These 14 Things Are Just a Placebo, but People Crave Them Anyway

We all use certain workarounds to make our days and jobs easier – especially if those days and jobs revolve around interacting with other people.

It can be pretty funny to realize what in your life is complete bs, and how others may have been secretly talking you into compliance without your knowledge.

14. It makes us feel better, ok?

I’m not sure if it still does this, but at one time Google Docs intercepted the ctrl+s shortcut and briefly changes the cursor to the “thinking” cursor (hourglass, beachball, whatever your computer does).

You don’t need to save your google docs. They save every tiny change on the server. But people are used to doing it.

13. So it’s not REALLY random.

I saw an article about how Apple Music made random selection less random because people would often complain the same artist would follow after a song so they made an algorithm to NOT select a song made by the same artist until after some songs.


12. Just think how fast we COULD be working.

A lot of scans do this as well. (Not virus scans, those just take a damn long time), but sites that show you the best deals are often done in a hundred milliseconds. They’re not really doing anything that intensive, just make a few requests to autotrader or whoever, which probably only returns 15 cars, and sort by lowest price.

But people wouldn’t believe it was the best price if it came back instantly, they wouldn’t think it looked hard enough. So they make them wait a little.

11. What makes us want to hear these things?

The exaggerated sounds of some vacuum cleaners, microwaves and cars to make them sound powerful.

The loading screens on some apps that make it seem like they are doing something complex.

10. We want what we expect, I suppose.

Not sure if it’s really placebo, but there is research done on how a car door should sound when you close it.

A flat and boring “pank” sound would do just fine but a lot of people find that soft, plush and yet firm “pshrompff” sound reassures them the door is closed.

Someone please do a better job here describing car doors closing because mine sucks.

9. I just want it to go faster?

I once spoke to a guy involved in developing the first ATM cash machines.

Early trials showed that users thought that the dispensing of cash happened too fast and didn’t trust that it had correctly debited their account for the right amount.

So they inserted a wait cycle to make it appear that the machine was counting the cash. That wait cycle is still there today in most machines.

8. I love people who clean their cars.

I swear my car performs better immediately after it’s cleaned.

7. Most birds are too smart for that crap.

A scarecrow in the garden.

6. Amazon has made billions off it.

That “free shipping” is a better deal.

It generally means they’ve added the cost into the product instead, but you feel like you’ve gotten a better deal.

5. The internet has made everything permanent.

Your “Permanent Record”.

Colleges care more about what you say on Twitter and Facebook than what you said to Dakota in third grade.

The only time your permanent record means something is if you transfer within the district.

4. Comfort be damned.

Beats headphones have weights inside them to make them heavier and give the illusion of quality and sturdiness.

3. We like the bubbles!

Bubbles in cleaning products.

Early formulations of soap WAY back when used to naturally form suds. Newer formulations can clean better but don’t naturally produce suds as the bubbling was an incidental side effect that doesn’t actually have any bearing on cleaning. When these newer soaps were first introduced people complained they didn’t work because they didn’t make loads of bubbles. So the manufacturers started adding a chemical solely to generate bubbles that didn’t actually help with the cleaning at all and all the complaints stopped.

To this day the association of bubbles=clean is strong enough that they still do it. Basically all cleaning products, including toothpaste, foam up when used and almost without exception the foam is 100% marketing.

2. This is too funny to be made up.

When cake mixes first came out you only had to add water to them, but too many housewives felt like that was cheating and wouldn’t buy cake mixes.

So the cake mix companies added another step. The eggs.

It worked, apparently the cracking and adding of the eggs to the batter was enough to make it feel more “homemade” and cake mixes became extremely popular.

1. Those JERKS.

Airport Security.

Homeland Security’s own inspectors were able to get illegal items through TSA checkpoints 70% of the time.

I’m straight up impressed by most of these, y’all. Brilliant.

If you’ve got something to add to the list, I’m all ears!