“Brain scans show” [brain show business]

Dorothy Bishop writes, in her blog (HT Uta Frith):

I was set off today by a report that “fMRI scans prove music is more emotionally stimulating if you listen with your eyes closed”. What’s wrong with that? Well…

It seems every week we have another claim that brain scans have shown something about our cognitive or emotional characteristics. To see how accurate this perception was,  I tried Googling the phrase “brain scans show” or “brain scans prove”. Within minutes I had a long list of hits, most of which made unsupportable claims…. You may find it instructive to consider the claims made in the links below, and then consider how they’d look if you took away the phrase ‘brain scans show”. In general, you can see that the brain scan adds nothing: you could test each of these notions with behavioural data….  As Neuroskeptic put it in a post last year, “Brain scans prove that the brain does stuff”. This was the one Google result that cheered me up. Here are the others:

Brain scans show how a disorder leads individuals to perceive themselves as ugly

Brain Scans Prove Branding Strength
Brain scans prove ‘that loving feeling’ truly is addictive

Acupuncture reduces pain perception, brain scans show
Brain Scans Show Women Feel More Pain Than Men