Maybe a slightly inappropriate quote – Virgil was actually referring to enemies (the Greeks using the gift of a wooden horse to invade the city of Troy) when he wrote the Aenid, Book 2 more than 2000 years ago – but nevertheless still a good lesson. John Dryden translated it slightly differently
Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse
all of which ties wariness nicely to the subject of the horse.
Often reading articles in magazines, and particularly on the internet, we are presented with an item about equine health that has apparently been written by an authority (a vet!); however, if we look closely at the article we might notice some interesting markers which put the article in another light.
- there are quotes by representatives of a company with a vested interest in sales promotion within the subject area
- advertisements around the article seem to tie in with the subject matter a little too coincidentally
- the writer of the article has a nice row of letters after his¹ name (MRCVS, DVM, BSc, MSc) and may even be Prof. but there is no reference to his practice or his seat of learning
- the writer refers to specific practice alternatives but does not recommend, expand upon nor make comparison of the pros and cons
- the word ADVERTISEMENT or ADVERTORIAL² or similar is printed, usually in block capitals but sometimes inconspicuously small, at the top or bottom of the page
- the article is surrounded by a box rather than “floating” on the page as with regular articles.
Don’t let this put you off reading articles but do be aware that often they are not what they seem.
¹ “his” can equally be “hers”
² ADVERTORIAL is particularly sneaky because it is so similar to the more authoritative EDITORIAL