I rarely read online reviews of things because it seems strange to be swayed by the opinions of anonymous people whom I did not know in the least and who might have their own agendas or even a vested interest in the product. If I do read a review, it is to see if there are some potential problems that I should look into before purchasing the product.
It turns out that my skepticism was not entirely unwarranted. This article says that there quite a few shenanigans being pulled in the online review world, especially when it comes to books, with people offering reviews for sale. One person was even raking in $28,000 a month for posting favorable online reviews for his clients.
Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion of truth. They purport to be testimonials of real people, even though some are bought and sold just like everything else on the commercial Internet.
[Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago, whose 2008 research showed that 60 percent of the millions of product reviews on Amazon are five stars and an additional 20 percent are four stars] estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.
One of the most prolific of the reviewers for hire said that a lot of the books she got to review were trying to prove creationism. It should not surprise us that godly people working for Jesus are not above this kind of dishonesty. They think that anything goes when you are trying to save souls. It is just another example of the weakness of the creationist case.
Of course, my disparaging of online book reviews may be partly due to sour grapes on my part. Although my latest book God vs. Darwin: The War between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom sold fairly well, it did not receive even a single online review, good or bad, on Amazon. Some people who had read my book told me that they liked it (of course that is what polite people would say to your face) but I felt embarrassed to ask them to write a review. I felt that for a review to be genuine, the thought to do so should come from them spontaneously, unprompted by me.
This is why I would make a lousy businessman.