Its a lot of money to spend on delectable gourmet bugs even if well spiced and cooked to your instructions. Insects are not considered a scarce or endangered commodity. But, maybe quenching our pangs of hunger by integrating them in our diet is something, deep down, we really, really want to do at a primal level, but are too timid to admit it to our inner me. Brainwave testing and neuromarketing backed by multinational consumer product companies may yet convince us of this and other spare change vacuum cleaning ideas. Whether the form is choosing a soccer jersey, clicking on a Google ad or swallowing a steamed scorpion …
“SOMETHING happened when Kisha Moorehead looked into the bowl of live worms. She was midway through a five-course Mexican feast at the Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg last Saturday night, a meal engineered to introduce New Yorkers to the succulent wonders of edible insects. Throughout the first couple of courses (yucca frites dotted with mealworms, a smoked corn custard sprinkled with crispy moth larvae), Ms. Moorehead’s response had been muted. Earlier that evening, in fact, out on the sidewalk, she and her date, Harold Bradley, had considered fleeing the event altogether, even though they’d spent $85 each”…
But how do we measure the strength of that desire and can want be shaped and formed? The enduring allure of neuroscience is that it can measure our responses to stimuli at the level of our reptilian brains. This means it can figure out our actual responses rather than the ones we give to people running a focus group, or in other words what we say and what we really think can be quite different. A.K. Pradeep and his book “The Buying Brain” conjures up all the nightmares that neuromarketing and brainwave measurement can possibly dish out with the credibility of a chain smoker selling heart foundation ribbons door to door.
Neuromarketing is a controversial old/new field of marketing which uses medical technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) — not to heal, but to sell products.There are some big potential problems with neuromarketing: increased incidence of marketing-related diseases; more effective political propaganda; and, more effective promotion of degraded values.
Neuromarketing exploded into the mainstream over the last decade, fed both by wild claims of its potential and the intensifying interest among business people, academics, and lay people in the science of thought.Its also a “wild west” and unregulated field. It has struck many as shady and unethical, the contemporary version of the 1950s-era fear of subliminal advertising. There is also something unutterably melancholy, even appalling about harnessing the sum total of knowledge about the human brain; knowledge that would have made our ancestors swoon ; in order to design a more compelling toilet paper, chocolate bar or oral hygiene product. It was quickly attacked by consumer organizations and high-profile critics like Ralph Nader. An article in The Independent warned: “They don’t just want your money. They want your brain.” Many marketers refused to acknowledge they were engaging in the research. Effectively, a sizable shard of it is a continuation and logical extension of the work of Edgar Bernays and Nazi propaganda experiments.
… “ But they stayed, and at some point during dinner a bowl of squirming wax moth larvae was passed around. Ms. Moorehead, 38, who most days can be found driving the morning G train, dived in. “They’re moving,” she said. “Oh, I want to try that. Oh! Oh!”
Suddenly almost trembling with excitemen
he stuck her fingers into the bowl, grabbed a pale yellow worm, popped it into her mouth and munched down. She closed her eyes. She seemed to swoon. “I ain’t gonna do that,” Mr. Bradley said. “Just try one, please,” Ms. Moorehead said. “It tastes like raw corn,” a fellow diner, Alfredo Lamus, said from across the table. “Just try it,” Ms. Moorehead said gently. …
“Neuromarketing is the practice of using technology to measure brain activity in consumer subjects in order to inform the development of products and communications–really to inform the brand’s 4Ps. The premise is that consumer buying decisions are made in split seconds in the subconscious, emotional part of the brain and that by understanding what we like, don’t like, want, fear, are bored by, etc. as indicated by our brain’s reactions to brand stimuli, marketers can design products and communications to better meet “unmet” market needs, connect and drive “the buy”. It is commonly accepted that traditional market research is flawed because consumers don’t know, can’t articulate, or will even lie in a focus group about their purchase motivations. Neuromarketing research removes subjectivity and ambiguity by going right to measuring observable brain behavior. ”
The idea of the neuromarketers is to focus on small inexpensive products whose purchase people do not analyze in much depth. In the case of a big-ticket item,like a home or an RV, typically there’s a bit of modulation with reason. But, in the case of soda, or toothpaste, or a toothbrush, or a bag of chips, the amount of modulation by reason is relatively small. So the question is asked: How many times do I go out every day and buy things that require rational consideration? The answer is probably no more than several times a year, at best.. The rest of it, is in marketing jargon, “you like to think you think about it, but you don’t think about it.”
“…Mr. Bradley, a police officer, wedged one between his teeth, scrunched up his face, and flailed his arms around in what looked like a genuine spasm of repulsion. But Ms. Moorehead, who has such a potent phobia about the animal kingdom that she refuses even to pet dogs and cats — well, after having ingested that worm, it was clear that she had crossed a threshold. She beamed like someone who had just walked barefoot over hot coals. “I’m so glad I did it,” she said. “Because that’s why I came here. I overcame something. If I can do this, I can do anything.” …
The fear of neuroscience in the service of Wall Street was fed in part by talk of the “buy button” in the brain that people surmised could be unethically manipulated; which scientifically does not exist as a singular entity. All the brain has are interconnected networks, and the networks amplify things. Some signals die away, but when things appeal to different parts of the brain, there’s amplification, and there’s resonance, and then the brain is very engaged, and things like hormones can run off the tracks. It may result in a purchase behaviour. When you find the place where you are implicitly and subconsciously connecting to the brand, and the network and the ad, they all continuously resonate, and one plus one becomes ten and not two. Which all means there are many “buy buttons” as the marketer attempts to create a series of metaphorical multiple orgasms in the shopper.
