Monday, 7 April 2008

Charlie Brooker on the pseudoscience infiltrating our schools

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Not for the first time on this blog, I'd like to salute Charlie Brooker, who in this week's instalment of his Guardian column trains his sights on Brain Gym – a series of exercises said to make children perform better at school, but which are widely regarded by experts as being based on little other than pseudoscience (it features an exercise called the "energy yawn", for example).

Watching a feature on Newsnight, Brooker was shocked to learn that Brain Gym ("educational kinesiology") is being widely used in British schools, having been endorsed by the government, despite the fact that it's been discredited by the British Neuroscience Association, the Physiological Society and the charity Sense About Science.

If you haven't heard about Brain Gym before it's worth reading Brooker's column just for that, but what we really love is his ability to eloquently sum up the concerns of rationalists regarding the prevalence of nonsense in modern society:

"Because we, the adults, don't just gleefully pull the wool over our own eyes - we knit permanent blindfolds. We've decided we hate facts. Hate, hate, hate them. Everywhere you look, we're down on our knees, gleefully lapping up neckful after neckful of steaming, cloddish bullshit in all its forms. From crackpot conspiracy theories to fairytale nutritional advice, from alternative medicine to energy yawns - we just can't get enough of that musky, mudlike taste. Brain Gym is just one small tile in an immense and frightening mosaic of fantasy."