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Updated on July 22, 2012

By: Wayne Brown

It was P.T. Barnum who said it best, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” For those who pride themselves in having the ability to fool, con, scheme, bilk, or otherwise manipulate things in a fashion such that a fool and his money are soon separated, this is a heart-warming observations to hear. Americans cannot find enough ways to continually prove ol’ P.T. was a wise old sage when he made that observation.

My brother can spot a sucker while sitting in the stands at the Super Bowl…just pick him right out of the crowd. Better yet, that person will come and find my brother and offer him twice as much money for that old truck that he has back home than it is worth. Nobody even knows how this guy knew that my brother had an old truck back home. But I’ll tell ya this…he does. My brother keeps one around all the time because he knows these suckers who are born every minute are scouring the earth to find him and he just cannot help himself. Besides, he observes, why should a fool be allowed to walk around with all that money? It is a good question.

Americans possess the “sucker gene” in their DNA. It is the only explanation for why the stupidity continues and seemingly is passed from one generation to the next. Just when you think that you have heard of every scheme, every trick, every fool-headed notion that could be perpetrated upon the American public, someone comes along and adds a new twist to it and the fools get in line and fight each other to be the first to fall for the same old con. We see examples of it every day and you just have to laugh.

Many years ago, the con was worked from the back alley. A sucker was walking down the street minding his own business when he hears a hissing sound from the darkness of the nearby alleyway. Then in a low voice he distinctly hears, “Hey, buddy, how’d you like to make a quick 20 bucks?” That’s it…down the alley he goes to the fate of a fool all the time dreaming of what he is going to do with easy twenty dollars that he is already spending in his mind. The technology for contacting the fool has changed greatly over the years and those who work the con now have a much greater selection literally at their finger tips. That said, the technology has changed, the medium of presentation is no longer the dark alley, but the old con is still basically the same, “quickly separate the fool from his money.”

We see the “come-on’s” everyday on our television and think little of it. Think about it. The “Sham-Wow” guy is standing at the kitchen sink showing you how great his handy dandy new vegetable chopper works. There’s nothing new about it as it is the same old pint jar with the spring loaded blades attached to the lid that has been around since the 1950’s. But we seem to miss that analysis. Instead we are wowed by the “Sham-Wow” guy as he tosses the older, inept devices over his shoulder and lands them in the kitchen sink behind him. We find ourselves wondering how he can do that and somehow arrive at the conclusion that it has something to do with the wonderfulness of this new vegetable chopping device which he is hawking. Now we are really interested.

The “Sham-Wow” guy goes on to point out that this delicate yet sturdy device honed from space age plastic and the finest of surgical steel can be yours for only $19.95 if you order today. But, wait, if you do order today, he’s gonna throw in a second chopper for free along with an exotic African Zulu knife used to castrate baby goats at birth…all for the simple price of $19.95…well, kinda. You see, he expects you to pay the additional shipping and handling fees on the second chopper and that miracle knife you will be receiving. Then, he delivers the deal maker as he tosses away yet another device which seemingly cannot hold a candle to his chopper. You have to order right now and I mean right now. He makes it very clear, “We can’t do this all day!” Never mind the fact that this advertisement has been running every ten minutes for the last three months and he says the same thing over and over. Never mind all of that…we have to rush to a phone and get our order placed so that we are assured of getting that goat knife before supplies are exhausted.

We see a similar approach in some of the commercials that would have us believe that the government is repossessing homes all over the country and accumulating all kinds of material possessions through busting illegal drug sellers. All of it is going to be sold at a big auction. You simply call in and place your bid. You can get a car for a dollar, a house for five dollars…the wildest dreams for ten dollars. It is absolutely too good to be true and you cannot believe that you just happen to come into the room when this hot news is airing on the television. Then they deliver the clincher…”Everyone whose last name starts with the letters A thru D, can call in right now. Others must wait until to tomorrow to call. Bullcrap! You think, by tomorrow all the good stuff will be gone. My last name may start with a “Z” but I’m calling right now and demanding that they let me bid. This is how we eventually find out how effective and forceful we are at making others see things our way.

We love things that are just too good to be true. It seems nowadays that you can own almost anything if you order it off television for just $19.95 plus shipping and handling. You not only get one for that price…you get two and some additional useless device to go along with it…all for just the additional charges of shipping and handling. Some of the ads just keep throwing things up there and the price stays the same. Then they say, “Now how much would you pay” and with that you realize that nowhere in America are you going to get a better deal on stuff like this. Do you need it? Who the hell cares, you’ve got to have it. You cannot be the only person on your block without the new “Sham-Wow” vegetable chopper and have folks talking about you behind your back. “Hey Joe, did ya hear…that dumb-ass Ed passed on the Sham-Wow vegetable chopper offer…can you believe that anybody could be that stupid?” No, one does not have to think about this very long to realize that we can never take a chance of being labeled like that…I am ordering right now!

