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CDC's "Germstoppers" campaign uses low-brow language to teach complex hand washing skills (satire)

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Friday, August 04, 2006 by: Mike Adams

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States has a new program called "Germstoppers." This program consists -- in part -- of a full-page brochure that various institutions -- such as health clinics and hospitals -- can paste in their windows. The "Germstoppers" brochure attempts to educate Americans on how to practice basic sanitation and personal hygiene. What's amusing about this program, however, is how it has become necessary to water down the use of vocabulary in order to make the brochure understandable by your average American citizen.


For example, one of the concepts that the CDC wishes to get across in this brochure is that people should wash their hands with great frequency. Apparently, the word "frequency" is a little too complex for the average American citizen, and thus, the CDC chose to replace the word "frequency" with the two-word phrase, "A lot."

Now, the brochure says, "Wash your hands a lot," which sounds like something a middle-school teenager might say -- but not something that should come from the Centers for Disease Control. Why not just replace the word "frequency" with the word "tons," because that seems to be a more common word with the undereducated American public? "Wash your hands tons!"

Happy birthday to me!

Next, the brochure attempts to tell people that they should wash their hands for a period of time equal to approximately 60 seconds. But apparently, the term "60 seconds" is a little too technical for the American public. So, it has been translated into a completely absurd tidbit that says, "Wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song to yourself to twice." Apparently, Americans cannot understand the concept of 60 seconds -- presumably because it contains a number.

The CDC believes that Americans are perfectly capable of singing "Happy Birthday to You" two times in a row without being confused. That may be true, but think about how ridiculous it is to be standing around singing happy birthday to yourself while washing your hands. Interestingly, the brochure does not indicate whether you should sing happy birthday out loud or silently in your own head. It also does not predict whether American citizens might get confused singing the song in their own heads, where they might easily forget whether they were on verse one or verse two.


Are Americans really that stupid?

I don't know about you, but when I see public education messages like this -- using third-grade vocabulary -- it really makes me wonder about the intelligence of the American public. Presumably, the Centers for Disease Control made an intelligent choice and carefully selected these words and concepts because it believes they would help communicate important information that the CDC is trying to share with the American public.

 I don't fault the CDC for producing this brochure, and it may in fact have done a great job in reaching people at the level they are capable of comprehending. What shocks me is that the average American IQ has slipped so low that we can't even use words beyond a third-grade level to say anything to the public anymore. It's as if we're trying to educate a bunch of first-graders, except they're not first-graders -- they're the adult population representing the average American citizen.

NewsTarget has many readers across Europe, Australia, Asia, South America  and other countries. They must think that this is some kind of satire piece, but I assure you it is not. This is exactly what the brochure from the CDC says -- I'm not making this up. But still, you must be thinking to yourself, "How could the American public be so uneducated as to require such simplistic terminology?" Many of you from other countries are probably reading this using English you learned as a second, third or fourth language -- and your vocabulary far exceeds that of the average American, who only knows one language and hasn't even mastered that one. But again, I assure you this is the state of reality here in the United States.

Let's not even talk about understanding numbers, mathematics or issues like world history -- that's beyond the scope of what the public could possibly comprehend. It's a shame, really, to look around in the United States and see how far we have fallen. We were once the most abundant, prosperous and well-educated nation in the world. Today, we have become the laughing stock of the world. We are overfed, overmedicated and undereducated. But as long as we all remember how to sing the Happy Birthday song, we can at least rid our hands of deadly germs, according to the CDC.

I ordered a dozen of your "Germ Farm" posters. They were so attractive I had all 12 of them framed! They are great attenion getters that make people smile as well as scrub up! Jan Valentin Cedar Haven Nursing Home Pa

  Other ways to use the birthday song

If singing the Happy Birthday song is now a unit of time, why not apply it to other areas of daily living?

Daily exercise: Jog in place for as long as it takes you to sing the Happy Birthday song eighteen times.

Baking a cake: Leave the cake in the oven for as long as it takes you to sing the Happy Birthday song one hundred times (or until you smell smoke).

Driving instructions: Head North on Interstate 10 for as long as it takes you to sing the Happy Birthday song fifty-nine times. Then take the next exit.

Olympic Games: The gold medalist completed the 400 meter dash in the time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song 2.7 times!

Just don't get caught singing the Happy Birthday song to yourself on any day other than your actual birthday (even then...). Otherwise, you'll just look like a complete idiot. And if you catch someone singing Happy Birthday out loud while they wash their hands, kindly remind them that the washing still works if the birthday song is silent. In fact, tell them it works better if it's silent!


Our customers consist of corporations, hospitals, universities, schools, day care centers, retirement homes, and government health agencies. State health agencies influenced us to give a special discount to orders of 1,000 or more.

You will find our posters displayed at Harvard University and many of the hospitals in the Boston area. If you wish to order a thousand posters or more, please email us or call us for a special discount. Contact details below.

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PS  Congratulations! Your order for handwashing posters is a positive step in motivating people to wash their hands. You are taking an active step in promoting a habit that leads to better health for everyone.