Brainwashed: Neuroscience vs neurobollocks


#1

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#2

I read the popular press accounting of science with a great wariness. So much that is accessible to me as a lay reader seems to be of a speculative nature and supported by what is, at best, data that claims correlation. Odd correlation and what appears to be counter-intuitive argument makes a catchy story, but it's seldom of value. Give me a predictive model supported by replication, and I will pay attention. Brainwashed, then, could be a good read. I want to think, not having ordered a copy quite yet, that this will be in the tradition of so much good writing, say Martin Gardner and others. Thanks for pointing toward it.


#3

"I'm not a crack addict, my brain is" Naive dualism is such a major, major pet peeve of mine. And (sorry for the humblebrag) so few people understand why it's a problem and why it affects how we deal with so many things.


#4

I admit I haven't read the book but, when no arguments can be found against science, the last resort seem to be philosophical arguments and post-modernism.

Anyway are we really surprised that ppl uses dubious scientific claims to sell/market stuff?


#5

It's possible that neuroscientists aren't the only ones predisposed to interpret findings through a particular filter:

Sally Satel: "Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute"

2006 - The Health Disparities Myth: Diagnosing the Treatment Gap.
2005 - One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance
2001 - P.C. M.D.: How Political Correctness is Corrupting Medicine.
1999 - Drug Treatment: The Case for Coercion. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.


#6

that's some scientific approach there pal. right up there with saint sam harris, the yellow. you admittedly haven't read it yet you're willing to go on record condemning it as heresy in the form of the dreaded post modernism. have you any idea how ridiculous this sort of thing makes you look?


#7

you admittedly haven't read it yet you're willing to go on record condemning it as heresy in the form of the dreaded post modernism

I'm not condemning it, (I haven't read the book) I just stated that philosophical and post-modernist arguments to scientific claims are weak. To me that kind of reasoning always makes me suspicious. Similar hesitation is shared with the one who wrote the article

This was, for me, the book's weakest argument

If your view is that post-modernist/philosophical arguments are valid in scientific reasoning go head, my views and reasoning are then completely incompatible from yours and any further discussion is pointless.

And I also stated that selling/promoting things with dubious scientific claims isn't something unique to neuroscience, there have been snake-oil salesman and charlatans all through history.


#8

I'm really not sure what to think of this book after reading your review. On the one hand, the idea that important decisions--whether scientific, legal, political, or economic--shouldn't be made on the basis of the sort of pop-neuroscience stuff that Jonah Lehrer used to promulgate is hardly controversial. On the other, is this book proposing that there isn't a neurological basis to addiction? Because that's bullshit. (At any rate, I wish that you'd informed us at the beginning of the review that one of the authors was a shill for AEI.)


#9

what you said was this: "I admit I haven't read the book but, when no arguments can be found against science, the last resort seem to be philosophical arguments and post-modernism."

if you did not intend offer an argument that the book is philosophical in nature, you should not have implied that it is. so you are guilty of two fundamental errors; offering opinion on a matter you have not first made yourself familiar and then falsely offering a distraction as criticism. you did not catch your errors and either repair or report them, so let's make that three fundamental errors.

if you want to scorn philosophy and post-modernism, go ahead. and if you want to write an essay on the rigors of the scientific method, that's fine. but when you use sloppy syntax and association you only make yourself the a target in the thread. and when, instead of admitting your errors, you defend them, you make yourself the easiest target.

my view is that if you're going to defend science get your shit together or keep your mouth shut.


#10

if you did not intend offer an argument that the book is philosophical in nature, you should not have implied that it is.

I'm referencing the article which states:

This discussion is accompanied by a philosophical argument about the need for "retributive justice" (punishment) as a means of creating legitimacy in the justice system, presented as an argument against the idea of treating crime as a neurological disease. This was, for me, the book's weakest argument, and reflective of the political agenda of the American Enterprise Institute, a libertarian thinktank where Sally Satel is Resident Scholar.

You seem to be really upset about something and honestly I don't get your hostility. I don't think any further discussion between us is going to be rewarding for anyone, so I end it by agree to disagree.


#11

wait. you're pretending a legitimacy for your confusing misunderstanding that the book is foundationed in philosophy, re:" when no arguments can be found against science, the last resort seem to be philosophical arguments and post-modernism."? and that a comment from a review is its basis? too laughable.

no. what you did was impersonate sam harris. poorly. and you did not get away with it.


#12

While we're arguing about whether neuroscience is "bollocks", marketers are using it to control our lives.

It appears that the takeaway from this book is, "It works in practice, but does it work in theory?"


#13

True, but the claims labelled in the book as "neurobollocks" are, at best, misunderstood, and thus badly quoted neuroscience. At worst, they're pseudo-scientific, since the technology required to properly evaluate them hasn't even been specified as required yet. At this point, a cogent philosophical argument is the best we can do. Further, post-modernism is not even wrong, so there's no point in including it in the conversation.


#14

Again I'm referring to the article, the article clearly states that philosophical arguments are made and that's what I was referring to.

If you have solid scientific arguments against something (which the article says the book has), why dilute the criticism by introducing philosophical ones? When ppl use philosophical and post modernist arguments about science I get hesitant about it. To me that's a litmus test and how to sift through academic papers etc.

Completely disagree. If you don't know anything about something, then scientific research is the best thing to use to explore and understand. As a teacher I've seen the failures of introducing philosophical methods and post modernist thinking in pedagogic research.


#15

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