EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE LINKED TO BLATANT QUACKERY

The nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education has led several major press outlets to investigate Neurocore Brain Performance Centers, a clinic chain in which she and her husband are the principal investors. Neurocore’s Web site states that its primary approach—which it calls neurofeedback, EEG biofeedback, and/or quantitative EEG (qEEG)—is effective against attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, autism, depression, memory disorders, migraines, sleep disorders, and stress. The main treatment consists of hooking up patients to a device that records their brain wave patterns, showing movies to to them, and interrupting them when they become distracted. Neurocore asserts that this process “retrains” brains. In a video interview, Neurocore’s CEO asserted—without providing evidence—that (a) medication can be helpful but is only a short-term fix that masks symptoms, (b) cognitive behavioral therapy (AKA psychotherapy) can help in some cases but just gives compensating behaviors, and (c) unlike these, Neurocore’s neurofeedback deals with the “root causes” of these disorders. In interviews, former employees expressed skepticism. Child psychiatrists and psychologists with expertise in autism and ADHD debunked Neurocore’s claims, and questioned its advertising and methods (New York Times, Jan 30, 2017). Another press report noted that Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services recently denied a claim for Neurocore’s services for treating migraine. DeVos, who is a billionaire, is also the daughter of one of Amway’s founders. None of these “brain claims” noted above possess any biologic validity, nor have they appeared in any acceptable scientific peer review publications—the usual destination for valid scientific advances.

Betsy DeVos is not just unqualified, she’s dangerous! Does anyone in his/her right mind believe such a person should occupy a cabinet position?

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