Monday, January 31, 2011

Neuro-nonsense: A guide to spotting examples

At Oscillatory Thoughts, Bradley Voytek cautions against the pop science media’s simplifications of brain activity on subjects like curiosity :
How to be a neuroscientist

Written by Bradley Voytek at 12:54
In this post, I will teach you all how to be proper, skeptical neuroscientists. By the end of this post, not only will you be able to spot "neuro nonsense" statements, but you'll also be able to spot nonsense neuroscience questions.

I implore my journalist friends to take note of what I say in this post.

Much has already been said on the topic of modern neuroimaging masquerading as "new phrenology". A lot of these arguments and conversations are hidden from the lay public, however, so I'm going to expose the dirty neuroscientific underbelly here.

Well, what is it? Is it even remotely likely that one small area of the brain will govern everything from “Why does she act like she knows something I don’t” over to “Why do geese fly in a V”, and as far down as “Why do people vote for Jane Schtickle, whom I can’t stand”?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose