‘Actively,’ the active weasel, lives among us


Cringing every time I see or hear stuff like, “There’s an active shooter incident…” Is there another kind? He/she is either a shooter or not. When he/she is shooting, by definition he/she IS active. If the shooter is still on scene, it is an shooting incident. If the shooter is gone, it is a shooting investigation. This is from the AP Stylebook, people – the supposed bible of journalism. The bible they used to beat us over the head with, all through college. And one they obviously today, ignore.

But of course it’s not just the news which is guilty of what I’ve taken to calling “weasel word” usage over the years, TV commercials wrote the bible on those. Every time you hear stuff like, “Provasic can relieve the pain of arthritis,” you’ve consumed a weasel word. Notice, they don’t say it WILL relieve the pain, or that it WILL do anything at all. It says it “can.” Well hell, so can a six pack of beer! So can a sugar tablet – in fact these drugs are all double-blind tested against placebo, because placebo is so effective. Anything you 100 percent truly in your heart and mind and without any grain of doubt believe will help you, does. That’s the placebo effect in a nutshell. The power of positive thinking.

Weasel words disappear though when they talk about side effects, at the end of all of these pharma spots. Instead you get stuff like, “Side effects of Provasic include dizziness, tardiness, laziness and stupor, and even death has resulted.” Just the facts, ma’am.

Worse than those though, are the claims which they have no evidence to support, but feel they must make anyway. When they have no clue how their drug works or why, they say stuff like “Provasic is believed to interfere with four key enzymes in your body which are believed to cause psychosis..” Believed to. Lovely.

Of course most of us realize junk like this comes from lawyers – the Kings of weasel words. You can’t tell anything like it is anymore, everything has to be “nuanced.” Weaselized. Imagine how well that would work if say, I was pulled over for speeding doing 95 on the freeway. “Officer, did you know that radar guns are believed to be inaccurate?” Or, “Donuts can activate four known enzymes that affect your vision and make you see the number nine, upside-down. 95 when really it was 65.” And so on.

One of the most ridiculous false claims offenders is that Cyndi Lauper commercial for some stuff that’s supposed to clear your skin up, where she says “you see me, you see clear skin.” No we don’t! We see you with along-sleeved denim jacket on, covering your rash that didn’t get cured! The other two actors in the spot have their arms exposed, YOU do not!

Another sad one although not false is the spot for Neulasta Onpro. In the spot they implore us to tell our doctor about it, then later go on to say it is the most prescribed med ever. Then why are you still spending millions advertising and marketing it, perchance to maybe cut the consumer and taxpayer a little break on the price? Clearly, doctors all know about it if it’s the most prescribed med! Get outta here!

I see annoying stuff all the time in the printed/posted word too. One of my pet peeves is extremely long, run-on paragraphs which ramble from idea to idea, never really making any point whatsoever, incoherent babble.

When I come across an article on a site, blog, or a message board post, first I see if there’s ANY air in it at all. This is a litmus test to see if the writer understands his/her work is intended for an audience, that they know they are writing for the consumer, not for themselves. For ease of reading not to just hurry up and post some incoherent babble. Because I know that if they realize this first and foremost, they’re also usually going to come to an intelligent point pretty quickly because they also believe my time has value. And probably because they started out with some intelligence, and a salient point or two to make.

If you want me to take some of my time to read your drivel, start by making sure it’s not just a series of solid walls of text. Break it up, air it out, for crimony’s sake, proofread and frikkiin EDIT it before foisting it on the readership. Do you have a point? MAKE IT. Brevity is king.

Speaking of which, it’s time once again for my usual heartfelt and fond farewell. I’m 20 minutes late for my meds, the ones which are believed to be keeping me alive although no one can say just exactly how.


Leave a Reply