New Scientist - Mirages of the Mind


  • The more we probe the brain, the less we understand it” – New Scientist

Every science lab should be a failure lab.

Scientific Method’s whole raison d’etre is to find failure in the hypothesis. And when it does, it sparks a new advent of understanding.

Last months’ New Scientist issue explored this dynamic in depth especially in its article “Neuroscience wrongs will make a right”…

  • When fMRI brain scanners were invented in the early 1990s, scientists and the general public were seduced by the idea of watching the brain at work. It seems we got carried away. The field is plagued by false positives and other problems. It is now clear that the majority – perhaps the vast majority – of neuroscience findings are as spurious as brain waves in a dead fish.”

The “dead fish” reference alludes to an experiment where a dead fish was put into an MRI scanner to a faulty reading of neurological activity in a dead fish by an MRI scanner. The interpretation of the data as “brain activity” was cited as an example of “torturing data until it confesses”. That is getting it to say what you want it to say, rather than letting it speak freely for itself. Even if what it has to say fails to support your hypothesis.