I wonder what kind of such campaigns are going on today, changing our thoughts without us noticing.
Household products like soap and flour used to be generic and without brands. Brand names were invented to differentiate identical products. The entire history of marketing in the 20th century is appealing to people’s emotions with emotional oversimplifications. Their goal is to creat an uninformed, irrational consumer.
There was a huge campaign against man made global warming, and its worked, a significant amount of people believe its a hoax.
Many people thought Iraq was behind 9/11, or supported Al Queda.
Propaganda is all around us, and it works!
Yes, it's possible to waste too much money on branding, but the existence of brands, which creates incentive for consistent quality and attributes of a product, is not a bad thing in itself, even for commodity goods like flour and soap.
IIRC, one of the old problems with general/convenience stores was having to ask around about which products are good, and branding has mostly solved that.
(To answer the obvious objection: yes, regulation is another way to ensure consistent quality, but that has its ups and downs, like being slow to catch up with changing consumer preferences.)
In the absence of other oversight, a brand name provided a degree of trust - advertising is a form of costly signalling, indicating that the advertiser is investing in their reputation and would have something to lose by selling a shoddy product. The brand of flour I've never heard of is far more likely to be padded out with gypsum or chalk than the brand of flour that has advertised in the newspaper every week for the last four years.
We're seeing the inverse trend today, with sites like Amazon being flooded with white-label products of unknown safety and quality. In many product categories, there just isn't a brand with widespread recognition, or the sheer number of off-brand products has drowned out the branded products. These white-label sellers have little or nothing to lose if they sell a shoddy or outright dangerous product - they just take down the product listing, put up a new listing and buy enough five star reviews to get the ball rolling again.
The romans would have had guild marks on things like pottery, I just don't know of any online guides for them.
I can imagine two Romans walking down the street, and one saying to the other "Oh our family has been buying meat from Spartacus' family for generations now, they're the best when it comes to that sort of stuff."
The fact that consumers aren't very discerning is exactly created by brands -- they have learned to discern based on identity instead of by quality, because brand recognition is less effort than material inspection.
Additionally, a brand certainly does not provide the attachment to consequence that you claim, once a brand has consumers' loyalty and a sizable market share it can adjust quality with relative impunity.
Of course there are different qualities of toilet paper. In a commodity-style market for toilet paper there would be competition on both price and on quality axes and there would likely be multiple points of equilibrium between quality and price.
People choose to differentiate by superficial brand identity specifically because it creates the experience they want: reproducible access to consistently acceptable quality.
Their only selling point is a certain mid-market bling. No one making a rational decision would ever buy one.
But this is basic US MBA strategy. Cut corners on tangibles, replace them with hype and marketing bullshit targeted at a specific demographic, then leverage The Brand™ to charge the highest possible prices.
Use both formal traditional advertising and informal online astroturfing to maintain the illusion of value.
It's called marketing, but in reality it's industrial-scale behaviour modification.
But we use a lot of different manufactured goods in our daily lives today, many manufactured in ways that require expert knowledge to appraise. It's unreasonable to ask for the average person to be well-versed in them all.
As a teenager I worked in a potato chip factory. We also made chips for competing brands. Often this amounted to changing the bags the chips were put into. These brands would then charge different prices for the identical product.
I once sat in on a lecture by a former CEO of a very successful grocery store chain. He noted that if you buy anything in a can you might as well buy the cheapest good because there were basically identical behind the label.
Choose almost any kind of product. Often times multiple brands are created by the same parent company to provide the illusion of competition. Sometimes there are differences in quality/features but sometimes not.
Maybe it's different in the USA, but there's definitely a huge variation in quality across canned goods in Australia. Most cans under a dollar aren't worth buying in my experience.
