Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chico Marx and Neuroscience.

I think the most annoying aspect of the pseudo-sciences that afflict our business, is how much real science it's forced out of the equation.

Dilettantes have usurped thinkers. Poseurs have surpassed those of substance.

As I stated last week, I am reading Eric R. Kandel's new book "The Age of Insight." Kandel is the real deal. Not only is he the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, he also picked up a little bauble called the Nobel Prize, for his work on memory storage in the brain.

As even my mother would concede, he's no slouch.

And, he makes it pretty clear over the course of the book's 600 or so pages that brains do not respond cognitively to stimulus. Rather, the most visceral responses occur emotionally. We do not look at a Klimt or a Van Gogh and say, "my, what brushstrokes you have." We react. With emotion.

Of course, this is the opposite of how we view work in the advertising industry. We take hold of the paper. We read it again. We examine every frame. We deconstruct every word for alleged meaning. We read it again. We pore over things microscopically. We subject work to committees, interns, wives, focus groups. We do everything to it under the guise of understanding it, except letting it be understood.

A little over 70 years ago the Marx Brothers made one of the great movies of all time, "Duck Soup." In it, Chico (Chiccolini) utters the famous line of charlatans, pimps, bunko artists and planners everywhere: "Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"

As a culture we have ratiocinated our way to never hearing, seeing or believing truth. We fall prey to "experts." Pseudo-science has replaced real thought. Bluster has replaced brains.

BTW, look at this by my friend Drew Christie:

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