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By R Mutt (Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:22:07 AM EST) MLP (all tags)


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Processed foods do not contain water | 35 comments (35 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Brain Gym by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:36:23 AM EST
I am so glad to have some references.  A friend of mine (housemate's girlfriend, as it happens) is a primary school teacher and she's fully bought into this.  I've delicately tried to imply that it's a load of rubbish, but the thing is she did her dissertation on it, and as such considers herself quite the expert (at parroting the materials supplied by the quacks).

So, me telling her that she's talking rubbish and pedalling snake-oil in the classroom is really quite a personal attack; it's implying that not only has she been wasting her time for the past year in the classroom, but that her entire dissertation may as well have been about pixies and fairies.

Perhaps a couple of links passed on without further comment may enlighten her by gradual realisation.  Though I shall not hold my breath.


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

I didn't read the article, by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:42:29 AM EST
but I disagree about not drinking water when thinking. I've normally found myself drinking 4 or 5 litres of water a day when I do intellectually demanding work. Mind you, half of that's psychological.

Also, good energy levels are key to brainwork. It's more efficient than your average computer, but it still uses 25 watts average. I have no figures for the no load/100% load energy consumption.

[ Parent ]
You would agree with the article by gpig (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:59:33 AM EST
Dr. Goldacre wasn't arguing with the idea of drinking water and doing some gentle exercise or movement during lessons. His criticism was directed at the fact that bollocks science is used to justify it. There is probably room in the market for something which has much the same practices, but doesn't teach kids that they have 'brain buttons'.

On the other hand, Gillian McKeith exists.
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(,   ,') -- eep

[ Parent ]
Thanks. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:14:08 AM EST
I always find those kind of articles to annoying for me with their preaching to the choirness.

Still, now I know the word "brain buttons". That was worth it.

Now, off to email my brother to tell him why there was no need to put the freshwater fish on Noah's Ark. (Apparently, pockets of fresh water may stay stable in seawater for a period well in excess of forty days and forty nights)

[ Parent ]
Ben Goldacre does have an awful lot of choir by gpig (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:31:19 AM EST
Even the troll (with account name "ANGRY BRAIN") just turned out to be a scientist having a laugh. It was funny though.
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(,   ,') -- eep
[ Parent ]
Hmm by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:42:46 AM EST
Although although those articles are entertaining for a critical thinker, they will do nothing to convince someone who has bought into the crap.  Sneering at the concept of "brain buttons" is fine and dandy, but only if you already know what a load of shit it is.

Maybe I should email the guy to get him more information from my unwitting source.


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
Suspect it's a lost cause by R Mutt (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:43:34 AM EST
...Before doing these tasks, children are required to take a swig of water and hold it in their mouths for a few seconds until the teacher tells them they can swallow. When I asked why, the teacher, who had been sent on a Brain Gym course by the school, informed me that the water was partially absorbed through the roof of the children's mouths and was absorbed by the brain, improving learning.
If you'll swallow that, I think you're pretty much lost to reason.

[ Parent ]
yikes by Merekat (4.00 / 3) #9 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:18:43 AM EST
I think I'd be looking for a meeting with the head teacher if any child I might have came home from school telling me that.

[ Parent ]
I dunno by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:42:06 AM EST
I've seen that quote before (from the randi.org forums when I first searched for references to Brain Gym), and I keep meaning to ask her if that's what she's heard.  One of the Brain Gym apologists practitioners on the forum claimed they'd never been taught that reason at all, and that the person who claimed it was simply confused.  A not unbelievable possibility.

But I really hope they do teach that, because that's such an easy door in to make people see how wrong the practice is.  And once I've convinced her that the roof of the mouth is not made of wick material, maybe the seeds of doubt will be sown...?  Or maybe I'm being optimistic.


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
I suspect... by bob6 (2.00 / 0) #35 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 07:51:08 AM EST
... they're teaching authority rather than anything else. What schoolroom will hold water in their mouth and not a single one spits it on the next geek? This exercise should end in water fight.

Btw
Brain buttons lie directly over and stimulate the carotid arteries.
The actual carotid artery lays under your skin on the right side of your neck, where cops in the movies try to feel the pulse of dead people. Well, if you stimulate it by rubbing it slowly and long enough... you pass out, plain an simple.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Dissertation for what? by komet (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:55:34 AM EST
What degree is she getting? This surely can't be much good for the reputation of the university in question.

