“See through it” (Blindfold reading)

BLINDFOLD

In India, there are those who claim children can read and see through solid objects while blindfolded, and proponents dub the ability midbrain activation.

The midbrain is part of the anatomy, located at the top of the brain stem. Its purpose is to coordinates eye and body movements, and it also plays a role in hearing, short-term memory, and pupil constriction.

But in a classic pseudoscience tactic, proponents adopt a genuine scientific term then misuse it. Skeptic leader Brian Dunning uncovered a midbrain enthusiast on YouTube who claimed the midbrain remains in an inactivated state until acted upon by a series of mental exercises. Other than select Indian yogis, this portal remains closed, per the video.

Allegedly, achieving midbrain activation gives children the ability to keep their eyes closed and still be able to read, bike, play chess, and identify colors and pictures. Further, the youngsters can recollect readings for much longer and can commence to Shining by telepathically communicating with each other.

All of this is accomplished with a series of brain gym exercises, which allegedly serve to increase the brain’s melatonin production, and allows one to better see in the dark. There is nothing in medical literature to justify concluding that elevated melatonin levels produce an ability to enhance nighttime vision. Nor is there any evidence support supporting such wild ideas as telepathy or being able to see while blindfolded.

A competing midbrain activation theory holds that nāda-yoga, which incorporates sounds into the bodily contortions, can vibrate the brain, with those waves causing activation. Again, this is unsupported by any validated research.

It turns out that the whole deal is nothing more than an illusionary trick, and a poor one at that. Subjects merely sneak glances through a gap on either side of their nose, as they are wearing blindfolds placed in such a manner as to allow this. Children in on the ruse tilt their head back to look at something in front of them, or hold the object close under their face in order to see it by looking down past their nose.

Under controlled conditions, the supposed ability always fails. When researchers have the subjects try and read through a sealed opaque container, or the blindfold is affixed by a skeptic or neutral party, the only magic is that the ability to read blindfolded vanishes.

Which isn’t really a big deal since the kids can just take the blindfold off and read that way.

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