It’s always nice to see people getting into science. The latest pop science darling has been neuroscience. However, like much of the media’s handling of science, much of this attention has given people incorrect ideas about their own minds. An article in the UK’s Guardian points out that much of the coverage has lead to a “folk neuroscience”that actually makes it more difficult for people to accept valid scientific concepts.
While some of these neuroscience concepts have allowed people better access to concepts, a study found that often media coverage of neuroscience was often oversimplified. More disturbingly much of the coverage was using studies to cite biological proof to support author’s biases. The same sort of language has cropped up in political speeches, often ignoring more complex issues and causes that may be present in the real science.
Neuroscience has made some serious advancements in the last decade, largely due to improved brain scans. However, many of these studies have been covered in ways that mask the real science behind oversimplifications. This risks not only giving people the impression that there are “biological” justifications for their biases, these can be manipulated for political and capital gains. Think of the early popularization of genetics that lead to forced sterilization in the name of eugenics. and realize that most of the understanding to justify these had nothing to do with hard science. It is important to read carefully and try to cite studies.