They aren't all made in the same factory either, the cheaper cans tend to be made in Indonesia or other developing countries. I try and avoid food manufactured in developing countries, I've seen what their food safety standards are like, not to mention the pollution and heavy metal risk, or if it's even what it says on the can (even Europe isn't immune to this, see the Horse Meat Scandal). I have no particular reason to believe that my can of Tuna from Vietnam actually contains Tuna, or that it's free of mercury or lead.
A 50 cent can of baked beans or spaghetti doesn't taste anything like a proper Heinz can, the beans are usually fine but the sauce is atrocious. But there are brands that are cheaper than Heinz that are just as good (don't taste the same though).
Cheap cans of fruit are almost universally terrible. The fruit in the tins is terrible quality: underripe, overripe; too sweet, sour, or bitter. Bottom shelf tinned pineapple feels like I'm eating timber.
Vegetables tend to be fairly consistent, although the cheapest cans of tomatoes often contain added water or tomato juice.
Coconut milk/cream is worth paying for the premium brands, the budget brands are so watery. Pacific Island sourced coconut milk tends to be better, at least in my opinion.
Fish is a real mixed bag. Not just for taste, but for sustainability, human rights, and pollution. It's worth doing some research into what brands are best. Some of the more expensive brands are actually the worst.
Plain legumes (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans etc.) are the only canned goods where the cheap brands seem to be the same quality as the premium brands.
Your statement [branding often has little relationship to quality] still stands though. You can get high quality, cheap packaged food, you just need to spend a bit of time looking for the right brands (which may involve trial and error). Going for the most well known or most expensive brand is definitely not the way to ensure you're getting the best quality food at a modest price.
Here in Brussels a few years ago, it was found that 1 in 3 kinds of fish that was served in restaurants did not match the type of fish on the menu.
150 restaurants were visited, 5 types of fish were ordered and 36 different types were served (lots of Pangasius). In 95% of cases, "red tuna" was actually white or some other kind of tuna.
Source (in Dutch) https://weekend.knack.be/lifestyle/culinair/een-op-drie-viss...
Basically, they would cut open cans of other providers and cans of Sysco products to show how much more product vs liquid they provided, or maybe the quality... Not really sure.
I remember buying a generic roll of aluminum foil once, because what could possibly go wrong with something that simple? Why should I pay the premium for a brand name? Well, it was not wrapped around the spool quite right. It wasn't completely worthless, but it reminded me that there is a huge amount of detail that needs to be gotten right even for products that occupy little if any space in your mental world when you don't work in the industry. And a factory can turn dials to make infinite variations for different clients, including quality control. I remember trying some generic cereal, and it was very similar to the branded equivalent, but there was something odd and gritty in it.
However, I think what leads to people being receptive to claims that it's all the same is the degradation of brand name quality - as soon as someone recognizes that brand equity exists, they can exploit it by cutting costs until people notice it. There's always going to be a lag that is profitable in the short term and information technology is making this more efficient, measurable, and tempting. My suspicion is that this is why white label goods are becoming more popular - it's not that brands are less useful in principle than they ever were, but everyone who owns a brand is succumbing to the temptation to strip mine it and this is making consumers become more cynical and devalue brands in general.
I lived in Africa for a little time, so I had to learn to do that. As an introvert geek, it was painful.
But going back to France, what strikes me is how much more efficient eventually this solution is.
So many brands failed us: intel, oracle, facebook, etc. They haven't paid nearly close to half the price of how they misbehaved with their customers.
Brands don't allow me to build much trust.
Local sellers however ? Well, once I befriend local shop owner, I trust him or her to really tell me which products is worth what.
Of course, once a particular press has a reputation for quality, the fake imitation presses come in, diluting the market and eventually destroying the brand's reputation.
Yes and no. Any number of brands now is coasting on quality it’s not had in years, it’s made in the same factory in China as the “knock-off” version and just gets a different sticker on it.
The key here is that the brand itself does lose its power in the process. It’s a self correcting problem.
Often the only difference between a brand item and the generic version is the label. The contents are identical. Branding doesn't validate quality in that case.
