Dear Dr. Boli: What’s this “color-safe bleach” stuff I keep hearing about? —Sincerely, A Man Who Thought He Was a Chemist.

Dear sir: You are correct to be on your guard against extraordinary or absurd claims in the marketplace. To bleach is defined in Mr. Webster’s dictionary as “To make white, or whiter; to remove the color, or stains, from; to blanch; to whiten.” The very idea of bleaching includes the idea of whitening or removing the color. “Color-safe bleach,” therefore, is a marketer’s code-phrase for “bleach that doesn’t work.” It is, in other words, a placebo or dummy laundry additive that relies on humanity’s endless capacity for self-deception to make clothes appear cleaner than they would be without it.

If you have been taken in by this common consumer fraud, Dr. Boli suggests that you consult an attorney immediately. It is true that legal help is expensive, and that you are likely to have spent a few hundred dollars at most on “color-safe bleach” over the course of a lifetime; but no expense is too great to establish the principle that consumers cannot be hoodwinked without consequence.

Dear Dr. Boli: When do you think true anarchy will finally be established in this country? —Sincerely, Name Withheld by Request.

Dear sir or madam: The trouble with anarchy is that you can’t enforce it.