A view from Dave Trott: Copernican shift
A view from Dave Trott

Copernican shift

When we see footage shot by a GoPro camera, it looks as if we are stationery and everything else is moving around us.

We experience our position as the fixed, unshifting point of view.

So, naturally, mankind always believed this was the way the universe worked.

Ptolemy formalised it, the earth at the centre and the planets moving around us.

This was always the accepted truth for the Christian Church – the earth was the centre, the stars hung in heaven, and God looked down on everything.

But in 1543, Copernicus published De Revolutionobis and mathematically proved that the earth wasn’t the centre of the universe.

In fact, the sun was the centre, and the earth was just one of many planets that orbited it.

Two thousand years of geocentrism crumbled, heliocentrism was the new truth.

But this truth was impossible for the Christian Church to accept.

If the heavens were no longer above the earth, then where was God?

The astronomer Galileo became an outspoken supporter of heliocentrism – in 1609, his observations verified Copernicus’ position.

in 1613, the Church accused Galileo of taking a position counter to the Bible.

Galileo stated that the Bible was an authority on faith and morals, but not science.

So, in 1615, Galileo was called before the Inquisition – they found his statements that the earth orbited the sun to be: “Foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts the sense of Holy Scripture.”

He was required to “abjure, curse and detest these opinions” and to “abandon completely the opinion that the sun stands still at the centre of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing".

The Church banned all of Galileo’s writings and, since the Church had the power over life and death, Galileo was placed under house arrest until he died in 1642.

Galileo’s writings were only published after his death, since which time he has been known as “the father of modern physics”.

For the Church, to accept Galileo’s findings would have meant a paradigm shift on their part, and they were not capable of this.

The term “paradigm shift” was coined by Thomas Kuhn in 1962.

The Church was founded on belief, so belief came before facts; for the Church, facts had to be made to fit belief.

A paradigm shift would turn their world inside out, it would put facts before belief.

Those of us who work in advertising find ourselves in need of a paradigm shift.

We have the belief that advertising shapes public opinion, that opinion revolves around us.

We need a paradigm shift to see that we are not at the centre, people are at the centre.

Consequently, advertising awards, given out by the Church of Advertising, are not the truth of what constitutes good advertising.

Unless we recognise this, we will continue to believe that the little statuettes, and flutes of Champagne handed out on yachts at Cannes, are the centre of the universe.

Just like the medieval Church, we will believe, against all evidence, that people orbit around advertising, when actually advertising orbits around people

But, in fact, Galileo was wrong – the sun isn’t the centre of the universe.

The sun is one of BILLIONS of stars making up our galaxy, and our galaxy is one of BILLIONS of galaxies making up the known universe.

We don’t even revolve around the centre of the universe because there isn’t a centre.

But that’s an inconvenient truth for advertising.

So, like the Christian Church, we make the facts fit our belief.

Dave Trott is the author of The Power of Ignorance, Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three