--
<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.
[ Parent ]
I don't know, I didn't ask. by gazbo (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:36:52 AM EST
PGCE maybe?  Some form of teaching qualification anyway.  One day I may pluck up the courage to ask to see it - I'll offer to swap a copy of mine for hers to even things out.

I consider my dissertation to be a fairly poor example of a write-up: interesting and successful project ("Sound synthesis using genetic programming") but the write-up tells the truth about how much time I put into it (48 hours frantic final write-up).  Weighing in at around 60 pages of text, with only a handful of references, and then a couple of dozen pages of graphs and numbers from runs of the system.

I suspect - and I base this on nothing other than hunch - that her dissertation will be a fraction the size, consist of no references other than Brain Gym publications, and contain zero new research.

Well, if the subject comes up again I'll ask her for a copy.  But I'll not introduce the subject myself.


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
Brain Gym Stage #2: by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:15:33 AM EST
Submit to the E-Meter.

Google page rank dropped?  Simple solution: sue Google and watch it soar again.  Sometimes I worry that I'm not cynical enough.

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Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.

brain gym stage #3 by martingale (4.00 / 1) #25 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 04:27:07 AM EST
Convince someone else to exercise your brain for you.

I must admit my first thought when I read the headline was handbag -> Margaret Thatcher -> Dennis. Zombies on the brain...
--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

[ Parent ]
What is it with Germans and severed body parts? by Rogerborg (2.00 / 0) #26 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 04:44:18 AM EST
Hang on, a German Turk?  Well, now I don't know which racist stereotype to pillory.

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Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
[ Parent ]
Google sue by TurboThy (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:41:33 AM EST
The complaint accuses Google, as the dominant provider of Web searches, of violating KinderStart's constitutional right to free speech by blocking search engine results showing Web site content and other communications.

I'd like to start a donation drive to sic a huge bloke with a cricket bat on these people's arses.
__
Sommerhus til salg, første række til Kattegat.

Wow! by ReallyEvilCanine (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:48:05 AM EST
ASCII art from 18 years before ASCII was developed. I guess those Popular Mechanics articles about time machines were right on the money.

# include WheresMyFlyingCarRant.h;

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

Far be it by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:04:40 AM EST

from me to be pugnacious, contradictory and obstreperous (forgive the florid vocabulary; I've just done my early-afternoon 'Brain Buttons' ...), but who's to say that this 'Brain Gym' doesn't actually work on some practical meta-level?

I recently had a debate with a family member over homeopathic medicine. Things were proceeding nicely when, in the middle of the chat and having well and truly "got my debunk on", it was pointed-out that, given that the "placebo effect" is real / demonstrable / scientifically established etc., can one not simply defend homeopathy on the grounds of being an effective, powerful, folk-wisdom-backed, pseudo-organic, peer-pressurized placebo delivery mechanism?

That's all very easy to say, certainly, but might the 'Brain Gym' be valid inasmuch as it gets kids drinking water, shutting-up, behaving and working instead of being juiced-up on Sunny D, giving their vocal chords a thrashing and smearing chocolate / snot / whatever up the walls?


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
It's tempting to argue along those lines, but by DesiredUsername (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:16:45 AM EST
A medical system based on homeopathy will appear to work at some low level of effectiveness but will fail anybody who doesn't (or can't--the young, unconscious, mentally disabled, etc) believe in it. A medical system based on science will work at a higher level (real medicine plus the placebo effect) and will help even unbelievers.

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Now accepting suggestions for a new sigline
[ Parent ]
caveat by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:31:02 AM EST
A medical system based on science will work at a higher level (real medicine plus the placebo effect) and will help even unbelievers...

...when properly applied and not just when operated on a quasi mystical faith in the effectiveness of antibiotics which causes the practitioner to completely fail to listen to any of the patient's symptoms.

[ Parent ]
Ah, but by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:32:24 AM EST

Homeopathy self-selects for believers. Non-believers simply don't bother with it, which gets rid of as much as half your point ;)


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Oh, very possibly by gazbo (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:18:53 AM EST
I have no doubt that it may work on a placebo level.  And maybe more directly on a calm-them-down, shut-them-up, get-their-attention level.  In fact, the same person teaches at a Catholic school (she's not religious herself) and if they are being rowdy she'll announce "In the name of the father..." because that gets them to suddenly sit still and shut up.

