Hey you! Yeah, YOU! For only $29.99 you can CURE YOUR LBP with these 3 simple exercises used by Tibetan monks for thousands of years! Also, if you sign up today, I’ll include an ancient blend of herbal tea also used by these monks to give themselves super-human strength (at only half price)! 😉
Okay, so most websites advertising ‘LBP cures’ or ‘#1 LBP exercises’ (and the like) don’t seem that over the top (at least compared to the example above). In actual fact they can be quite compelling, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they are successful in attracting a lot of customers. Besides, when you’re in pain, you’re surely more vulnerable to these too-good-to-be-true claims. Why is that? My guess is pain makes us more emotional, which by definition means we are less rational and therefore less capable of accurate decision making. Just as I suspect that these websites intentionally take full advantage of this, employing clever marketing strategies to exploit our human tendencies. If I’m honest, I’ve been sucked into an online purchase like this before (regretting it later). So, what have I learnt since then?
In general, beware of any website that tries to sell you something. It’s not that selling online is inherently bad, after all, people need to make a living somehow. You just need to ensure that the seller’s agenda doesn’t conflict with your own. This sounds simple enough, but it isn’t always the case. As a rule of thumb, the more objective (unbiased) a website is, the more trustworthy their information will be. Bias comes in all shapes and sizes, and while you can’t avoid it, it’s useful to at least try and identify it. That’s why whenever I visit a site I ask myself “How does this website make money?”. By following the money, you can usually get an idea of their motivations, and subsequently what their bias is likely to be (at least the obvious stuff). And while sometimes they may have a clear agenda, at other times the water is murkier. It might be that what they’re NOT telling you is more important (hidden agendas). I’ve encountered websites claiming to be independent when it was clear to me that they weren’t. Instead, they would have received commission for underhandedly promoting certain products or services (kind of like an ‘infomercial’ only more deceitful). Subtle is the art of deception!
Some more yellow flags (warning signs) of shonky websites!
If you come across websites which use phrases like ‘secret cure’ or ‘best kept secrets’ in their marketing…RUN! Ha ha. These are what I consider modern-day snake oil salesmen. They lure you in with this hyperbole and false promises, safe in the knowledge that you’ll have to hand over your money before you realise the truth. I would wager a bet that given the relative affordability of a lot of these purchases, most consumers are more likely to just write it off as an error of judgement, rather than asking for their money back. And I’d bet even more that these shonky websites count on this behaviour (again, taking advantage of our human tendencies)! Even if they do refund a portion of their customers, they still end up way out in front!
Other marketing phrases on a website that irk me include ‘scientifically proven’ or ‘backed by science’. It’s not that I’m against science (on the contrary, I LOVE it), however, in my experience any site that feels compelled to use phrases like that, probably doesn’t deserve to. Websites promoting material that is legitimately and substantially supported by evidence, shouldn’t feel the need to loudly proclaim ‘This is backed by science!’. Instead, they can let their products do the talking for themselves.
Finally, there is the issue of referencing. How do you know if the facts or figures quoted by a website are reliable (read: real/fake)? References, of course! No references, no further consideration! Unfortunately, these shonky website people have caught onto that and tend to either fake their references, or, (and I have seen this plenty of times) use references that are so terrible that they may as well be fake. Note: Blogs like this which are subjective (opinion based), don’t require referencing unless I’m using facts, information or data to support any of my arguments. 🙂
In my next blog post I’ll share with you some of the websites I’ve found useful when it comes to LBP.
Summary (simple, practical tips):
– There are no silver bullets when it comes to treating LBP (especially the chronic variety). Period.
– Beware of websites that use exaggerated or sensationalised claims in their marketing.
– Pain can impair our judgement by making us more emotional. This means we are less rational and therefore less likely to make the best decisions (I don’t have the science to back up these assertions but I think it’s pretty intuitive).
– Shonky websites employ clever marketing strategies to take advantage of our human tendencies.
– To help identify these websites, always question the motives of the website’s author. Ask yourself, “How do they make money?”.
– Beware of deceitful ‘informercial’ style websites that masquerade as being independent but are subtly promoting particular brands of products or services for revenue.
– Make sure that any arguments or assertions made on a website are backed up with REAL references (using reliable sources). Anything without references should be taken with a grain of salt!