Game thinking from Adam Clare

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Beware Brain Games and “NeuroBollocks”

There are a ton of games out there that claim to improve your brains ability to process/store information in one way or another, but do they work? Companies like Cogmed, Lumosity, and of course many others are all claiming that they do work and they can improve your brain; or, at the very least delay its decline.

The New Yorker recently looked into the meata-analyses of research studies that have proven that brain-training games improve working memory. The article Brain Games Are Bogus is a worth a read.

The basic questions is can games make you smarter? And here’s what the piece says:

The answer, however, now appears to be a pretty firm no—at least, not through brain training. A pair of scientists in Europe recently gathered all of the best research—twenty-three investigations of memory training by teams around the world—and employed a standard statistical technique (called meta-analysis) to settle this controversial issue. The conclusion: the games may yield improvements in the narrow task being trained, but this does not transfer to broader skills like the ability to read or do arithmetic, or to other measures of intelligence. Playing the games makes you better at the games, in other words, but not at anything anyone might care about in real life.

Does this mean we should stop using games to try and improve the brain, I don’t think so. I’m still very confident that games can be used to improve the way people conceptualize the world and how they operate within it. We may not be able to change the hardware, so to speak, but we may be able to update the software.

I found out about the above article via a great site called NeuroBollcks which wants to debunk false claims about neuroscience and “neuro-whatever”. They examine articles and products that claim they are using the latest of brain science to improve you, and most of it like Neuro-Linguistic Programming turns out to be nothing much more than snake oil.

So, what this blog aims to do is catalogue these neurobollocks-merchants, examine the evidence for their claims, and try to come to some evaluation of their merits.

Bitcoin Explained in 3 Minutes

Bitcoin is the world’s most used alternative currency, and if you haven’t heard about yet then you should watch this video. Heck even if you have heard about it’s worth watching.

For more information on bitcoin I recommend this excellent New Yorker article on it.

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