Has Idiot-Proofing Gone Too Far?

On MSNBC, you can have the home page display your local weather. El Paso gets a lot of sun.

MSNBC displays this as:
Sunny (clear at night). Do they really get calls from puzzled readers who don’t understand why the sun isn’t out at 2 A.M. when the weather calls for sunshine? Sheesh!

What other examples of someone belaboring the obvious are out there?

Sue from El Paso

Well, i’d be more curious as to why they don’t have the system time sensitive (like the Weather Channel for instance?)

At night, they don’t show the sun

It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either.
Mark Twain

Yes it has gone to far, and no people are still idiots.

When I used to work up by the airport, at least once a week, most times more, someone would ask me which stop to get off the “el” to go to the airport.

I would say “It’s the one that says O’Hare and has the little plane next to it.” Then I would point to the map and tell them it is the last stop. Then they would sit back look puzzled and still worry about missing it.

Wait 'till the fun ‘n games’ begin with “Daylight Savings Hours”. Farmers complaining that they’ve lost a whole hour of daylight. There’s LOT’S of internet stories about them complaining that there isn’nt enough daylight hours because of Daylight Savings Hours for them [farmers] do their normal “chores” or that their live stock wakes an hour early. All I can say is that I did teen-age pennance on a working farm and the time of day [as a clock would measure] had NOTHING to do with if your chores were done. Also, no matter what time it was [on a farmer’s clock]; the animals on the farm had their own schedule [relative to daylight or whatever else] and you would just have to deal with it.l

Hey, GMTA - I was thinking about this last night and meant to post about it today, but then forgot (so who’s the idiot here?).

Anyway, what provoked the thought is this: there’s a stop sign at an intersection. It’s a “clear” intersection, i.e. you can see it as you approach for a reasonable distance, there’s no real folliage to get in the way. Basically I’m saying that it’s not hard to see this stop sign. But just in case you might miss it, there’s one of those “stop sign ahead” signs about 50 yards/meters before the stop sign. (BTW, the speed limit in this area is about 30mph).

And just in case you might miss that, they’ve put these little red flags on sticks sticking out from the top of the “stop sign ahead” sign. So these wave in the breeze so you don’t miss the “stop sign ahead” sign. Did I mention that it’s a 4 way stop in a residential neighborhood, so even if you do miss (somehow!) stopping at the stop sign, it’s not like you’d be driving into some highway traffic or something. You’ld probably just go right through, no problem.

How dumb do they think we are? How much protection from ourselves do we need?

And is this contributing to the “dumbing down” of our society?

I wonder sometimes if many people get so used to others (the state) looking out for (“protecting”) them, that they basically turn their brain off because they no longer need to think for themselves. (And then when
they need to think, they can’t remember how.)

I guess you could say my answer to you question is “Yes.”

Oh, I don’t know. I rather like that warning tag on my hair dryer that tells me NOT to use while in water. I can’t tell you how much time that little tag saved me from trying to dry my hair while standing under the shower head.

BTW, 647, bless you for confirming what I always suspected…that Daylight Savings Time has nothing to do with the farmers. I will now stop sneering at them when I ‘fall back’ this weekend.

What if the hokey pokey is really what it’s all about?

And besides, idiot-proofing is unfair to the rights of us intelligence-impaired in expressing ourselves under the First Amendment.

Just say ‘Stop’.

You’d think they would stop printing instructions on Shampoo bottles.

I think most of us have the hang of it now.

This space for rent.

I don’t know Wally… I’m STILL in the shower; lather, rinse, repeat. I guess I can stop when the bottle is empty!


Well, it’s been said by people far wiser than I:

Make something idiot-proof, and the world will build a better idiot!

Yer pal,

Uh, to be fair, wouldn’t “Sunny (clear at night)” simply indicate that it will be sunny during the day with no cloud cover at night? For some people it’s important to know whether there will be nighttime cloud cover.

It’s certainly possible for it to be sunny in the day, cloudy at night, then sunny again the next day.

Spring Forward
Fall Back
F***ing Government blaming us for daylight savings time again.

Idiots: Two Sides of a Coin

On the one hand, it seems kind of stupid in our area that they put up signs above new stop signs that say “New!” with a starburst background. However, people do fall into patterns and need big arrows pointing out the things that are different. If we had to deal explicitly with every situation as if it were new, we would never get anything done–sort of the dark side to the capacity to learn.

On the other hand, if there is a fence near a cliff in a park and someone circumvents the safety features of the fence and falls off anyway, they’ll probably (call me Mr. Cynical) sue and win. However, the fence has made the cliff less dangerous by a large factor, but by creating something designed to protect people from danger, you’re forced to protecting them perfectly.

The world is a dangerous place. I think we should sue God for negligence because you can pick up a rock and drop it on your foot. Things should be safer. :slight_smile:

Hey, aren’t you supposed to be at work?

