The I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Question and Answer Page

Welcome to the fascinating world of butter substitutes. As all you regular readers of the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter newsgroup know, ICINB is one of the most interesting products currently on the market. It's now been three years since I started the newsgroup, and we've collected a lot of useful information and reached many interesting conclusions. So lately I've gotten a lot of requests (i.e., I've been nagged) for some of this information to be made available on the World Wide Web. Well, you all finally wore me down. True, I'm very busy, but your continual barrage of requests (and nagging) finally did me in. So I stayed up late last night and made this page. It's a compendium of the most startling and enduring conclusions reached over the three years of my ICINB tenure. It hardly does justice to our years of wrangling over difficult issues, but there's simply no way to do that in one Web page. I hope you enjoy "it."

Index to questions

Isn't it really butter?

No, ICINB is not butter. Many postings to our newsgroup have pointed out that, although the name of the product implies that ICINB is not actually butter, the name is not inconsistent with the product really being butter. Such metaphysical issues aside, sources in the company assure us that ICINB doesn't contain any butter or butter by-products.

Nonetheless, some newsgroup readers have voiced their skepticism. Central to these reader's argument is the "evidence" that ICINB has a taste indistinguishable from that of butter. Other readers take issue with this "evidence," stating that ICINB "doesn't taste anything at all like butter." (See: Can people distinguish between ICINB and butter?)

Though I recognize and note the problems voiced by our skeptical readers, throughout the rest of this discussion I will proceed under the assumption that ICINB is not butter.

Okay, what is "it"?

This has become one of the most popular and most frequently debated issues on our newsgroup. Central to this issue is the use of the pronoun "it" in the name of the product. How are we supposed to understand the use of "it" as it appears on the ICINB packaging? Wouldn't it make so much more sense if the name was "I can't believe this isn't butter?"

A minority of newsgroup readers have attempted to attribute this phenomenon to simple human error. But most readers feel that the use of "it" points to something much more profound. Over the last three years of newsgroup debate, there has actually been some convergence on a most plausible explanation (MPE) for this phenomenon. In brief, it goes as follows: Imagine yourself in a supermarket reading the words "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" written on the ICINB packaging. This could, potentially, lead you to construct an image in your mind of someone eating some ICINB, perhaps spread on a piece of toast. Then you could imagine this person literally saying "I can't believe it's not butter." If all of this occured, you would most likely be favorably disposed to purchase ICINB.

If the MPE is actually correct, the implications are really quite astounding. According to this viewpoint, it is simply incorrect to think of ICINB as possessing a name in the traditional sense. Rather, we must understand ICINB as labelled by an entire hypothetical scenario. What is really most impressive about this is that some person was able to conceive of this strategy. Someone - some advertising executive somewhere - had a understanding of human nature sufficiently profound to predict how people would react to the sight of this label on butter-subtitute packaging. Is this genius or merely a fortuitous error? The company isn't saying.

Can people distinguish between ICINB and butter?

The results of the most recent scientific studies seem to be saying that yes, people can, in blind taste tests, reliably distinguish between ICINB and butter. However, there are some caveats attached to these results. Foremost amongst these is the observation that a subject's ability to distinguish between ICINB and butter is markedly decreased if the nasal passages are pinched shut. The scientists comment simply that this is not surprising, and that related effects have been well known for quite some time in the scientific literature.

However, many of our newsgroup readers have suggested that these results imply that, although ICINB may not smell the same as butter, it nevertheless tastes exactly the same as butter. They furthermore attribute any residual ability of people to distinguish between butter and ICINB in the pinched-nose situation to a non-complete closure of the nasal passages. Thus, these readers argue, although it may be true that people can reliably distinguish between ICINB and butter, it is not the case that people can taste the difference between ICINB and butter.

Where can I download the ICINB FAQ?

There is currently no site where the ICINB FAQ is available at all times. However, the FAQ is posted to the ICINB newsgroup on a regular basis, roughly once a month. Many of you folks out there have really gotten on my case about this and I must say that I'm getting a little tired of it. I'm a pretty busy person, even without my ICINB functions, so I try to restrict myself to activities and issues that really seem important and worthwhile. And I must say that maintaining an FTP site for the FAQ just doesn't seem like an efficient use of my time. So get off my case people. If you're really that interested in ICINB then read the newsgroup on a regular basis and watch out for the FAQ there.

Will eating ICINB cause a large crown to appear on my head?

No. Thus far there are no confirmed reports of a large crown appearing on the head of any ICINB eaters. As is well known amongst regular readers of the ICINB newsgroup, this has led to repeated flame-wars with readers of the Imperial Margarine (IM) newsgroup. I'd like to take this opportunity to extend an olive branch to the IM group. I know there's been a lot of nasty things said on both sides, but I think it's time to call the score even and quit. We've got our name and you've got your crown. These cruel and unnecessary attacks simply make our lives miserable.

In fact, over the last year I've gotten personal letters from several ICINB readers saying that the newsgroup has just gotten too unpleasant, and they weren't going to read it anymore. This really makes me sad. I started this group just to have fun and some interesting conversation. So, let's drop the flame-wars and put the fun back in usenet.

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