Scientific research is in a period of introspection. Scientists themselves are beginning to question the relevance of certain types of research, their replicability and validity, and issues of over-extrapolation of results, which lead to spurious claims. Some scientists seem to be in a contest of exposure with pop stars, competing for the same spaces on gossip TV, the Internet, radio and print with our favourite entertainers and, so, we have, once in a while, grandiose pronouncements of inconsequence, to me, at least. So, for example, we hear that: Too much showering could be bad for your health – how and what exactly is showering too much?! Eating eggs could cause high, bad cholesterol levels? Eating eggs is good for you! Sitting for too long is bad for your health. Too much exercise is bad for your health – how and what exactly is too much exercise? Poached, over-browned potatoes can cause cancer – ha! Detox, don’t detox! In a bid to capture what is otherwise a complicated outcome in headlines, pop-science ends up instigating fads, especially, concerning health and diet, two topics of the most immediate concern to most people.
Why should marketers be concerned? These proclamations are often taken to heart as factual by many consumers who, not to blame them, accept any scientific claim no matter how frivolous. Remember the aspartame issue and whether it could cause obesity and cancers? Pepsi, at one time, temporarily removed it from its diet drinks only to quietly return it later. Gossip science is not harmless and can have expensive effects in the marketplace for both producers and consumers. Popular Science needs to tame its tongue.