Oh, if it were only that simple. If you could just spend an afternoon playing brain games and ramp up your intelligence. Life would be so much easier. Perhaps we should recall the quote sometimes attributed to Carol Rees,
“Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Maybe that’s the true message to take away when it comes to these so-called brain-training games are misleading. This assertion doesn’t come from a lone study, but rather in a statement released by 69 scientists, organized by the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Berlin Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
Their summary statement reads:
“We object to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline when there is no compelling scientific evidence to date that they do. The promise of a magic bullet detracts from the best evidence to date, which is that cognitive health in old age reflects the long-term effects of healthy, engaged lifestyles. In the judgment of the signatories below, exaggerated and misleading claims exploit the anxieties of older adults about impending cognitive decline. We encourage continued careful research and validation in this field.”
These are strong words by psychology professors and others from all around the world. The statement highlights a growing problem in popular media in our connected age. While science wants to share knowledge, some exploit it.
Brain Games Fail
Cognitive decline is a scary subject, and thus, produces a desperate populace. They use claims of neuroscience, the latest science buzzword, to bolster their “credibility.” They assert scientific evidence where it doesn’t exist.
As the scientists’ full statement points out,
“It is customary for advertising to highlight the benefits and overstate potential advantages of their products.”
It is certainly not case in this industry alone, but in many health claims you encountered on TV advertising, mobile ads, and product packaging. The problem with brain games lies in the blatant misuse of science.
And as writers, this subject may hit home in other ways. We have, after all, a more intimate relationship with words. Cognitive decline takes on a different meaning all together for those of us who live by the pen.
That is precisely what makes this statement infuriating. Perhaps we know that advertisers are overselling when buy anything packaged. I mean, seriously; has any frozen food you purchased looked like the picture on the box when you cooked it? If so, I want to know what you’re buying—as long as it is gluten free.
The problem here is that the act of misleading has greater consequences. It’s harmful and cruel, I would add, to promise a youthful mind. Some of it is unavoidable, but you can take some control of your destiny if you use it by learning skills, exercising, and yes, reading.
If you want the secret to a long, long life, take to heart the wise words of George R.R. Martin in A Dance with Dragons.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
http://mystery.weborlodge.com/By Chris DR