back to article Neurobabble makes nonsense brain 'science' more believable

Neuroscientific explanations of human behaviour appeal to people because we’re suckers for simplified, mechanistic brain-centred explanations – even if they’re rubbish or don’t make sense. A droll study by four psychologists tested psychological statements and placed them alongside “irrelevant” information from neuroimaging …

  1. TitterYeNot

    Neurolaw, neurotics, and the old frontal cortex excuse...

    Judge - Counsel, how does your client plead?

    Barrister - Not guilty, M'Lud. My client claims his frontal cortex did it.

    Judge - Granted. I find the defendant not guilty. However, I find his his frontal cortex guilty as charged, and order that it shall be confiscated, taken from this place to another place, and thoroughly minced until it promises not to do it again...

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Neurolaw, neurotics, and the old frontal cortex excuse...

      I find his his frontal cortex guilty as charged, and order that it shall be confiscated, taken from this place to another place, and thoroughly minced until it promises not to do it again...

      Is the Judge's name in this tale Shylock by any chance?

      1. x 7

        Re: Neurolaw, neurotics, and the old frontal cortex excuse...

        "I find his his frontal cortex guilty as charged, and order that it shall be confiscated,"

        Isn't that more or less what a frontal lobotomy / leucotomy is?

  2. The_Idiot

    Sliding in....

    "Previous researchers (e.g. Weisberg 2008 and Hook and Farah 2013) showed that completely made-up neuroscientific research carried weight “when paired with either a brain picture or a bar chart”."

    And once again, PowerPoint is revealed as the work of <insert evil entity of your choice>.

    1. Oninoshiko

      Re: Sliding in....

      Microsoft (what? they aren't evil enough for you?)

  3. breakfast
    Coat

    I find this article very persuasive because it has a picture of an MRI image at the top.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...and a bar chart. I'm convinced.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re - Perhaps when your brain ..before the conscious mind can intervene.

    Or unconscious mind, if you give a lot of 4X to it down the pub.

    Of course true at times, but we are still responsible for our actions otherwise society simply will not work.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: re - Perhaps when your brain ..before the conscious mind can intervene.

      But... But...

      looking around today, it seems society doesn't work!

  5. Little Mouse
    Coat

    I found this article appealing AND it made sense.

    Plus, I especially liked the inclusion of the brain-scan image and the bar chart, which helped to clarify all the salient points, I found.

  6. DNTP

    Is it chart

    Please! I'm not some green graduate student who can be suckered into believing any old study simply because it has a bar chart pasted next to the words.

    You've gotta put ERROR BARS on it before I start blindly accepting your diagrams.

  7. Elmer Phud

    Caps

    I thought that The More Capitals something had The More Important and Obviously Authoratitive it is.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Caps

      no. not true.

    2. tony2heads
      Megaphone

      Re: Caps

      No. It just means that they want to shout a lot

  8. Thrud61
    Coat

    Are we participating now ?

    Anyone else reading that article feel like they are being experimented on, even has a bar chart and an irrelevant scan

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: Are we participating now ?

      It's the Mice. They are still looking for the Ultimate Question.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Are we participating now ?

        And what if the ultimate question turned out to be, "Pick a number, any number."?

        Which isn't actually a question, but raises so many more questions about the nature of life, the Universe, and Everything.

  9. Filippo

    If you take a good thermal image of a desktop computer and analyse it carefully, you can probably figure out its current power state and whether it's running a videogame, or doing heavy network traffic, or idling. But there's no way in hell you can use that to figure out what videogame it's running, or what type of data is being transmitted on the network, or what's the desktop background.

    The relationship between fMRI and psychology is pretty much the same.

    1. jimhex
      Thumb Up

      Thanks for an entirely apt -- even brilliant -- analogy.

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      I dunno Though...

      Might be possible to figure out given enough data. Seem to recall you could hack a smart electric meter to allow a miscreant to figure out what TV show was being watched.

      I know for a fact some games really strain my rig more than others (say crysis 3 vs don't starv, crysis makes the fans attempt liftoff and has cooked watercooling loops, while don't starve leaves the system whisper quiet)

  10. x 7

    I think this article is nonsense. The pictures aren't pretty enough to be serious

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally I think most psychology is babble...

    The idea that you can apply scientific method to an uncontrolled complex system is just wishful thinking.

    Psychology is not a science it is in reality 100% guesses presented as being scientific but if it will help we can talk about it $1000/minute.

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