Here’s a statement from the label on my shiny new bike helmet (from a very famous brand might I add):

A bicycle helmet does not protect what it doesn’t cover, and as noted it may not protect what it does cover.


Aren’t we taking this a bit too far? Yes, EULAs, I’m looking at you as well.

It’s especially fun to compare these legal statements to the ads for the same product. If you look at the ads for the bike helmet, you’d swear it’s all you need to make it through a nuclear meltdown unharmed and only have to worry about the following zombies. If you look at the legal statement, you’re wondering why you didn’t just buy a hat instead. That at least is guaranteed to give you some protection from the cold and it’s ten time cheaper.

Moving beyond the ridiculousness of it all, I think that this practice is hurting the end-user. I actually think that the producer of a bike helmet should take responsibility for the protection it’s supposed to offer (and you can generalize this as needed for other products). It’s ok if you want to put in a statement there that will make it clear that it won’t protect my knees, just in case I was confused about the laws of physics, and feel free to explain how it may not save me in case of a plane crash and if you really REALLY feel like it, add that paragraph in there about how it doesn’t actually protect me if I’m not wearing it on my head; but, at the end of it all, take some responsibility! At least guarantee that it will protect my head in case of a bike crash. Is that really too much to ask? Test the damn thing and take some responsibility!

I’ll also extend this to food as well. I don’t want warnings about how unpasteurized milk is more dangerous than smoking or about how eating a steak in any other way than totally-burned may give you five different deadly diseases and possibly even an indigestion! I want everyone in the chain from the person milking the cow to the one that puts my plate down in front of me to take responsibility for their part. Farmers should check their animals for disease, restaurants should check their providers and sanitation etc. That’s a good working system that I can trust. Failing to take responsibility and throwing the decision on the end-user’s/consumer’s shoulders (who has no information except for the last link in the chain) is wrong on multiple levels.

Clearly, this is an engineering perspective… Create, test and take ownership and be responsible. I’d be curious to get some perspective on this from my friends more familiar with the way the legal system works. Are my thoughts that alien?