March 07, 2012

Neuroscience And Pseudoscience

Yesterday, The New York Times published an interview with Dr. Eric R. Kandel, the Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist and researcher at Columbia University.

One subject of the interview was the early overselling of psychoanalysis. Dr. Kandel put it this way...
"In the 1950s and early 1960s, psychoanalysis swept through the intellectual community, and it was the dominant mode of thinking about the mind. People felt that this was a completely new set of insights into human motivation and that its therapeutic potential was significant. It was seen as the treatment that solved everything in the world... It’s amazing how it was oversold...
There are many fantastically interesting components to it that are worthwhile. The problem of psychoanalysis is not the body of theory...but the fact that it... never tried to test its ideas."
As I was reading this I couldn't help but draw a parallel to what is currently happening in the world of marketing.

While there are certainly aspects of digital advertising and marketing that present fascinating new opportunities, our most militant digital advertising advocates make the most cocksure assertions with a minimum of evidence; they are either reluctant to or incapable of verifying their assertions with reliable data; and when data that repudiates their assertions are presented they often respond with ad hominem attacks.

Mostly they lack that most valuable intellectual asset -- the one attribute that separates the inquisitive from the gullible -- skepticism.

When I read Dr. Kandel, the wonderful comment of President Harry Truman comes roaring back at me, "The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know."

1 comment:

Rory David Hodgson said...

That's an odd thing to say - don't they employ the same techniques as in the measurement of any other marketing channel?