Ben Goldacre on his Bad Science website explores the Brain Gym con, and reminds us of research that
demonstrates how people are much more likely to accept bogus ideas when they are peppered with
plenty of ‘sciencey’ terms (why am I thinking about Neuro Linguistic programming as I type this...).
The Sense About Science assault must have hurt, as Brain Gym mounted a response. It’s worth a read
as an example of huckster slipperiness in the face of commercial desperation.
So... Why no evidence?
Brain Gym are emphatic that cannot afford to produce empirically based, peer-reviewed quality
research, and that their evidence comes from misguided acolytes:
They have the cheek to say that there is no peer reviewed evidence on numerous educational
There is evidence on those areas, and this website steers educationalists towards that body of
I suppose that it is innocent enough for children to believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus or similar
rubbish. It’s absolutely wrong however for teachers to use techniques that are based on similar
fictions, and outrageous that such interventions as Brain Gym are meted out as ‘science’, or
educational worthwhile practice.
Adults really must not believe in the tooth fairy, and schools must not waste public money pushing
their teachers to perpetuate such junk.
Evidence evidence evidence....?
Of course there isn’t any credible evidence- how can there be? There are no controlled studies, no meta-
studies and no effect sizes. It’s all made up. Brain Gym is the purest of Snake Oils, invented down the
pub to make a few quid, fed to children dressed up as ‘brain science’ and paid for by tax payers across
the world. Brilliant!
Sense About Science debunked the whole Brain Gym con a while back. Laugh at the claims made about
the brain buttons exercise shown in the video clip above (click to enlarge):
The Brain Gym story is unbelievably believable. It is the absolute, primary example of how education (on
an enormous scale) can be hoodwinked by hucksters into spending serious money on Snake Oil, waste
teacher’s time and teach children absolute rubbish dressed up as Science. Actually, that might well
describe the whole sham of neuro linguistic programming but that’s another story.
I need to now add that, as a scientist by training, I can’t find either story funny.
Brain Gym is peddled as science in schools all across UK and indeed the world. It
generates millions by claiming to be a scientifically based program of exercises that
enhance learning. Evangelical proponents of Brain Gym perpetuate the myth, and
countless millions of children have been taught such pseudoscience as, “Processed
foods do not contain water” or “When the neck muscles are strong and there is fully
developed head and body differentiation, the neurological circuitry between
brain and body is available for optimal performance and achievement.”
The whole Brain Gym scam regales schools with such claims as, “learn ANYTHING faster and more easily,
perform better at sports, be more focused and organized, start and finish projects with ease, overcome
learning challenges, and reach new levels of excellence”. Potent claims indeed.
Find Your Brain Buttons:
Brain Gym- Proof that some schools will believe ANY old rubbish
Use the word pedagogy in conversation?
If so, click here
So... examine the evidence
So... adopt evidence-based methods
So... enhance learning