Science is frequently employed in the advertising industry, often as a positive selling point for products and services. Four out of five dentists recommend a type of gum. A prophylactic is “tested” in a lab full of leggy researchers. A “breakthrough”diet therapy will help you shed those pounds – and keep them off.
The patina of science can be used to provide a sense that a product is tested under rigorous conditions,though that may not be the case.
Scientific images and words convey a sense of “truth” to the consumer, even though science is founded on the principle that new evidence can always overturn old beliefs.
Often, what is portrayed through advertising is pseudo-science: a nonsensical idea that uses just enough scientific-sounding terminology to convince the lay audience. Sometimes it doesn’t even go that far – a simple image or reference associated with science maybe enough to accomplish the task.
At the same time, there is a growing movement in the scientific community seeking to bring more science and scientific concepts into mainstream culture. Former Yale professor Ainissa Ramirez, for instance, quit to become a full-time “science evangelist,” giving talks and writing about the importance of science in society. Science-themed shows like“Bones” and “The Big Bang Theory” have become wildly popular, though they too sometimes perpetuate misconceptions about science.
Whether selling a product or selling science itself, people employ certain types of strategies and symbols to meet their goals.
Advertising Science will approach the intersection at which science and media meet by dissecting commercials, relating research, conducting interviews and generally discussing how science is portrayed to the paying public - for better or worse.