Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dandelions Aren't Cancer

I read a horrible advertisement yesterday.  To illustrate a medical approach that roots out cancer by targeting specific genes, the ad's creators chose a graphic analogy of a dandelion being uprooted from a lawn.  As a public service in response, I should point out that, unlike cancer, dandelions will not kill you.  They're actually quite useful; they're even edible.  If they were less common, more people probably would even view their flowers as pretty (more precisely,  the flowers are flowerheads, composed of thousands of tiny flowers).   Unless one is obsessed by achieving the monocultural, chemically dependent industrial lawn that looks like a carpet of grass, dandelions are a rather welcome addition to a yard.

Ironically, the chemicals that power the industrial lawn may give one cancer. Maybe the ad's creators should have used a picture of Roundup instead.  The most cynical among us might think that the institution being advertised, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, might want people to keep dumping chemicals on the lawn so as to keep new cases of cancer flowing in for treatment.  That's probably going too far though.  More likely, some advertising agency just was ignorant and desperate for an analogy.

As William Niering once noted, "There's nothing wrong with dandelions; there's something wrong with people."

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