Eight years ago, I started a blog out of sheer frustration. I decided to call it The Neurocritic. I sent out an anonymous e-mail to some of my friends to describe the project.
subject: unveiling The Neurocritic
I've started a blog to critique the most outrageous claims published in high-profile journals and discussed in the popular press:
Because The Neurocritic is not a member of the all-powerful Editorial Boards at Science, Natute, or Neuron, The Neurocritic is published under an assumed identity. Your comments are most welcome.
Enjoy the inaugural posting! [we'll see how long it lasts.]
[I had forgotten how surprised I should be that the blog has lasted this long.]
At first, I invited others to join. Two people expressed interest in joining the party, and one was issued an account (but never posted). I soon became very proprietary and revoked that account. I had become The Neurocritic.
I didn't think anyone would read the blog. But then a funny thing happened. Several posts that discussed journal articles drew the attention of the authors, who actually commented.
Meanwhile, I tried my best to stay under the radar and hoped that no one would think of me as a real person.
Pretty colorful brains and simplified explanations of human cognition and emotion and personality had became staples of mainstream newspapers and magazines, first in the dying print media and then in purely online news sources and press release farms. Gradually, a backlash grew against studies on the neural correlates of shopping at Macy's. This blog (and others such as Mind Hacks, Neuroskeptic, and Neurobonkers) was mentioned in the same press outlets that ran outlandish opinion pieces about Loving Your iPhone:
Neuroscience: Under Attack (Nov 23, 2012)
Neuroscience Fiction (Dec 2, 2012)
Why ‘neuroskeptics’ see an epidemic of brain baloney (Apr 13, 2013)
This blog reached the height of its popularity in 2012. Then we hit 2013... the year of decline.
What happened?? I'll explore some possible reasons in the next post, and take a glimpse into the future.
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