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    #78150 - 06/14/10 03:27 PM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: Kriston]
    MegMeg Offline

    Registered: 03/14/10
    Posts: 615
    Hi Kriston,

    You raise an important issue. It's one that I think is very much misunderstood by the non-scientist public. First, scientists would be the first to say that we don't have all the answers yet! Especially when it comes to understanding the brain, everybody in the biz knows that we have barely scratched the surface.

    But that is a separate issue from, second, whether a particular proposal has any truth to it. This is where scientists start to get impatient and sound like know-it-alls. Because, really, we've been around that block SO many times, it's like playing whack-a-mole.

    This is where the burden-of-proof issue comes in. It is incumbent upon the person proposing a theory to provide SOME reason, ANY reason, why it should be taken seriously, before asking people to waste their time and scarce research funds looking into it. Our culture has this myth of the persecuted genius (think Galileo) who is eventually vindicated by history. But that kind of thing is rare. Vanishingly rare. Meanwhile, there is a river of crackpot ideas that will never be anything but crackpot.

    It's like being asked, "You don't believe in the Easter Bunny? Why not? Give me all your reasons and arguments, in explicit detail. Oh, okay, I guess that sounds kinda convincing, but what about Santa Claus? Why don't you believe in him? Don't you think you're being a little closed-minded? What about Ganesh? Leprechauns? Aliens who built the pyramids? Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, ya know."

    This analogy might sound rather snarky and unfair, but it's really pretty accurate. Because another feature of these kinds of theories is their sheer implausibility. Their quality of pulled-out-of-nowhere-ness. Their complete lack of fit with everything else we already know.

    This leads to my next point, which is the myth that scientists are dismissive of any idea that hasn't already been proven. In fact, scientists LOVE new and promising ideas. Think of the history of AIDS treatment research. There were numerous ideas and approaches that seemed promising and raised scientists' hopes, that turned out to be dead ends, before real progress finally started happening. Those early treatments were taken seriously because there was some reason to think they could pan out. For example, maybe a certain effect worked in the petri dish, but just didn't scale up (or whatever). This is one of the important features that distinguishes viable theories from theories that make scientists roll their eyeballs.

    Thanks for raising this important issue, and giving me a chance to do another Public Service Announcement! smile laugh wink


    #78156 - 06/14/10 05:16 PM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: Kriston]
    twogirlsdad Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 06/10/10
    Posts: 8

    That's great that you're a neurologist, but with all due respect that is a fact independent of the issue I am enquiring about, which are the outcomes that are being reported with respect to programs like Brain Balance.

    Perhaps I should ask the question this way. As a trained neurologist, why is it that from your perspective the science and medical training you have received refutes or discounts this as a viable program for treating autism or other afflictions on the autism scale?

    #78157 - 06/14/10 05:35 PM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: twogirlsdad]
    master of none Offline

    Registered: 03/18/08
    Posts: 2946
    I believe that was already addressed when the basis of the treatment was discussed.

    #78159 - 06/14/10 06:05 PM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: master of none]
    twogirlsdad Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 06/10/10
    Posts: 8
    My apologies, I had not refreshed my page from earlier in the day when i had responded and missed her last reply, so I think i understand your/her point on refuting a negative.

    That said, I am still having a hard time with deriding the program based on nothing but the lack of peer review in the face of significant positive feedback from parents who have enrolled their children vs. No or little negative feedback from same. I'm trying to get past the discussion about peer review to asking why the SCIENCE could generate the skepticism.

    #78161 - 06/14/10 06:22 PM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: twogirlsdad]
    DeeDee Offline

    Registered: 04/16/10
    Posts: 2498
    You can't tell from anecdotal evidence whether this or any program helped the child, whether it was something else the family was trying at the same time that helped, or whether the child learned some skills because s/he was developmentally ready to do so.

    From the parent's point of view it looks like success, and that's great for them; but there is no way to determine whether the success is attributable to the program or to other factors.

    Scientific studies are designed to remove all those other irrelevant factors from consideration, so that you can actually tell whether and under what conditions the program would likely work in future cases, or whether its apparent success was likely coincidental.

    Seen from this point of view, it's not a "mere" lack of peer review: anecdotal evidence just doesn't get you far. It might give you things to try if you're floundering and desperate (hence the preying on families of kids with autism) but it doesn't give you information you can trust will help.

    As far as the science generating skepticism: this relates to MegMeg's post earlier. If there's no reason based in currently accepted scientific thought why we should think something ought to work, it seems reasonable to be skeptical. Not to say we understand it all, just to say an idea is more worth testing if it is plausible based on what we already know.

    I'm not deriding this particular program-- I know little about it. But I have to be skeptical of programs where the main people providing a diagnosis are the same people selling the solutions, and programs that solve poorly defined problems based on strategies that don't make sense to me.


    #78165 - 06/14/10 06:43 PM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: twogirlsdad]
    no5no5 Offline

    Registered: 04/02/09
    Posts: 529
    I'll say this: Peer reviewed or not, scientists don't convince desperate parents to spend thousands of dollars by spouting pseudo-scientific claims that they can cure their kids of anything by means of methods that have not undergone scientific testing. Scientists hypothesize that a particular treatment might work for certain conditions, get IRB approval, test it on volunteers, and then and only then conclude that it either does or does not help. Period. Perhaps these methods do help. But the "science" on the website is absolutely, shockingly, long on buzzwords and short on meaning. You don't need science to generate skepticism, when common sense will do as well. smile

    #78167 - 06/14/10 06:47 PM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: MegMeg]
    no5no5 Offline

    Registered: 04/02/09
    Posts: 529
    Originally Posted By: MegMeg
    I call troll. Let's stop feeding the troll.

