Blog Profile / Neuroskeptic

Filed Under:Academics / Neuroscience
Posts on Regator:712
Posts / Week:1.5
Archived Since:January 19, 2009

Blog Post Archive

Human Chains: "Prayer Camp" Psychiatry Study Raises Ethical Questions

A new medical paper raises complex questions over ethics and human rights, as it reports on a study that took place in a religious camp where mentally ill patients were chained up for long periods. The paper's called Joining psychiatric care and faith healing in a prayer camp in Ghana and it's out now in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Show More Summary

Disability Bias in Peer Review?

Writing in the journal Medical Care, researcher Lisa I. Iezzoni says that a peer reviewer on a paper she previously submitted to that journal displayed "explicitly disparaging language and erroneous derogatory assumptions" about disabled...Show More Summary

The Neural Basis of Watching "Memento"

Memento (2000) is a complex psychological thriller about a man unable to form long-term memories. The movie is popular among neuroscientists for its accurate depiction of amnesia. Now, in a wonderfully "meta" paper, a group of neuroscientists...Show More Summary

Hostile Questions at Scientific Meetings

A brief letter in Nature got me thinking this week: Don’t belittle junior researchers in meetings Anand Kumar Sharma writes to urge scientists not to grill their junior colleagues at conferences: The most interesting part of a scientific seminar, colloquium or conference for me is the question and answer session. Show More Summary

What Is "Social Priming"?

"Social priming" has recently been one of the most controversial topics in psychological science. With failures to replicate proliferating, the field has been called a train-wreck. But what exactly is it? Here's how I defined socialShow More Summary

Does Psychology Need SWaG? The Ethics of Naturalistic Experiments

Diederik Stapel. Brian Wansink. Nicolas Guéguen. Anyone who's been following recent debates over research integrity in psychology will recognize these as three prolific and succesful academic psychologists who have suffered a total (Stapel)...Show More Summary

Waneta Hoyt: The Serial Killer Paper

I just learned about a truly remarkable case in which a doctor apparently wrote a paper about a serial killer who murdered her five children - without realizing what had happened. It's an old case, but it doesn't seem to be widely known...Show More Summary

Debunking Phrenology with 21st Century Methods

Modern neuroscience has been accused of being a 'new phrenology' but now neuroscientists have conducted a modern evaluation of phrenological claims using neuroscience methods. In an enjoyable new preprint called An empirical, 21st century...Show More Summary

Is Reproducibility Really Central to Science?

In a new paper in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, Chris Drummond takes aim at the 'reproducibility movement' which has lately risen to prominence in science. As one of the early advocates for this movement, I was interested to see what Drummond had to say. Show More Summary

Secrets of a "Zombie" Fungus Revealed

A parasitic fungus that controls the behaviour of fruit flies has, for the first time, been studied in the lab. In a fascinating preprint posted on Biorxiv, researchers Carolyn Elya et al. report how they discovered the pathogen in the wild near Berkeley, California. Show More Summary

The Sad World of Uncited Papers

A Nature News feature examines academic papers that have never been cited. According to author Richard Van Noorden, by some estimates up to half of all papers have yet to receive their first citation 5 years after publication, and even 10% of Nobel Prizewinners' papers go uncited. However, Van Noorden reports that these estimates are far too high. Show More Summary

The Remarkable "Curvature Blindness" Illusion

A new optical illusion has been discovered, and it's really quite striking. The strange effect is called the 'curvature blindness' illusion, and it's described in a new paper from psychologist Kohske Takahashi of Chukyo University, Japan. Here's an example of the illusion: A series of wavy horizontal lines are shown. Show More Summary

Predicting Suicide: Return of a Scandal (Part 2)

In the first post in this series, I looked at the work of Swedish psychiatrist Lars Thorell, who has developed a test which, he claims, is able to predict suicides in depressed patients. Thorell's test is called electrodermal orientation...Show More Summary

The Bottom of the Barrel of Science Fraud

Sometimes, scientific misconduct is so blatant as to be comical. I recently came across an example of this on Twitter. The following is an image from a paper published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry C: As pointed out on PubPeer,...Show More Summary

Predicting Suicide: Return of a Scandal (Part 1)

I recently decided to revisit a 2014 case that regular readers might remember. Back in 2014, I posted about a terrible piece of statistical 'spin' that somehow made it into the peer-reviewed Journal of Psychiatric Research. The offending authors, led by Swedish psychiatrist Lars H. Show More Summary

"Facephenes": Brain Stimulation Creates Phantasmal Faces

Have you ever seen a face on a football? In a new paper, neuroscientists Gerwin Schalk et al. report that brain stimulation caused a man to experience strange hallucinations. The patient saw faces in everyday objects, including an orange soccer ball and a featureless box. Show More Summary

Do We Need An Adoption Service for Orphan Data?

Having recently left an academic post, I've been thinking about what will happen to the data that I collected during my previous role that remains unpublished. Will it, like so much data, end up stuck in the limbo of the proverbial 'file...Show More Summary

The Voodoo Curse of Circular fMRI Analysis

Remember the 'voodoo' fMRI controversy? Well, I just came across a new voodoo-ish paper - just in time for Halloween. The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, comes from Franziska Plessow and colleagues of Boston. The main claim...Show More Summary

"Hyper Brains"? High Intelligence and Health

A few weeks ago I blogged about the idea that high-IQ people suffer from an inability to communicate with less gifted folk. Now, a new paper claims that very intelligent people are more prone to mental illnesses and allergies. However, I don't think the paper is very smart. Researchers Ruth I. Show More Summary

Problematic Neuropeptides And Statistics (PNAS)

Back in May I discussed a paper published in PNAS which, I claimed, was using scientific terminology in a sloppy way. The authors, Pearce et al., used the word "neuropeptides" to refer to six molecules, but three of them weren't neuropeptides at all. Show More Summary

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