The 5 Hour Energy Scam And The Power Of Self-Deception

“We asked over 3,000 doctors to review 5 Hour Energy, and what they said is amazing.  Over 73% who reviewed 5 Hour Energy said they would recommend a low-calorie energy supplement to their healthy patients who use energy supplements.”

The first time I saw this commercial, I had to double check to see if it was a Saturday Night Live skit.  But alas, it wasn’t.

Yes, they asked “over 3,000 doctors.”  According to the fine print, they actually asked 5,000 in person and only half of them agreed to review the drink, and by review the drink, they clarify that they agreed to read the ingredients and their associated descriptions.  An additional 503 doctors responded to an online survey, but they don’t tell us how many they asked to respond online.

73% of the docs who actually reviewed the stuff recommended a low-calorie energy supplement—not 5 Hour Energy, specifically, just a low-calorie energy supplement.  But this “recommendation” was still further qualified; they recommended the low-calorie supplement only to their healthy patients who actually use energy supplements.

What do we really learn, then, from this not-so-highly scientific study?

For those statistical anomalies who can somehow be deemed “healthy,” even though they require a regular chemical boost merely to survive the day, 73% of the doctors who didn’t blow this study off as an absurd waste of time recommend that you use an energy supplement that won’t also make you fat, accelerating your already rapid pace to an early grave.

My first inclination was to be offended that 5 Hour Energy thinks there are enough people dull enough to be manipulated by the lady with the perma-smile sitting next to a bunch of fake documents, but then it hit me—they’re not trying to get non-users to take 5 Hour Energy.  They’re trying to help existing users perpetuate their own ruse of self-deception.

Self-deception is more powerful than coercion, because we’re more inclined to believe the stories we tell ourselves (both true and untrue) than the convictions of others.  So the most effective external manipulation is that which supports what we’d already prefer to believe.  I know my body does not naturally require the daily infusion of 5 Hour Energy if I actually get enough sleep and exercise—but I’d rather not, so I’ll buy your story about the 73% of doctors.

What stories are you buying regarding your health, marriage or other relationships, work or finances that are rooted in self-deception?  And what forces may be seeking to perpetuate that self-deception?

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