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Caution: Neuroscience quackery in the boardroom and classroom

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From a piece attacking the neuroquackery as cargo cult science, from Medical Xpress:

There are also occasional, mostly nonsensical, references to neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. The neuroscience content seems to be there purely to put a new, modern gloss on some very old ideas from 1970s psychology. This is not to say that it is necessarily bad advice. But these are old ideas, given a slick re-packaging and being sold as brand new.

Another particularly witless example is a recent article from Marketing Week, titled “Neuroscience and marketing: what you need to know”. In reality, the article contains discussion of experimental psychology results, with no brain-related content at all. In this case, the term “neuroscience” is simply being used to produce a headline that people will be tempted to click on.

Usha Goswami, director of the centre for neuroscience in education at the University of Cambridge, raised this issue in a 2006 review. She noted then that teachers received nealry 70 mail promotions per year trying to sell brain-based learning courses. Many of these, she noted, “contained alarming amounts of misinformation”.

Around the same time, science writer Ben Goldacre and others exposed Brain Gym, a brain exercise program widely used in UK schools at the time, as ridiculous nonsense. Education seems to be a fertile area for the development of “neuromyths”, and despite this kind of criticism, new variants have flourished in the last few years.

Much of the quackery seems to consist of repackaging common sense marketing or motivation techniques as “neuroscience.” It’s not always wrong but the explicit connection with neuroscience is in any event spurious. So brainlock your wallet and find another school for your kid. Follow UD News at Twitter!

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose


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