Neuromarketing, like potential frozen bug prepared meals, has begun to crawl out of the shadows.In part because of the dismal economic conditions forcing marketers to develop more sophisticated approaches to separate the consumer from money to buy something they don’t really need syndrome. The global research giant Nielsen invested in NeuroFocus; as companies that included Microsoft and Frito Lay admitted to doing ongoing neuroscience research. Last year, the brand consultant Martin Lindstrom had a minor bestseller with his neuromarketing book “Buyology” and was named to Time magazine’s Top 100 most influential people. Over the summer, the communications agency Millward Brown said it had established a neuroscience practice. And earlier this month, the British journal New Scientist announced it had used NeuroFocus to test three different covers for a recent issue before settling on the one it published, resulting in what it said was a twelve-per-cent increase in sales over the same week’s issue from last year.
“…Phil Ross, the San Francisco-based chef and artist who put together this and other insect smorgasbords, said he sees that kind of reaction all the time. “People barely need help over the hump,” he said. “As soon as they taste them and they realize that the flavor is actually really good, all the other stuff just goes out the window very fast, and a whole lot of other things start entering. Transgression of one taboo leads to all kinds of other possibilities.”
Mr. Ross is wiry and intense and comes across like a 44-year-old version of Ferris Bueller — if “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” had been directed by, say, David Lynch. (Mr. Ross describes himself as the kind of guy who “gets a pizza with cockroaches on it — intentionally.”) He raises many of the worms in his San Francisco apartment.His girlfriend, the artist Monica Martinez, builds miniature Bauhaus-style cottages and apartment complexes, and the bugs live rent-free. (These whimsical structures are on display until Oct. 15 at the EyeLevel BQE exhibition space, right around the corner from the Brooklyn Kitchen.)…”
If Neuromarketing has evoked fears bordering on science fiction of the 1950′s , the mostly likely candidate for a consumer marketing nightmare and backlash, or flashback, would be in Don Siegel’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” , the Sci-Fi epic about humans taken over by giant seed pods from outer space. The meaning of the film has always been ambiguous. Lead Kevin McCarthy said ” People began to think of McCarthyism later. I thought it was really about the onset of a kind of life where the corporate people are trying to tell you how to live, what to do, how to behave.”
Based on a magazine serial by Jack Finney, the movie takes place in the fictional town of Santa Mira, California, where Miles has just returned from a medical convention. He begins to learn from his patients that some of their relatives have changed. They act strange and show no emotion.
At first Miles attributes the changes to mass hysteria but soon discovers to his horror that their bodies have been duplicated by giant seed pods while they were sleeping. As Miles and his love interest, Becky, played by Dana Wynter, try to flee and stay awake, they are pursued by the alien impostors. The original ending of the film had McCarthy on a highway banging on car windows and yelling: “Look, you fools. You’re in danger. Can’t you see? They’re after you. They’re after all of us. Our wives, our children, everyone.” Then, looking into the camera in an extreme close-up, he shouts: “They’re already here. You’re next!”
ADDENDUM: “In my opinion, the crucial issue for Horkheimer, as well as for Adorno and Benjamin – unlike Marcuse – is that this technological society is nothing but a particular historical expression of an element situated at the basis of Being in general. For Adorno “space is nothing but absolute alienation”. This is the basis for the whole historical reality of the advanced technological society, in which everything has become “consumption” and life with all its layers and dimensions is nothing but a ‘fetish of consumption”. Benjamin did not hesitate to designate “the totality” of “modernity” using a distinct name: “hell.” Hell returns, again and again, in each innovation, and surely this totality reflects the “eternity of hell upon earth”.
Both the Judeo-Christian tradition of religious redemption and the tradition of utopianism needed the idea of “progress” as well as the optimistic historical conscience in general. From the prophets of Israel to Rabbi Cook, from St. Augustine to Hegel and Marx, the idea of progress ensured confidence in the possibility of redemption, or in the realization of the future utopia. Even facing the horrors of life, the individual may have tied his fate to a project beyond individuality, providing meaning and purpose to the joy and pain in his life; and allowing the union of him with his fellow-man, of the present with the past and with the future – if not in reality at least as an idea. In the quest for social revolution positive utopianism demanded the idea of human progress in history. This idea was a re-endorsement of the conception of religious redemption, whose maximalist version emphasized precisely the idea of the leap beyond the horizon of history. In the first phase, Horkheimer’s position is simply the development of Kantian utopianism, claiming that “man’s principle of morality never extinguishes, and reason does grow permanently by means of ever advancing culture”.
In his latter work, many years after Benjamin, Horkheimer presented the thesis contradictory both to Kant’s and to the enlightenment’s basic position, as well as to the whole humanist tradition which demanded revolution and hoped for it relying on such a conception of progress. Now he claimed that “progress” was nothing more than a vicious circle of horror. In Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” such pessimism was expressed in the image of “the angel of history”: “There is a picture by Klee, which is called Angelus Novus. An angel is represented in it, who looks as if he was about to move away from something at which he is staring. His eyes are widely open, his mouth is open and his wings are relaxed. Thus the angel of history should appear. He has turned his eyes towards the past. Where to us a chain of events seems to appear, he sees a single catastrophe, piling up continuously ruins upon ruins, and casting them in front of his feet. He might want to remain, to awake the dead and to reassemble what was shattered. But a storm moves in from paradise, which has entangled itself into his wings, and which is so strong that the angel cannot close them anymore. Unrestrained this storm pushes him into the future to which he turns his back, while the piles of ruins in front of him grow up to heaven. What we call progress is this storm.