I am Neuroscience PhD, a humanist, skeptic, feminist, avid reader, science enthusiast, woolly-liberal über-nerd, and, as of October 2015, father to the Lykketroll.

I moved from England to Norway in January 2012 and live in Lørenskog with my wife, the Lykketroll, and our two aging rescue cats, Socrates and Schrödinger. 

I am on paternity leave from the 4th of July to the 18th of November. 

The job I am on leave from is as an  Associate Professor and Head of Studies at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. My background is in child neurodevelopment (my PhD looked into the relationship between fatty acids like omega-3 and cognitive development in young children) but I now work on a hodge-podge of things roughly within the field of Universal Design of ICT 50% of the time, the other 50% of my time I am Head of the 'General' Studies (Allmenn in Norwegian) Unit, which is comprised of around 24 academics within a range of fields, including mathematics, physics, Norwegian, and technology and leadership.

In between working and doing the usual dad things,  I like hiking and running in the beautiful Norwegian outdoors, cooking and playing video games. 

If I believed in souls I would say that mine was born in Norway. 

I plan to sleep when I'm dead.

Top 10 Tweets About Interesting Things That Have Been Sitting In My Evernote For The Last Month Or So

My idea of posting small batches of tweets about things that have caught my eye on a

weekly basi

s have been laughably and predictably irregular.

For a change, I thought I would go all listicle and post a Top 10 Tweets About Interesting Science Things That Have Been Sitting In My Evernote Folder For The Last Month Or So - now with short, easily ignorable context. I can't be bothered to find 'hilarious' GIFs to accompany each item in the list; use your imagination.

Medicalskeptic (@medskep)

Implausible results in human nutrition research

| BMJ New paper by John Ioannidis Important read

In a short editorial article for the British Medical Journal, Ioannidis argues that current studies on the health effects of nutrition are producing spurious, exaggerated and occasionally implausible results because of a reliance on observational methods, which use unreliable dietary intake data, and focusing single, specific nutrients, which increases the chances of finding false positives. More large-scale randomised controlled trials and a stronger focus on correcting for confounding socio-economic factors are needed if nutrition research is to really make progress in identifying how nutrition increases or lowers risk for disease

Neurobonkers (@neurobonkers)

Fascinating article debunks

myths that have become woven into the history of science

Joseph Meister, the 9-year-old boy saved by who was the first human to be saved by Louis Pastuer's rabies vaccine, shot himself protecting Pasteur's tomb from the Nazis; Alexander Fleming is the man who developed the first antibiotic drug used in humans; John Snow single-handedly stopped the 1854 cholera outbreak; Joseph Lister is the man we have to thank for antiseptic surgery - all of these are myths which are dissected in a Nature article about how good stories have the power the spread and grow, and the dangers myth-making poses to how people understand the science and the scientific process behind them.

Richard Wiseman (@RichardWiseman)

Interesting article on 

replacement for right brain-left brain silliness

The right-brain left brain myth just doesn't seem to want to go away. It resurfaced again just this week in the form of this

30-second brain test

 doing the rounds on Facebook. It's short-hand for different ways of thinking (logical, focused and analytic versus broad-minded and creative) but that idea that different types of people use one side of their brain more than the other is a 

unscientific nonsense

.

Neuroscientist Stephen Kosslyn proposes it makes more sense, based on how the brain actually works, to thinking about a top-brain (which is involved in planning and execution of behaviours and ideas) and a bottom-brain (which organises signals from the senses and helps us confer meaning on the world) that work together in harmony. It's an interesting idea but I'm still not keen on Kosslyn's proposal that there are four modes of working (which translates to 'types' of people; Mover, Perciever, Stimulator, Adaptor) - it falls victim to the same charges of oversimplification (and 'self-helpy' language) levelled at left-brain/right-brain ideas.

Steven Pinker (@sapinker)

Brave New World is overrated

: Huxley had contempt for the masses, overestimated the malleability of human nature

Brave New World is one of my favourite books. 50 years after Huxley's death two perspectives are offered on just how prescient he was - or actually wasn't - with regards to two of the books main themes: sex and mass entertainment. The ubiquity and availability of internet pornography and mass/social media haven't had the effects that Huxley predicted remain very difficult to pin down even now.