But does the end justify the means?  Does the potential for a tiny increase in the effectiveness of a lesson justify a new wave of 20 year olds in the future who have no critical thinking skills, because they've been indoctrinated with pseudo-science since age 5?  How about when they have children who slowly starve to death because the parents willingly believe that centering the child's chi by massaging the meridians* is more effective and less harmful that taking modern medical advice?

Now I know you're at least partially playing devil's advocate here, so this isn't a rant directed at you, but when I read cases of patients dying because they were informed that modern medicine was making them worse and that the true way to treat brain tumours was with coffee enemas (I didn't just make that up), or of people being fleeced for huge amounts of money by mediums preying on the lonely and vulnerable, or even wars started over religion, I can't help but see all such made-up nonsense as being potentially dangerous.

*Because that's so different to increasing brain activity by massaging the brain buttons.


I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
I don't disagree by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #22 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:48:52 AM EST

particularly with anything you say and, yes, was playing devil's advocate (perhaps even partially trolling ...) to an extent in the original post.

However: I think there is a fundamental contradiction in there somewhere. Many of the most critical thinkers I know were raised on no small measure of unfalsifiable creed (Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the whole God thing, misunderstood science as delivered by parents), and didn't really develop genuine (as opposed to 'aped') critical thinking skills until their mid or late teens.

What I'm saying is that, given what Goldacre calls "the predisposition of children to learn from adults", how different is blind acceptance of established scientific fact A from blind acceptance of unfalsifiable gibberish B, given that both are assented-to equally? The well-intentioned answer is that fact A is correct whereas B is not (at which point we could go into a long and not-particularly-productive discourse involving Wittgenstein and French deconstructionism) but that would ignore the fact that people capable of critical thinking will figure it out for themselves anyway, regardless of whether they were taught A or B initially (as both assertions are simply indoctrination at that stage).

My point is just that people like Dr. Goldacre (and many of us here, including myself) have a predisposition towards the importance of teaching correct facts (to whatever extent that is a tautology) when it is just as likely that it is the teaching of utter gibberish which motivates critical thinking.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
I only went to a Comprehensive by R Mutt (4.00 / 1) #24 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 04:01:29 AM EST
But when I went to school, we were generally taught the evidence and reasoning behind the stuff we were taught.

For History, we learned what Primary and Secondary sources were, and how we could use them to find out what probably happened.

For Science, we'd learn about the experiments that led to certain theories, and when possible we repeated the experiments themselves to confirm them.

Maybe things have changed so much that kids are taught scientifc theories without experiments and history without sources, but I doubt it.

The problem with Brain Gym isn't that they're being taught incorrect facts, but that they're being taught blind acceptance of supposed facts.

[ Parent ]
I think you're being disingenuous by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #28 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 04:56:01 AM EST

I went to a comprehensive, too, and had a nigh-on identical experience to you. So tell me:

How much of the calculus did you understand, aged eleven? When the time came (early GCSE, IIRC) to discuss Newtonian motion in more detail, did you query where those equations came from, or did they spring, silken and fully-formed, from the forehead of El Guru? What thoughts did Einstein's relativistic effects and equations conjure in your thirteen-year-old brain? How did your twelve-year-old self cope with Maxwell and grad, div and curl?

See: You didn't and you weren't thinking critically. You took it on faith that the person at the front of the class was telling the truth when it came time to discuss gravity and electricity. The fact that your teacher probably didn't understand them properly didn't occur to you. I've already gone too far for illustratory purposes, though. You were assenting to facts you had no way of proving, some of which were such gross simplifications (I'm thinking basic chemistry) as to be outright lies, all the way through school. How does this differ from the 'Brain Gym'? It would be possible, if advocating diabolically, to assert that, at the very least, the 'Brain Gym' encourages good practice (drinking water, a relaxed and focussed state of mind etc.), even if it's for spurious reasons.

I presume you've read this. All I'm saying is that these issues are far more complex, especially with regard to people who are incapable of understanding the fundamental proofs and salient ideas (be they child or adult) than these kinds of knee-jerk, banner-of-wisdom discussion imply.

