Field of Science

Marketing molecular fear

"A woman can recite the most complicated recipe, but how many can name the ingredients in a headache tablet?  If you don't want drugs you know nothing about, take Bufferin...."

This short commercial by actress Joan Fontaine aired in the mid-1960s, an era when Tylenol (acetaminophen) was just gaining market share in the US as a painkiller for adults.  I'm fascinated with the way in which it foreshadows the modern trope of avoiding chemicals you can't pronounce, already marketing the molecular fear that now fuels the largely unregulated, 12 billion dollar a year vitamin and nutritional supplement market in the US.  Rachel Carson's Silent Spring had appeared in 1962, starting a shift towards seeing chemical as a synonym for poison.

Much like the material put out fifty years later by Jospeh Mercola, Dr. Oz and The Food Babe, this ad tacitly assumes people are incapable of understanding science and must rely on experts of some sort.  Who you should not trust.  And women, no matter how competent within their limited domestic sphere, are even less capable.


  1. Good video.. And the writing is also unique. I liked it. Best essay writing service

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  3. It is hard to name the ingredients in head ache tablet. It shows our careless attitude and we are not bothered about our health. We prefer these pain killers for quick relief from pain. Custom essay writing service is going to conduct a seminar on the topic molecular fear. Please join us.

  4. The other side of this argument is "It's natural so it is safe!" I like to reply- Dhatura, potato seeds, snake venom are all natural.Eat/inject and see how safe they are! And as most chemistry students know, the chemistry of natural products course has the toughest formulae to learn.


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