Of course there is always sex…anything to do with sex seems to render us really stupid when it comes to making rational decisions. A recent ad on satellite radio hawks a new “male enhancement” cream which is touted to make you even bigger than you actually are simply by rubbing it on. As one listens to the pitch images emerge of women screaming as if they just met Freddie Krueger in an alley. Terms like “throbbing” and “sensual” seem to float by on mental clouds. Oh yeah…this is sounding so good! Then they deliver the dragon-slayer line that dries the paint. “This is the miracle, all natural and organic, herbal sensation that the drug companies don’t want you to know about.” Those bastards! You find yourself thinking. How could they try to hide such a wonderful product from the American consumer? That does it, I am ordering a case!

Regardless of what we buy, we anxiously await for the mail carrier or the package delivery boys to bring it to our door. When they finally do, so much time has expired that we cannot remember making the purchase. Besides, why would I buy anything that comes in a box that small and has words written on it in “Italian”…..”Fragile”. Then we get it out of the box and suddenly our memory returns. That’s when we discover that these things look a lot bigger on television than they do in person. That’s when we find out that the jar on the Sham-Wow vegetable chopper is smaller than that little cup they give you for the urine sample at the doctor’s office. That’s when we realize that the little tube of male enhancement cream is not going to last very long if you apply it as generously as the instructions indicate. That’s when you realize that maybe instead of ordering cream to rub on that it might have been better just to spend a little time rubbing yourself without the cream. That’s when you make a conscious decision to hide all this stuff and never speak of it in the presence of another person…especially the wife.

It’s no wonder that P.T. Barnum made his observation so many, many years ago. And, it is amazing that it still holds true until this day. No matter how technology changes; no matter how information comes into our hands, we are still willing participants in the con games of stupidity. We are still willing to swallow those lines associated with urgency and restriction of our freedom. We are still willing to part with our money just to show those large drug companies that we can indeed get our hands on forbidden fruit, which brings me back to my brother.

As I pointed out earlier, my brother always has an old truck around to sell to the next sucker. Somehow there is always a story attached to it that goes along the line that my brother has had this truck for all his life and is now forced to part with it because of health issues. The trucks come and go and my brother seems to just make more and more money while the story stays the same. Hundreds of folks around the county back home now own a truck that miraculously quit running shortly after they purchased it. But they don’t complain because it has sentimental value…after all, my brother owned it most of his life. I can see my brother grinning right now.

© Copyright WBrown2011. All Rights Reserved.


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    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @rkhyclak...Hi Bekka...Good to hear from you. Yes, Americans are just waiting to be duped by the next thing that sounds too good to be seen on television! LOL! And they love that urgency or restriction..."We can't do this all day!" "A strict limit of five coins is set per customer".....Wow, we just swallow the hook, worm and all! WB

    • rkhyclak profile image


      7 years ago from Ohio

      How timely...I literally turned my TV right before reading this because a stupid infomercial for a weight loss pill- or what I'm convinced is tapeworms- came on. Amusing yet so true and not only with product purchasing! I think a lot of people look at a majority of Americans as the grinning idiot just waiting to be duped.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @crystolite...Thank you for the read and the great comments. I really enjoyed writing this one! WB

    • crystolite profile image


      7 years ago from Houston TX

      Wonderful hub and also a mind blowing article that really made me so happy that i enjoyed reading many times.thanks for this funny article.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @ladyjane1...Thank you...glad I could get that laugh out of ya! Congrats on all those high scores been dominating! LOL! Old Bob had that smile that every man wants to earn! LOL! WB

    • ladyjane1 profile image


      7 years ago from Texas

      Great hub you had me laughing out loud. And the video is funny. I enjoy those Enzyte commercials, that Bob is one happy guy. Great job as always, cheers.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @epigramman...Shucks, I just get lucky, Colin! But, that's not to say that I don't feel blessed by those who take the time to read my scriblings. I always bow to that honor. I am just glad that I can continue to be entertaining in my writing. If I can continue to achieve that aspect, I will be successful. Thanks much for your kind words! WB

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      ...well Mister B - anytime I get a rave review or favorable comment from someone with your lofty writer's pedigree and esteemed reputation then it's time for the epi-man to stand outside on his deck facing Lake Erie - and shout as loud as he can - I am King of the World!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (like Leo in the Titanic)

      ...and as I read (and enjoy) your latest foray into writing - I say to myself this man can do it all and so well - short stories, poems, online magazine articles, blogs, columns ...he can make the ladies swoon with his wit, charm and intelligence - and well all of the men just know this is how it's done by a true gentleman of the highest order .....

