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Wacky warnings, silly studies

November 12, 2015
By Joyce Schenk ( , Westfield Republican

In recent years, the term "lawsuit" has become a driving force in the business world.

Manufacturers of everything from simple pencils to complex machinery are constantly being threatened with court action by consumers and attorneys eager to turn mishaps, real or imagined, into cash.

Motivated by such threats, businesses put warnings on their offerings in an attempt to protect themselves. Many of these warnings assume the public has absolutely no common sense.

When I checked the Internet, I found a sizeable collection of such Wacky Warnings.

Among them was a warning found on a small tractor, made for home use. The sticker attached to the unit read, "Danger! Avoid death!"

The instructions for an iron-on shirt transfer kit stipulated "Do not iron while wearing shirt."

And ballpoint pen makers have been warning that users should avoid chewing on the pen caps. The concern is that the cap might obstruct breathing if swallowed.

Another entrant into the failure of common sense is the maker of a dust mask. He has included on his product an alert that says, "This mask does not supply oxygen."

A baby stroller, equipped with a pouch for storage, included the following warning, "Do not put child in bag."

A small plastic letter opener was packed with a sign that stated "Caution: Safety Goggles Recommended."

Then there was the fuel tank cap that bore the warning "Never use a lit match or open flame to check fuel level."

A spa maker thoughtfully placed a prominent label on his hot tub. It read, "Avoid drowning." For those still in doubt as to how a hot tub operates, the manufacturer added: "Remove safety cover from the spa when in use."

The manufacturer of a cell phone though it necessary to warn customers with this statement: "Don't try to dry your phone in a microwave oven."

And, another winner in this list of silly instructions came with a Vanishing Fabric Marker. The important reminder said, "The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used as a writing instrument for signing checks or any legal documents."

Another area of modern life that is driven by the promise of money involves the endless studies being done in the name of science and research.

The prestigious Harvard Medical School completed a study I found surprising. The research concluded people who believe they were kidnapped by aliens from outer space, probably were. Say What?

Equally impressive was the scientific study dealing with traumatic brain injuries. Research indicated such injuries might cause headaches.

And, a sister study on the body's responses stated that knee surgery might interfere with jogging.

In a secretive project, which the Japanese Meteorological Society later denied, researchers allegedly performed a 7-year investigation into whether earthquakes are caused by catfish wagging their tails.

And a project directed by two scientists from Britain's Oxford University took three years to complete and cost the equivalent of $500,000. This important research concluded that ducks might be even more comfortable standing under a sprinkler than paddling around in a pond. The lead researcher concluded "ducks basically just like water."

Researchers at Aston University in England are credited with the final entry in these revealing studies. Their report, published in the European Journal of Physics, proved that toast tends to fall on the buttered side.

That's a project you and I could have conducted in our own kitchens, given a large enough study grant, of course.



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