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You’re right of course, but until we get the double-blind randomized trial, we have Occam’s Razor: if people didn’t think it worked they wouldn’t pay so much for it.

Which is a very different question than whether or not it worked. After all, people pay billions every year on useless nutritional supplements which have a lot of evidence to suggest they don’t work as people think.

Yet they still pay. People are irrational.

Wouldn’t the better analogy here be money spent on marketing supplements, which does in fact seem to work?

Good point.

I know I should not extrapolate from one data point, and by way of example after a friend joined FB about 2 years ago, I have noticed a progressive change in their viewpoints. Although a trained scientist, they now talk frequently about (1) anti-vaccination, (2) chemtrails, (3) climate change hoax,(4) Soros, (5) Brexit.

My hypothesis is that hawkers of nonsense use FB to identify people interested in one of the above and then bombard them with recommends.

After all, we behave according to our lived experience - and if social media platforms are used to alter the perception of lived experience, then logic dictates that they can sway behaviour.

Should I be smug? Absolutely not! I have little idea where my opinions come from.

Ad spending as percentage of gdp has not changed in at least a century. So i m not sure if these new media are any more effective than any other media. I honestly am baffled at the lack of scientific research of the effectiveness of advertising in the digital age, to the point of being suspicious.


Or you could attribute that to Hanlon’s razor and explain their stupidity as them trying to simply appear modern thus spending money on “new” things.

Not everything is so black and white.

Is there any evidence that Hanlon's razor is actually even a thing? Or do people just tell this to themselves to feel better about humanity as a whole. IMO giving them the benefit of the doubt isn't doing us any favors.

Not just randomization. There is no reason to believe targeted ads increase spot purchase propensity; rather, it more effectively spreads information to people currently looking for it.

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