edge of the table.

    And your phone's about to ring.

  3. Not unlike, distantly speaking, the reviews on any "city life" type Web site. The threads of reviews for, say, any restaurant always start off with a rapturous description of the place. It's possible, I suppose, that these are not being posted by the restaurant owners themselves, but ...

  4. Not to mention the reviews on (Bob Lamb!)...

  5. Awesome catch. Now the question might be... how did they really come across this post? What kind of watchdog program (either soft or human) are they employing?

  6. What kind of marketing tactic is that to post on some stranger's blog? I don't know what kind of traffic wishydig gets, but I get about thirty viewers a day, a third of which I'm sure is my parents, my fiancee, and me (obsessively checking for comments), and another third might be the occasional friend from Purdue. Maybe three to five people a day, including me, will read a spam comment on my blog, and maybe one person a week will remember it five seconds later, and I'd bet no one would think twice about a product like the Brain Fitness Program (unless some writer then uses the comment to create a post about devious advertising), so why bother? Even if five hundred different people visited Michael's blog a day, and only one hundred read the comments, and only twenty remembered the product five seconds later, and maybe--maybe--one person a week remembered it a day later, that can't be a good way to market a product. Sigh.

  7. yah.

    wait... that sounded like a dig.


Thanks for reaching out.

You can also contact me at wishydig[at]gmail[d0t]com.