Readership of Neuromarketing keeps growing, but now Yale researchers have published a paper that reveals my dirty little secret… cloak BS in neuroscientific jargon, and people find it more plausible! The abstract for The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations states, “Even irrelevant neuroscience information in an explanation of a psychological phenomenon may interfere with people’s abilities to critically consider the underlying logic of this explanation… The neuroscience information had a particularly striking effect on nonexperts’ judgments of bad explanations, masking otherwise salient problems in these explanations.”

Those are interesting findings that would be a lot more credible if backed up with fMRI scans. ;)

While I’m joking about being a purveyor of BS (most of the time, anyway ;)) this paper does raise a useful caution about the neuromarketing field in general. It’s important in evaluating any findings to focus on what’s known and what’s real, and not get distracted by colorful brain scans, flickering EEGs, impressive scattergrams, and so on. We’ve all seen research that arrives at bland, inconsequential, or inconclusive findings but seems credible and useful because these findings were produced using advanced neuroscience technology – we all need to make the effort to set aside the neuroscientific trappings of research and focus on provable results.

And, if I appear to be falling into that trap, post a comment and reel me in!

(Thanks to Gary Marcus for posting about this study, authored by Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Frank C. Keil, Joshua Goodstein, Elizabeth Rawson and Jeremy R. Gray.)

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