Saturday, 23 July 2016

I'm feeling smug today...

The NZ psychiatrist 'Pukeko', blogger at Dark Brightness, and a statistician friend of his, have awarded me the accolade of saying that I was correct about the worthlessness of functional brain imaging some twenty years ago:

I am grateful to be vindicated in the end!

But I don't feel 'Schadenfreude' because those who published the thousands of worthless FI studies have mostly had spectacularly successful academic careers; fame, travel, power; and are by-now safely retired on lavish pensions. Whereas I have existed in professional obscurity/ notoriety and with relatively modest material rewards.

(Albeit I woudn't swap my life with any one of them! - and have been mostly-cheerful, scientifically fulfilled, free to think, work and write what I wanted, and - at the moment - am feeling rather smug!...)

This is the (unpublished) paper I wrote back in 1995:


  1. Congratulations, it must feel good to be finally vindicated. Perhaps there's more to it as well:

  2. Whereas I have existed in professional obscurity/ notoriety and with relatively modest material rewards.

    Always good to nourish obscurity, Bruce.

  3. @James - My interpretation of your blog title is that obscurity is nourishing, rather than that obscurity requires nourishing.

    Is that what you meant by it?

  4. On the thousands of studies, and the massive genomic banks, and large databases consisting of tens of thousands of brain MRIs (for they are but a matrix of numbers) I would add one comment: brute force will not solve a problem unless you can define a series of hypotheses, test them, and report freely both successes and failures.

    This requires thought. Thought is cheap, a new fMRI is not. But thinking does not reward either academic or clinical managerial teams in the same manner as pretty pictures from their new machine that are without any meaning.

  5. Pukeko. In a word Honesty.

    But the dissociation between real science and research is now complete. I was regarded as Inactive for the purpose of the 2001-2008 national research assessment exercise despite publishing something like 100 listed pieces including a book, and editing an international and well known medical journal with an impact factor placed in the top half of jounals. The reason was that the main publications were either theoretical or else not counted as psychology and editing a monthly journal of about 150 pages didn't count at all.