Dr. Charles T. Tart on June 19th, 2009

I’m coining a word here. Pass it around if you like it.

Neuroglamorizing. Noun. The hyping of ordinary speech by the use of frequent but superfluous terms relating to the brain and brain functioning.

Instead of talking about becoming less fearful, for example, you make it sound like your understanding is much deeper and very scientific by talking about reducing activation in your amygdala.

Dogmatic materialism is so prevalent in scientific and academic circles that you find neuroglamorizing everywhere.

I love research on brain functioning and it’s very useful. The more we understand about the brain the better. But when we slip into a habit of making ourselves seem smarter this way, we may well be thinking less deeply and accurately, charmed by our own glamor, being fashionable in in the scientific know….

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5 Responses to “Neuroglamorizing”

  1. anonymous says:

    I’ve noticed another similar phenomena but it is not really a problem the way “glamorizing” is. There are certain cultural stereotypes that people associate with emotions and sometimes people will use biological or neurological references to say what they mean without invoking those stereotypical associations.

    For example, there are social implications for having an emotion, often it is interpreted as a sign of weakness or inferiority. Another implication is that a person should have control over negative emotions like fear, sadness, and anger. In some contexts those stereotypes may be intended, but in other contexts they may not. In the latter case, people will look for more neutral words to try to express what is happening to a person who is experiencing an emotion.

  2. Tom Dark says:

    Yeah, tell me about it. My ganglia are about to go into obstreosis of the ductal tract over this trend. Tertiary. I know Dr. Mitty will pull me through. I hope people remember to whom I’m alluding. No lab assistant is immune to a tendency to phantasmagorical behavior. The more “material” oriented, the more the fascination with magic-sounding talk.

    We’re dealing with cult language here, at least to some extent. Fine new esoteric words are spray-painted over the ones that do fine for everybody else; but our fine new esoteric words indicate a mysterious, even magical understanding beyond everyone else’s, and so, the chatter of yet one more cult is born. “The uninitiated couldn’t understand.” Otherwise, euphemisms handily block out much that may otherwise seem scandalous, even to the initiate.

    A layer or two down in this psychological archaelogy (say, I could be a cult boss meself!)is the long widespread belief operating in the scientific community that emotions are to be avoided at all costs, as they’d skewer the sheer objectivity required.

    Thus, it was only recently — a few years back — that PBS radio announced the scientific discovery that lab rats may have feelings like us after all. There’s a reason they squeak during vivisection. I’m joking, but the news announcer wasn’t joking; nor was she joking a few years earlier with the announcement that scientists had discovered how to make monkeys stupider by tinkering with their brains. This, the claim went, would go far in sorting out how to cure mental disabilities… or at least normalize Mr. Kim Peek, who’s memorized 12,000 books two pages at a time, an eye on either page.

    Human vivisection was an acceptable part of the “evolutionized” medical science of both the Nazi and Imperial Japanese regimes. Even “vivisection” is a cult euphemism; the fact of torture, which it is, is blocked out. This horrifying grotesquery, usually the province of fanatical psychotics, was the logical limit to the belief that scientific inquiry must exclude all emotional consideration.

    This, of course, is the materialistic or empirical side of what’s come to be called Science with a capital “S.” In exploring consciousness scientifically, we must eliminate this obfuscating barrier. It may prove that both fancy electronic gizmos, snazzy latinate terms and yet another generation of expensive Hierophants are just as unneccessary to obtain quite useful results, speaking teleologically.

    And so Dr. Tart, let’s hope your new book generates a LOT of public argument.

  3. palyne says:

    Neuroglamorizing! That’s so funny! Hi Dr. Tart!

    As a coincidence, I’ve been doing crazy amounts of reading the last week on various neuro-stimulation tech as well as on the brain and tons of online research or abstracts or articles. I bought a light-sound machine and some related software. I’m learning still but keeping a blog and a very growing glossary over at Brain-Stim.

    I notice this side-effect. I think it’s in the category of “When you have a hammer, the whole world . . . !” It seems like every other topic I run into, suddenly, I am sure that neuro-stimulation leading to the frequency following response or the more common term ‘brainwave entrainment’ could surely solve ALL those problems! Can’t concentrate? Need more beta! Try the isochronic tones in square pulse with an autopan and low-pass filter and some photic stimulation with a triangle sine on the same Herz — hahahahaha! My gosh, I crack myself up! It’s like my brain has totally been warped by technojargon and every answer comes down to being about the brain. I know this is a self-cult-ifying side effect because a week ago, none of this stuff would have been my response.

    The funny thing is that you chanced on this topic and I hadn’t even yet bored you about it. You really would have had more data for that post if I had! :-) :-)

    Neuro-warmly yours (from the bottom of my Amygdala!),

    • Kaiser says:

      Well, to be fair, a lot of Buddhist terms are extremely technical too, and the goal is the same – enhancing and refining perception. If the neurotechnology in question actually works, then perhaps the technical jargon is justified.

  4. @palyne:

    >Try the isochronic tones in square pulse with an autopan and low-pass filter and some photic stimulation with a triangle sine on the same Herz — < Oh, that sounds so scientific it's got to be true! >Neuro-warmly yours (from the bottom of my Amygdala!)< Always glad to please someone's amygdala.....

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