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alpha waves

Stephen Black sblack at UBISHOPS.CA
Tue May 6 23:37:13 EST 1997

Since I haven't gotten flamed yet, I guess my first attempt at 
posting this didn't make it. Here it is again:

On 6 May 1997, Curt Siffert wrote:

> Can anyone tell me why alpha waves are considered a good thing?  I'm 
> trying to do some serious research on alpha waves (as well as delta,
> theta, beta, sre, and high beta), and everything that turns up on the
> web just keeps on talking about "peak performance" and how you can never
> have enough alpha.  It's annoying.  I am in an extremely high alpha 
> state all the time and it makes it very hard to concentrate and focus,

Well, I'm probably wasting my time speaking to the converted on this
one, but the alpha wave stuff is a crock. Barry Beyerstein (references
below) says "Alpha brain-waves are marketed as a way to produce
relaxation, healing and meditative or occult states. In fact, they are
related to activity in the visual system and have no proven curative or
paranormal powers" (Beyerstein, 1985). 

The National Academy of Science (USA) also convened a high-powered panel
to look at this and other similarly flakey claims (Druckman & Swets,
1988). I seem to recall that they disposed of the alpha-wave craze as
well. Worth a look. 

Druckman,D. & Swets, J. (1988). Enhancing Human Performance. National
  Academy Press, Washington.

Beyerstein, B. (1985). The myth of alpha consciousness. The Skeptical
  Inquirer, 10, 42--

Beyerstein, B. (1990). Brainscams: neuromythologies of the New Age.
   International Journal of Mental Health, 19, 27-36.


Stephen Black, Ph.D.                      tel: (819) 822-9600 ext 2470
Department of Psychology                  fax: (819) 822-9661
Bishop's University                    e-mail: sblack at ubishops.ca
Lennoxville, Quebec               
J1M 1Z7                    Bishop's Department of Psychology web page at:                                                      
Canada                        http://www.ubishops.ca/ccc/div/soc/psy

                        "I'm a scientist. Certainty is a big word for me."
                                 -from the movie "Volcano"                

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