EDITOR: | March 21st, 2013 | 1 Comment

Peppermint Oil to Increase Nuclear Power Expansion

| March 21, 2013 | 1 Comment

Nuclear-toothbrushAs long as the fabulous minds that market toothpaste aren’t engaged in the nuclear industry, nuclear power will navigate the doldrums in search of trade winds.

Nuclear power is unquestionably the most promising source of energy available to us, yet in the aftermath of the of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident the International Atomic Energy Agency has downgraded its growth outlook.

But slow adoption of nuclear power has little to do with Fukushima Daiichi and mostly to do with the fact that the nuclear industry, trapped in a sequel of Field of Dreams, is completely ignorant of the way products and ideas are marketed.

A marketer, Claude C. Hopkins (1866–1932), is the single most important historical figure in popularizing tooth brushing. At the turn of the nineteenth century, people didn’t brush their teeth, had horrible oral health, tooth decay was prevalent, which explains why no one ever smiles in these old time pictures. Before Hopkins, dozens of entrepreneurs had tried to market toothpaste based on the scientifically proven data that brushing improves oral health. But they failed.

Hopkins was hired by Pepsodent to devise a marketing campaign. Back then Pepsodent added peppermint oil as a point of difference in the marketplace, without a shred of scientific evidence that the oil contributed to oral health.

Hopkins’ inspiration was to create a linkage between the tingling caused by peppermint oil and freshness. Never mind oral health. Hopkins orchestrated a marketing campaign that appealed to the same mental circuitry that supports the development of psychological habits: the limbic system. Getting a fresh breath became a habit, toothpaste sales exploded. More than a century later, I buy breath mints because of Hopkins work.

Habits are sneak phenomena: even before you put the toothbrush in your mouth, you anticipate being refreshed, invoking the same mental gymnastics as an alcoholic or a smoker. The brain’s reward centers start firing even before the actual reward takes place. In short, it is a habit, and the fact that we feel rewarded before the reward makes it deeply powerful. Neurologists have demonstrated that when we engage in habits, the level of brain activity is lower than when we do something new and challenging. In the savannahs of Africa habits freed up our ancestor’s brainpower, gave them the luxury to watch for saber-toothed tigers as they dug up roots.

Risks and perception of risks cannot fully explain mass behaviour; certainly they cannot explain why the general public does not broadly endorse nuclear power. Case in point: tobacco causes about 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States each year, totaling 443,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke). There are approximately 80,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States. The physiological dependency on these substances is actually short-lived.  But they feed on our limbic tendency to develop habits.

The thing with habits is that we don’t even know when we have them. By trials and errors, advertising firms feed consumers those lines that appeal to our limbic sweet spot. Political parties have mastered this approach by delivering messages that speak to our limbic system so plainly they are impossible to ignore: “The Common-sense revolution”, “Read my lips: no more taxes”, or “Change we can believe in.”

Science-based arguments never win. The nuclear industry has to find a way to put peppermint oil in nuclear power plants.

Dr. Luc Duchesne


Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>

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  • DVH

    If you want to sell nuclear energy check out the “Gruen Transfer” where an advertising agency was asked to promote the benefits of living next to a nuclear reactor, security, they take the really nasty stuff away and plant it somewhere else, if something really catastrophic happens you wont have to survive the aftermath, etc etc etc
    The advert was mostly humor but isn’t that the easiest way to make people think about things, which they need to do in relationship to this.

    June 8, 2013 - 9:08 PM

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