Science Goes Madison Avenue

Given the daily onslaught of advice--sagacious and otherwise--on seemingly every topic delivered by anyone within earshot of a soapbox, it's pleasant to consider what societies might be like if lateral thinkers, such as scientists, led the way. What if even just a few prominent voices, clearly heard above the ruckus of opinion-giving and decision-making, were more idealistic than pragmatic, pensive rather than reactive, and beholden to no special interests but life and peace? Okay, that isn't

Steve Bunk
May 4, 2003

Given the daily onslaught of advice--sagacious and otherwise--on seemingly every topic delivered by anyone within earshot of a soapbox, it's pleasant to consider what societies might be like if lateral thinkers, such as scientists, led the way. What if even just a few prominent voices, clearly heard above the ruckus of opinion-giving and decision-making, were more idealistic than pragmatic, pensive rather than reactive, and beholden to no special interests but life and peace? Okay, that isn't entirely what scientists are about, nor is it how the world works, but it's pleasant to consider.

The essential goal is to garb scientists in the raiment of the larger society's values and preoccupations, so the message deliverer has a familiar guise. Politicians, entertainers, and advertisers do this all the time. It's called packaging. The well-packaged scientist would look the role while delivering a revolutionary message so insidious that most folks couldn't distinguish it...