Here in the UK Kellogs actually ran a campaign telling consumers "We don't make breakfast cereals for anyone else." The generic shop brands cereals started to get good enough that people thought Kellogs were making the cheaper stuff as well.
In other words, unbranded cereal can, and most of the time is, better than shop brands, but that does not remove the fact that, when buying Kellogs in any shop you get exactly what you expected.
For the products mentioned (soap, detergents, toothpaste, and tons of other stuff, etc) it was just an artificial way to differentiate the same thing, and make people pay for the brand name...
Gosh, that is so different from my own experience. Let me tell you about a brand I trust: Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Toscano Olive Oil.
Anyone who knows olive oil knows that it can be one of the scammiest products there is. "Italian" on the label may only mean that it's bottled in Italy, blended from stale olive oil from all over Europe and the mideast. It may have off odors and flavors, but you won't know until you open it. And how old is it? Your guess is as good as mine.
This Toscano is the real deal, and it proudly lists the harvest date on the label. They don't have it all year round - when they run out you have to wait for the next harvest. So I have a few bottles of the October-December 2018 harvest in our "olive oil cellar" (a cool closet).
Another good one is Trader Joe's Greek Kalamata olive oil, which also lists the harvest date.
Both TJ's and Costco have lesser oils too; it's not just the store brand but the specific product brand that tells me I will be getting a quality olive oil.
I don't see what's wrong with that.
Wrong. Brand names were around during Roman times. Roman pottery has been unearthed which shows brand names and logos. It isn't anything new.
I mean, that's the point, right? Each one's history stretches back at least 5-10k years.
Hell, the Southpark guys did and made fun of it for years... and now they're like "wait a minute, it is real, our bad"
>Over the last two episodes, Parker and Stone have attempted to correct the mistake they made over a decade ago, as the boys beg Gore to help them fight the destruction of ManBearPig. While in 2006's South Park climate change was some silly myth, now it's a very real horror that most people still choose to ignore.
>South Park has never been one to say it was wrong. It's a show that will gladly stand by its depictions of everything from suicide to terrorist attacks and the prophet Muhammad. So, to admit it was wrong about its take on climate change 12 years ago is a surprising sign of maturity.
And so people could choose to not buy bread/flour containing alum or chalk, both once common practice.
-Lots of relentless propaganda trying to differentiate and demonize political parties (liberals/democrats bad and hate america!) when in reality there's not much difference between mainstream elements of both parties outside of wedge issues.
-Lots of green-washing propaganda (consuming product X is good for the environment)
Also, both of these are "industry trends", where I think what the parent is asking for are campaigns unique to a single company and a single advertising agency, but with far-reaching effects on public perception beyond that company's brand.
The campaign has successfully instilled a few formulas in the public opinion- for example:
1) that Israel has a right to defend itself; (notice how subtly it shifts the issue from that of whether it is defending or attacking, to whether it has a right to defend itself from attacks).
2) that Israel's right to exist needs to be constantly reiterated. (Which implicitly suggests that it's possible the speaker doesn't recognize it- you don't ask somebody who criticizes France to declare it has a right to exist).
3) that the reason Israel is attacked is hatred and anti-Semitism. (And not, of course, that it is violation of international legality and human rights).
4) that there is no meaningful distinction between USA's objectives and Israel's. (While Israel and USA are separate countries and by nature have different objectives).
Some less official but widespread ideas are the negation of Palestinians existence (they are just Arabs) and a "might makes right" principle ("Palestinians have lost and should get over with it").
Intermittent fasting seems similar at the moment. Promising results, and I can't find a sponsor. Sure, given any trend, people will find a way to make a profit. But the kernel of these seems fairly organic, unlike say, the "South Beach Diet."
To ericb's point—there's a massive difference between a profit motive of selling optional advice versus selling the "product". Like many real diets, keto is little more than a subset of foods already available at the supermarket. It's not like someone was trying to flog a special powder or vitamin pills.
