No More Voodoo Correlations!

The Chronicle of Higher Education has some coverage of the final press publication of the paper formerly known as ‘Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience’ and there will be seven responses by other authors in the same issue. This has been an important paper for a number of reasons including the breach of convention in prepublishing on the internet as well as the direct attack on the reputations of individual scientists but also the resulting blogosphere debate which perhaps represents an emerging paradigm shift in the nature of scientific discourse.

Addendum 4.5.9

It should read ‘the possible breach of convention in actively promoting the paper online prior to its publication in the journal’. See comments below.


If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail


The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.


  1. Uhhh, there was no “breach of convention in prepublishing on the internet”. You are simply in error here. The paper had been accepted for publication before it was circulated. If you google on “fMRI preprint” you will find that everyone in the fMRI field circulates papers on their websites as soon as they are accepted. If you have the patience, you can find hundreds of such papers– or look on the website of essentially any lab in the field. What would be a breach of convention would be circulating a paper while it had been submitted but before it had been accepted. The “voodoo authors” did not do that.

    The one thing the voodoo authors did that was a “breach of convention” was using a title that poked some fun at people–and this, along with the incendiary content, caused people to circulate the preprint widely. But posting an in-press paper is now the norm in the field, and has been for some time. The only reason that there is no stir in most cases is because typically the papers are much more boring than the voodoo paper, so nobody bothers to circulate them…



    • Dear Charlie,

      Many thanks for your comment. The issue is not so straightforward but will depend on the in-house policy of the journal in question. I think the issue is the active promotion of the work on the internet. If most articles don’t receive much attention in this prepublishing phase then journal editors wouldn’t be too concerned. However if as in this case there has been a wave of interest then the journal will have missed out on potential readers although in this case there might not have been so much interest had it not been ‘discussed’ in the blogosphere. See here for a further discussion. Thanks again for your comments




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s