Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pop cog neuro is so sigh

A good anti-pop-cognitive-neuroscience rant on Language Log:
In closing, there is a larger issue here, beyond the validity of a specific study of voter psychology. A number of different commercial ventures, from neuromarketing to brain-based lie detection, are banking on the scientific aura of brain imaging to bring them customers, in addition to whatever real information the imaging conveys. The fact that the UCLA study involved brain imaging will garner it more attention, and possibly more credibility among the general public, than if it had used only behavioral measures like questionnaires or people's facial expressions as they watched the candidates. Because brain imaging is a more high tech approach, it also seems more "scientific" and perhaps even more 'objective." Of course, these last two terms do not necessarily apply. Depending on the way the output of UCLA's multimillion dollar 3-Tesla scanner is interpreted, the result may be objective and scientific, or of no more value than tea leaves.


Fightin' the good fight. Maybe it's hopeless. Perhaps "it's hard to avoid the inexorable rise of cognitive neuroscience as the dominant dicourse of the next decade." Sigh. Doing lots of statistical analysis of human behavior just seems like a better use of time to me.

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