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By Mike Gold 

Truth (or consequences)


Last updated 6/12/2019 at Noon

No, this column is not about the old TV show “Truth or Consequences.” Rather, it is about our perception of what is real and what is myth.

I read both fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes, I have trouble differentiating what in non-fiction is not real, and also what in fiction is possibly “real.”

Here are some examples:

Madison Avenue (the advertising game): I argue that the principal purpose in the “ad game” based upon the old model of Madison Ave. (in New York), home of the major advertising agencies, was and is to blur the distinction between what is real and what is not.

Here are some of the most blatant examples of “as close to lying as one can get without being sued.”

Cigarette Advertising: The idea was always to extoll the virtues of smoking. So you would routinely see commercials about the benefits of smoking. I will always remember an ad for Camel cigarettes. These evil cancer sticks were unfiltered and over time were proven to be devastatingly harmful. The commercial showed a “doctor” (not clear if it actually was a doctor or an actor). So you see this “exercise in deception” was allegedly a testimonial from a doctor telling you how much you would “enjoy joining his sacred fraternity of really smart people who smoke Camels.”

So is this “real or a myth”?

Well we know now that the Surgeon General of the United States, plus at least 99.9 percent of the medical community as well as our U.S. Government and almost every other developed nation, continually warns us about the dangers of smoking. (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services – looks at this continually).

Looking at the devastating impact of smoking on the individuals depicted certainly wants to make you run right out and buy a pack (not!).

When CDC references tobacco on its website, we are referring to commercial tobacco and not the sacred and traditional use of tobacco by some American Indian communities.

How can you not “love” this poor excuse by the U.S. government not to “offend” the American Indian – who clearly knows so much more about how “good” smoking is for you. I simply am stunned to see this on a CDC page.

If one was a cynic, one could argue that this is just another government attempt to “eliminate this sub-section of American population” – just another in a long line of outrageous actions by our government over several hundred years detrimental to our indigenous population – by suggesting that smoking for this group is actually a “sacred and traditional” pastime.

Let me now jump to advertising for the major drug companies. You name a human malady. It is virtually guaranteed that one of these “big pharma” companies have developed a drug to treat it. Now as you all know, in today’s society everyone is so litigation obsessed that the government requires any drug (and lots of other products) to be issued along with all and every “negative or side effect” of the products.

We are so afraid of being sued (and for big bucks) that any promotion of any product has so many “warnings” that you wonder why on earth you would ever use it.

Now all of this is only the “legal department’s” reaction to how to protect its client. Every time I get a bulletin from my investment company, there are a few pages of “facts,” then double that number of pages with disclaimers suggesting that “only a fool would take this advice.”

President George W. Bush (Bush 43) attempted to implement “tort reform” in order to cut down on all the outrageous lawsuits. Guess what happened? The very powerful American Bar Association managed to get this attempt for reform quashed.

One of my friends always reminds me of Rudy Guliani’s “flub of the year”:

I think I’ll just look up the answers to all my questions about “truth or myth” on the Internet. After all, that information simply has to be the truth. (I did not know that Martians actually staged the moon landing, did you?)


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