The Rewards of Being Honest Aren't Always Financial Ones

It doesn't pay to be honest.

That's the premise of a 1990 paper on ethics published in the Harvard Business Review. I don't like that premise, but I can accept that it is often true.

Nevertheless, honesty is my north star and things have worked out OK. I scrapped my way up from a $400/week salary to become an executive at one of the largest online publishing companies. This gave me the freedom to take time off and work on personal projects like this website. 

But, this website won't make me rich.

The conversion rate, i.e. the percentage of people who visit and subsequently go on to buy something, is around 67% worse than the average affiliate website. One possible reason is the fact that I find reasons not to buy things, and I gladly share those reasons with readers.

There are some financial rewards to this strategy.

The percentage of people who buy something because of this website, then go on to return it, is 525% better than average. Nevertheless, it's more profitable for an affiliate website to tell lies of omission. (And believe me, many of them do.)

So why be honest? Platitudes like "it just feels right" are the first thing that come to mind, but there are deeper reasons. Honesty is how we learn and share knowledge.

Indeed, the greatest reward of publishing this website has been the discovery of things that I didn't know beforehand. This article will serve as a running list of those things.

  • Electric heating pads aren’t meant to be used underneath body parts. Misuse of a heating pad can result in a skin condition (erythema ab igne) that is known to harbor cancerous cells.

  • The "flip sequin" trend began January 10, 2016 inside a Nebraska Furniture Mart.

  • 98% of Americans don’t have enough potassium in their diets.

  • Backgammon is one of the oldest board games (it was invented more than 5,000 years ago).

  • USB-C is a shape, not a technology. Lots of USB-C cables have cheap junk inside and they can fry your gadgets.

  • "Dishwasher-safe" electric griddles usually aren't because they are made with steel screws.

  • Many listings for "Android Auto" head units are just in-dashboard Android tablets, not Android Auto.

  • Some of the best-reviewed jump starters may be incapable of starting a car! These products have thousands of good reviews from people who have only used them to charge gadgets.

  • LED headlights aren't inherently "blinding," but they become that way when they're poorly installed in a reflector housing.

  • Gaming chairs are designed with the same principles as race car seats.

  • "Noise-cancelling earbuds" are basically just earplugs with a speaker inside, but they can be as effective as noise-cancelling headphones. (Most aren't.)

  • Air purifiers only work within the room in which they are placed.

  • Doctors can't agree on whether electric toothbrushes are more effective than regular ones.

  • Most of the clinical research on water flossers is funded by a single company (that happens to sell water flossers).

  • The batteries in smart locks must be changed often.

  • 89% of people who own a programmable thermostat don't program it.

  • Your utility company may buy a smart thermostat for you.

  • Video doorbells don't work well (or at all) in very cold climates.

  • Depending on the setting and attachment, a power washer can either clean a vehicle or strip the paint off of it.

  • Some stud finders are simply rare-earth magnets (that can be bought more cheaply in a hardware store).

  • Super glues aren't as "all-purpose" as their advertisements would have you believe.

  • Hang on to your old board games because the modern day versions are made "fall-apart cheap."

  • There is no formal definition as to what a "sensory toy" is.

  • There is a black market for eyebrow razors thanks to the rise of "dermaplaning."

  • Microneedling, i.e. sticking small needles in your skin, is a legitimate dermatological treatment.

  • Powder dip can destroy your fingernails.

  • The effectiveness of a Dolby Atmos soundbar depends on your type of ceiling.

  • There is no medical evidence that a CPAP cleaning machine is necessary.

  • Sleep masks might cause acne, styes or wrinkles.

John DeFeo