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The Maytag Effect

Updated on December 30, 2011

Ever since I first turned on a television some 25 years ago, I’ve seen plenty of Maytag commercials. The Maytag repairman is pleasant, soft-spoken and most importantly, always bored at his job; the premise being, of course, that a Maytag appliance never needs any repairs. After purchasing my first Maytag dishwasher, I learned just how big of a lie this is in a matter of months! Perusing my Consumer Reports magazine, I checked the repair history section and quickly realized that Maytag appliances rate very low. I was flummoxed. How is it that Maytag would seemingly boast about its efficiency when it is obviously false? It was at this moment I first came to realize The Maytag Effect.

Advertisers take certain liberties with their products. Everyone knows this in some form or other; that advertisers manipulate and exaggerate. But I was not expecting an outright lie. Taking the weakest position on a topic and making it the most important facet of argument, that’s The Maytag Effect.

Moreover, I now have come to recognize the effect in many other aspects of my life. Politicians, journalists, educators, bloggers, experts; they all use The Maytag Effect to some degree. Here are a few examples:

"Because in Switzerland every male has a weapon in their home, they have a very low crime rate." Yet, Switzerland has one of the highest murder rates in Europe, and some per capita statistics show it to have one of the highest murder rates in the industrialized world.

"Republicans are stronger on defense." In 2006 the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America rated U.S. senators according to their actual votes on legislation that directly benefitted soldiers. The IAVA rated all the Democrats first, then came all the Republicans. The louder the politician bloviating about supporting the troops, the lower the ranking on the list.

"Being a vegetarian is unhealthy, because they don’t get enough protein" Fifty grams of protein are needed for an average human each day, on average, yet a simple Pizza Margherita has 42 grams of protein.

Jon Kyl held a press release in which he responded to serious questions about his claim that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's activities are abortion. I suppose I should be placated with his response, "Not meant to be a factual statement."

It’s always been there. Plenty of people know that the person who yells the loudest is usually the most guilty. However, The Maytag Effect is a concerted effort to deceive. This is people willingly denigrating society for their own advancement. The reason this is so detrimental is because it is an outright fabrication of the truth. And, well, truth is important.

I could go on and on. People who use these talking points love to use them not because they want dialogue with another person but rather they willingly use false arguments to strengthen their own beliefs. It becomes less an argument than a ploy to seed credibility to a defenseless position. In fact, it creates doubt among those who criticize. Don’t research the information yourself, don’t find all the facts, don’t extrapolate from a variety of sources and then come to a logical conclusion. Nope, let others tell you about it. And trust them... they wouldn’t lie.


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      Dona 6 years ago

      This is so true and we see it again and again as people (advertisers, politicians, salespersons, etc.) use superlatives to describe whatever it is that they are pushing on us. Thanks for your comments and I hope some readers will become more aware of the dangers of "buying" supposedly harmless statements.