“Physics Envy” in Marketing: Former Physicist Turns Marketer


“Physics Envy” in Marketing

By Alexander Repiev, Moscow, Russia

All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.  Friedrich Nietzsche

…the infernal chaos in academic marketing texts and minds is caused by the so-called “physics envy,” a term coined by the British researcher Alan Tapp [1]. That envy came from the desire of scholars in new social university disciplines to establish their intellectual credentials. Tapp called it “a form of mild paranoia.”

Tapp talks about physics’ “undue and malign influence within universities.” But the culprit is not physics per se but rather academia’s abysmal misunderstanding of the philosophy and practice of physical research, the ways it uses mathematics, plans experiments, etc.

Having failed to internalize all this, marketing academics now practice thoughtless mimicry of the external trappings of physics.  They go overboard to make academic marketing look scientific, but end up with what the British marketer Andrew Ehrenberg christened “Scientification of Non-Knowledge” (SONK). It is this mimicry and SONK-ing that are responsible for the total disaster of academic marketing.

Tapp rightly maintains that “physics envy could have a positive outcome.”  But for that to occur, academia must take the trouble to embrace the true values and approaches of physics.

Why do physicists account for a sizeable proportion of Nobel laureates in non-physics disciplines? Because in a physics classroom people acquire a whole lot of useful assets and habits, e.g., real scientific rigor in definitions, models, techniques, and analysis, which help them along enormously.

Physics Vs. Academic Marketing
I will try to look at some features of physics and how they relate to those of academic marketing. After that I will do the same for cliento-marketing. Continue reading


“All things are subject to interpretation.  Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” —  Friedrich Nietzsche

Brain Genetics of Taking Advice, or Not


Here is a science –based counter perspective on the “irrationality” of the “confirmation bias.

  • “People will distort what they experience to be perceived as more consistent with what they thought already,”
  • It turns out that in a learning task, people are guided more by advice at the start. Their genes determine how long it takes before they let the lessons of experience prevail.
  • “It’s funny because we are telling a story about how these genes lead to maladaptive performance, but that’s actually reflective of a system that evolved to be that way for an adaptive reason. This phenomenon of confirmation bias might actually just be a byproduct of a system that tries to be more efficient with the learning process.”

Setting aside advice and following what has been learned from experience, or believing advice even when experience contradicts it, comes down to genetics. A new study finds that two brain regions have different takes on how incoming information should influence thinking. Continue reading

Morality and Brain Blood Flow


“…believing the truth of factual and ethical statements involves increased blood flow to the medial prefrontal cortex, for instance, while disbelieving factual and ethical statements involves increased blood flow to the left inferior frontal gyrus, among other regions. (Uncertainty about the truth or falsity of such statements involves increased blood flow to yet other regions of the brain.)”

Timing of Human Brain Evolution

  • While crude stone tools crafted by human ancestors beginning about 2.5 million years ago likely were an indirect consequence of bipedalism (walking upright) — which freed up the hands for new functions
  • the first inklings of a developing super-brain likely began about 1.6 million years ago when early humans began crafting stone hand axes, thought by Hoffecker and others to be one of the first external representations of internal thought.
  • The emerging modern mind in Africa was marked by a three-fold increase in brain size over 3-million-year-old human ancestors like Lucy, thought by some to be the matriarch of modern humans.
  • Humans were producing perforated shell ornaments, polished bone awls and simple geometric designs incised into lumps of red ochre by 75,000 years ago. “With the appearance of symbols and language — and the consequent integration of brains into a super-brain — the human mind seems to have taken off as a potentially unlimited creative force,” Hoffecker said.

Youth Violence Symptom of Untreated Depression – Not Video Games

  • How depressed young people are strongly predicts how aggressive and violent they may be or may become
  • Contrary to popular belief, however, exposure to violence in video games or on television is not related to serious acts of youth aggression or violence among Hispanics in the US, according to new research
  • Depressive symptoms were a strong predictor for youth aggression and rule breaking, and their influence was particularly severe for those who had preexisting antisocial personality traits.
  • However, neither exposure to violence from video games or television at the start of the study predicted aggressive behavior in young people or rule-breaking at 12 months. Continue reading

Careful with Violent Video Games


“It found that children who played more violent video games early in the school year changed to see the world in a more aggressive way, and became more verbally and physically aggressive later in the school year — even after controlling for how aggressive they were at the beginning of the study. Higher aggression and lower pro-social behavior were in turn related to those children being more rejected by their peers.

“I was startled to find those changes in such a short amount of time,” said Gentile. “Children’s aggression in school did increase with greater exposure to violent video games, and this effect was big enough to be noticed by their teachers and peers within five months.”

The study additionally found an apparent lack of “immunity” to the effects of media violence exposure. TV and video game screen time was also found to be a significant negative predictor of grades.”