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The Top 10 Posts on Neurobonkers in 2013

In this end of year roundup I present the top ten of my posts from the last year, selected by your mouse clicks, along with a “too long, didn’t read” summary for each.

10. bp;dr – behind paywall, didn’t read, the internet’s next new acronym

Taking irony to new levels, a paper was published in the journal Science titled “A human right to science”, too bad you can’t read it.

Tl;dr: Fellow neuroblogger “Neuropolarbear” coined “bp;dr” = behind paywall didn’t read (a bastardisation of tl;dr) to allow internet users to highlight articles they can’t access.

9. Welcome to the land of the digital refugees

A look at the growing trend for regional blocks on internet content due to copyright beaurocracy and ways people are getting around them.

Tl;dr: Some of the best BBC blog content is blocked within the UK due to bureaucracy, in Germany as much as 61.5% of Youtube content was blocked due to legal quarrels over copyright. People are using proxies, TOR and VPN’s to get around regional restrictions.

8. The forbidden fruit: How grapefruit could kill you

If you take one of a very ride range of medicines, consuming grapefruit at the same time could cause you to have an adverse reaction.

Tl;dr: A growing list of drugs are metabolised by an enzyme called cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) that is inhibited by grapefruit.

7. New research sheds light on 13 ways to gain followers on Twitter

A longitudinal study of over half a million tweets assessing 22 variables.

Tl;dr: Be interesting, be eloquent, interact.

6. Three terrible academic habits

A look at some bad writing habits pinched from Stanford University’s free online science writing course.

Tl;dr: Avoid the passive voice where possible, personal pronouns are good (I, we, etc), verbs should be used instead of nouns.

5. A borderline definite marginally mild notably numerically increasing suggestively verging on significant result

A tongue in cheek look at the ways researchers have cloaked the fact that a paper has not quite reached statistical significance.

Tl;dr: Tongue in cheek because the boundary between significant and not significance is somewhat of a fiction.

4. Why the number 2.9013 will go down in the history of bad science

Alan Sokal (of the Sokal affair) returns with another spectacular attack on pseudoscience.

Tl;dr: A paper suggested a relationship between an individual’s positive and negative emotions reaches a tipping point when it reaches a specific number which was tied to an equation that just happened to make a very pretty pattern… Sokal exposed the link to said equation to be a steaming pile of nonsense.

3. Is this the most bizarre paper ever published in a peer reviewed journal?

A look inside a paper published in the journal Qualitative Inquiry that is obscure to the extent that it is completely and utterly impenetrable.

Tl;dr: A demonstration that unwarranted complexity in communication can obscure science.

2. How being called smart can actually make you stupid

An in-depth look at a body of research that suggests calling someone intelligent can have counterintuitive results.

Tl;dr: Praising intelligence rather than effort reinforces the idea that intelligence is fixed and that those who are intelligent don’t get to where they are through hard work.

1. The lesson you never got taught in school: How to learn!

The hands-down, server-breaking, runaway train winner of this year was a post explaining the best and worst learning techniques based on the research evidence. I can now proudly say that the number one Google search query bringing new readers to my blog is “how to learn”.

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Tl;dr: Practice tests work, especially when you space that practice out. Techniques such as highlighting, summarising and rereading seem to be far less effective than many assume.

…So that’s it for 2013, I hope you’ve learned something from this blog, I’ve certainly learned a lot from writing it, see you next year!

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Image Credit: Shutterstock/MrGarry


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