Category Archives: in the news

The dangers of “slippery slope” arguments against pseudoscience.

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who_are_you_who_are_so_wise_st

  It is easy to get scientists riled up by staking out an “us” vs. “them” position in which “we” are the rational, methodical people who value empirical evidence over intuition whereas “they” are the ideological, unreasonable traditionalists willing to go with their “gut,” whatever … Read More

MOOCs as capital-biased technological change

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X7Q73MX48QHW Last week my Twitter feed briefly turned into a kind of massively open online course about MOOCs, in response to this thoughtful critique by Aaron Bady of an earlier post by Clay Shirky advancing an optimistic view of the role that free, open courses can … Read More

It is not enough that Marcus succeed, Hinton must also fail.

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dschinghis

In the New Yorker’s Newsdesk blog last week, Gary Marcus expresses his skepticism of “deep learning,” an approach to artificial intelligence pioneered by Geoffrey Hinton that received some unusually high-profile coverage in the Times. I honestly don’t know enough about deep learning models to evaluate … Read More

I’m all for replications and reporting of null results, but what about the bees?

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A bee at work

I may have seemed a bit hard on meta-analysis last week, but I should say that there’s really no way to mount a good scientific argument without some form of it. You have to consider results across multiple studies, and come up with some sort … Read More

If America’s Boyfriend were a Cognitive Neuroscientist…

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flat map of the US

Last week, America’s Boyfriend Nate Silver made meta-analysis cool beyond belief. The image of a lone geek, sitting at the end of a vast pipeline of data, and turning it into something everyone wants to hear about, is a certain breed of scientist’s deepest fantasy. … Read More

Diversity of Tactics in the Neurobiology of Language

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Monte Igueldo

If you are looking for something to eat in San Sebastiàn early in the evening — as you might be if you were, like me, a jet-lagged scientist forced to walk in the dark to the inaugural lecture of the Neurobiology of Language Conference that … Read More

The giant soda ban as epistemological crisis

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biggulp

This sounds like the setup to a joke, but I really was just minding my own business on a bench in Washington Square Park when I was approached by a perky young woman with an iPad and some pointed questions about New York’s proposed ban … Read More

Failure is not an option, it’s an inevitability.

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Failure is normal

I was on a rooftop at an OHBM party, chatting with Niko Kriegeskorte about the ineluctable cruelty and arbitrariness of nature when my partner texted from back in NYC to say she had just seen Werner Herzog on the subway. As an enthusiast of Hebbian … Read More

Targeting the basal ganglia

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target_bg

Is it nit-picking to complain that this Times Magazine article — about the use of “big data” to predict and control consumer behavior — contains a brief introduction to Ann Graybiel’s work on the role of the basal ganglia in habit formation?  I worry that this falls … Read More

Lehrer was a Science Journalist

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I always thought Proust was a Neuroscientist was a terrible title. It promises to dazzle, surprise, and delight me in a way that I will find singularly exhausting. “Did you realize,” it says to me, “that in addition to shaping the course of 20th Century … Read More

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