When you handle trash, do you still have to handle it with statistical care?

Neurocopiae takes a closer look at the carefully crafted pizza study survey by the Wansink lab.

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UWhen it comes to reheating leftover pizza, opinions are typically divided. I like cold pizza better because when you reheat a slice of pizza, it gets soggy. This soggy slice of pizza is a fitting metaphor for the next chapter in the Wansink pizzagate saga. I was a bit reluctant to write another post on the sad downfall of ig-nobel laureate Brian Wansink, head of the Food & Brand lab at Cornell University [Mindless publishing garnished with social science apologies], but I had to take a look at the now infamous pizza buffet data myself. A couple of days ago, Wansink posted a statement re-emphasizing that “[he], of course, take[s] accuracy and replication of our research results very seriously.”  More importantly, Wansink finally granted access to the data that the four papers, which came under fire months ago, were based on: “My team has also worked to make the full anonymized data and scripts for each study available for review.” This is awesome because everything is settled now, right? Move on, methodological terrorists, nothing to see here. Well, almost. Continue reading “When you handle trash, do you still have to handle it with statistical care?”

Losing weight with loose ideas? Try the dopamine diet now

There is a new diet in town and neurocopiae is trying to maintain healthy dopamine release on carbs.

Tom Kerridge has a captivating story to tell. The popular chef and presenter on BBC’s Proper Pub Food and Best Ever Dishes lost 70 kilograms (down from 190 kg) and many viewers witnessed that he slimmed down not knowing what his secret recipe to success was. Motivated by the growing interest, Tom Kerridge wrote a book that recently entered the top ten book sales list at amazon.co.uk. It could have been another simplistic take on a low-carb diet, but the publisher decided to go a different route. They dubbed it “Tom Kerridge’s dopamine diet”. Continue reading “Losing weight with loose ideas? Try the dopamine diet now”

Mindless publishing garnished with social science apologies

Life is hard, science is harder, social science is impossible? Neurocopiae has to digest a bottomless dump of “fun” results.

Last time, I wrote a post about how difficult it is to do good research on nutrition and health (Cereal killer: Is eating breakfast the new smoking?). A couple of weeks later, as the pizzagate unfolds, we painfully learn more about these intricacies slice by slice. At the center of attention is Brian Wansink, who “is Professor and Director of the famed Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, where he is a leading expert in changing eating behavior“. If you have missed the start of the controversy and feel like you need to catch up on the full narrative, I have linked a good summary by Andrew Gelman. Briefly, Wansink wrote a post on his blog. He provided the career advice to never say no to your supervisor’s proposals because this is how you will get tenure by publishing numerous papers. Even if you have a dataset at hand that does not yield the expected result, you can torture it for a while until it finally surrenders and provides one or more significant results. Now, all it takes is little more deep diving into the data and a little pinch of wild story-telling and there you go: you have successfully inflated your list of publications. Treated in this do-or-die way, every study turns into science equivalent of the bottomless soup bowl that Wansink became famous for. Continue reading “Mindless publishing garnished with social science apologies”

Cereal killer: Is eating breakfast the new smoking?

Is breakfast dangerous? Neurocopiae swings the cereal club to protect your health.

It is difficult to see a week peacefully pass by without headlines pointing out how terribly wrong our diet or eating patterns have been so far. This week, stern.de joined the clickbait race by asking whether eating breakfast is the new smoking. Have we been all misled for decades? Fooled by froot loops? The post is based on a new book titled “Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal” by Terence Kealey. In his book, Kealey suggests that eating breakfast has a devastating effect on insulin sensitivity in the long run. My first thought was: If this is true, how could I miss the emerging evidence while doing research on insulin sensitivity and diabetes? Continue reading “Cereal killer: Is eating breakfast the new smoking?”