If you're daft enough to read this blog occasionally, you might have concluded that my ideal job would be Chief Tea Taster at Yorkshire Tea.
You would be wrong though. I'd be a particle physicist.
Not a famous one, just someone who could do it for a living would be fine.
Because I find the truth about how nature works endlessly fascinating, inspiring and downright beautiful. There's so much mystery and grandeur in nature I don't need religion for that sense of wonder and comfort, It's all there.
Sadly general intelligence and very specific failings at maths mean I'm stuck doing planning. I get the principles of relativity, I understand why E=MC2 and why it matters, but that's as far as it goes.
One thing physics folks can teach agency folk though is how to go about and interpret research. Because they know that the same experiments will only produce the same results.
And they understand the more interfere with your subject, the less it can tell you.
Just as flashes of insight rarely come from focus groups.
Ernest Rutherford was perhaps the greatest experimenter ever. He wasn't a great theorist, but he was brilliant at devising experiements, and even better, looking for suprise results and working out what they meant.
His most famous was the gold foil experiment, where he fired alpha particles through the wafer thin metal, fully expecting them to shoot straight through, like bullets through paper.
But every now and again, they bounced back, as if they'd hit some immovable force. This was as unexpected a firing a cannon though paper and it rebounding.
The flash of insight to explain this was, roughly, that atoms are mostly empty space - all matter is concentrated in a tiny nucleus.Which was the beginning of our modern understanding of particles and leads to the conclusion that you and I are mostly empty space too.
If you could distill down the human race and push out all that space, we'd fit on a sugar cube.
There's Youngs double- slit experiment too. Where they fired electrons towards a barrier with two slits and, brain poppingly, they appeared to go through both.
Which led to modern quantum mechanics. Something most people accept as plain daft, but has been proven to be fundamental to modern nature - that you can't assume tiny particles don't take one route to a destination, you have to assume they take EVERY possible route. That particles can pop out and back in to existence.
Even more bizzare, the more you try and pin-point where a particle is, the less you know about where it's going.
Even worse, the more you try and box it it, the more likely it will disappear out of the box and re-appear somewhere else.
In other words, if you ask sub-atomic particles direct questions, the more they'll give you duff answers
Just like traditional marketing research.
Where interfering with human beings, just like particles reveals untruths and even bare-faced lies.
Because, just like particles can tell you where they are, but not where they're going.
People can tell you what they think (or at least think they think), but not how they feel or what they'll do.
Focus groups mean we conform to group think.
Our own decisions are clouded to us, our so called rational decision making process is a smokescreed to make us feel better about that fact we choose based on shorthand heuristics, emotion and instinct.
Even worse, our minds distort the past and predict our future based on our imperfect view of that past.
In fact, the only reliable way to research human beings is not interfere with them.
To observe how they they behave in their natural environment.
And get creative.
Look for unexpected.
If you know what you're looking for, the more likely you'll find it. And it will be obvious.
Leading to obvious advertising.
BBH didn't focus group Polaroid. They gave Polaroid cameras out at wedding and watched what happened - discovering they added to the occasion. You USED them to enhance the moment.
Leading to this...
AMV borrowed from cutting edge phychology and filmed how people shopping failed to notice a man in a gorilla suit in th aisles. Proving how much they were stuck in a routine. Leading to this:
That Gorilla insight was even used in a piece of advertising too...
And so on.
Game-changing insights in modern physics happened through creative experimentation and, well, by accident.
Not from repeating the same methodology.
Not from asking nature directly either.
So it is with discovering the truth about human beings.
And, probably, stealing as much methodology from Brainjuicer as you possibly can.