It's not often I get requests to write about particular topics here at The Unwind, and it's even rarer that I accept them. But when I was asked to explore the "[x-1] out of [x] [experts] agree" tagline used by countless products today by a coworker, I couldn't resist.
"4 out of 5 dentists approve..."
Which dentists? Are the 4 dentists any good? Is that lone dissenter the voice of reason against the other incompetent dentists? What about the next 5 dentists? Maybe those next 5 all realize that the product causes cancer. It certainly would have been good to know before I bought that asbestos-bristled toothbrush.
"9 out of 10 doctors agree..."
Fantastic! Are the agreeing doctors in related fields? Or even in relevant fields? I honestly don't care if a proctologist recommends Tylenol over Advil, because he better be giving me something a bit stronger than that both during and after a procedure.
And what's to say that these are even doctors of medicine and nothing totally irrelevant like philosophy or theology? Oh yeah, that creepy professor from your local community college totally thinks that Trojan condoms are the best... he recommends them to all his students!
"4 out of 5 experts think the 5th expert is stupid"
Now that's a statement I can get behind.