Stop Careless Mistakes

By: John Honovich, Published on Oct 06, 2014

Careless mistakes are a big problem, especially among inexperienced people who naively scan, skip or assume.

Whether you are reading a quote, contract, specification, review or recommendation, you need to properly interpret the words / language presented.

In our experience, two causes of carelessness are common:

  • Assume related words are the same: Sophisticated, and often manipulative people, will choose words or groups of words that sound ordinary but mean something completely differently.
  • Skip / omit key qualifiers: Complicated language, especially in technology and engineering, are typically heavily qualified by experts, to be exact. Haste or inexperience often drives people to miss them.

Sometimes people flat out lie and sometimes they are dead wrong. But, most of the time, the correct answer can be found by reading carefully and unpacking the words used.

Examples

(1) Consider:

"Our company is engaged in over $200 million in sales."

Many people simply assume the company sold $200 million, as they focus on the word 'sales' but the really important part of that sentence is the 'engaged in' qualifier.

The company is not going to 'marry' money so they are using 'engaged' to most likely mean 'in the process of'.

The reason for this is that most people who puff themselves want to do it without directly lying. This company likely did engage in 'over $200 million in sales' but perhaps they only closed / booked / recognized $1 million of that. And, if called on this, they could retort by saying we never said we 'sold $200 million', we just said we were 'engaged in' it. 

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

(2) Consider:

"The camera has a 5MP imager."

Many people assume that this is a 5MP camera, ergo that the camera can deliver a 5MP stream. But notice that the manufacturer qualifies it with the noun 'imager'.

Typically, when this phrase / sentence structure is used, it means the camera outputs less than a 5MP stream, e.g. a 3MP or a 1080p stream is commonplace.

In this case, did the manufacturer intend to mislead? Does the reader simply not have the technical background to distinguish between imager and camera? This is harder to tell.

Regardless of where the fault lies, an experienced professional should spot the qualification and understand the limitations therein.

(3) Consider:

"I want to see 100 feet away. What resolution camera do I need?"

Many people will immediately retort with an answer - HD, 5MP, 10MP, etc. But you need at least one piece, and more likely two, to give an accurate answer.

The most critical is how wide an area one needs. If it is 5 feet wide, the answer is much different than 100 feet wide.

Yet, we have seen this time and again, people jump to conclusions on questions like this. Make sure that you have all the information you need. If you do not, ask for it specifically. Don't say something stupid like 'it depends on the application'. Respond with pointed questions like, "Tell me how wide an area you need to cover and how much details you want to capture?"

(4) Consider:

"Our product reduces storage costs by up to 90%."

Many people will assume that the product reduces storage costs 90%. They simply ignore the qualifier here - "up to"

This has become such a common problem, proved by studies, that the US Federal Trade Commission has stepped in to regulate this. Marketers, in particular, realize the power and therefore see the benefits of using 'up to' claims. The typical benefit may be negligible or minimal, but the careless reader will take away the eye popping up to number as typical.

(5) Consider:

"This camera can replace 10 traditional cameras" or "This camera gives you the same resolution as 10 traditional cameras."

Key in on the verb 'can' in the first sentence and the qualifier 'resolution' in the second.

'Can' typically mean to 'be able to do' something. Many readers will immediately conclude that they will be able to do this, i.e., replace 10 traditional cameras in their scenario. But that is not what the statement is saying. They are not guaranteeing you will be able to do it nor that this will always happen (notice: those qualifiers are not included). In fairness, using the word 'can' like this is similar to the misleading marketing of 'up to' claims but the careful, experienced professional is immediately aware of such concerns.

Secondly, notice that the second sentence includes the qualifier 'the same resolution'. The sentence could have been written "This camera is the same as 10 traditional cameras." However, the added qualifier is key to be 'truthful' yet still trick the careless reader. This also requires some technical knowledge, because amongst surveillance manufacturers resolution is defined as pixel count, not image quality

(6) Consider words like:

"typically", "in general, "most scenarios"

Describing how things work or how things are used can be challenging. Since the world is complex and not everyone uses things in the exact same way, it is important to qualify descriptions with limitations (typically, in general, etc.). Some will skip the qualifier and assume everyone does it this way. Others will find one counter case and conclude the entire statement is wrong. Make sure to note those qualifiers and consider the limitations and application of them.

(7) Consider words like:

"everything", "mandatory", "guaranteed"

To the contrary of point 6 above, sometimes statements include strengthening qualifiers. When these occur, the burden is much higher and the reader should be extra careful that there are no exceptions (especially if they are responding to such statements). Often, inexperienced readers will skip these words, simply assuming 'good enough' or 'close enough' is acceptable. However, when these strengthening qualifiers are included, make sure there are no exceptions.

