Thursday, June 25, 2015

WHY IS IN OUR DNA

I posted this photo on Facebook yesterday. It shows a large sign on the side of Princess Margaret Hospital (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) saying "WHY IS IN OUR DNA." (Click to embiggen.)

Similar signs are appearing all over Toronto, especially at bus stops and in the subway.

What the heck does it mean? The best response on Facebook was that they meant to say "Y is in our DNA" but I don't think that's what they meant. Maybe they are talking about genetic diseases? Maybe they're asking if 90% of our genome is junk? Are they questioning whether "it" is in our DNA (Why is it in our DNA?)? Are they talking about cancer? (The research wing of Princess Margaret Hospital studies cancer.)

As it turns out, none of the above. Here's the real story: Why is in Our DNA. It's straight from the The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation press release.
As The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation continues to raise funds for one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world, we’re asked often: Why is The Princess Margaret a world leader? There are many reasons the centre has achieved a world-class reputation, but this spring, in our communications with donors and the public, we are focusing on one reason—our scientists and researchers never stop asking why…

Why is the body’s immune system not able to fight off all cancers?
Why does cancer return in some patients?
Why did a particular cancer drug work for one patient but not any of the others?
Why did one patient’s tumour shrink dramatically with radiation, but another’s barely at all?

Starting in May, you’ll see on banners outside the cancer centre, the Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower and in various media: WHY is in our DNA. This ‘Why gene’ that our team possesses in abundance has already helped to build The Princess Margaret’s rich history of discovery and innovation, ...
Now I get it. It's because scientists at PMH have a "why" gene.

I wonder what PR firm they hired and whether they thought this through? At the very least, this is a case where punctuation would help: "Why?" is in our DNA. Maybe they should have also put a disclaimer at the bottom: "But not in your DNA."



16 comments :

  1. "In our DNA" seems to be the latest catchphrase used even when people really aren't seriously suggesting a biological mechanism of transmission. For example, after the recent tragedy in South Carolina, President Obama said "The US is not cured of racism; it is part of our DNA". I don't think he was suggesting that people in the US have a gene or allele not found elsewhere.

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  2. ***I wonder what PR firm they hired and whether they thought this through? At the very least, this is a case where punctuation would help: "Why?" is in our DNA.***

    So what the sign actually implies is that the ability to use punctuation correctly is under genetic influence",?

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  3. Just like "What the fuck?" is in my DNA.

    You say "Why is in our DNA". Yet none of you asked:

    "Why on Earth are we doing this?"

    "Why do we think this is good?'

    "Why did we ever hire this advertising firm?"

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  4. Replies
    1. What did YOU think it meant when you first saw it?

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  5. If there's WHY in ones genome there has to be RDW as well.

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  6. "I wonder what PR firm they hired and whether they thought this through? At the very least, this is a case where punctuation would help: "Why?" is in our DNA. Maybe they should have also put a disclaimer at the bottom: "But not in your DNA.""

    Actually, it is pretty effective marketing. It got you wondering about it.

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    Replies
    1. In the case of ad campaigns, it's not true that any publicity is good publicity.

      10 Failed Ad Campaigns That Actually Drove Away Customers

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    2. You are correct. But I think that this one has done what it intended to do. Through you, they have achieved additional free marketing. It is obvious that you are critical of the words used, but it is also obvious that you respect the work of the hospital.

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  7. It's defiantly a very, very good hospital. I just hate the corporate senior management and the freaking corporate lottery people behind it. They don't freaking care about the cancer people that is a fact. The doctors are genuine... most of them

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    1. Kev, thank you for your positive feedback about The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre! regarding your second train of thought: I'd be happy to have a call with you, answer any concerns you may have and even introduce you to colleagues who work on the lottery if you'd like - they're nice people and passionate about the fight to conquer cancer. Please send me an email at alex[.]rascanu[@]thepmcf[.]ca and we can make this happen.

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  8. My first reaction, without knowing about the hospital association, was that it meant curiosity is inherent in being human. It seemed obvious.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting. I wonder if most people had the same reaction?

      I certainly didn't. That interpretation never occurred to me when I first saw the sign.

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    2. My first reaction was "Whaaa?". But Dale's was my second; took a minute.

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