Two further points: If 'Brain Gym' encouraged exactly the same practices, but dressed it in less scientifically-inaccurate verbiage, what would the consensus be? (That it was no great problem, I'm guessing). Secondly: In individuals perfectly capable of understanding the salient points, I completely agree with yourself (and gazbo / DU etc.). A counterargument to that last point is that children are, but that takes us back to my original comment: I don't think they are - not at the meta-level of efficacy. Bear in mind that we're not talking about GCSE students here; we're talking about primary school kids.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Well by R Mutt (4.00 / 1) #30 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 05:11:00 AM EST
With Maths, I didn't have any problem understanding the proofs until we got into A-Level further maths. With Physics, regardless of where the equations come from, the experiments are understandable, and even worked in lab sometimes. But more important than the details was the principle that these things have to be tested and proved before they can be relied on.

But in the case of science, I'd say that's less important; as apart from a few oddities like evolution no-one's trying to deliberately mislead the kids into believing stuff that's not true. When it comes to things like Brain Gym, people are consistently, systematically targetted with misinformation; encouraging them to believe falsehoods for the sake of selling spurious cures and improvements to them. It's not just advertising: newspapers, magazines and TV documentaries are full of this crap; and their parents probably believe it too. If the schools are full of the same bullshit, then I don't see anywhere left where the kids can find out that the bullshit is bullshit.

[ Parent ]
Like I said, by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #34 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 07:16:04 AM EST

I don't particularly disagree with the general principle (and most of the time fervently agree), and certainly don't care enough to flog this to an eternal death, but I would argue that they'll learn the same place we all learn. I stopped believing the bull about chewing-gum-wrapping-round-the-heart the instant I saw an X-Ray / autopsy / Gray's anatomy. By the time they've done secondary school biology for a couple of terms they'll realize the brain gym stuff was a crock, but they also might wonder why, if it was so patently a crock, whether it had any other point (which it does). We learn. That's pretty much all we do for the first couple of decades.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Me. by Rogerborg (2.00 / 0) #27 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 04:51:50 AM EST
I'm to say it.

If homeoepathy works, so does saying "Pull yourself together."

If Brain Gym works, so does giving them a Nintendo and a bottle of Evian.

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Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.

[ Parent ]
In all seriousness by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #29 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 05:00:31 AM EST

I'd argue that well-designed games (Zelda etc.) encourage logic and rational thought in the young as well as any other method; game logic, after all, being essentially "Hypothesis => Test, Hypothesis => Test, Hypothesis => Test ..."

At least; that was my excuse ...


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Who's to say that I wasn't being serious? by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #31 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 05:12:17 AM EST
Who?  Go on, tell me.

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Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
[ Parent ]
the real question is by 256 (4.00 / 1) #32 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 05:56:57 AM EST
which is the purview of elementary schools:
  1. making sure that kids drink enough water
  2. filling their heads with information that is, at the very least, not willful nonsense

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I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni
[ Parent ]
Oddly enough by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #33 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 06:58:03 AM EST
The simple sugars in a juice drink like "Sunny D" may well have a measurable effect on short-term mental performance.

Though true nerds know that the demon caffiene is the real brain drug.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
More Brain Gym stuff... by squigs (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:17:58 AM EST
On Ben Goldacre's blog.

http://www.badscience.net/?p=225#more-225

Seems to be a general mix of agreement, and people complaining because he fails to consider the benefits of excercising and keeping hydrated.

Brain Gym by priestess (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:26:08 AM EST
I think I'd have prefered it to actuall Gym, sounds a little better than running around in the mud and the cold chasing after a funny shaped ball, certainly.

Strange what some folks will believe though.

Pre...........
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Chat to the virtual me...

re: modernism by lm (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 03:57:39 AM EST
The chief problem with modernism is that it sees the sad plight of people with religion over the past 2000 years and assumes that their plight will be better without religion, ignoring the possibility that the problem with humanity stem from being human.

Or as Leo Strauss put it, ``...no bloody or unbloody change of society can eradicate the evil in man: as long as there will be men, there will be malice, envy and hatred...''

Aside from which, I am somehow not surprised that an analysis of modernism in architecture that starts with the German built fortresses along the Atlantic wall should find that modernism is all about death.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Processed foods do not contain water | 35 comments (35 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback