May 30, 2024

Can neuroscience be both ethical and rich?

John Horgan complains about lack of ethics

In nearly any medical research, there’s a
buck to be made somewhere. This is also true of the promising field of
neuroscience. As John Horgan points out in a guest blog in Scientific American,
“Of all scientific fields, neuroscience has the greatest potential for revolutionary
advances, philosophical and practical.”

However, Horgan, a well-known science
writer, is dismayed by the growing commercialization of neuroscience. In the
first place, leading neuroscientists are trying to interest the military in
their work. Last year, he says, the National Academy of Sciences published a
136-page report, Opportunities
in Neuroscience for Future Army Applications
, that makes “an
unabashed pitch for militarizing brain research”. And then there are the snake
oil salesmen who are marketing programs which are “clinically proven” to help
customers think more clearly, think faster and remember more.

Horgan says, with some distaste,
“Neuroscientists are attempting to solve the most profound secrets of human
existence. They should adhere to higher ethical standards than defense
contractors and infomercial pitchmen.” ~ Scientific
American, Mar 24

Michael Cook