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Product Warnings: The Wackiest Warnings of 2011

By: Gerald M. Goldhaber, Ph.D.
Originally Published in The Goldhaber Warnings Report, February 2012
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The awards season is already in full gear this year. The Golden Globes have already been given out and the Oscars will be determined by the end of this month. Not to be outdone by the Oscars and Golden Globes, the 14th annual Wackiest Warnings Awards will be once again given by the Foundation For Fair Civil Justice, a Georgia organization which includes Senior Fellow, Bob Dorigo Jones, author of The 101 Stupidest, Silliest and Wackiest Warning labels ever. We've all seen warnings that we believe, if not stupid, are just unnecessary, such as the warning on a bag of peanuts that says, "Contains Peanuts," or who could forget the warning on one of the past winners that "Child Should be Removed From Stroller Before Folding." The real message behind the Wacky Warnings contest is that we should be very selective in assigning warnings to products. We already have too many warnings on products that just don't need them. As I am fond of saying, (to quote the late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren Burger), "If you warn about everything, you warn about nothing!" Now, here are the nominees for the 2011 wackiest warning, which will be announced in late Spring of this year.

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  1. A warning on a dust mask that says "Warning: Does not Supply oxygen (See Figure 1). This apparently was very important to the manufacturer because they repeated it at least three times, but each time, the user was not iuformed of possible alternatives.
  2. A warning on a pen set that said, "Pen Caps Can Obstruct Breathing. Keep out of mouth." (See Figure 2). Unless you're very hungry, I would suspect most people already know this from their common sense!
  3. A warning on a Spa Safety Cover: "Warning: Avoid Drowning. Remove safety cover from spa when in use." (See Figure 3). The manufacturers (or more likely, their well-meaning lawyers) felt this was necessary despite the obvious fact that you can't get into the hot tub without removing the safety cover.
  4. A concealed gun carry case has the warning, "For Gun and Magazine: This is not a functioning planner." (See Figure 4). I fail to see how a gun owner who puts his or her gun in the case can later sue the manufacturer claiming they thought it was a daily planner!
  5. The last finalist is a bicycle brochure that says, "Warning: The action depicted in this brochure is potentially dangerous. The riders seen are experts or professiouals." (See Figure 5). I still don't understand how the child pictured in Figure 5 was considered to be an expert or a professional!
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The winners will be announced next Spring. Feel free to pass this issuee to the Goldhaber Warnings Report on to any friend or colleague.


Dr. Gerald M. Goldhaber, the President of Goldhaber Research Associates, LLC, is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of Political Polling and Warning Label Research. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, as well as educational and governmental organizations. He has conducted hundreds of surveys, including political polls for candidates running for U.S Congress, Senate, and President. Dr. Goldhaber also served as a consultant to President Reagan's Private Sector Survey for Cost Control.

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