It’s been a long time since I had a good rant on here. This one will be in the same vein as my previous post about Power Balance bracelets. Recently, I have been reading Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science” and I was rather ticked off by what I discovered in Chapter 2 of the book. It mentions an initiative which is in effect in the state school system in the UK called “Brain Gym”.
The basic concept behind Brain Gym is that supposedly performing certain actions can ”enhance the experience of whole brain learning”. Some of these actions involve the consumption of relatively large quantities of water which is generally accepted as a good thing (but not too much. The consumption of too much water is drowning.) If the Brain Gym publications were just “Drink more water to keep hydrated”, that would be fine. However, they go on to claim that as water is in blood, by drinking more you get more oxygen transportation and that holding the water against the roof of your mouth means that it can be absorbed directly into the brain. A note to doctors: if for whatever reason your patient cannot drink fluids, don’t bother with an IV in the arm, just go through the roof of their mouth instead. That’ll work.
Another exercise that can help brain activity is called “Brain Buttons”. Please perform the following exercise as follows:
“Make a “C” shape with your thumb and forefinger and place on either side of the breastbone just below the collarbone. Gently rub for twenty or thirty seconds whilst placing your other hand over your navel. Change hands and repeat.”
The experiment supposedly “stimulates the flow of oxygen carrying blood through the carotid arteries to the brain to awaken it and increase concentration and relaxation. This is because the “brain buttons” lie directly over and stimulate the carotid arteries.” Side-effects may include men in white coats taking you away and putting you in a padded cell.
I worry that the creators of “Brain Gym” may have confused Homo Sapiens with Data from Star Trek. Humans generally do not have some sort of “brain activation button” on their chest. Other exercises include tapping your fingers together in a certain order to “connect the electrical circuits in the body, containing and thus focusing both attention and disorganised energy” and a special yawn that leads to “increased oxidation for efficient relaxed functioning”. Oxidation is the process that makes metal rust. It’s almost as if this course was written by someone who didn’t have the faintest idea of how the body works…
All of this may seem ridiculous to you, dear reader, but somehow this crazy mumbo-jumbo pseudo-science is being taught in thousands of schools in the UK by teachers who for whatever reason believe it works. Personally, I find it rather scary that the “adults” who are teaching our kids (well, not OUR. I don’t have any (to my knowledge)), the “adults” who are teaching your kids (if you have any, you may not), the “adults” who are teaching kids, don’t even challenge this notion.
And the teachers have to go on a course to be properly “authorised” to perform Brain Gym. Courses which are paid for by the Government using tax payers money. Brain Gym has been criticised by numerous people and publications for not having adequate scientific proof for the theories that they perpetuate but, unlike Power Balance, they have not been told to stop selling their product.