This is the time of year when we’re all trying to perfect ourselves by tackling those pesky weaknesses of mind and body; however, attempting to do so through New Age and scientifically bogus means can not only lead to discouragement and failure, it can also be detrimental to our soul.
Mindfulness. Zen Meditation. Access Consciousness. Holotropic Breathwork. They’re all part of a New Age craze that claims we can perfect ourselves and even alter our brain waves by adopting a particular technique.
The latest example of such a technique is known as BrainTap. According to the website, BrainTap allegedly helps people to achieve balanced brainwave states that can “enhance production of all the necessary neurotransmitters needed for optimal function of body and mind.” It accomplishes this through four distinct steps – the use of binaural beats, visualization, and what they refer to as “10 Cycle Holographic Music.”
As they state, this is the latest in “brainwave entrainment” technology, a belief that certain sound frequencies can influence the brain by altering its wave patterns, thereby bringing about reduced stress, improved learning and sleeping, as well as advanced states of meditation.
Brainwave entrainment is nothing new. EquiSync, Holosync and Hemi-Sync, all claim to be able to create sound frequencies known as “binaural beats” which are are said to influence the brain by altering its wave patterns. Producers of these products claim that listening to these sounds produces all kinds of benefits such as reduced stress, improved learning, better sleep, and even instant advanced states of meditation.
The problem is that there’s no evidence to support these claims.
Steven Novella, M.D., clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, says that although brainwave entrainment is a real phenomenon, it has become a “useful tool” for pseudoscientific products that make all kinds of claims for which there simply is no support.
“Entrainment is a temporary effect on the synchronization of neuronal firing – it does not improve or increase brain functioning, it does not change the hardwiring, nor does it cure any neurological disorder. There is no compelling evidence for any effect beyond the period of entrainment itself,” he explains in this blog. “ . . . [T]he science just isn’t there.”
BrainTap is a good example of how these “technologies” are being marketed to consumers. It was invented by a man named Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D., who lists himself as the head of mind-based studies at Quantum University – an institution that offers degrees in holistic, alternative, natural, and integrative medicine. He’s also a licensed trainer in Neuro-Linquistic Programming (NLP) which is another popular New Age health care practice that has no scientific credibility.
The site makes BrainTap sound incredibly scientific with the use of terms such as neuro-algorithms, full-spectrum brainwave activity, etc. The technology claims to have been “extensively tested,” which should indicate the existence of studies appearing in the likes of prestigious medical journals such as The Lancet or the Journal of the American Medical Association. However, there’s been no such publication and not a single study is listed on the website for consumers to review.
This dearth of veracity becomes even more apparent when one reviews the work of trained neuroscientists who speak about brainwave entrainment from a scientific point-of-view. We need only read a few sentences before realizing that only a person with a very advanced degree in neuroscience can understand all this let alone create such an amazing technology as BrainTap purports to be. And yet, Dr. Porter’s biography offers no information about his educational background or qualifications to be designing sophisticated neurological programs such as this. He simply refers to himself as “an award-winning author, entrepreneur, and speaker.”
He also refers to his “team of scientists” and yet lists no one other than himself and Nicholas Zaldastani, a Mentor Capitalist with a degree in engineering, French, and an MBA from Harvard.
One of the products being sold is the BrainTap Headset. It costs $547 and promises to help the user achieve deeper meditation states, better sleep, stress reduction, overcome bad habits, and even help to lessen negative self-talk and destructive impulses.
The company also sells “bundles” to achieve weight loss, beat stress, help children learn, etc. which are sent monthly along with a fee of $9.99 per month.
BrainTap, and similar “brain altering” technologies, is a clear example of a fundamental New Age belief that we can perfect ourselves through the use of a wide variety of techniques and therapies. This is opposed to the Christian view of co-operation with divine grace.
“Mind-expanding techniques are meant to reveal to people their divine power; by using this power, people prepare the way for the Age of Enlightenment. This exaltation of humanity overturns the correct relationship between Creator and creature . . .” (No. 188.8.131.52. in Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life).
Regardless of the resolution, be it weight loss, healthier diet, quit smoking, it can all be accomplished far better by working in unison with our Creator rather than by padding the pockets of questionable New Age marketers. Why settle for gimmicks when we have the power of God to help us achieve our goals?
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