Friday, September 09, 2011

A Brief Mention on House Equals a 3-part Series on the News

We tend to think that fiction is purely entertainment... and that what we know about the real world comes from factual programing like the news. But an incomplete sentence mentioning a cancer experiment demonstrated that a brief mention on House can get as much response as a 3-part network news series.

In “Half-Wit” (3-15), House’s assistants, Dr. Eric Foreman, Dr. Robert Chase, and Dr. Allison Cameron, believe House may have a brain tumor. As they cast about for potential treatments, Chase says, “They’ve got another trial going on at Duke. Fifteen percent extend their lives beyond five years. If you are positive for protein PHF . . .” Although Chase didn’t even finish describing the research, viewers went looking for information on an experimental treatment being tested at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
The research of a team including John Sampson, M.D., a brain tumor researcher at Duke, had also been featured in a 3-part series on the CBS Evening News, but Dr. Sampson said people really noticed the cryptic reference on House.

“The next morning people started calling me up and saying, ‘They mentioned your vaccine study on House. Actually they didn’t specifically say it was a vaccine, but I guess that’s what the majority of people took it to mean,” Dr. Sampson said.

Read the full discussion in “House, M.D. vs. Reality

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