Displacing Neuromyths With Neuromythography

Displacing Neuromyths With Neuromythography
People try to attach their pet theories to the brain

The advances in neuroscience have attracted many people who try to use it to dress up their pet ideas. Dopamine, for example, has captured the popular imagination​​ as the chemical correlate of instant pleasure, when in fact different components of dopamine signaling map better to desire, goal proximity-reckoning, and surprise. Beta-endorphin and its mu opioid receptor are a better fit for the popular conception of the "dopamine hit".

But it's not just popular myths that self-appointed science communicators like to fixate upon. ​The triune brain, with its seductive paleontology analogy, continues to be widely-used by various experts despite its wrongness​​. Diehard social constructionists embed themselves in the biological sciences and try to critique empirical findings as "biological essentialism" if they challenge social science theories. The effectiveness of most psychiatric medicines is dubious at best. ​​Various quack remedies are offered under banners like "nootropics" and "brain wave entrainment". ​

Some may bristle at juxtaposing crank pseudoscience and noise emitted from inside the Academy together like this. ​But at the end of the day, they have the same effect: obscuring understanding of what secrets the brain itself​ has revealed.

Neuromythography seeks to provide the brain, and its bench science explorers, an opportunity to express a mythology of its own, rather than projecting some simple external theory framework or another upon it. ​​​ Granted, neuromythography applies external metaphors, ​but these are an inversion of the usual approach of claiming a phenomenon is what's real, an evolutionary function is why, and the brain part is a mere mechanism. ​​

About the author
Steven Florek

Steven Florek

Steven Florek is the creator of neuromythography and founder of Neuromemex.

The Neuromythography Institute

The home of neuromythography

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