Skeptical of the Skeptics

I have complained — more than once — that the media and the public believe a psychological fact (some people are addicted to computer games) if a neuroimaging study is somehow involved, even if the study itself is irrelevant (after all, the definition of addiction does not require a certain pattern of brain activity — it requires a certain pattern of physical activity).

Not surprisingly, I and like-minded researchers were pleased when a study came out last year quantifying this apparent fact. That is, the researchers actually found that people rated an explanation of a psychological phenomenon as better if it contained an irrelevant neuroscience fact.

Neuroskeptic has written a very provocative piece urging us to be skeptical of this paper:

This kind of research – which claims to provide hard, scientific evidence for the existence of a commonly believed in psychological phenomenon, usually some annoyingly irrational human quirk – is dangerous; it should always be read with extra care. The danger is that the results can seem so obviously true (“Well of course!”) and so important (“How many times have I complained about this?”) that the methodological strengths and weaknesses of the study go unnoticed.

Read the rest of the post here.



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