I haven’t had television broadcast into my home for about five years. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those self-righteous “Kill Your TV” jerks. I have an LCD and waste as much of my life in front of it as any other obese American; it’s just that I switched to watching everything on DVD a long time ago. If you couple that with Netflix Watch Instantly, you really won’t miss cable at all. The things you do technically miss out on (news and sports and being able to watch TV shows when they come out) should really be viewed differently (sports should be watched drunken in a bar or not at all, if you still watch televised news you’re probably not reading this because you’re elderly and afraid of computers, and watching TV shows back-to-back is a million times better than having to wait weeks or months between episodes – it took me days, not years, to realize that Lost was going to turn out to be really, really stupid).
The best part about it, though, is not having to sit through commercials, of which I was recently reminded. I got a sublet for a month, which came fully furnished – complete with TV and cable. Being the lazy asshole that I am, I would just watch whatever was on, commercials included. I learned many things. For one, there is apparently an alternate universe where I became a CPA. Also, there is a 24-hour local news station here in New York that has the budget and technical prowess of an 8th grade A/V class. But worst of all is the AT&T v. Verizon war of which I was, up until now, oblivious. These two fine companies are having a hissy fit over who has the best 3G network. I was watching TV with my friend Cambridge Massachusetts Claude, and he brought up a good point: how can they both straight-up say that they are the best? Like the Immortals from Highlander, can there not be only one?
To answer this question, I started really paying attention to the ads. And, seeing as I look at everything through the lens of the LSAT, I thought that these in tandem would make for a fantastic stimulus. The LSAT is always throwing logical reasoning at you where you have two parties vigorously battling one another, and you’re left to determine what they agree on, what they disagree on, what has to be true; you know, fun stuff like that. So, without further ado, I present the first-ever video LR problem:
1. If both commercials are wholly true and factual, each of the following must be true EXCEPT:
a. Verizon has the most 3G coverage
b. AT&T has the fastest 3G coverage
c. You can’t talk and use the Internet at the same time on Verizon
d. Using Verizon will entail watching Youtube on a horse.
e. Luke Wilson is a hack whose career is in the toilet, and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.
Got an answer? Ok, let’s look at them. Remember, we’re looking for the answer choice that doesn’t have to be true, i.e. could be false.
a. Verizon has the most 3G coverage. Verizon says this, so if we’re accepting everything they say as true, then this must be true. So not our correct answer choice. Butterball Wilson never actually disputes this, but rather says that…
b. AT&T has the fastest 3G coverage. They said it, so we’ll accept it as true as well, making it the wrong answer choice. Verizon doesn’t directly disagree; they say they have more coverage, but not how fast it is.
c. You can’t talk and use the Internet at the same time on Verizon – This is stated by old Richie Tenenbaum, so we’ll get on board with it.
d. Using Verizon will entail watching Youtube on a horse. Obviously this is true, as all you Verizon customers can attest to.
e. Luke Wilson is a hack whose career is in the toilet, and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. Intuitively this is obviously true, so it seems like it couldn’t be the right answer. But that’s where the LSAT gets you, right in the tender spots when you’re not looking. Things that are intuitively true, or true because of what we think of as common sense, don’t actually have to be true on the LSAT. So while this statement seems incredibly likely, it could hypothetically be false, thus making it the right answer choice.
As a side note, this really couldn’t work as a disagree question. The two ads actually don’t disagree over anything concrete. If you’ve seen these on TV you might find that surprising, but I challenge you to find one single fact that they disagree over. All they’re implicitly disagreeing over is what information you should give the most credence to, not the numbers. This is just like the LSAT. The fine folks of Newtown, PA often give you two sides fighting not over facts, but over the interpretation of the facts.
So I was thinking I could just end this by saying that Verizon is more widespread, AT&T is faster, and they’re both great. But now I’m angry because these two companies are so insulting to all of our collective intelligence (although I have to admit I sort of liked the Big Red jingle). So let’s see why the ad teams at Verizon and AT&T are misleading bastards.
First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I use Verizon and have a Motorola Droid. I do like it, though I think the iPhone is a superior device. Sadly the reception on the iPhone is abysmal, especially if you’re in New York or the Bay Area (I spend 99.9% of my life in these two locales). Call me crazy, but I think the ability to make and comprehend phone calls is an important part of, you know, a mother****ing telephone. Trent, Matt, and Jodi (owners of Blueprint, runners of MSS, and most importantly, my bosses) all have iPhones, and whenever I talk to them the reception is so poor that I can’t help but picturing them on one of those old WWII wind-up phones.