I case you're wondering, this "hydration" thing basically is a scam too, just like keto. Fun fact: it's generally impossible to die of dehydration, unless you genuinely don't have access to freshwater. People will drink when they're thirsty. No athletes have ever died of it. However, a significant number of athletes have died of over-hydration (water poisoning). Just like keto, it's dangerous and unhealthy.
Your level of unqualified certainty about keto diets is amusing. I personally know a number of people who are sticking to that diet and they've all had their health objectively improve as a result. (Weight, body tone, lipoprotein subfractions.)
In one case, he had chronic fatigue that his GP (family doctor) couldn't resolve, nor two expert referrals who tried medications and special diets. The keto diet led to an effective cure (the key factor was narrowed to the consumption of sugar, even relatively small amounts) and when combined with other health marker improvements, now considers his keto diet as necessary for a tolerable existence.
So yeah, dangerous and unhealthy.
(And for the record I've no idea what "this hydration thing" is. When I cited hydration I wasn't talking about some special diet, only to the basic concept of not being dehydrated.)
There is still a ton of play in most the tools with moving parts. (AKA don't buy a drill press because there is a huge amount of play in the HF versions). The cheap home depot tools though are actually pretty good if you get the reasonable ones. AKA a good Ryobi 18V drill is just as good as the yellow or red ones that cost 2x-3x as much despite the "contractor grade".
(there are a bunch of videos with people killing dewalt drills, batteries, etc. At least over the past few years their reputation doesn't appear to be deserved.)
Example if you pay 1.8x the cost for a tool that lasts 10 years vs 1x for 4 years of service you will actually have paid LESS not more.
One also notices that pro's tend to buy brand name tools rather than budget brands even when they are budget conscious in other ways.
(Machines more complex than a simple lever probably have more room to differentiate themselves.)
I wouldn't buy their stuff if my job depended on my tools, but for something I need twice a year at my house, no problem.
I'd like to see you torque a 1" harbor freight wrench to the point of failure with your bare hands. I don't think you could do it even with your full body weight or something to push off of.
There are certainly cases where products differ enough in quality that there are pragmatic reasons to avoid some brands and prefer others. But I think standard wrenches are a poor example if you're trying to convey this point.
Political campaigns are usually comparable in scope.
Obama, for example, beat Nike and Apple to win the "marketer of the year" award https://adage.com/article/moy-2008/obama-wins-ad-age-s-marke...
I remember being so excited and enthusiastic. People were banging pots and pans in the streets and celebrating. But looking back, I am not sure what happened. I don't even know why I was excited. And that's the power of propaganda and marketing, it presents a fuzzy abstract canvas and allows everyone to imbue their own, private hopes and dream onto it.
In the more recent history, the "Russian collusion" is probably another campaign where so much effort was spent on, families were torn apparent, a lot of mental energy put into it, and then it kind of fizzled out. All of the sudden everyone stopped talking about it. It went from "it was a sure road to impeachment" to everyone at the same time deciding to ignore it.
My point is, it's not so much a propaganda campaign as an obvious juicy news story to be written about and it's predictably not reported on lately because nothings happening out in the open right now, but watch by October 2020 it'll be a thing again, because it'll be politically expedient again.
And it was proven that the campaign received help from Russians. But the help appears to have been one-directional; no proof that it was requested or directed explicitly by Trump. He just let it happen, which is apparently fine.
(Ironically - if that's the word - Trump has been far better at creating the latter than Obama was.)
A lot of people actually believed the Hope and Change slogans. But it turned out there was no real cause for hope, and very little significant change.
And that's marketing for you - illusion over substance.
I find it hard to believe that this important first step is not to be celebrated as something to be a part of. Results are not instant.
>Coke and ABA also spread deceptive messages about hydration—giving the misimpression that many people suffer from dehydration, according to the complaint. “We don’t believe in empty calories. We believe in hydration,” said Coca-Cola executive Katie Bayne.