    (I've enjoyed the discussion with the rest of you, though!)

    Probably. But thanks for the info about right/left brain function. I've often wondered why people make that division when it seems so unlikely. smile

    #78171 - 06/14/10 07:34 PM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: MegMeg]
    Kriston Offline

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest

    I'm happy to give you the chance to issue the PSA. smile And yes to not feeding the troll.

    I think I have just been running into a lot of doctors in the past 10 years or so who are NOT excited to investigate and try new ideas. Several times I have run across doctors who a) have no solution that will actually work for a given problem, and yet b) dismiss cheap and easy potential solutions, instead prescribing pricey diagnostics and powerful meds that they know are not likely to yield any better results than snake oil.

    In such a case, maybe trying something that's untested--provided it is cheap and won't do more harm--is not a bad idea.

    I'm not talking about Santa Claus solutions, but things that make some sense. In my case, I asked my doctor if I should get off artificial sweeteners because I had read that they might cause migraines. He said there was no evidence, and instead he prescribed a pricey MRI and anti-depressants that were far worse than my migraines.

    I did everything he told me to do, but I had more migraines than ever. Desperate, I just decided to start eliminating things to see if it helped, effectively conducting my *own* study, insofar as that was possible with a group of one... The first thing I did was quit using artifical sweeteners. Surprise, surprise, the migraines have almost completely stopped.

    Cheap, easy, probably better for me anyway, but my doctor dismissed it. Why? Because there was no proof yet. Um...

    I have other anecdotes from my own experience. (My first childbirth experience was a biggie.) But basically, I am now skeptical of every solution someone proposes: show me why I should believe. Absent an emergent situation, doctors have to prove to me that their solutions are worth my time and money just like everyone else, and they need to give me a darn good reason why my cheap/free and easy solution shouldn't be tried. Otherwise, I'm starting there and saving the MRIs and mind-altering drugs for a last resort!

    #78185 - 06/15/10 02:29 AM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: twogirlsdad]
    Iucounu Offline

    Registered: 06/02/10
    Posts: 1457
    The problem seems to be that the thing you're here to laud has no proper scientific basis. I am unable to assess such things, since I'm not a neuroscientist.

    However, things like lack of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, etc. etc. etc. are more compelling to me than postings from essentially anonymous supposed parents, who even if they are bona fide will have paid thousands for a treatment and will thus be psychologically invested in not feeling bilked.

    As an example of how baseless claims can result in loss to the public, consider the Q-Ray bracelet, which was sold through claims of pain relief that were never substantiated:

    So no, it's not wise to just take advertising claims on faith, least of all faith from people who may be suffering from the placebo effect.

    Let's say, hypothetically, that a Brain Balance salesperson decides to create an anonymous account on a website to sell the product, and he picks a website where lots of people with autistic-spectrum children go. Of course that salesperson will say positive things about the product, ignore the fact that it goes against or is not founded on any established science, ignore the fact that it's created by a chiropractor, make claims based on testimonials from parents of the "cured" without any proper corroboration, say that there is no proof that it doesn't work, etc. Such tactics have already been handily debunked previously in this thread.

    Like no5no5, lots of red flags go up for me when I see lots of buzzwords accompanied by little or anything of substance, and lots of money spent on what sounds like basic academic drills, not left-brain/right-brain retraining.

    If you're not a Brain Balance salesperson, you'd make a fine one. smile Your post is indistinguishable, to me, from spam posts selling products that pop up on websites fairly often, and I think that's what some others are seeing. I apologize if you really are a parent questing after answers who has simply bought into the buzz about this product.

    Edited by Iucounu (06/15/10 03:01 AM)
    Striving to increase my rate of flow, and fight forum gloopiness. sick

    #78187 - 06/15/10 04:14 AM Re: Brain Balance Center? [Re: Iucounu]
    twogirlsdad Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 06/10/10
    Posts: 8
    I am not a Brain Balance salesperson, Nor am I in anyway associated with Brain Balance !! If you read my earlier posts you will see that I am completely open to both sides of the story. I am here for no other simple reason than to make a decision for myself as to the effectiveness of this program, plain and simple!! I was introduced to the concept and I am simply trying to learn about it. If anything, perhaps you are a salesperson for a competing supplemental learning center or neurology clinic. That seems increasingly likely.

    I would like to discuss the merits and demerits of the program (See Thread Name) on this forum. Its obvious that this and all programs should be approached skeptically, and i am totally open to all the scientific and outcome testimonials that would sway my thinking either way. So far there is none emanating from this (Brain Balance) thread.

    All I have learned from this thread is that:
    1) MerMeg is a neurologist
    2) There are no/no major peer reviews studies on the BBC approach
    3) MegMeg is a neurologist
    4) MegMeg believes We've only scratched the surface in understanding the Human brain
    5) MegMeg is a neurologist
    6) There is no one on this board who is willing to discuss the outcomes of the Brain Balance Program either to say it was successful or unsuccessful for their child.
    7) MegMeg is a neurologist

    But listening to megmeg discuss the potential merits or demerits of the program via the science is tantamount to bringing a Lamborghini to a high-priced mechanic, only to look inside his (her) shop and see that they have a mechanics certification on the wall but only duct tape and a sledge hammer in their tool chest to fix the car. I'm always skeptical of mechanics who diagnose a car's problems without looking under the hood and don't generally like to explain how an engine works to customers.

    As I mentioned above, this thread is titled "Brain Balance Centers". That is why i signed on, looking for positive or negative commentary on its effectiveness. I will obviously stop looking on this board and pursue speaking with more parents directly who have sent their child to a center.

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