Sam is an associate professor of Visual Neuroscience in the School of Optometry & Vision Science at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, as well as the Experimental Psychology department at University College London, U.K. His research seeks to better understand why we perceive the world the way we do. His lab has been developing psychophysical and brain imaging methods for this purpose. Sam is also a proponent - and occasional debater - of transparent and reproducible research practices.
On the importance of checking your assumptions
Testing a hypothesis requires a control condition - no serious scientist would believe a drug trial without an appropriate placebo group. The same should apply to all scientific endeavours. Studies are often highly complex and use custom methods. Before we conduct experiments, we must be confident that our methods work as expected and do not produce spurious results. As an example, I describe a conceptual error we discovered in our research that we believe contaminates a large number of published studies. I further suggest steps we can take to improve methodological rigour and discuss the importance of honesty in research.