From its founding in 1932 until 1998, Lego had never posted a loss. By 2003 it was in big trouble. Sales were down 30% year-on-year and it was $800m in debt. An internal report revealed it hadn’t added anything of value to its portfolio for a decade.
The takeaway is clear: Increasing science literacy alone won’t change minds. In fact, well-meaning attempts by scientists to inform the public might even backfire. Presenting facts that conflict with an individual’s worldview, it turns out, can cause people to dig in further. Psychologists, aptly, dubbed this the “backfire effect.”
The federal government doesn’t stray too far from a few familiar topics when it comes to its agenda: the economy, health care, national defense, immigration, reproductive rights. But for roughly a decade not long ago, good graphic design was a national priority—and the story of how it became one is a forgotten chapter of design history.
In the 1970s, good design became federal policy.