Collision or convergence?: beliefs and politics in neuroscience discovery, ethics, and intervention

Trends Neurosci. 2014 Aug;37(8):409-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2014.06.001.


Discovery and interventions for neurological disorders have a unique capacity to galvanize public opinion over issues of access, human rights, decision making, and the definition of disease. Here we highlight five cases where beliefs and politics prevailed over evidence and ethics. We examine lessons from them about the communication of risk and the power of public influence on science, society, and policy.

Keywords: Gulf War syndrome; MMR vaccine; Stamina Foundation; Terri Schiavo; autism; chronic cerebrospinal vascular insufficiency (CCSVI); health policy; multiple sclerosis; neurological disease; public opinion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Culture*
  • Decision Making
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Neurosciences / ethics*
  • Politics*