Neuroscience: Under Attack
This fall, science writers have made sport of yet another instance of bad neuroscience. The culprit this time is Naomi Wolf; her new book, â€œVagina,â€ has been roundly drubbed for misrepresenting the brain and neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin. Earlier in the year, Chris Mooney raised similar ire with the book â€œThe Republican Brain,â€ which claims that Republicans are genetically different from â€” and, many readers deduced, lesser to â€” Democrats. â€œIf Mooneyâ€™s argument sounds familiar to you, it should,â€ scoffed two science writers. â€œItâ€™s called â€˜eugenics,â€™ and it was based on the belief that some humans are genetically inferior.â€
Sharp words from disapproving science writers are but the tip of the hippocampus: todayâ€™s pop neuroscience, coarsened for mass audiences, is under a much larger attack. Meet the â€œneuro doubters.â€ The neuro doubter may like neuroscience but does not like what he or she considers its bastardization by glib, sometimes ill-informed, popularizers.