Thankfully we are as done as these marshmallow Frankensteins with Franken-debi’s book “Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity” for now. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 are here. After reading her chapters I have the same facial expressions as those Frankensteins!
This isn’t so much from the book. It’s more the advertorial. It’s a piece designed to look like editorial content that is actually an advertisement. She uses her grandkids and some silly story about marshmallows to make a point.
We start with what sounds like an unlikely scenario whipped up from thin air premise simply to promote the book.
One afternoon I was sitting on the couch talking with three grandkids while we waited to leave for the beach where they were going to compete in a lifeguard contest. One of the kids asked me what neuroplasticity meant and what my new book was all about.
Sure, they did. Later in the piece Debi refers to this lifeguard thing as a training. She cannot even keep her stories straight here.
Well, I could tell you about the brain-gut connection because a person can’t have an emotionally and mentally stable brain without a well-functioning gut. The gut is the only other part of the body that has the same type of cells as the brain. Some scientists even suggest that the gut might be capable of thought like the brain! And the microbes are really interesting. They are like our own garden of worms. If we mistreat them through too much stress, we are doomed.
Straight back to eat everything homemade or be doomed by bad guts, bad thinking guts lead to bad brains. Stress! OMG! Worms! This is not at all how the ‘gut’ works, it does not think even if there is a link between the state of your bowels and your emotions according to Johns Hopkins reearchers. But the enteric system of the gut is incapable of thought. It cannot do math or balance your checkbook.
Silly Debi, it does not quite work like that!
Think about it like this: You know how your daddy never has to struggle with what not to eat or how much to eat? You know how he always does what he says he will do? You know that he would never take drugs or become an alcoholic? None of these things are even a temptation to him. He is totally disinterested. That’s executive function, and neuroplasticity explains why it is important.
But we know this is another Pearl household, the family of Nathan, and that he was raised to have the tar wailed out of him at every opportunity. Childhood abuse just sets up people for massive trauma, which impacts intelligence and so many other things. Bad brains.
And then we get to this, the infamous Marshmallow Story!
The marshmallow story is the most famous research on this subject. A teacher walked into a room where fifty 5-year-olds sat. She was holding a large tray of marshmallows that she was obviously about to distribute to the children, but before she could pass them out she pretended she had a call and had to leave the room for 15 minutes. She told the children that if they couldn’t wait she would give them a marshmallow now or her helper would give them a marshmallow anytime while she was gone; but if they waited just 15 minutes, when she returned she would give two marshmallows to those who waited. A few of the children had already fixed their minds on getting a marshmallow and were ready to cry if they couldn’t have one immediately. As they sat licking and chewing on their marshmallow, some of the other children who sat watching and longing decided they could not wait either, so they raised their hands for the helper to bring them a marshmallow. But most of the children sat and waited until the teacher returned.
This study on delayed gratification was first done about 50 years ago. The researcher followed these kids as they grew up and noted that the children who waited fared better in life in happiness and success. This test has been done many times.
The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment was done primarily over the course of the 1970s, and it’s not quite as clear cut as Debi makes it seem. Pretzels and cookies were also used.
What they eventually found was that early versions, the ones Debi is talking about were skewed, the data favoring children from wealthier households as having the best delayed gratification response.
Accounting for socio-economics and other factors when the test was rerun it was determined that only half of the kids waited for the delayed gratification. There are also significant racial and cultural differences as well. Keep that in mind for Debi’s next words.
Also, keep in mind that this experiment never took place in a classroom. It was run worldwide in controlled laboratory settings. The participants in the first tests were between the ages of 3 years old and 5 years old, an age group not known for perfect self control.
This year when they did the same test, most of the children demanded a marshmallow immediately. Only a few lone children sat patiently waiting.
This one is an out and out lie. Here’s what really happened.
Watts, Duncan and Quan’s 2018 conceptual replication yielded mostly statistically insignificant correlations with behavioral problems but a significant correlation with achievement tests at age 15. These effects were lower than in the original experiment and reduced further when controlling for early cognitive ability and behavior, family background, and home environment.
Liar, liar, Frankenstein pants on fire! I dread to think what Debi would make of the Milgram Experiment.
Why were the results so different this year compared to 50 years ago, and what makes one child frantic to get the marshmallow immediately while another child can sit and watch others eat and not be moved? Neuroplasticity not only teaches us why, it also teaches us how we can all become self-disciplined to the point that it is not even a struggle or a sacrifice to wait our turn. Our brains actually wire to “feel” differently about things. In neuroplasticity it is said that “things that fire together wire together.” This means the more you respond a certain way (fire), the more your brain is wired to stay that way until you naturally respond to certain things the same way each time. Obviously, in previous years parents instilled these qualities into their children more than they do in today’s world.
But that’s not at all what the study showed. There are better results in more stable families, but not this worldwide ‘Gimme that marshmallow NOW!’ ism as claimed by Debi. This is why a tiny bit of knowledge mixed with a pile of falsehoods in an uneducated person giving out advice willy nilly is so incredibly dangerous.
This is how we got to the point where real science is debased and not believed by the average Joe. This gets us people like Trump, who are staring right at the problems of climate change while screaming it’s fake news. This is how ignorant people end up in positions of power.
In my book I share what researchers have learned about how to groom focus, self-control, self-restraint, memory through storytelling, resourcefulness and courage, confidence, love and charity, leadership, as well as other facets of emotional intelligence. You will have to read my book to learn more, and what is really great is that once you develop these skills they will last your whole life.
Now, how about you? Could you resist the marshmallow? You can test yourself today while we are out on the beach doing the lifeguard training. You know the leaders will provide all the snacks free of charge. A child whose brain is grooved in executive function will have access to the same unlimited amount of snacks as the child who is lacking executive skills. When you go through the line, will you pile as much as possible on your tray or will you make a decision to get only what you think your body needs to function at its best? Keep in mind every time you make a decision to do the more self-controlled thing, you are building a better brain that will cause you to naturally continue to do the right thing. It is far better than winning a contest.
No, no, NO!!! This is not what neuroplasticity is about! Debi is speaking here of habits and inclinations, not something hard wired in you that you can rewire.
Now I’m dying for a stupid marshmallow. Thanks, Deb, I don’t need it, my derriere definitely does not need it. I wonder if the test would have had very different results had they used more palatable snacks that marshmallows, pretzels or cookies? A giant bowl filled with large sized Hershey bars might have made a difference.
Debi Pearl cannot even interpret scientific data correctly, does not understand what neuroplasticity is, and throws in falsehoods and her own opinions. Please do not buy this book except to laugh at.
I cannot figure out why anyone would tell so many easily debunk-able lies in one piece, much less an entire book.
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