More terms for the Devil’s dictionary

And the words of the day… See the complete Devil’s Dictionary for more!

double-blind study  a type of study requiring an amazing amount of record-keeping to hide the fact that a scientist has forgotten which group is affected and which is the control. This leads to a situation where no one has the slightest idea what is going on, including why experiments are being performed, when they will be finished, or whose brilliant idea they were in the first place (usually someone who left the lab years ago). Most laboratory experiments fall in the category of double-blind studies.

latency  a measurement of time that begins when your alarm clock rings and ends when you actually get out of bed.  Or, the period of time between turning in your thesis and a sign of life from your doctoral committee.

reproducibility  the likelihood that something which happened in a certain way in one place will occur again in another: for example, if you are playing golf and hit a hole in one, and then are struck by lightning. This is reproducible if you are struck by lightning a second time, after hitting another hole in one, on a later date, on another course. In science, reproducibility is achieved about this often.

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I am a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, author of fiction and popular science books, an artist, and a professional musician who performs on the viola da gamba and Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. I edit manuscripts of all types and teach the full range of scientific communication skills. I am doing theoretical work in this subject - see for example

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