Let’s Discuss Experimental Bias

Fallacy:  a false or mistaken idea; an often plausible argument using false or invalid inference. (Merriam-Webster)

A fallacious argument is one that seems to be valid but is not so. Why are fallacies so commonplace in scientific papers, and why can we not detect them when we read them? In my latest editorial On Fallacies in Neuroscience I attempt to address these questions, which are central to do better science.

I have written a series of editorials on pitfalls we all easily can get trapped in during data interpretation. Below are some excerpts from previous editorials:

Optogenetics: Keep Interpretations Light
Optogenetics (and chemogenetics) are amazing techniques that have enabled us to make major leaps forward. However, one must be very careful when claiming causality. The observation of Y is indeed the result of activation of X but with many other possible steps and pathways in-between.

Experimental Bias in Electrophysiological Studies
Many studies use the recording of local field potentials to investigate brain function and dysfunction. However, interpreting a local field potential, i.e., what is actually measured, is not as straightforward as it seems.

I would like to hear from you about other areas where we see potential biases to be wary of in our research. Please comment below if you have any experiences with experimental bias? Or struggles with resisting the fallacy trap? Can we improve things?


  • Fallacy, Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fallacy. Accessed 12/7/2020.
  • Bernard, C. 2020. On Fallacies in Neuroscience. eNeuro. DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0491-20.2020
  • Bernard, C. 2020. Optogenetics: Keep Interprations Light. eNeuro. DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0091-20.2020
  • Bernard, C. 2017. Experimental Bias in Electrophysiological Studies. eNeuro. DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0432-17.2017

Share your thoughts:

Write a comment below on any of the experimental bias concepts mentioned above or you can introduce a new one.

Category: Discussion