The worst neurobollocks infographics on the web

Regardless what you think of infographics (and personally, I think they’re largely a pustulent, suppurating boil on the bloated arse of the internet) there are some good, useful ones out there. However, these are vastly outweighed by the thousands of utterly ghastly, misleading, poorly-referenced and pointless ones.

Because I’ve been on holiday for the last week, my levels of rage and misanthropy have dropped somewhat from their usual DEFCON-1-global-thermonuclear-war-the-only-winning-move-is-not-to-play levels, so I thought trying to find the absolute worst neuroscience-related infographics on the web might be a good way to top the vital bile reserves back up again. And oh boy, was I right. There are some doozies.

First up is this purple and blue monstrosity titled ’15 things you didn’t know about the brain.’ Here we learn (amongst other howlers) that the capacity of the brain is 4 terabytes, men process information on the left side while women use both sides, and:

brain-infoWomen are more emotional because they have a bigger limbic system? Are you fucking kidding me? Also, it turns out that ‘Exploding head syndrome’ (also mentioned above) is a real thing, well… kind-of a real thing. Well, actually not really a real thing at all.

Moving swiftly on then, this one titled ‘The neurology of gaming’ is perhaps less laughable, but more dangerous in that it makes a lot of assertions without much to back them up. Nearly all the content here is currently pretty contentious and while some of it might possibly be correct, it’s all presented as fact, with no nuance at all, and only the most cursory attempt at referencing. It also has this brilliantly awful graphic at the bottom:

Neurology-of-Gaming-800What are those little coloured blocks supposed to represent, exactly? Numbers of male and female gamers? Activated brain voxels? Absolutely fucking nothing at all?

The best (by which I mean, worst, naturally) brain-related infographics though, are related to the bullshit left/right-brain myth. This is the idea that some people are more ‘left-brained’ and others are ‘right-brained’, and this has some relationship to their personality, preferences etc., or the idea that some types of information are processed by one hemisphere alone. This is an absolute beauty, which manages (extra points!) to mix up some learning-styles nonsense in there as well for good measure. Amongst many other obviously made-up bits of foolish drivel, it claims that the right-brain is psychic(!), the left likes classical music while the right prefers rock, and the left likes dogs, while the right likes cats.

Left and Right Brain

However, the top prize goes to this pitiful effort, which is chock-full of steaming great turds, but probably the best (worst) bit is reproduced below:

leftrightbrain_infographic

So, you can see which-side-brained you are by which nostril happens to be more blocked up, and men only have brain activity in the left hemisphere. Whoever wrote this deserves to be first up against the wall with a blindfold on when the neuro-revolution comes.

Just to finish on a positive note, while I was scouring the darkest pits of the interwebz to find these, I came across this lovely, helpful little comic about brain development, which manages to be informative, accurate and entertaining. Turns out good ones do exist after all, but infographics (like pretty much everything else) most definitely appear to obey Sturgeon’s Law. 

51 responses to “The worst neurobollocks infographics on the web

  1. Pingback: The worst neurobollocks infographics on the web...

  2. Thanks once again for a great Posting. Highly enjoyable! Keep up the good Work …

  3. “What are those little coloured blocks supposed to represent, exactly?”

    Those blocks are the pieces of Tetris. It’s a game.

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  7. Internets biggest infographics directory: http://infographicsdirectory.blogspot.com/

    Submit and promote your infographics for free!

  8. Reblogged this on Leren.Hoe?Zo! and commented:
    Neurobollocks is een ‘must-follow’ als je feit en fictie over o.a. breinmythes van elkaar wilt scheiden!

  9. Reblogged this on From experience to meaning… and commented:
    15 things you didn’t know about the brain… but maybe good you didn’t.

  10. Pingback: The worst neurobollocks infographics on the web...

  11. Reblogged this on The Breakfast Club and commented:
    Might add this blog into my favourites :)

  12. I prefer the theory that women are more emotional because they have to deal with men, but, you know, I’m sure all these theories have merit.

  13. LOVE. It was kind of you not to point out that the half moon bisected pink brain in the next to the last graphic looks remarkably like butt cheeks. Unnecessarily kind. Glad to have found you through Freshly Pressed.

  14. Reblogged this on LIFT, READ, RANT and commented:
    There is a lot, seriously, a LOT, of bollocks out there, especially when it comes to people attempting to communicate science. Couple that with trying to condense it down into an infographic and you take bullshit to epic levels. Here’re some great examples put together by NeuroBollocks.

  15. You have some good points, but if you cut down on the swearing, it will be easier to read, less insulting and more intelligent sounding. Good job though!

  16. Spectacularly funny and interesting. Keep on keepin’ on. You’ve got a new fan. Misandry buddies?

  17. eyeontheuniverse

    Lol..the cat and dog one is great. Humans are stupid….kind of funny, really. I bet I could make make a good graphic explaining it.

  18. Hahahha, now this was a great, skeptical, yet humorous post Neurobollocks. Loved it.

    Those infographics were indeed horrendous. I’m surprised you didn’t comment on any of the exercise-based ones, they really get my goat (being an exercise physiologist myself) as they advocate all manner of ridiculous and biomechanically dangerous positions for people who probably haven’t done a pushup or a squat in 10 years, if ever. Like this nonsense on stretching:

    Don’t you feel dumber after having read that? I made my own ‘infographic’ over at my skeptical fitness based WordPress blog ‘Skeptifit‘, not so much to do with exercise but explaining to peeps the difference between Physical Therapists, Exercise Physiologists, and Personal Trainers. It’s probably too information heavy for most peope, but at least I referenced the Scope of Practice for each profession!

    Great skeptical post, keep ‘em coming :)

  19. “How to Lie with Statistics”, or how to simply confuse the viewer so that the (uncited) information is half-remembered if at all. I thought the picture was a Periodic Table of Sex.

  20. Statistics have been statistically proven to be 50% truth and 50% pure and utter bullocks.

  21. I like to think that infographics are usually made to either tell you something real or to be a laugh. The whole head exploding thing… I found it funny because it was so stupid :D

  22. Brilliant! Thanks for making me laugh. How right you are – about time someone called this out.

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  24. What a pile of toot! Good blog but the only good thing about the graphics I can find is one looks like the arse it is peddling. Rant over

  25. Great post, and most certainly truthful!

  26. Reblogged this on The Surface Web in Singapore and commented:
    Finally more are sees infographics are created out to ‘spam’ by idiot marketers with crap misinformation. Gr8 insight!

  27. Reblogged…..er….shared on Facebook, maybe I should apologise for that but what the heck. Great blog BTW

  28. LOL….what about neuroplasticity? As in blind people’s “vision” centres being used to read Braille (involving touch) and the case of a woman who learnt to use nerves connected to her tongue for proprioception?

  29. Gender is never a cold topic in any field..anyway it is an interesting article.:)

  30. Reblogged this on All In Our Head and commented:
    This characteristically, and aptly, seething piece from NeuroBollocks indicates just how easy is for neuro-myths to become such rooted misconceptions within the collective mind of the general population. Well worth the read, and a share!

  31. I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t understand a d#mn thing in your post. My oversized limbic system kept getting in the way. (SO frustrating!)

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