It is a fundamental truth that any researcher who can put a person in a scanner can publish a paper. Any researcher able to talk 20 undergraduates into being scanned, perhaps while being asked to imagine an ice cream cone, can announce that the brain centre for ice cream cones has been established, at least to the researcher’s satisfaction. Behind each aspiring researcher is a perspiring technician, who knows that the raw readout will not be understood by a researcher in too much of a hurry to become well known, so that instead the results will have to be shown as a brightly coloured picture. That picture will then be presented at a conference, and will show, beyond any dispute, that we now know a great deal about the neuroscience of imaginary confectionary. Privately, the technician will know that the same readout could have produced another picture, vaguely similar but different in important respects, and that his version of how to colour-in the results is different from other people’s interpretations, but he cannot make too much of this, because other researchers are clamouring for his assistance. The cavalcade of pretty pictures continues.
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