On the stop sign thing: they do that in our area when a new stop sign is put up. They put a little red flag on it, and a sign in advance saying “STOP SIGN AHEAD”… and for the first few weeks, a sign that says “NEW! STOP SIGN AHEAD.”

IMHO, this isn’t idiot-proofing, this is sensible. If you’ve driven the same route for ten years, you tend to go on auto-pilot, and people would cruise right through a new sign. Especially with people talking on their cellphones or drinking coffee while they’re driving, but don’t get me started.

However, that aside, I find some of these warning labels ridiculous. You buy a hammer and it has a little tag on it, “Can cause pain if dropped on foot.” “Please note: coffee is hot.” Sheeeeesh.

I have never been a farmer, but it only requires a LITTLE bit of common sense to figure out why they wouldn’t like daylight savings time.

It is because their lives have to continue as normal and the rest of the world goes onto a different schedule.

They still have to slop the hogs and milk the cows at the same time, but all of a sudden the bank starts closing an hour early, and TV shows are on at a different time.

It’s lawyers, not idiots, who drive idiot-proofing (not that the two groups are mutually exclusive). All the various redundant warnings are due to fear of lawsuits. If someone used a hair dryer in the shower, and died of electrocution, his family would sue the manufacturer for not warning the victim of the danger. It’s cheaper to put on the warning than to defend the lawsuit.

I agree with RealityChuck that the idiot-proofing is largely driven by lawyers. And even then, it’s still not enough, as in the famous case of the woman who sued McDonald’s for burning herself with coffee. (I’ve heard some apologists try to defend that ruling, but I’m still unconvinced.)

I’m expecting that one day a hospital will bring a new mother her baby and then hand her a pamphlet: “Care and Handling of Your New Baby”…

First, and foremost. The OP’s example made me think of an old George Carlin routine where he was “Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman”. It went something like:

Next, defending my profession against the ubiquitous lawyer bashing.

  1. Anecodal evidence on absurd lawsuits over-emphasizes their prevalence. We think there’s lots of them because that’s all we hear about. However, they are the exception rather than the rule.

  2. Ok, some unjustified lawsuits are brought and occasionally there are absurd results. According to you, this is all because of the lawyers. The greedy plaintiff, the judge, the jury, the defendant, its insurance company or its attornies had nothing to do with it. Just those damn lawyers. Sure, whatever.

  3. The lawsuit process if the most effective way (perhaps the only way) our society can require who produce products or otherwise provide services to make them safe. Sometimes the process works, and works well. Remember the Ford Pinto? Would you feel better if your home and office was filled with asbestos? Does your car have an airbag?

I cringe like everyone else when I hear about claims supported by pseudo-science or otherwise not supported by valid evidence. But there are plenty of cases that perfectly valid. These suits represent the only opportunity for people with minimal resources (i.e. consumers) to hold people with extensive resources (i.e. large corporations) accountable.

  1. Yes, we try to idiot proof the world. And, Yes, we end up with some stupid warning labels and the like. Do you know the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”? Product producers have learned that it is far cheaper to provide a safe product and include some asinine warning than it is to pay damages. Sometimes they go to far in an overabundance of caution.

But we as a society, through our jury system, have decided on the level of safety features it is reasonable for a jury to provide. Is the bar set too high? I don’t think so. (Although I have my pet peeves like everybody else. I hate that I can’t get a burger cooked medium rare at half the restaurants I go to.) The price we pay for our added safety is stupid warning labels and the occasional unfair damage award. I think it’s worth it.

But, hey, it’s the lawyers fault. That’s not just a little simplistic, is it?

Plunging like stones from a slingshot on Mars.

PLEASE NOTE: I am just the messenger–it’s not my fault the jury awarded the McDonald’s woman money, nor do I have an opinion as to whether or not the jury should have found in her favor.

Having stated that disclaimer, my understanding is that she received third degree burns to her genitals through her clothing and required skin grafts. She was in the hospital for some period of time because of the burns. I guess the jury found that a product hot enough to cause third degree burns through clothing isn’t really fit for human consumption and can fairly be classified as “dangerous”. Additionally, the corporation had received hundreds of complaints regarding the temp. of the coffee they were serving so they had notice of a potential problem. Also, they were selling this product from a drive through window. Is it foreseeable that someone in their car will take the lid off the coffee cup to add sugar or cream or whatever? The jury thought so. The punitive damages awarded by the jury equalled two days of profit from coffee sales for McDonalds. The judge reduced the punitives to three times her actual economic damages, but I don’t recall what that number was.

I’m not saying the McDonald’s woman wasn’t an idiot, but I also sympathize with anyone who ends up needing skin grafts on their crotch.

I say that all idiot-proofing efforts should be herewith abandoned. We are failing to take advantage of a natural process for improving the breed by protecting idiots from their own idiocy.

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