But on to the prosecution:
Here we have one guy who is apparently getting great coverage (with his Verizon network), and one who isn’t (the AT&T sucker). How do we know? Because of the Gorram maps floating above their heads. But let’s be honest – these maps would be completely irrelevant for the situation. The AT&T customer is either in one of the blue areas and has 3G coverage, or he’s in one of the white areas and doesn’t. Verizon always showcases AT&T’s 3G map, pointing out all the white spaces, but really, who cares? Are you ever going to go to Montana or Alaska? The fact is that 75% of Americans live within AT&T 3G coverage. So the map issue is really only an issue if you spend a lot of time in rural areas or in the loser states. When Verizon says they have five times the coverage, they’re referring to physical area rather than number of people.
So Luke Wilson comes to set the record straight. He says Verizon has been making a big deal about maps, and then shows us that actually Verizon is wrong, they have coverage everywhere. Well, now, Tubs McPovertyPants is the one being deceptive. Yes, they have coverage all over the place, but Verizon did explicitly say that they were referring to the faster 3G coverage. Wilson is implying that he’s responding directly to Verizon’s map comparison, but then dodges the entire issue by focusing on something very different. Sure 97% of people are covered, but not on 3G. And, yes, like I said earlier, that might not matter to many (if not most) Americans, who live in or near major metropolitan areas. But if you live in, say, Grass Valley, California , then AT&T would be a pretty bad choice if you have a smartphone. But you would never know that viewing this ad.
This is one of the worst. The AT&T ad execs are being tricky little turds with this one. Where to begin?
First of all, the black chick with the cardigan holds what is obviously supposed to be the Motorola Droid, and disgustedly asks “where’s my cool phone?” implying that the Droid is decidedly not cool. Which is really just such crap. I do personally agree that the iPhone is a better device, but the general consensus seems to be that the Droid is the second-best phone on the market today. Implying that it’s a piece of junk is just disingenuous. This might fly were the ad for the iPhone, but this is for AT&T smartphones in general. Even iPhone enthusiasts and AT&T loyalists would probably agree that the Droid is better than all but one of AT&T’s phones.
Then you have the WASPy dude complain “this download’s taking forever!” It’s true that one of the real advantages to AT&T is that if you live in an area that gets 3G (and like I mentioned earlier, most people do), the service is faster. This was tested and confirmed just a few weeks ago. So this really isn’t an incredibly deceptive part of the ad. But I was curious to see if it’s a whole lot faster, or just a bit. The answer? It depends on where you are. In New York and San Francisco there is almost zero speed difference. But if you live in Baltimore, Chicago, or Seattle, the difference is considerable, so I’m not going to fault AT&T too much on this. However, beware of aggregate blanket statements like “the fastest.” If you live in Denver, Verizon is actually considerably faster. (But who the hell cares about Denver, amiright?)
Then there’s the WASPy dude’s WASPy wife: “Where are all my cool apps?” Hey, shut your mouth, lady, because there’s crap falling out of it. Without a doubt the iPhone has more apps than the Droid, and in my opinion they’re generally better. But there are more apps for Android (Droid’s OS) than for anything else other than the iPhone. So the only thing this could be saying is that the iPhone has more apps, not AT&T smartphones in general. Like with my first complaint, the third apostle is trying to make the iPhone out to be representative of AT&T’s full line. And worst of all is the fact that AT&T sells a phone with the Android OS, which has the exact same apps as the ones they’re saying are oh-so uncool in this commercial. Their line of reasoning is like saying that Dell computers have really awful programs, so you should buy an HP instead.
So let’s recap:
-AT&T has overall faster coverage, although in some places they do not.
-Verizon has overall more 3G coverage, although it is generally slower than AT&T.
-AT&T and Verizon both offer good smartphones, although the iPhone is generally viewed as the best, and is only on AT&T.
-The question of which 3G network is “best” is a subjective one, based on your priorities
-With both commercials and LSAT arguments, you should carefully dissect what you’re told, because you’re probably being deceived in some way.
-Luke Wilson is pathetic.