Science or scientism?
Here is a nicely worded distinction, from Jan Macvarrish of the University of Kent, that those concerned about this topic might find a helpful formulation –
It might be useful here to mention that we make the distinction, in our research, between neuroscience, which has brought exciting insights to our understanding of brain function and dysfunction, and neuroscientism, which is an ideological attempt to discover the essence of humanity in the brain. Neuroscientism, or neuromania, or neurobollocks, is currently the subject of much study, debate and critique in many different areas of academia. We find this distinction useful because it allows us to separate the work of scientists within the scientific domain from the activities of those who appropriate the authority of scientific objectivity to pursue moral, political or commercial agendas in the public sphere. Most of the time, neuroscientists themselves have been notably absent from, and even critical of, brain-based advocacy, however, there is a tendency for some of those conducting research on brain function to speak beyond their scientific findings, to suggest that their research may allow lessons to be learnt for the proper conduct of human relationships (Bruer, 1999).
Recent mentions of neuro-stuff
Macvarrish, J. (2013) Biologising parenting: neuroscience discourse and parenting culture, paper presented at ‘The Family in Crisis? Neoliberalism and the politicisation of parenting and the family’, University of East London, 28th June