Are so many mediators citing neuroscience these days because it is cool? Hot? Fashionable? I don't know. That the science being cited is often either inaccurate or not helpful to conflict resolution is sometimes a tad disturbing.
Even though I have blogged about it before, I had forgotten about the phrase "brain overclaim syndrome" until reading this book review from Scientific American. Maybe it partially explains the growth of brain science being mentioned in mediation circles?
Although the book being reviewed is not about conflict resolution, a couple of the paragraphs are relevant to the proliferation of neuroscience in the dispute field . . .
This is where the book truly disappoints. Rather than simply giving us straight talk about how disorganized our thoughts and lives are (but we knew that) and how we can do better (tell us, please!), Levitin insists on informing us repeatedly and in detail about how various regions or pathways in the brain are “involved in” the various cognitive and behavioral phenomena he surveys. He really means that increased neural activity in these areas of the brain is correlated with certain behavioral and cognitive phenomena, which actually means only that such activity tends to occur at about the same time as the behavioral and cognitive phenomena. That is not saying much, which is why Levitin keeps implying more with that vague phrase, “involved in.”
University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephen Morse has dubbed this practice the “brain overclaim syndrome”—the pathological tendency to fool people into thinking you have a profound understanding of something by pointing to brain studies. It goes without saying that any distinctive thing we do—raising an arm, thinking of sheep or shouting, “Hooray!”—must be accompanied by some corresponding neural activity, but that does not explain the activity.
(Click to read the rest of the review.) How much is neuroscience being used today as a trendy camouflage of basic psychology or wisdom or common sense? What does brain science add to any of those three? Typically nothing or not much, in my opinion. What do you think? What has neuroscience brought us that has changed the practice of mediation?