There’s an incredibly important principle in here about the “use” of neuroscience that has been worrying me for some time.
If we are not discerning… if we don’t ask the right questions… if we don’t talk to the right people… if we don’t understand the research… then we are in danger of misinformed and unethical practice.
It’s already happening… let’s just make sure we don’t fall into that trap and that we highlight weak representations of apparent neuroscience. Neuroscientists deserve that from us don’t they?
The essential point here is that when images like this are presented in academic papers or presentations, they come packaged with a whole host of caveats, qualifications, and additional information. Of course, scientists often try to make visually arresting images in order to present their results with maximum impact and clarity, and (as long as they don’t cheat in some way) that’s entirely appropriate, and indeed useful. The problem comes when someone else takes those images, strips them of this essential contextual information and presents them uncritically, often in order to further their own agenda or aims. Without the context, these images become pretty much meaningless.