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So long, Counterbalanced

Posted 5 August 2013 by Pete Etchells

After a fantastic 16 months of blogging here at Scilogs (and at Nature Network before it), I'm finally off. I'm moving into some new Head Quarters over at the Guardian science network, along with Chris Chambers, Molly Crockett and Thalia Gjersoe. It's a bit of a dream come true - when I started writing Counterbalanced, some of the people that I looked to for examples of great science writing were writing for the Guardian - folks like Mo Costandi and... Read more

The big pre-registration debate

Posted 25 July 2013 by Pete Etchells

At the start of June, Dr Chris Chambers and Prof Marcus Munafo, along with over 80 other signatories, posted an open letter in the Guardian calling for more journals to role out a new type of research paper, in which methods and analyses are peer reviewed before data are collected. Chris has blogged about this initiative before - see here. Today, Prof Sophie Scott published an article in the THE, in response to that original Guardian letter, criticising pre-registration. I... Read more

The amygdala, fear, and carbon dioxide

Posted 12 July 2013 by Pete Etchells

Like many other disappointed bloggers, I didn't get shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize this year. So here's the piece I wrote, for your viewing pleasure. The shortlisted entries are always brilliant, and I'm really looking forward to reading this year's crop. If you've been shortlisted, best of luck to you!   Just imagine them in their pants. I know it’s supposed to help you get over your nerves, but it doesn’t really help when the idea just... Read more

Responsibility in using the word ‘research’

Posted 4 July 2013 by Pete Etchells

One of the most annoying things you get asked when you tell people that you’re a psychologist is “Cool! Can you read my mind?” Well, no – I’m not a psychic, but that wouldn’t help, because psychics can’t read people’s minds either. However, it belies a deeper image problem that psychology has; sometimes, it’s not entirely clear what ‘psychologists’ actually do.  Given the diverse range and quality of the psychological research that the mainstream media often presents, this is probably... Read more

Neuro de change: A brief note on the neuroscience backlash

Posted 28 June 2013 by Pete Etchells

  Does neuroscience have an image problem? Recently, we’ve started to see a number of articles and books lashing out at neuroscience. This backlash seems to be based on the fact that it’s apparently all too easy to overstep the explanatory boundaries of brain imaging studies, resulting in overhyped concepts such as neuromarketing and, er, neuromanagement. The problem with this is that the backlash itself is going too far; by zeroing in too much on the limitations of neuroscience, the... Read more

Sorry, it’s not the happiest day of the year

Posted 21 June 2013 by Pete Etchells

OK, I'll bite. The Daily Telegraph is running a story today claiming that it's the happiest day of the year - at least according to psychologist Cliff Arnall, a specialist in creating nonsensical 'mathematical' formulae that 'prove' some meaningless rubbish or another. The last time I tried to follow one of these equations, it didn't go so well. Let's hope it works better this time. The formula in question is O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He, where... Read more

It’s not a failure when you fail to replicate

Posted 3 May 2013 by Pete Etchells

Let’s get this out there to begin with, so it’s absolutely clear in everyone’s minds. ‘Failure to replicate’ a study does not mean that the original study was wrong, poor, or fraudulently conducted. It does not call into question an entire field of science. It does not call into question the integrity of any scientists involved. It means that the results of the replication did not match the original study, which could be for a number of reasons. It is... Read more

Guest post: Autistic traits in children with ADHD: a marker of severity?

Posted 25 April 2013 by Pete Etchells

Today's post was written by Joanna Martin. Joanna is a 2nd year PhD student at Cardiff University, in the Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences. For her undergraduate degree, she studied Experimental Psychology at Bristol University.  She's on Twitter as @trufflesquirrel and blogs about life as a PhD student at: http://squirreledthoughts.wordpress.com/   The way researchers, clinicians and society think about child mental health problems is constantly evolving as we discover and come to understand more about the nature of human mental... Read more

Creation: Q&A with Adam Rutherford

Posted 12 April 2013 by Pete Etchells

When it comes to science writing, we are very fortunate to be living in a world of plenty at the moment. Over the past year, we've had the chance to read some excellent books - Spillover by David Quammen, Extremes by Kevin Fong, and Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre all immediately spring to mind. Now, it's the turn of Dr Adam Rutherford - geneticist, science broadcaster, editor at Nature, and lover of Lego. His new book, Creation, is two books... Read more

How useful is ‘screen time’?

Posted 27 March 2013 by Pete Etchells

Channel 4 in the UK currently has a TV show on Tuesday nights called ’16 and Counting’ - one of those shows that dresses itself up as documentary, when really it just provides a chance for nosey people to get a shallow insight into the lives of other people (in this case, people who choose to have huge numbers of children). Being a nosey person myself, I was zoning out to last night’s episode, until one particular scene caught my... Read more