• heartofafrica

Science, the poetry of reality

It's incredible how a book can transport you back 20 years . . . instantly. Before my career as a marketer, I was a passionate biologist. I spent my university days devouring books by Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins and Matt Ridley while my friends were talking about the latest Mills & Boon. I couldn't comprehend their lack of interest in something that would radically change the way you think about, well, everything. In time, my life, and career, took a completely different path, and I slowly stopped reading such titles. I suspect (and hope) though that my "scientific" background and outlook has made me a better marketer. Bigger picture, logic, facts, discipline, following a process . . . these are all things you do intuitively as a scientist. And they've undoubtedly helped me in my career. But only recently have I realised how far i've drifted from these passionate scientific principles.

I am currently reading Darwin's book "The Descent of Man" and from page one, I was transported back those 20 years to that unwavering need and calling to broadcast such incredible logic, facts and wisdom. When I read this paragraph . . .

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who

know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this

or that problem will never be solved by science.”

. . . I literally got goose-bumps and froze. In 1871, this man knew more about humanity than we will ever begin to know. Despite the enormous progression of the human species over the last century, we live in an age where scientific knowledge faces organised and furious opposition.


Is it because scientific thinking has to be taught, and increasingly, it’s not taught well. Or it is because everyone is empowered by their own sources of less than credible information and they add their own interpretations of research? Or is it simply because science leads us to truths that are less apparent, often mind-blowing, and sometimes hard to swallow. It could simply be our need to fit in? Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion. People have a need to fit in, and if that need to fit in is so strong, local values and local opinions will supersede science.

Of course the obvious influencer that has fuelled the doubters is the Internet. It makes it easier than ever for skeptics of all kinds to find their own information and experts. The powerful institutions are no longer seen as a trusted sources of credible information. Anyone with an internet connection can publish a theory. The scientific method means nothing.

If you’re a rationalist, there’s something quite dismal about all this. We believe in scientific ideas because we have truly evaluated all the evidence. But the doubters just believe we are a "tribe" or "cult" like anyone else. Perhaps? Except we have real facts. Evolution actually happened. There aren’t two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening. Vaccines really do save lives. Being right does matter—and the scientific community has a long track record of getting things right in the end. Society is built on things that science got right.

If you're thinking . . . ok so what's this got to do with marketing and branding. Well I'm not sure either. But if anything, it may put into persepective how public opinion and sentiment completely surpass the facts and the truth. Convincing most people of things is not hard because people rarely interrogate the facts. You just have to be strong in your convictions and stand by what you believe. But that is not my take out. I see it as a lesson to not add to the chaos and misunderstanding of the world by marketing with hype and absurdity. Keep it real. Keep it authentic.

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