The Onion’s satirical article, “Revolutionary New Insoles Combine Five Forms Of Pseudoscience”, uses several rhetorical devices to campaign its innovative, revolutionary product: MagnaSoles shoe inserts. Using the fictional MagnaSoles as a model, the article humorously mocks the strategies used by companies to market products to attract its susceptible customers.
Using an exaggerated or sarcastic tone throughout, it gives the reader a true taste of the tactics used in today’s prevalent advertising. The passage quotes doctors in the field of pseudoscience and uses fabricated scientific jargon as an appeal to authority, it’s a main rhetorical device.
Together, these rhetorical devices are used together with ethos and logos to give a hyperbolized version of a modern advertisement.
Throughout the article, questionable “pseudoscientists” are quoted about their new, groundbreaking product. The article quotes expert “biotrician”, Dr. Frankel, who discovered “a brand-new, cutting-edge form of pseudoscience known as Terranometry”. The scientist, with questionable ethos, uses fictional and “scientific-sounding “ words including “kilofrankels”, and “comfortrons” when describing the effects of the MagnaSoles.
The words contain parts of recognizable scientific terms today, showing how far advertisers will go to sell their products. The use of these words stresses the way that customers are easily manipulated by intelligent-sounding words when said by someone who claims to be an expert, without questioning the experts’ ethos.
The passage challenges logos when it continues with more absurd scientific ideas It goes on to talks about the “healing power of crystals to re-stimulate dead foot cells with vibrational biofeedback… a process similar to that by which medicine makes people better.” Not only are crystals not a real form of medicine, but also dead cells cannot be brought back to life.
A happy customer is pleased after her sprained ankle healed within “seven weeks” not only would the insoles not hat have had anything to do with the healing, they could have been detrimental as a sprained ankle usually takes less than seven weeks to heal. The credibility of the customer is also challengeable because MagnaSoles were released “less than a week ago”.
The article ends with another “equally impressed” customer who is happy to say, “Why should I pay thousands of dollars to have my spine realigned with physical therapy when I can pay $20 for insoles clearly endorsed by an intelligent-looking man in a white lab coat?”.
This, possibly sarcastic, remark demonstrates that not only is the customer unaware of who is endorsing the MagnaSoles, but he also claims that he chose them over a proven medical treatment. The testimonials not only prove how outrageous the purchaser feedback in advertisements can be, but how embarrassingly naïve people are when buying products.
The Onion’s article effectively attacks the ethos used by companies by demonstrating how far advertisers will go to convince people into buying their dubious products. With its use of manipulative, “scientific-sounding” terminology and logos, “MagnaSoles” successfully imitates a real article used to advertise a product while continuing its satirical humor throughout.
MagnaSoles goes from appearing slightly questionable to completely nonsensical. Few people, if any, who read the entire article, would truly consider ordering a pair.