- Modern consumer Christmas as invented by Coke
- "Back to School" made a lot more sense when you were actually sending kids off to boarding school
If you want a more indisputable fact of Christmas influenced marketing, check out Japan & KFC Christmas:
Yet the formula is very popular, especially in China (they have to limit the quantities per person here in Australia since they grab so much to send home). So sometimes I wonder if this is a problem or not.
Mind you, this is mostly my experience with the subject from people I’ve talked to and haven’t seen any formal study.
Also, while I strongly believe that mother’s milk is vastly superior to formula, I was more than happy to supplement with formula with my twins. Producing milk for 2 is a full time job, also not possible for most women. I think formula generally is fantastic, but I also think it preys on a vulnerable population (parents of newborns).
Breastfeeding seems harder for about 10 days at the beginning - and if you use formula in this period you won't get enough milk and you are stuck with formula going forward.
(Twins could well be an exception I've no experience with twins!)
It's better to feed your child breast milk, if only because it's cheaper and there's no particular reason not to. But there's now an entire culture shaming parents who choose feed their child with formula instead of breast milk, even though there may be (and often are) extenuating circumstances for their choice.
Downsides: Only mothers can breastfeed = more work for them. Yes you can pump and refrigerate and have dad feed later with a bottle but pumps are garbage, time consuming and makes mom feel like a cow.
Moms may feel self conscious breastfeeding in public and in conservative cultures it's probably impossible.
Mastitis: painful infection. Already had this 2x in 5 months, requires antibiotics.
Our first kid was formula fed, our second breastfed. Second one is much less work for me as a dad.
Main upside to breastfeeding is that you don't need to carry around formula for two years, find a microwave, sterilize bottles etc. When traveling this is gold. Another upside is that I think breasts tend to stay in better shape aesthetically when not breastfeeding.
While looking into this though I noticed that a manufacturer's site (https://nutricia.com.au/early-life-nutrition/karicare.html) actually has a popup saying that breastfeeding is better. I wonder what prompted that, community outrage?
If you think formula does not solve any problems for a very large part of the population then you have no clue what you are talking about.
The overall outcome is more important than any one factor. This applies to any activity, opportunity cost is always looming over us.
It looks like that applies to the studies too based on the parent's link - looking at just one factor finds some differences but then there's no overall difference by age 5. So that's definitely something I'll pay more attention to when the next headline rolls around.
Breastfeeding after that is way way easier than pissing around with powders and bottles.
*Provided the mother isn't employed
Practically all advertising is designed to change your thoughts/behaviors. The delineation between real content and advertising is thinner than ever and the ads are more targeted than ever.
Looking at global warming we have large scale disinformation campaigns that include politicians, "news" outlets like fox news and astro turfing.
Astro turfing is becoming more and more frequent as the web becomes more centralized.
Noam Chomsky made one of the more enlightening statements on RussiaGate:
It is like NSA employees whining at being called snoops when they spied on literally everyone!
And it worked very, very well. The pro BG and MS sentiment is growing more and more every day, while 15 years ago, they were evil.
Partly because the communication was amazingly good, smart, and on the long run. Partly because they Gates and Big M did do good things in the mix to support the narrative, and so it looks very real.
It's nicely done, you'll notice a few posts here and there, but the real work is done in the comment, like gardening.
I'm a long-time Red Hatter, and it's been nearly 12 years (or maybe more) since I installed a Windows Desktop. With that out of the way ... I see what you mean (some of it might well be orchestrated), still, we should try extra hard in not letting prejudices or cynicism come in the way of sincerely giving credit where it belongs.
(I know you are acknowledging MS's contributions to open source, albeit in a back-handed way :-))
Diamonds are Bullshit:
Another one from 2010: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1109318
Diamond threads are forever.
-Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?; September Months from Filing to Divorce:7, June MFD:4, Debruary MFD:0/12
-Diamonds are Bullshit; May MFD:3, March MFD:1, March MFD:1
-Diamonds Suck; May, November, February
There is a study which found spike at filing divorces at February; https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/08/why-divor...
From this with MFD values it is (not) sensible to say these people want a divorce and seriously don't want to keep the ring and disappointed at the prices they got.
Then there is this (probably doesn't really warrant being called a) study put marriage spikes to October, September and June; https://www.theknot.com/content/is-there-an-off-season-for-w...
From this it is (an even shakier prediction) to say these were asked to (or tasked with) buy a diamond ring, vehemently opposed it and wants rest of the world how to avoid it.
* Marketing to discourage such sales ("a diamond is forever" "a diamond is a family heirloom")
* Few people would be willing to sell something for 1/3 - 1/5 of what they paid for it if said item in no way degraded. It just sucks psychologically
There's TONS of demand to get a diamond for 80% off retail, but many diamond owners would rather not sell than accept the massive write-down on their "asset".
When the campaign began, in 1967, not quite 5 percent of engaged Japanese women received a diamond engagement ring. By 1972, the proportion had risen to 27 percent. By 1978, half of all Japanese women who were married wore a diamond; by 1981, some 60 percent of Japanese brides wore diamonds. In a mere fourteen years, the 1,500-year Japanese tradition had been radically revised.
Bacon & Eggs for breakfast:
Some other examples?
It is covered in the Adam Curtis documentary, 'The Century of the Self'.
As for an engagement ring... don't get me started about the whole ritualistic marriage thing. The diamond ring may be not the biggest waste. I'd rather buy my spouse jewellery that can be worn and enjoyed at any time instead :)
A big fat white stone on a finger will draw eyes for so long as a woman wears it. Every woman your wife meets will make a judgement call based on that ring for the next 20 years.
Why not just be a real man, speak and live the truth. Eschew the lies.
Why can't we all just do that as a society? It doesn't matter how much you love each other or your mutual respect? Why do rings even matter?
It's the kind of irrational behavior that has destroyed an entire planet!
I definitely agree with your last point, but wasting resources to display fitness is found all across the animal kingdom and sadly it doesn't seem like we've moved past that yet as a species.
>buy fake diamonds
>lie to everyone, including spouse
>fudge the books so spouse can't see suspiciously low-ball jeweler transaction
>launder savings through local cash-money businesses
>use hypnotic sedatives to repress memories of the lie
> Real men don't buy fake diamonds. They buy real diamond rings. Fake diamonds just aren't worth anything, let alone being used for a marriage contract. So I'll be keeping the diamond wedding.
It also produced this beauty:
Real men don't buy fake diamonds. Fake men don't pay fake taxes. Fake men don't lie about their motives.
Fake men can't read. Fake men can't keep their promises.
Fake men know how to hide from the truth. Fake men can't make promises they can't keep.
Fake men can't even tell the truth when they think nobody cares, if everybody's watching.
Fake men lie just because they can.
Fake men are the same as us.
They just don't know we're watching.
Of interest in relation to GPT-2
Do you think the comment you're replying to is against fake diamonds because they want you to buy real diamonds?
The guys who get women fake diamonds may result in an uncomfortable partner when someone wows over the diamond.
In my case my wife was a scientist - so a man made diamond was perfect. Same thing physically, less likely to have a conflict origin. My advice, if you know your partner well - get something that works for them. For some that's a diamond.
That said, when it comes to cubic zirconia the stone will definitely scratch with regular wear over several years. If you see a clear stone with scratches, its obviously not a diamond/moissanite and probably cz. To a careful observer, its also not incredibly difficult to tell the difference between diamond/moissanite/cz with the right lighting. Cubic Zirconia lacks the refractive index to really match the brilliance of a similar diamond/moissanite.
