I often warn about the neuroscience I see and hear in the field of conflict resolution because some (maybe much) of it ranges from mildly inaccurate to wildly outlandish. Now, if I want to inject some caution in the conversation, I can recommend a new, easy-to-read book: Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience.When I was at the annual conference of Association for Psychological Science (APS) last month, I heard the book's coauthor Dr. Scott Lilienfeld speak. However, he was not the only presenter warning about the prevalence of neuromyths; for example, Professor Daniel Willingham talked about how rampant inaccurate brain "science" is in the field of education. Flaky, fluffy, false neuroscience seems to be infiltrating many arenas in addition to conflict resolution.
An excerpt from a Wall Street Journal book review of Brainwashed:
[N]euroscientific techniques—fMRI is one of many—provide plenty to be excited about. The authors of "Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience," while sharing in this enthusiasm, offer a more skeptical take. At issue for psychiatrist Sally Satel and clinical psychologist Scott Lilienfeld is "neurocentrism," or "the view that human experience and behavior can be best explained from the predominant or even exclusive perspective of the brain." In their concise and well-researched book, they offer a reasonable and eloquent critique of this fashionable delusion, chiding the premature or unnecessary application of brain science to commerce, psychiatry, the law and ethics.
Yes, I have been a neurocurmudgeon for several years but now, in 2013, perhaps books such as this and presentations like I heard at APS will bring a new level of discernment and accuracy to the use of neuroscience in conflict resolution. I can hope . . .
Note: I call my above photo "Jumbled Science."