The Macalope Daily: Maybe everything is religion

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The Macalope feels bad. In all the hoopla over the Mac Defender Trojan he feels like he’s been neglecting the crop of jerks that periodically make Apple into their whipping boy.

Take the BBC, for example.

Last week the network offered up Secrets of the Superbrands, which made the groundbreaking claim that Apple was just like a religion.

Wow, never seen that before.

The basis for the BBC’s whole point is that some researchers showed that certain beloved brands, such as Apple, affect the same centers of the brain that religion does. Therefore, the BBC felt that gave them license to mock Apple fans as being crazy religious zealots.

Now, the BBC only allows you to watch this video if you’re in the UK. The Macalope went to great lengths to view this video, laden with snark and eye-rolling at the expense of enthusiastic Apple fans, that the BBC apparently only wants to be seen by people stuffed with bangers and mash and warm beer and oh, God, that actually sounds good. The Macalope should never write when he’s hungry.

It’s all good, though. He’s sure Macworld will reimburse him for the round-trip ticket to Heathrow so he could use the airport Wi-Fi to view the video with a British IP address before hopping a flight back to the Colonies.

Sheesh, it’s like the BBC built a virtual wall and put their content behind it! What kind of jerk does that?!

Anyway, while he’s sure that any complaining about this BBC piece is just another sign of how deep into the religion one is, here’s the Macalope’s thing about this.

The BBC had the researchers give an MRI to one (1) Apple enthusiast. Now, the Macalope is not a scientist by trade but he has taken some science classes, watched several episodes of Nova, and once saw Bill Nye in a restaurant, and he’s pretty sure that’s not a very large sample size. Apparently, they’ve studied other people’s reactions to brands, though, and the horny one has no real reason to doubt that it’s true that Apple (or Google or Starbucks or Amazon but not Dell because that would be ridiculous) would fire up the same brain centers as religion in its fans. That, however, does not give you license to Photoshop a halo and robes on Steve Jobs. Just because the same center of the brain is active doesn’t mean Apple fans worship Apple.

Which brings us to the Macalope’s second complaint, which he’s sure will only cement his crazy Apple cultism status (as if it needed any cementing). The researchers were not asked what other things might also stimulate the same brain centers. Sports? Politics? Entertainment stars? Your mom? The point being that it’s possible those centers of the brain are triggered by a superset of social imagery, of which religion and consumerism are just two examples.

The BBC didn’t ask about that. They got the answer they wanted—Apple = religion—and then went off to look for organ music and choir tracks to play over pictures of Steve Jobs.

They also neglected to mention that the Neurosense, the group whose researcher they interviewed, isn’t some non-profit. They’re a for-profit business that tries to sell clients on the idea that they can learn something from how the brain reacts to products.

Our company is a next generation consumer research enterprise. Using applied neuroscience to see inside the consumer’s mind, we provide leading marketers and public sector clients with accurate and actionable insights into their customer’s cognitive engagement and emotional impulses.

So, they have a vested interest in making people believe this stuff is true.

Almost like the heads of major religions.


[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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