Ultimately though I fully agree with the idea of wear whatever you think looks good.
One of the victims was interviewed, and when she confronted the guy with doubts of his sincerity and asked whether the ring he gave her was even real, he took it and made a big scratch in a mirror with the stone to prove it was a real diamond.
Later she said, "After he disappeared, I discovered that cubic zirconia can also scratch glass"
Maybe this type of signalling isn't universal but it definitely serves a (not-always-evil) purpose.
This is because, if someone is not comitted, it's easier to demonstrate commitment falsely to many people by purchasing large quantities of cheap jewelry. Buying over-priced items forces the person signalling committment to put their money where their mouth is.
Think of it as the cost of fake commitment; our culture of wedding-rings, etc, is an attempt to increase the cost of fake commitment.
There are an almost infinite number of healthier ways that we could signal commitment. There's no need for a middleperson, and there's no real value that the diamond industry is providing in exchange for their 'cut' of the money. Diamonds have always been relatively easily faked, and no one other than the recipient will likely be able to tell a fake diamond from a real one -- so they're not even particularly good public signifiers. A private gesture would work just as well.
Honestly, if the engagement process involved dropping a bundle of cash on a public sidewalk and lighting it on fire, even that would be a better system than diamonds.
If the whole benefit of this is that we're making it costly to get married, and thus costly to blithely propose to someone, then I dunno. Getting rid of money is not hard; it's very, very easy. We don't need a complicated, ethically challenged system for that.
On a technical level, you're probably right about diamonds. It's probably a legitimate signalling hack in the romantic sense to buy a zirconia and pass it off as a real diamond. This will probably be a short-term play if women start catching on.
I also disagree that a private gesture ever works as well as a public one, if that's the comparison. Public gestures signal commitment to a wider group, therefore increasing the cost of defection. Public commitments are one of the prime examples of costly signalling (as compared to private commitments) out of game theory. Not saying I'm a game theory authority, or that game theory is always right, but this is textbook.
I agree that burning a pile of cash is even better than giving diamonds in terms of signal-quality.
Seems to me that the global human cost is lower if you have middle-men involved. You have a similar signalling cost but humanity overall retains some value by paying the middle-men, whereas the burn-cash strategy leans 100% towards signalling at the cost of value retention.
Edit - potentially lower if you have middle-men involved.
What I meant with that is that diamonds are a bad public gesture, because no one other than your immediate partner will ever be able to evaluate the authenticity of the diamond. If you're going down the diamond route, you might as well do a private gesture because diamonds already can't be easily publicly verified. If you're concerned about being public, then skip the ring entirely and pay for your partner to go on an expensive trip, or donate money to get something named after them. These are gestures that a fraudster would be unable to easily replicate.
> Seems to me that the global human cost is lower if you have middle-men involved.
If your concern is that you don't want the money wasted, then at least donate it to a charity, or give it to a local business. Some of them would even be willing to officially recognize or publicly name something after your partner, which again would be good public signaling because it would be hard to fake.
The investment signaling theory of diamonds is that we've all decided that in order to efficiently signal, we're going to give money to someone we have no relationship with, who isn't providing a useful or unique service, who has a long history of unethical practices (even if they've cleaned up a bit recently), and who employs the majority of their workforce and conducts the majority of their investments outside of our communities.
If society was actually thinking about engagement from a purely rational signaling point-of-view, it wouldn't pick diamonds as the way to signal. But somehow the diamond industry convinced society as a whole that they were an essential part of the process. What I would contend is that I don't think there was anything rational about that advertising campaign; it preyed on people's emotions, their vanity, and their misconceptions about how the market worked. It's a prime example of an industry making a social system less efficient and more harmful than it otherwise would be in its natural state.
My point is that regardless of whether you think of a diamond as an investment, or as an inherently meaningful item, or as game-theory signaling device -- it's really bad at being all of those things. No matter what direction you come at it from, diamonds are a kind of crappy scam.