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Truckstop Sally...My wife loves those section...she visits them religiously in Walgreen's! She is such a fan and always brings them home to demonstrate them to me like the Sham-Wow guy! Thanks much! WB

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      7 years ago

      Funny, funny!! And have you seen the sections in some stores labeled - As Seen on TV? So, if you don't want to order them by phone, you can buy and receive them today! I think some of the panache is lost. Ha! Probably fewer sales -- since you can change your mind on the way to the register.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Healing Touch...Thank you, glad you liked this one! WB

      @Harlan Colt...We fell for a temptation that I have found myself picking up the phone to order...I got distracted at the last minute and that is all that save me. In reality, the golden odlies are only good for that portion that we remember...we don't want to hear it all! Thanks much. WB

      @cjv123...Not so may be the hottest thing on your block or it may sell for more in a garage sale than you paid for it. Worst case, you get something back and what can you say to that?....Sham-Wow! Thanks, Carol! WB

    • cjv123 profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Dang - now I'm going to have to get rid of that chopper before anyone knows I was think I could get my money back if I wrap it in one of those ShamWows and mail it back in the box it came in????? ;-)

      Congrats on the 100 Wayne! Well deserved!

    • Harlan Colt profile image

      Harlan Colt 

      7 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

      I got all excited a couple years ago and bought the never ending TIME-LIFE subscription to the Midnight Special. I wanted to relive all those memories for the late night 1970's music in live performances.

      Some were really good, and some were not as good as I seemed to remember.

      I haven't watched them again since. They definately made it sound awesome on TV.

      Good work Wayne...


    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 

      7 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Great job. Love the sucker in our dna.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @Geena East...Glad I could surprise you, Geena. That's a very high compliment. Now if I can just get coffee to run out of your nose I will be making headway! Thank you! WB

      @Amy Becherer...It makes me wonder why we don't write for idiots to gain viewship. I would fail at it. I recognize them but I cannot come up with something that would attract them...except maybe that powdered water that Steven Wright talks about. But like he says, what do you mix it with? Thanks Amy! WB

      @Granny's House...WooHoo...strong compliment in that comment. I love it. I got the inspiration for this one listening to a male enhancement commercial! LOL! WB

      @sheila b. ....good to see you out and about. Glad you had fun with this one. I think we all do feel the same way but sooner or later they hit a nerve with us and we cave...can't let anyone know! LOL! WB

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      7 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading this, probably because I think the same thing when I see these commercials.

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Hahaha, the video was great. This hub is some of the best writing I have seen. Great job on this

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I saw an infommercial on early this morning about a product that you "sprinkle" on your food, any food, be it cheesecake or steak or spuds and you "lose" weight. All you need is your appetite, food and this "sprinkle", which is conveniently packaged in individual wrappings so you can take it everywhere with you. The commercial keeps showing perfect women in bikinis and a six-pack dude taking his shirt off. Then, a doctor who discovered this marketing genius of a product, comes on with official looking documents scattered on his desk about how wonderful this product is. Not once, did anyone in the ad ask "what is it", "is it safe" or "are there side effects". What kind of nimrod would buy a product for $9.95 to try with the message that if you don't lose weight, your credit card will not continue to be charged!!!! I want to meet the takers on this new magic "sprinkles", because apparently they have more money than common sense. The sad truth is the buyers are desperate and marketing ploys are counting on that sad fact. Great piece, Wayne, just when I was thinking about this very thing!!!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      "You not only get one for that price…you get two and some additional useless device to go along with it…all for just the additional charges of shipping and handling."

      Okay...I just lost my morning decaf in a spurt of laugher when I arrived at this sentence. So very true. Terrific hub, Wayne, although my computer screen may have a differing point of view. :)

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @eovery...Well, you got a point there, that's how the term "ringer" came about. You have to make at least one that works! LOL! WB

      @drbj...Doc, I'd send you mine if I could find it. It got mixed in with those Gingsu knives and that new knife with blade that never dulls...I simply can't find it! LOL! WB

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Hurry, Wayne, and please send me quickly the 1-800 number so I can call to order that exotic African Zulu knife used to castrate baby goats at birth. I have always wanted one of them things and now this is my chance to get one from the source.

    • eovery profile image


      7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      I saw it work on TV.

      Whatta you mean?

