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Don’t Waste Your Time on These Bogus Clickbait Stories. Especially Number 9.

David Pogue
July 31, 2014

The craze for clickbait — tempting, often untrue headlines that rack up page views through trickery and sleaziness — shows no sign of subsiding.

But as long as those tacky websites are going to litter the Internet with exaggerated or outright deceptive headlines, I’m going to keep ruining their punchlines. I’m going to keep offering these clickbait spoilers. (You won’t want to miss our previous takedowns. See installments 1, 2, and 3.)

Here’s Episode 4 of Pogue’s Clickbait Spoilers:

Clickbait: Every Day, People Spend 16 Minutes Doing This Thing They Think Is Good For The Planet. It Ain’t.

Spoiler: Idling their engines.

Clickbait: This Is the Latest Bizarre Viral Male Fashion Trend

Spoiler: Putting flowers in your beard.

Man with flowers in his beard
Man with flowers in his beard

Clickbait: Psychologists Find a Surprising Thing Happens to Kids Who Read Harry Potter

Spoiler: They’re more tolerant of “stigmatized groups like immigrants, homosexuals or refugees.”

Clickbait: As I Scrolled Through These 45 Photos, One Thing Became Very Clear. And Everyone Should See It.

Spoiler: The pictures show what appear to be acts of kindness by strangers — for example, a woman buys a meal for a homeless man. None of the photos are credited, sourced, or linked; many are not believable; and the “one thing” never does become clear.

Firefighter handing cat to tearful woman
Firefighter handing cat to tearful woman

Clickbait: 3-Year-Old Boy Sneaks Into 90-Year-Old’s Yard. You’ll NEVER Believe What They Did Next! I’m In Tears!

Spoiler: Local news story about a 3-year-old boy who spends time with his 89-year-old next-door neighbor every day. But both are about to move away, so it’s sad.

Clickbait: You’ve Been Cutting Cakes Wrong Your Entire Life

Spoiler: Cut straight slices (not wedges) to avoid exposing surfaces to the drying air. It takes the guy 2 minutes, 43 seconds to get to the point.

Cake being cut
Cake being cut

Clickbait: Just In Case You Didn’t Know, This Thing Exists And It’s Insane

Spoiler: It’s a huge ship, the MV Blue Marlin, which is big enough to carry other ships (for repair or transport). The photo is of it carrying the USS Cole, which was damaged in a terrorist attack in 2000.

MV Blue Marlin
MV Blue Marlin

Clickbait: The Best Quote I’ve Ever Heard. (Ever.)

Spoiler: Alan Watts saying, “If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed…But suppose you could answer, ‘It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.’ ”

I’ve heard better quotes.

Clickbait: So This Guy Took Some Pencils And Had A Crazy Idea, Look At What He Created. Just Brilliant.

Spoiler: A Finnish artist glues pencils together and then mills them into vases.

Vase made from milled pencils
Vase made from milled pencils

Clickbait: This Restaurant Kept Getting Awful Reviews. Then They Discovered This

Spoiler: In this almost certainly phony story, a restaurant compared modern security footage with footage from 10 years ago. Nowadays, people eat up the restaurant’s time fussing with their phones. (“26 out of 45 customers take an average of 3 minutes taking pictures of the food”? Sorry, no.)

Clickbait: The magic question that turns transactions into relationships

Spoiler: It’s “What problem are you trying to solve?”

Clickbait: The 1 Mistake The Political Media Must Not Make In 2016

Spoiler: Stop confusing the words “podium” (a raised platform that you stand on) and “lectern” (a reading stand that you stand behind).

Podium and lectern
Podium and lectern

You can email David Pogue here.