As an anthropologist of science, I am fascinated with how people create their own meaning from scientific content, which in turn shapes public understanding of science and, ultimately, scientific agendas themselves.
YouTube has become a lively repository for this kind of meaning-making. A great example is advertising for antidepressants: User-generated parody videos have given neuroscientific claims about depression a new cultural life.
So-called “direct-to-consumer” television and print advertising of antidepressants has been a controversial practice since its introduction in 1997, prohibited in all countries except for the U.S. and New Zealand. This sometimes-political lightning rod of the pharmaceutical industry has also been the de facto promulgator of putative neuroscientific theories of depression and anxiety disorders.
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