Monday, May 1, 2017

8 Things We Use Every Day That Are Totally Useless

Sometimes, what seems like a normal part of your everyday life can have a surprisingly subtle effect on you. In the past, we've talked about some choice bits of urban planning that seem like funky art installations but are actually designed to ensure you can't sleep or skateboard on them.

This is often called "unpleasant design," but there are some similarly sneaky design choices that seem perfectly pleasant when we're interacting with them. In fact, that pleasant feeling is exactly why they're there.

Today, we're going to be shedding some light on "placebo buttons." In many cases, these appear to give us control over our surroundings while actually doing nothing. They play upon the idea that it's better to do something than nothing when you're waiting for something to happen, which makes us feel better about our situation that we didn't have much control over anyway.

Not all of the eight items on this list are literally buttons, and it's possible to find examples of them that do the work they advertise. Still, you're just as likely to find ones that fool us into thinking we're having a real effect on things.

COMMENT and tell us if you think these daily placebos are helpful or harmful. 

1. Office thermostats.

Of course, each office has its own policy when it comes to temperature control, but sometimes it seems like co-workers can freely change the settings at will. A survey conducted by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, however, found that it's not uncommon to install "dummy thermostats" that seem to work but don't actually affect office temperature.

According to one maintenance worker, this made people feel better about the control they had over their work space and cut service calls down by 75%. 

2. Most cars don't get any benefit from premium gasoline.

Premium gasoline doesn't necessarily come with better additives than the regular stuff, nor does it make your car run more efficiently. It's intended to reduce knock in high-performance engines, so unless your car looks like the Batmobile, it's probably not worth the extra money. 

3. Toner shoes won't help your body at all and might actually do harm.

A couple of years ago, this type of shoe was advertised as improving muscle tone, burning extra calories, and even helping stability and balance. Not only is there no evidence that these shoes do any of those things, but their odd design has been linked to foot, leg and hip pain.

These claims proved to be expensive for Skechers, who settled for $45 million following a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission.

4. There's a good chance your elevator's "close door" button doesn't do anything.

This seems to depend on the age of the elevator, but manufacturers stopped including this feature after 1990. This is because the Americans With Disabilities Act required elevator doors to stay open long enough to accommodate people using crutches, canes, and wheelchairs. 

Considering the close door buttons would give riders the option to violate this law, many of them no longer have this function even if the button is still there.

Nowadays this is the classic example of a placebo button, but there's one other that's becoming just as well-known.

5. The next crosswalk button you push likely won't affect the traffic lights at all.

New York City deactivated most of its crosswalk buttons by 2004 and cities like Austin, Texas and Gainesville, Florida were found to have only one functioning button. So why do some still work if so many are being turned off and why turn them off in the first place?

Many cities today control their traffic lights with computer systems, which receive no input from the crosswalk buttons. In the case of New York, it would have cost $1 million to remove all the buttons they deactivated, so city officials decided to just leave them where they were.

6. Progress bars don't really tell you how long it's going to take your computer to load something.

This is because your computer often has no idea how long it will take to download a file or install an app since this often depends on internet connection speeds and other factors it can't possibly predict.

In reality, the bar is just there to make us feel like we're not in for an endless wait, and it has the bonus effect of confirming that the process hasn't stopped working.

7. Depending on the anti-malware program, you might never need to do a "full scan."

According to Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski, their quick scan option is designed to detect every piece of malware plaguing a computer. Apparently, many people don't believe that a quick scan will be enough, so they threw in an unnecessary full scan option.

8. Sometimes, we'll even do this to ourselves. Remember playing Pokémon as a kid?

Every time we tried to catch one, many of us would hit "down" and "B" or some other button combination because we thought it would keep our catch from breaking out of the Poké Ball.

This doesn't actually affect anything, but that doesn't stop people from doing it to this day. I guess we'll have to wait before a similar ritual pops up in Pokémon Go.

Don't forget to COMMENT and tell us what useless "choices" you've come across in your travels.


Author: verified_user