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“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:

Future angst? Brain scans show uncertainty fuels anxiety
Brain Scans Show How Multitasking Is Harder for Seniors
Brain scans show children with ADHD have faultyoff-switch for mind-wandering
Brain Scans Show How Teens Are More ‘Me-First’ ThanAdults

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

Brain scans show meditation changes minds, increases attention
Rejection Really Hurts, Brain Scans Show
Brain Scans Show That Teens Don’t Really Care About You
Brain Scans Show Married Love Can Last
Brain Scans Show Twins Think Alike
Brain Scans Show Food Addiction
Brain Scans Show Dyslexics Read Better with Alternative Strategies

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

Brain Scans Show Bullies Enjoy Others’ Pain
Ex-smokers are willpower kings, brain scans show

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

Brain Scans Show Why Teens Give Into Peer Pressure


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