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Can you believe people are this mf stooooooopid?


A few years back, I noticed something different when I went to my not-so-friendly neighborhood Chase ATM.

They made a change… that to this day, still serves as a good lesson for copywriters.

The change they made?

Well, it really makes you realize how stoooooopid some people can be. It reminds you of why copywriting gurus preach to write at a 3rd grade level. And it also jives with the general dumbing down of the modern man. (In fact, I fact checked that last sentence before writing it… and Americans’ long-term IQ scores are nosediving.)

But it also serves as a reminder to how ahead of the game Chase is because in the few other banks I’ve ventured to, I haven’t seen them make this change… yet. But they will, it’s just a matter of time (and the continued dumbing down of Americans).

So, what was the change they made?

Well, when I went to the bank years ago, the ATM gave you different options like:

  • Withdraw

  • Deposit

As well as a few other options that aren’t coming to me right now because I never use them.


Today, you don’t have the same options.

Instead of Withdraw, you have Get Money. (Deposit stayed the same, but again, it’s only a matter of time until it says Invest Money in the fractional reserve banking system… er, I mean Leave Money.)


Yes, turns out, Americans are so stoooooopid that they don’t even know what “withdraw” means.

This is an important nugget to stuff into your memory banks. Because there are many such cases of 2-3 syllable words that you think everyone ought to know… but they actually don’t know.

And as I’ve said many-a time in this emails:

Confusion is the death of the sale.

Now, I still don’t agree with most copywriting gurus that you should insult your audience by writing at a third grade level…

Starting every sentence on a new line…

Ending every sentence in ellipsis…

Or that you should paint broad strokes over wildly different audiences. (You can “get away” with writing at an 11th grade level and crush it with some audiences, for example, while others, writing at anything above a 4th grade level spells trouble.)

But people really are, in many cases, dumber than you think.

And based on nothing else than trends, they’re only getting dumber.

Ponder this as you go about your day.

And if you need help with your emails from someone who understands when it’s time to dumb it down, and when it’s insulting to dumb it down, hit reply.


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