      Keep on hubbing!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      @nicomp...They most certainly do and that Sham-Wow dude just looks like someone you want to trust...he missed a great career in used cars. LOL! WB

      @Partisan Patriot...No, ol' Billy got to exited about those products and keeled over. Now the Sham-Wow guy has no competition! WB

      @John McNab...Okay! If you need some, just let me know...I've got a case in the garage! LOL! WB

      @Mr Happy....You make some strong points that we may be trained to act in this fashion. You probably were not following me because you suffer from the same ailment that I do...totally behind, all the time! LOL! Thanks much! WB

      @ltfawkes...I agree with you. What does it say about your product when you have to fool people into buying it? The American car companies tried such an approach for years and it was a total turn-off to people yet the believed it worked. You have to use the system...that was their line. These things happen when the idiots gain control. WB

      @thebluestar...Hey, I slowed some so come on up here! I think we have all been burned at least once if not more by these cons. Thanks much! WB

      @BenWritings...This one came to me when I heard that male enhancement cream commercial on the way in to work this morning. I really rolled when the lady announcer suggested that the "big drug companies did not want you to see this!" Thanks Ben! WB

      @poorconservative1...Glad you liked it. I thought the video was a good one! WB

    • poorconservative1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Hub. It's like I always say. There are shysters in everything. Funny video too. Thanks


    • BenWritings profile image


      7 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee

      I LOVE THE VIDEO hahaha

      For a long time, I have seen the incredible brain washing, deceptive elements of advertisement, and laughed that it actually works on people.

      Lol, this one is awesome, Wayne!

      It's a towel, it's a sponge, it's a shammy, it's a shamWOW!!

      "virtually dry on the bottom!!"


    • thebluestar profile image

      Annette Donaldson 

      7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      lol Wayne, we have all been suckers in our lives, we are sold crap every which way every day. Hubs like this suddenly make us realise that we have been there, but don't want to admit it.

      Now seriously, GIVE ME A BREAK, yes it is I who is heavily breathing behind you and still will be if you don't slow down. Way to go my friend, you keep leading and I am willing to follow. Great Hub Wayne.

    • ltfawkes profile image


      7 years ago from NE Ohio

      We all (or most of us) know about the scams by under-the-radar characters and are wary of them. The scams that really fry my apples are the ones perpetrated by established, name-brand corps.

      There seems to be a growing mentality in corporate America that it's okay to trick and lie to people. Something so basic as the telemarketer for "BigCo" with a pronounced accent who says, "Hi, my name is Kevin."

      The dude's name is NOT Kevin. If a major American corporation trains it's foreign workers to lie to you before you're even a customer, what kind of service can you expect once they've got your money??!!?

      I keep swearing I'm going to start a website called "Name that Liar" where people can list these lying scumbag supposedly upstanding corps and describe their cons so the rest of us can avoid them!

      Thanks for a good hub. You got me all fired up. I guess I better go out and shovel snow (yes - SNOW!@?!?@#@?) before I lose my head of steam.


    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I do wonder about your brother's karma.

      I loved your blog though! You brought-up some important issues.

      "Americans possess the “sucker gene” in their DNA. It is the only explanation for why the stupidity continues and seemingly is passed from one generation to the next."

      That's some funny shit rofl! On a serious note though, I do think the education in the United States is a really, really bad joke. Here in Canada is almost the same. Thus, no wonder people do stupid things and dummies like Dubbya get elected. It's our education system not our DNA (just my opinion).

      On the shamy-wowy topic. Of course it is all bogus. Most commercials are just that: a big lie, just there to catch your attention and make you buy the next useless, garbage-product, made in China which you don't need but you are programmed to want.

      From the time we are little kids, just a few years old, there are advertisements targeting us. For anyone interested on what advertising is doing to your children please do read "Consuming Kids"

      It is an extremely well researched book and anyone who has children should read it, I think.

      It is my opinion that advertising should be banned from public places and special TV channels and books (like the yellow pages) should be created to hold all the advertising we need. Thus when in need of something, one can pick-up an advertising magazine and look for what he or she needs.

      This is what happens when you're born too soon or too late: your ideas seem outrageous.

      Cheers for a great blog, again! All the best. (Voted you up and all. And why wasn't I following you 'till today ... must have missed that part somehow ...)

    • John MacNab profile image

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      I love it Wayne. Thank goodness you warned me before I bought that cream, Phew!

    • profile image

      Partisan Patriot 

      7 years ago

      Please don’t tell me Billy Mayes and his Mighty Putty was also a sham? All I hope is the millions of Americans that were wowed by our Snake Oil Salesman and Chief’s magic Beans in 08 have awaken from their slumber this time around!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      People want to believe. They crave something they can trust,


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