Beware of this common predator

Today I want to warn you about a dangerous creature that lurks in the behavioral science and business worlds. While it goes by many names, I’m going to call it the neuroSCIENCEtist.

A natural predator of the genus ThoughtLeaderus, it’s known to instinctually spit out words like “dopamine”, “cortex”, and “right brain” when threatened. Be sure not to ask it any “why” questions (“Why is Facebook so popular?”), or else you’ll be covered in a sticky verbal stew—“limbic system, evolution, skinner box”—that’ll leave you confused and dissatisfied for at least 24 hours.

And don’t even think about asking it to solve a key business (or personal) problem for you. I don’t even want to say what happens then.

The neuroSCIENCEtist is usually nothing more than a marketer with a moderate degree of common sense, covered in an encyclopedia of brain terms. You can think of them as porcupines. Seemingly intimidating, but cute, endearing, and powerless without their cloak of neurojargon.

The fact of the matter is that while neuroscience is very helpful for understanding how core elements of the mind work (especially learning & memory), it’s usually not all that helpful for solving business or personal problems. The fields better suited for that task are cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, behavioral economics… and SOME social psychology (though, as a discipline, social psychology has an alarmingly low replication/reliability rate).

So the next time some consultant or guru comes to you wielding a brain atlas and spouting words like “serotonin”, slowly back away. It may save your life (or at least your pocketbook).

Until tomorrow,


PS: Please help me come up with a better name. If you think of something, send it my way.

Jason Hreha