In “Neuro-Reality-Check: Brief Replies to Contentious Claims (Part IV)” (The Neuro Times, 31 December 2011), Stephen T. Casper offers,
… fields in the humanities and social sciences that have sought to embrace neuroscientific knowledge have not succeeded in specializing, precisely because they are not seeking to narrow their professions – history, philosophy, economics, ethics, aesthetics, or law. Rather, they are claiming that we – humanists and social scientists – have a choice before us: we can learn from neuroscience and expand our professions’ knowledge bases. Or we can resist neuroscience and suffer the humiliation of falling further and further behind.
It is this appeal to choice that reveals quite explicitly what many of these neuro-prefixed individuals are up to. They are entrepreneurs, bent on selling a product. A product that is often little more than a utopian vision or ideology dressed-up in the newest scientific fashions. Seven decades ago it was eugenics; four decades ago it was socio-biology. In the last thirty years, we’ve seen genes, green florescent proteins, and now brain scans become the currency of ‘debates’ about making history, philosophy, ethics, and law scientific. And a number of people have become quite famous selling us those debates and fairy-tales.
People who want fantasy lands should try Disney first. It’s just the price of admission, with few after-effects except really bad “What I did on my vacation” photos.
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allan at Brains on Purpose