In response to Jane O’Grady’s Open Democracy article critiquing the ‘neuro-social-sciences’, Julian Sanchez outlines his thoughts on the perils of pop psychology:
There are arguments that simply can’t be made in the span of even a longish newspaper or magazine article. If one is writing for a lay audience, in fact, I feel pretty confident that it’s not even possible to clearly lay out the contested questions, or what precisely the various positions on them are, in that allotment of space. At best, an untrained reader of O’Grady’s piece would come away simply befuddled and unsure what she was getting on about. Some, to judge by the comments, appear to believe they have learned something from it, which suggests that O’Grady has given them the unhealthy illusion of knowing something.
This brings us around to some of my longstanding ambivalence about blogging and journalism more generally: “Discourse at this level can’t possibly accomplish anything beyond giving people some simulation of justification for what they wanted to believe in the first place.”
[…] People who actually know something are more likely to be fairly tentative and circumspect, while people ill-informed enough to think everything is quite simple will be confident they know all they need to.