Friday, February 9, 2024

Brain Research - Dr.Sam Bommarito


The following are extracts from Dr. Sam Bommarito’s blog and my comments.

Dr. Sam

I also had a chance to hear Dr. George Hruby’s presentation as he talked about various issues including the issue of what we can learn from current brain research. Here’s a teaser- did you know that the pictures of the brain lighting up aren’t direct pictures? Those images are computer-generated and based on the data being collected. So, this picture of the brain lighting up is not an actual picture that was taken directly. It is a computer-generated statistical chart. It is only as valid as the application of the data being collected and the interpretation of that data.

He also pointed out the major limits and limitations of current research about the brain. “50% of all studies in cognitive neuroscience are reporting false positives.” My take: a lot of the brain research being used as a basis for new legislation around literacy falls into the “not ready for prime time” category.

My comment:

The masses including Dr. Sam Bommarito get carried away with titles. More than 30 years ago Dr. Sally Shaywitz wrote about brain imaging. Around 2010 or thereabout she wrote a long article on the Yale Website that it was phonological awareness deficit that was the cause of dyslexia. I disagreed with her and wrote that it could not be phonological awareness deficit as all my students could read in Malay and those who went to vernacular schools could read in Hanyu Pinyin and yet were ‘dyslexic’ when it came to reading in English.

Sally did not reply to my comment and my comment was left there for a few years until the whole article together with my comment was deleted when research reports surfaced confirming what I had commented on.

A responsible person would have highlighted the research reports and left the article for the benefit of others.

Here is some nonsense she wrote and no one queried her.

‘But dyslexia is not a hopeless affliction, as once believed. Scientists can observe its effects through brain scans as easily as they can observe a tumor. Like cancer, it can infiltrate many aspects of a person’s life. Also like cancer, it can be treated. While it cannot be cured, it can be overcome with effective, preferably early, interventions as simple as group reading several times a week. But where are the interventions?’ LINK

There were similar reactions and reposts of the video by Stanislas Dehaene. I emailed Dehaene and posted on my blog questioning many things I disagreed with. Not a single person commented on my post or reposted it. But, when Timothy Shanahan, an educator, researcher, and education policy-maker focused on literacy education, recently wrote a blog post on almost the same thing I wrote more than 2 years ago, many teachers/educators reposted and tweeted his blog. Have people forgotten to think for themselves? LINK

Dr. Sam

As I watched his presentation, I was left with the impression that in terms of what we know about what the brain is doing during the reading process, indications are that the clinical definition of Dyslexia may need revision.

My Comment:

This too, I had written several times in my blog. Dyslexia is a big money spinner and the dyslexia advocates have been and are continuing to con the world with their claim that 20% of kids in the world are dyslexic. Read my blog post on this exact question that Dr. Sam is asking. Do We Need a New Definition of Dyslexia? LINK


On another note, Dr. Sam quotes George Hruby because George is a Reading Recovery advocate. I listened to one of George’s video and wrote an email in 2021 and several reminders to him on some of the matters he said. I have yet to hear from him.

It is this kind of people who ensure that the illiteracy level is maintained where is has been for decades.

Here are my questions to George Hruby in 2021:

George Hruby:

One thing, there is a point in the video where I say that “pre-paced, systematic, or explicit phonics” does not work any better than any other way.

Luqman Michel

Would you like to know why it doesn’t work George? It does not work because it is taught incorrectly. Let us discuss this.

George Hruby:

Reading difficulties are not inevitable, permanent, or, as some have claimed,  “incurable.”  In fact, researchers such as Frank Vellutino and  Donna Scanlon have  shown that instruction that is targeted to the specific needs of individual students can significantly reduce the incidence of reading difficulties.

Luqman Michel

Why targeted to the specific needs of individual students and not to all students? As far as teaching kids to decode is concerned, don’t keep saying that one size does not fit all. 

Here is something related I read on LinkedIn by Dr. Shalini Ratan, this morning.


Socrates had said, "I want people to think". He did not tell what to think.

Social media narratives...


1. Someone believes that watermelon is orange in colour and builds a narrative around it saying, how beautiful the watermelon appears in its orange shade.


And people begin to see the orange shade.


2. I don't like watching movies and I build a story around it stating how bad it is for children, actors become wealthy on public money, it's waste of time.


And people begin to agree that yes it’s all bad.


3. You don't like a leader, teacher, actor and you build a narrative digging their life to show their lack of character, their misdeeds, how they abuse others.


And people begin to add their version saying Yes they are all corrupt.


How we fall for stories created by those who either can't think well, deliberately write to misguide others, set a tone to convert false into real.


Majority get into agreement without a question raised. No wonder Falsity prevails.



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