IHEU (@IHEU)

@IHEU & @WHRIN and other rights groups 

call to #stopthewitchhunt in #Nigeria

. Take action

The International Humanist and Ethical Union are stepping up their campaign against witch-hunts across Nigeria and the notorious preacher Helen Ukapbio. A simple and effective way of taking part is to contact the Cross River State Government on 

Facebook

 or Twitter (@crossriverstate)  with the following messages: "Please take action to #stopthewitchhunt by Helen Ukpabio. Cross River State’s good name is being tarnished and children abused.” Or “Enough is enough. Child witch hunting in Cross River must be stopped. Please hold Helen Ukpabio to account. #stopthewitchhunt"

I became more aware of the problem and wrote a little bit about it 

here

after a fund-raising concert organised by

HAMU

last year. Here's a recording of a powerful performance by an amazing teenage Norwegian singer-songwriter called Margrete who wrote a song especially for the event:

Chris Chambers (@chrisdc77)

This is HUGE. Study

pre-registration soon to be *mandatory*

part of research ethics in psychology & cog neuroscience

Pre-registration requires researchers to clearly describe the research design and methodology in an open and publicly accessible place before they carry out their study. Setting out all this information beforehand means that better tabs can be kept on how exactly studies are done, which studies are completed and when, and that they were conducted the way that was originally planned. It makes it more difficult for researchers to change focus halfway through a study, depending on what they do or don't find, and generally cherry-picking the data. It will also help stop negative trials from staying unpublished, a huge and depressingly common problem.

All Trials

 is the campaign to get all randomised clinical trials (RCTs) registered before they take place. Revisions to the Declaration of the Helsinki Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects may mean that pre-registration of study design may have to been for all psychological research too. I welcome preregistration whole-heartedly. It will bring greater transparency and accountability, which can only strengthen research; and it will help with making psychological studies easier to reproduce, an resolved problem that is

threatening the credibility of the field

.

TEDxOslo (@TEDxOslo)

Here is Jo Røislien with

too much information

?

I attended in the TEDxOslo event in late October (just have't had time to write anything up yet, and to be honest, probably won't now). Statistician Jo Røislien talks about the problems with Big Data, drawing on the classic

Neural correlates of interspecies perspective taking in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon:

An argument for multiple comparisons correction

(dead salmon in an MRI) study.

Brian D. Earp (@briandavidearp)

21 Everyday Things That Most People Don't Know Were

Invented By Women

#thanksladies

Some of the things in the list might seem trivial but they're a reminder that women scientists and engineers are often under-appreciated and how their contribution often under-played or wiped from history all-together. I whole-heartedly recommend the the

A Passion for Science

e-book, released as part of 2013's

Ada Lovelace Day

, which is a fantastic collection of stories about the contribution of women to some of the biggest breakthroughs in science.

Stephen Curry (@Stephen_Curry)

Bohannon’s #OA sting paper

annoys many, scares the easily scared, accomplishes relatively little, by @melvillehouse

Last month, biologist, John Bohannon, published an story in Science called

Who's Afraid of Peer Review?

 which outlined how a research article he had written was accepted for publication in more than 150 academic journals, despite the fact that every single aspect of it was made-up (including author, institution and data) and that it had deliberately contained basic errors in analysis and interpretation of the data.

Bohannon's stunt, which was designed to test (or show up) the rigour of the peer review process applied by 

open access journals

 backfired a little, not least because by failing to send his paper to traditional subscription journals Bohannon had no control measure against which to test  whether it was open access that was the problem as opposed to just poor peer review practices (which likely exist to seem degree across the board).

The debates about the merits and difficulties with open access and the future of academic publishing is an important one. Done properly, this stunt might have been able to contribute something a little more constructive.

Gunnar R Tjomlid (@CiViX)

With 2000+ global studies confirming safety,

GM foods among most analyzed subject in science

One of the strongest reasons for anti-GMO sentiment persisting is the consistent message that not enough research has been done on the potential side-effects. A recent

review paper

published in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology found that in just the last decade (2002 to October 2012),1783 studies had been published looking at the safety of genetically engineered crops. The overall conclusion from this staggering number of studies is that "

The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops." 

Still, don't expect the anti-GMO protesters to change their minds based on the evidence any time soon.

Article for The Moose: Aurora borealis

Why Humanist schools are a bad idea