Neuroscience: Le Mot du Jour

David Eagleman’s talk last evening engendered many comments around the supper table about neuroscience.

Like soup du jour, neuroscience is le mot du jour (the word of the day).

Neuroscience clings to the headlines like a bear to honey.

This week The New York Times cried, “Neuroscience Under Attack” in a story that drubbed Naomi Wolf’s book Vagina and Chris Mooney’s Soliloquy, The Republican Brain (both examined previously in my blog).

Writer Alissa Quart takes to task the neuro-psych-popsicles, noting that the goop spread is called by some “brain porn.”

While the headlines may encourage us to look to the brain for answers, the question is: can we examine the brain with newfangled gadgets and draw conclusions about human behavior?

My partner in life—a bonfide neurologist—says, Nope.

Just because we see part of the brain fired up doesn’t mean we have insight into your psyche.

And as we chat about neuroscience around the dinner table, I think back to my Indian ancestors—my objective during Native American Heritage Month is to view science through a native lens—and wonder what they might say.

I doubt they would take neuroscience to heart, at least, not as a way of describing behavior. And I imagine my Osage grandmother would just say, “Pass the beans.”

[Blog 21 in honor of Native American Heritage Month.]


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, journalism, native american, Native Science, neuroscience, news bias, Osage, science, science communication and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Neuroscience: Le Mot du Jour

  1. Very true and very nice to hear.


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