What Jimmy Kimmel, and others, did NOT say about scented candles and COVID19

Spoiler: It’s NOT about COVID19. Not at all.

I have only discovered now, through the last episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, a really interesting story. One that I am really sorry I missed when it happened, in November 2020. Because the real reason why it is interesting, the real “news” in it, is not what Kimmel and, as far as I can see nobody else so far, said. If this is not the case, please tell me, I’d be happy to be proven wrong. But here it is.

Scented candles get #COVID19

On November 2020, Teri Nelson tweeted:

“There are angry ladies all over Yankee Candle’s site reporting that none of the candles they just got had any smell at all. I wonder if they’re feeling a little hot and nothing has much taste for the last couple days too."

Reading that tweet Kate Petrova, a US researcher, immediately decided to investigate. This is a summary of what she found:

What Jimmy Kimmel, and others, did NOT say about scented candles and COVID19 /img/scented-candles-4.jpg
  • There has been a sharp drop in the average review ratings of scented candles on Amazon, between January and November 2020”. Sharp as in “tripled”, that is ” from < 2% in January to close to 6% in November", and even more interesting if you consider this other chart:
What Jimmy Kimmel, and others, did NOT say about scented candles and COVID19 /img/scented-candles-2.jpg
  • “Since the beginning of 2020, customer satisfaction with scented candles has been dropping at a much faster rate compared to unscented candles”

What is the REAL news here?

As you can see in that video (starting at 11:20 minutes), yesterday Jimmy Kimmel resumed this story, and I am glad he did, because there is news you should really know here.

But it is not what is explicitly mentioned in Kimmel’s video or anywhere else so far, as far as I may tell from a quick online search (see here, here, here and here, for example).

“Lots, LOTS of COVID19 in the US” is hardly news, since ten months at least. And sure, bad reviews for scented candles may indeed be one more symptom of how very active, but very clueless spreaders there are out there. But never mind COVID19, for a moment.

What Kimmel and others were really saying between the lines, but should have said explicitly, is these three little things:

From “pre-existing conditions” to pre-existing REVIEWS

  1. What those candle reviews really are is a wonderful, wonderful, real-world example of how easy it is to know way more about YOU than you usually realize
  2. Especially, but not only, for health insurance providers, or drug companies
  3. The next time you are automaticallydenied affordable health insurance, or do not see online ads for it, or are bombarded with drug ads, it may be because of what you reviewed. Anywhere of course, not just at Amazon

Correlation is not causation… except when it is. But here, it doesn’t even matter. This particular case, even if it turns out to not be causation, remains a useful warning of what may come. You’d better consider it.