Stop Being Carelessness

Carelessness is the number #1 problem we have found with inexperienced people. The details, especially in word choice, can make a huge difference in outcomes. Read statement carefully, spot the qualifiers and consider how those impacts what is being asked or claimed.

Comments (16) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Don't Be Fooled By Hot Water Bottle Fever Camera Demos on Aug 24, 2020
Fever camera salesmen like to fool buyers (and themselves) with hot water...
Faked Convergint Fever Camera 'Expert' Marketing on Jun 16, 2020
Convergint touts they are "THERMAL CAMERA SOLUTION EXPERTS" while faking...
Don't Deceive. Lessons From Scott Schafer on Mar 20, 2020
Deception is bad. We can learn some important lessons from Scott Schafer, a...
Convergint Refuses To Fix Faked Fever Marketing, FTC Complaint Filed on Jun 19, 2020
Since Convergint has refused to fix their faked fever camera marketing, IPVM...
Briefcam Responsible Use Examined on Aug 24, 2020
While mega-companies Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft have been criticized for...
ISC News Fakes Fever Screening, Falsely Quotes FDA on Jun 18, 2020
ISC News, the Reed publication behind the ISC East and West trade shows, has...
Anixter Runs Fake Coronavirus Marketing Using Shutterstock Watermarked Images on Jul 24, 2020
Coronavirus faked marketing is regrettably commonplace right now but Anixter...
Verkada Falsely Claims "First Native Cloud-based Access Control and Video Security Solution" on Jun 18, 2020
Verkada's false claims continue, this time to be the first native cloud-based...
Door Fundamentals For Access Control Guide on Aug 24, 2020
Doors vary greatly in how difficult and costly it is to add electronic access...
Bias In Facial Recognition Varies By Country, NIST Report Shows on Jul 15, 2020
While many argue that face recognition is inherently racist, results from one...
HID Presents Signo on Apr 23, 2020
HID Global presented their new Signo readers they claim read farther and...
Faked Coronavirus Fever Detection, Athena Used Hikvision; Responds - Selling NDAA Compliant Cameras, Pledging 50% Of Profits to Victims on Mar 24, 2020
US company, Athena Security, faked its coronavirus fever detection marketing,...
Face Masks Increase Face Recognition Errors Says NIST on Aug 04, 2020
COVID-19 has led to widespread facemask use, which as IPVM testing has shown...
Spectron IR Thermal Fever Screening System Examined on Apr 14, 2020
Most are quick to avoid "fever screening" and "medical" labels, but...
False: Verkada: "If You Want To Remote View Your Cameras You Need To Punch Holes In Your Firewall" on Jul 31, 2020
Verkada falsely declared to “3,000+ customers”, “300 school districts”, and...

Recent Reports

Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11 on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has...
Avigilon Elevated Temperature Detection Camera Tested on Sep 17, 2020
Avigilon has entered the temperature screening market with the release of...
Chilean Official Investigated for Motorola And Hikvision Contracts on Sep 17, 2020
A corruption investigation is underway in Chile after a crime prevention...
Huawei HiSilicon Production Shut Down on Sep 17, 2020
Huawei HiSilicon chips are no longer being manufactured or supplied to...
Virtual ISC West and GSX+ Exhibiting Contrasted on Sep 17, 2020
Both ISC West and ASIS GSX are going virtual this year, just weeks apart, but...
X.Labs Sues FLIR on Sep 16, 2020
X.Labs, the maker of Feevr, has sued FLIR, the publicly traded thermal...
Video Surveillance 101 September Course - Last Chance on Sep 16, 2020
Today is the last chance to sign up for the Fall Video Surveillance 101...
No Blackbody Mistake, Half Million Dollar, Hikvision Fever Camera System in Georgia on Sep 16, 2020
A Georgia school district touted buying Hikvision fever screening "about...
Costar Technologies / Arecont H1 2020 Financials Examined on Sep 16, 2020
Costar's financial results have been hit by the coronavirus with the company...
Startup Cawamo Presents Live Alerts With Edge AI and Cloud VMS on Sep 15, 2020
Cawamo, an Israeli edge-to-cloud analytics and VMS startup, presented its...
Favorite Access Control Credentials 2020 on Sep 15, 2020
Credential choice is more debated than ever, with hacking risk for 125kHz and...
Dangerous Hikvision Fever Screening Marketing In Africa on Sep 15, 2020
A multi-national African Hikvision distributor is marketing dangerously...
New Products Show Fall 2020 Announced - Register Now on Sep 14, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show will feature New Products from over 25...
Hanwha 8K / 33MP Camera Tested on Sep 14, 2020
Hanwha Techwin has released an 8K / 33MP resolution camera, the TNB-9000 with...
Gait Recognition Examined on Sep 14, 2020
Facial recognition faces increasing ethical and political criticisms while...