For example, maybe they have a great sense of humour, or give good advice, or they invite you to things you like the sound of, or you share a great many interests with them.
If they think failure to purchase a diamond makes you a lesser person in any way, I sincerely doubt either of those might still be true...
I did not expect that much difference!
(The whole concept of the guy spending a fortune on a piece of jewelry before confirming that the girl actually wants to marry him is sexist bullshit, why does he have to make the effort and take the risk to prove his "commitment", but not her?)
Not having a fancy engagement ring is a status symbol for certain circles too, or having an engagement ring that is fair trade, not diamond, self made, or some other set of adjectives. A lot of people are really preoccupied with signaling objects, what those things are changes but the drive doesn't really.
It's complicated precisely because it's signalling, so in context insecurity over the size of the diamond might not be an actual red flag. You might decide to take a principled stand on the matter, and I agree that insistence on a large diamond is a deal breaker, but not everyone has the same upbringing, cultural belief system, or social environment.
There's a whole variety of reasons why that might happen. Societal expectations, economic reasons, insecurity, etc.
People are generally obsessed with status symbols, jewelry isn't really any worse than anything else.
You know plenty of people don't do any of this stuff, right? I get the feeling you meant that to be a broad list that would have virtually everybody covered in one respect or another, but if that was your intention you failed.
I do think people who are not particularly interested in status signaling are somewhat rare.
>...apart from economic payoffs, social status seems to be the most important incentive and motivating force of social behavior.” The more noticeable status disparities are, the more concerned with status people become, and the differences between the haves and have-nots have been extremely pronounced during the economic recession of recent years.
Talk about a book you read? Talk about how a certain restaurant is terrible? Talk about where you went on vacation? Talk about your job? Talk about music you like?
All those things signal status.
Everyone cares about status symbols. And engagement rings is one of the most prolific. It goes right next to fancy vacations, fancy cars, and fancy coffee.
Our choice was mostly founded in finance, but because we thought it was a waste of money not because we couldn't afford it. She also had no interest in walking around with a $5k+ insurance liability on her finger, but she enjoyed the aesthetic of a clear centre stone. The small stones in both her engagement and wedding bands are diamonds because they are cheaper due to being more readily available.
We don't use it as a status symbol or for virtue signalling. Neither of us are active on social media, and I don't even think there is a photo of it online. She normally doesn't even wear the engagement ring, just the wedding band (which is very thin and basic). Our friends are aware it isn't a diamond, but because they asked not because we forced it on them. People who don't ask can think it's whatever they want, neither of us derive our self worth from whether her ring is perceived to be a particular type of stone.
It's important to recognize we're talking about generalities here. But status symbols are one of the most important motivating factors in social behavior. Sure, maybe for your wife that's not a status symbol she particularly cares about, but do you really believe that's the majority case?
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
If we can agree that one hermit, living alone in the woods, exists somewhere in the world, then we can agree that my claim is true: Some percentage (percentages do not imply whole numbers) of people opt out of status games.
I'm surprised the bottom hasn't fallen out of the diamond market already.
They are falling though:
Nobody needs a gem-quality diamond (and the industrial diamond market wasn't really manipulated). It's not like they were colluding to raise the price of insulin or wheat.
The fact that people were willing to accept the idea that they needed a diamond is as much the responsibility of the people who wanted to buy them, as it is the responsibility of those who marketed and sold them.
(Ignoring the fact that the demand even for lab grown ones is caused by such accounts...)
They were marketing diamonds to girls in school , shaping whole new generation to value diamonds. How can we expect children to defend themselves against such manipulation? I find this whole campaign amazing in its reach and abhorrent in its content.
 "N. W. Ayer outlined a subtle program that included arranging for lecturers to visit high schools across the country. 'All of these lectures revolve around the diamond engagement ring, and are reaching thousands of girls in their assemblies, classes and informal meetings in our leading educational institutions,'"