Good read: How neuroscience is being used to spread quackery in business and education

On The Conversation you can find a good article by Matt Wall,researcher in Brain Imaging at Imperial College London on neuroscience and how it’s being misused both in business and education. Do read also the discussion beneath the article as it’s quite interesting on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Thanks to @EgwinGonthier for the link!

A fragment:

“Educational neuroscience is a thriving field of research, and there are many excellent and doubtless well-meaning researchers doing rigorous and valuable work in the area. Unfortunately, there are also businesses that want to exploit teachers’ lack of experience and middle-class parental anxieties about school attainment.

Usha Goswami, director of the centre for neuroscience in education at the University of Cambridge, raised this issue in a 2006 review. She noted then that teachers received nearly 70 mail promotions per year trying to sell brain-based learning courses. Many of these, she noted, “contained alarming amounts of misinformation”.

Around the same time, science writer Ben Goldacre and others exposed Brain Gym, a brain exercise program widely used in UK schools at the time, as ridiculous nonsense. Education seems to be a fertile area for the development of “neuromyths”, and despite this kind of criticism, new variants have flourished in the last few years.

The ideas behind Brain Gym are actually alive and kicking in a company called NeuroNet Learning, which offers an accreditation program for schools in the US. Provided, of course, that they train teachers, implement the system across the whole school, and use the program at least four days a week. Their website is awash with terms such as “motor-perceptual learning” and “research-based learning readiness”. They even claim their approach is “backed by hundreds of peer-reviewed articles in the world’s top scientific journals”, and helpfully provide a list. But the articles they cite turn out to be general papers, only indirectly related to the specific program.

This is a common tactic. Many of these companies have an impressive-looking page of research on their websites. On closer inspection, these turn out to consist of articles only vaguely related to their claims.

Another organisation using these tactics is the Brain Balance Centers. These are a rapidly expanding network of franchise outlets across the US, currently numbering around 70. The interventions are based on an entirely made-up theory of brain dysfunction called Functional Disconnection Syndrome.”

Check the whole article here.

One thought on “Good read: How neuroscience is being used to spread quackery in business and education

  1. […] What you get is an interesting idea, STEAM, from a field of research Arts Education that borrows something from neurology to become more trustworthy, to be taken more serious. The sad thing is: by doing this they spread further a neuromyth and people will believe it because it comes from a university. An university mentioning sources in their infographic which actually explain why what they are depicting is complete nonsense and linking in their explanation to a website with an overview of views from Randstad that, besides some research mentioned in HBR, isn’t scientific at all, even linking to another neuromyth Whole Brain thinking. […]

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