Dangers of exploiting science without understanding it

Recent years have seen a huge growth in the public awareness of neuroscience. People have become more interested in new findings about the brain, and also find brain-based explanations quite compelling. This public interest has led enterprising individuals to try to apply neuroscientific ideas to more everyday situations.

This trend first began back in the late 1990s with “neuromarketing”. More recent developments involve the use neuroscience in the business world and in education. But, like homeopathy and phrenology many of these applications can be regarded as “cargo-cult neuroscience”.

Consider the Neuroleadership Institute. It was founded in 2007 to “encourage, generate and share neuroscience research that transforms how people think, develop and perform”. Broadly, it seeks to apply neuroscientific research in management and business. It publishes its own journal, and holds meetings around the world where prominent business people and a few scientists deliver seminars. The cost of registering for this year’s two-day summit is US$3280 for non-members of the institute – that is roughly five times what an equivalent academic conference might charge.

The Neuroleadership Institute appears to be selling this stuff pretty successfully too. The public seems to be easily impressed with neuroscience right now, and business leaders don’t have the scientific background to adequately critique these ideas. Someone who cloaks themselves in the appearance of academic rigour and promises new thinking based on cutting-edge neuroscience must seem pretty attractive.

Read the full, original story: How neuroscience is being used to sell quackery in business and education

 

 

 

 

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