Oh, what’s that deranged idiot Charlie Sheen talking about now? And how come everyone in this country would rather listen to him than Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy. I just don’t get it. Why are people so stoooopid.



He stole the limelight from the Oscars. The biggest night of awards on the planet. But the morning after, more people were talking about Charlie Sheen and his IRRATIONAL behavior than they were about the big show.

What does this tell you about human nature? Very simple. Irrational behavior is endlessly fascinating. Rational behavior isn’t.

Ever wonder why there are so few biographical films of the lives of scientists versus alcohol-saturated, drug popping, womanizing, car-crashing actors? Irrationality sells and intrigues. Which was a major point of the first chapter of my book. And I’m sorry, but I guarantee this holds even for scientists, the majority would tell you they’d much rather watch a movie about the life of James Dean than James Watson (of DNA fame).

What to do about this? Don’t get mad, get even. Put it to use.

Here’s how bad the irrationality dilemma is. There used to be a Broadway show called, “Scrambled Feet,” in which a comic would stand at one end of the stage and try to hold the interest of the audience while at the other end a duck dressed in a tuxedo would walk back and forth. The audience was asked to pay no attention to the duck, and to listen to the stand-up comedy performance. But it was hopeless.

Why would an audience rather watch a duck than a comic?

Why would people rather read about Charlie Sheen than Steven Chu?

And why can’t ducks and Charlie Sheen’s be co-opted in the elusive task of communicating with the general public. They can. You just have to be brave enough to try.