Monthly Archives: July 2012


A brief history of eye movements, or why NLP sucks

Posted 31 July 2012 by Pete Etchells

Psychology's having a bit of a hard time of it at the minute. Social Psychology is reeling from high-profile resignations and paper retractions by Stapel, Smeesters and Sanna (we'll be moving onto the 'T's soon). There are worries about how you pick the right sort of analysis in neuroimaging (and what 'right sort of analysis' even means). Jonah Lehrer's been caught being a bit too creative with some of the quotes in his recent book 'Imagine'. Claims that eye movement... Read more

Beginnings – three simple words

Posted 27 July 2012 by Pete Etchells

Thursday 26th July saw the launch of, a new English language science blog network., the brand-new home for Nature Network bloggers, forms part of the SciLogs international collection of blogs which already exist in German, Spanish and Dutch. To celebrate this addition to the NPG science blogging family, some of the NPG blogs are publishing posts focusing on “Beginnings”. Participating in this cross-network blogging festival is’s Soapbox Science blog, Scitable’s Student Voices blog and bloggers from,, Scitable and Scientific American’s Blog Network. Join us as we explore the diverse... Read more

Eye evolution made easy

Posted 20 July 2012 by Pete Etchells

The National Trust hit the news recently over the controversial inclusion of creationist theory in a new exhibit looking at the history of the Giant’s Causeway. The exhibit claimed that: “Like many natural phenomena around the world, the Giant’s Causeway has raised questions and prompted debate about how it was formed. This debate has ebbed and flowed since the discovery of the Causeway to science and, historically, the Causeway became part of a global debate about how the earth’s rocks... Read more

Olympic Health Legacies

Posted 17 July 2012 by Pete Etchells

The majority of our data was electronic. In the lead-up to the event, we had written statistical algorithms for data to be analysed and summarised. The summary data files were linked automatically to an Excel workbook where graphs and tables would be automatically populated. The statistical algorithms also help you look for patterns, say in the last 7 days, or in the same period last year, but the trick comes in setting the sensitivity – do you want to overreact... Read more

Quality over quantity

Posted 9 July 2012 by Pete Etchells

Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection. Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Watson and Crick’s description of the DNA molecule. All of these, and many more, are easily classed as some of Science’s Greatest Discoveries. But with modern pressures to publish high-impact papers as often as possible, are the opportunities to find the next Great Scientific Discoveries being stifled? As I’ve mentioned before, last year one of the academic heavyweights of social psychology, Diederik Stapel, was found guilty of faking data in... Read more

Lord of the Files, part 2

Posted 3 July 2012 by Pete Etchells

Back in November, I wrote about the Diederik Stapel affair that was rocking the psychological community. Now, it’s all happening again – recently, Uri Simonsohn has found evidence suggesting that another Dutch social psychologist, Dirk Smeesters, has been tinkering with data to produce more desirable outcomes in his research. We’re still waiting on Simonsohn’s paper on the matter to be published, so I think it’s a little too soon to speculate on how he came across Smeesters’ work – some... Read more