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Neuroscience, pseudoscience, neurobollocks …

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Neuroscience was not meant to be doing this :

In “Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks” (New Statesman, 6 September 2012), Steven Poole asks “The “neuroscience” shelves in bookshops are groaning. But are the works of authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer just self-help books dressed up in a lab coat?”

To ask that question is to answer it.

An intellectual pestilence is upon us. Shop shelves groan with books purporting to explain, through snazzy brain-imaging studies, not only how thoughts and emotions function, but how politics and religion work, and what the correct answers are to age-old philosophical controversies. The dazzling real achievements of brain research are routinely pressed into service for questions they were never designed to answer. This is the plague of neuroscientism – aka neurobabble, neurobollocks, or neurotrash – and it’s everywhere.

The reason people are bored with old-fashioned approaches like reason and logic is most likely that those approaches tell us that the problem with us is us. And we can find far more peace of mind by changing ourselves than by changing our neighbours. And so forth.

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