As a brief little taster, before I really get stuck into tearing apart some neuro-charlatans, I thought I’d kick off with posting some relevant links to fairly general articles and resources that others have written.
First up is a short report in Wired magazine on a talk by Molly Crockett, delivered at the TedSalon event in London. The actual talk is also available on the TED website here. She mentions a few classic neurobollocks studies, and other ‘serious’ studies that have been hopelessly distorted by the popular press.
Next up is a widely-quoted piece by Steven Poole in the New Statesman, titled ‘Your brain on pseudo-science: The rise of popular neurobollocks. This article mostly focusses on the kind of popular-science books written by Malcolm Gladwell and the (now-disgraced) Jonah Lehrer. This article did raise the ire of The Neurocritic who raises a number of good points in response, among them, that Raymond Tallis has been talking about popular ‘neurotrash’ for a while now – this article is a good piece on Tallis and covers a number of his main points.
Thirdly, there’s a fantastic lecture online by the never-less-than-utterly-invaluable Dorothy Bishop in which she discusses a number of well-known examples of neurobollocks and proposes some general reasons why studies might show positive effects where actually none exist. If you have an hour to spare, I highly recommend you spend it listening to this lecture. If you don’t have a spare hour, then make one. If you’re really pushed for time/lazy/have the attention span of a schizoid squirrel then Neurobonkers did a brief write-up of the talk here.
Lastly, the wikipedia page on pseudo-science. Yes, I know… wikipedia sucks as a serious source… Anyway, that page doesn’t actually mention much neuroscience, but has a lot of good discussion of general principles and is well worth a read.