Sunday, 21 November 2010


It does astonish me, as I sit on the plane waiting to take off from St. Louis, that they like to board passengers with seats at the front of the plane before boarding those with seats at the back. This would not be so bad if we were not in the USA - land of opportunity, freedom, and enormous carry-on baggage. The current scene in the plane is reminiscent of a log-jam... the rather large businessman with the over-sized baggage will, within the next few minutes, succeed in stuffing said baggage into the tiny overhead compartment. And when that happens, and he sits down, the pressure that has built up behind him, comprised of 70 or more compacted passengers, will suddenly be released. Bodies will be hurled the entire length of the cabin.

So the Conference of the Psychonomic Society has come to an end, and the intensity of intellectual action that unfolded over the course of the past few days has now abated. St. Louis was the perfect location - it provides no distractions whatsoever. Though it must be admitted that "the arch" is impressive - an imposing monument to ... well... arches. It also has to be said, in St. Louis's defense, that it does host some excellent and memorable restaurants. The conference itself lived up to Psychonomics' usual standards, although the topic of many of my conversations did inevitably drift towards, or open up with, questions about my (rather peripheral) involvement in the Hauser affair (this is the Harvard professor who published data in the journal that I edit that was most likely fabricated - a conclusion I reached based on information passed to me by the authorities at Harvard). Of equal interest, it would seem, was how I feel about having been misrepresented by the NYT (they incorrectly reported that I no longer stand by my earlier conclusion), whether there is anything I can do about that, and what this says about the integrity of the press these days.

So that's that. I am now headed to Philadelphia, where yet more excellent food and equally excellent science awaits me. I am, quite literally, flying off into the sunset (not sure why, as I suspect that Philadelphia is in the opposite direction... I sure hope the pilot's satnav hasn't jammed).