Posted on December 2, 2019 at 9:28 AM
While watching a television commercial from one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies I suddenly heard something that attracted my attention. I am generally quite good at ignoring commercials and especially good at ignoring drug commercials because of their endless lists of side effects (this drug may cause sudden hideously painful death) among other uninteresting features. Thus, it has come a surprise that I appeared to hear the statement “This is why we science.” This is the new tag line from a series of commercials from Bayer Pharmaceuticals. These are not merely commercials that are trying to get us to buy aspirin but rather to make them appear to be contributing to our wellbeing in a much broader and more fundamental sense. What was it that caught my attention? It was a bit of cognitive dissonance. The dissonance occurred because they used “science” as a verb. Throughout my entire life “science” has been a noun. I am not merely a casual observer of science. I am a scientist and have been a scientist for half a century. Surely if science was a verb, I would have noticed it previously. But no, now that I find myself grey haired and eligible for social security this noun to which I have devoted my professional life to is suddenly a verb. Moreover, it appears that all that is necessary to convert a noun to a verb (should we call this verbification?) is for a multinational corporation to spend millions of dollars on a high-profile advertising campaign using it as a verb. I should note as an aside that “verbification”, which I thought I had just made up, is actually a word, in fact a verb. I am not exactly sure why it bothers me that Bayer has verbificated science, but it does. Where does this end? I have already created words while writing this blog. All I have to do is write them down and when my spell checker objects, I simply click “add to dictionary”. Then my spell checker accepts them as words, they will appear in the published blog, and perhaps you will accept them as words. Perhaps. I am wondering now if during that part of my job where I act as an ethicist do I actually “ethic”? I am not sure so I will have to be satisfied for now with raising the question. And so, I leave you with another question. Do I write blogs, or do I blog? Perhaps it does not really matter.
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