Neuroskeptic Irreverent and Sometimes Profane, Study Finds

By Neuroskeptic | March 30, 2011 6:30 am

I was most surprised and honored to find out this morning that the Annals of Neurology has declared Neuroskeptic to be

Irreverent, sometimes profane, and can skirt the boundaries of good taste. Nonetheless, Neuroskeptic covers a rich mixture of important, engaging, or amusing topics focusing on the basic and clinical neurosciences, and does so in a data-driven, user-friendly, and comment-enabled format. Neuroskeptic is only one of a number of increasingly used web sites and blogs dedicated to promoting public education, rational discourse, and a healthy dose of skepticism around important issues in the neurosciences…

No really: Scientific literacy and the media. They also list a small number of other neuroblogs, although they leave out many outstanding ones including the blog that most inspired this one, and that everyone confuses me with, The Neurocritic.

Anyway, the editorial goes on to note that:

Last April, a series of sensationalist stories reporting the “creation of life” and a newfound capability to “play God” appeared in the national media following the demonstration that synthetic DNA could transform a mycoplasma species from one to another subtype(ref). This represented a tour de force of DNA synthesis, but probably only a modest step forward for the science of genetic engineering.

In response, President Obama directed his Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to prepare a comprehensive advisory report to help frame policies about synthetic biology(ref).

The Commission noted that sensationalist headlines may attract readers to scientific topics but do a terrible disservice by promoting “claims that fail to convey accurately to the public the current state of the field, the implications of research results, and the limits of scientists’ present knowledge and abilities.” The Presidential Commission recommended creating a well-funded, interactive website… to monitor claims about new scientific discoveries and technologies.

Ideally, such a site would be only part of a wider effort to promote scientific literacy and critical thinking across all segments of society… In the coming years, scientific innovation is certain to play an increasingly large role in the global economy… The public discourse on these and related matters needs to be rational, evidence-based, and accurate.

Broadly speaking, this is why I write this blog, because it is indeed extremely important. Well, ok, the real reason is that it gives me an excuse to make funny pictures with MS Paint (someone accused me of using Photoshop to do those once – no, that would be too advanced). However, if a few people understand neuroscience a bit better in the process, I can live with that…

ResearchBlogging.orgHauser, S., & Johnston, S. (2011). Scientific literacy and the media Annals of Neurology, 69 (3) DOI: 10.1002/ana.22410

CATEGORIZED UNDER: bad neuroscience, blogging, papers
  • Y.

    Skirt the boundaries of good taste? What nonsense. I wish journal editors and reviewers had your insight about bad scientific and medical practice. High-quality blogging like yours is one of the true blessings of the internet.

  • antianticamper

    Please provide pointers to the “profane.” I've been on vacation.

  • Bradley Voytek

    This is *awesome*.

  • Tom Rees

    Hey – nice kudos, and well deserved!

  • Edward G.

    @Y.: They had to make some negative things up, because they can't just tell “Woaw, we're all neurosceptic fans here, go read the blog!”

    Congrats for this honor, Mr. Neurosceptic ! 😀

  • DJ

    Congrats on the mention! It's well deserved… Question for you Neuroskeptic: I'm wondering who you're audience is or, to put it differently, as you write do you have a typical reader in mind? Just curious as I've been trying my hand at public friendly science writing and sometimes find it difficult to make something both accessible to the non-scientist and technically accurate/interesting for science types.. would be interested to hear your thoughts…

  • Anonymous

    That's pretty awesome!! But like the others, I wish the journal had given examples of the “profane” and “boundaries of good taste”.

  • Neuroskeptic

    Yeah, I was a bit surprised at the “profane” remark, especially coming from them. I mean I'm not the one with “anal” in the title of my publication 😉

  • Anonymous

    I think they were referring to veri….. Just kidding!!!

  • veri

    Anon – rolls eyes –

    Congrats Neo :)

  • Anonymous

    JEEZ veri, I said I was kidding! Why the eye rolling???

    BTW: Neuro, you have the best neurospsych/science/life/social problems blog going. You are a true master!

  • A Bitter Pill



  • E

    Study finds that the ANUS of Neuroskeptic irreverent and sometimes profane?

    I am not surprised


    I think every person ought to read it.



No brain. No gain.

About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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