August 30, 2007

BabyPlus Prenatal Audio System Makes Normal Babies Look Like Geniuses Compared To Their Stupid Parents

babyplus.jpgSo I'm reading and enjoying Joel's return to gadgetblogging at BoingBoing, when I see a post about the BabyPlus Prenatal Education System, [$150] which provides a "curriculum" of 16 audio rhythms, basically remixes of the mother's heartbeat, which get piped in to a fetus via a speaker-equipped beltpack.

No sooner to I finish reading, than my wife asks, "Have you heard of the BabyPlus system? Nicole Richie just bought one." Celebrity Baby Blog cited a report in the Star of "witnesses" to the purchase. [Because the specific store was named, those "witnesses" are almost certainly the store publicist, not BabyPlus's. When a story is planted by a product's publicist it usually doesn't include a store name, because the celebrity was "gifted" the product for free. But that's another story.] So wow, two sightings on the same day? Now I was intrigued.

The Possibly Universal [sic] Origins Of BabyPlus Technology
BabyPlus was invented by Dr. Brent Logan, PhD., a Seattle psychologist, in the mid-1980's. He got the idea for prenatal stimulation from his wife who, in 1982, heard a radio interview with Joseph Susedik and his wife Jitsuko, who claimed that their four daughters were geniuses because the parents talked to them in the womb. [While it goes unmentioned in BabyPlus's literature, Joseph Susedik also claimed to have become a prolific inventor after eight men in "foil-type uniforms" took him aboard their UFO. Just months after the visitation, Susedik filed a patent application for an illuminated doorknob. Coincidence?]

joseph_susedik_patent.jpg

update: wow. In the few hours since I posted this, several people have already emailed asking, basically, if I'm crazy or what? Considering the sheer lunacy of the subject at hand, I'm not quite sure how to take that. Here's the deal, though:

The BabyPlus is a near-perfect example of using totally unsupported, pseudo-scientific claptrap to sell bogus-yet-hopefully-harmless, overpriced pieces of crap to unsuspecting, well-intentioned expectant parents. For close to two decades, its inventors have used misrepresentation and the appearance of scientific legitimacy to manipulate and prey on the valid, positive desires--and insecurities--of parents-to-be [in this case, mostly mothers.] For the large part, they have been aided in this endeavor by unwitting, lazy, or gullible reporters for non-scientific media.

Given the twenty-year history of BabyPlus, and even before you get into the question of taking prenatal education advice from the likes of the Star and Nicole Richie, this thing just felt long overdue for a thorough takedown. Which was an entertaining pleasure to do. If you find this post even half as illuminating as an alien doorknob, I'll have no regrets.

So, here we go:

I've just read through twenty years of coverage of BabyPlus from around the world, and I haven't found a single verifiable piece of independent, peer-reviewed scientific research, nor any documentation of the scientific basis for the near-miraculous claims made by Logan and BabyPlus.

Over 10,000 20,000 30,000 50,000 Served
The extensive success record the company points to appears to be references to Logan's "donations" of thousands of BabyPlus cassette tapes to mothers in developing countries, including Indonesia, Estonia, the Philippines, and Thailand. But there's no reference at all to the prenatal care organizations by which the tapes were actually distributed, and no discussion at all about the details of these vast prenatal revolutions, just the periodic ratcheting up of the number served by 10,000 at a time. [update: Brent Logan responds in the comments below that the donated BabyPlus systems were in China and Russia. And inner city Indiana.] Local reports only mention a few hundred pregnant moms attending "graduation" sessions for their fetuses.

My absolute favorite quote about these supposed global successes comes in a 1991 Time Magazine article: "This is not a yuppie toy," says its inventor. "We have barely literate families who are using the tapes."

What Kind of Doctor Did Mike Tyson Say He Was?
Logan's credentials may be legitimate, but the organization he hails from, the Prenatal Institute, appears to exist solely to promote BabyPlus. Its address is a small 3-BR house in a residential neighborhood north of Seattle, and the only non-BabyPlus reference to it is from the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce.

If Logan had ever published any peer-reviewed research about BabyPlus or its underlying theories, I would expect to find it on the front page of the company's website. In fact, there's almost nothing in the BabyPlus bibliography that wasn't published by Logan himself or APPPAH, the unaccredited organization set up by prenatal psychology professionals to promote prenatal enthusiasts' theories and to lend a veneer of scientific legitimacy to the field. So far, actual professional organizations for psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, OB/GYN, and pediatrics appear to be shunning the APPPAH entirely. [Many of the citations are actually duplicates, one for a speech at an APPPAH conference, and another for the published proceedings. In the real scientific world, you only count that once.]

Which is not to say there's no basis at all for prenatal development and interaction. No one disputes the fact that a fetus in the womb can hear, and that newborns can recognize the voices of their mothers and others they heard in the womb. But the far-reaching claims of BabyPlus about charging synapses and preventing a massive die-off of neonatal brain cells seem utterly fantastic and unsupported.

You Can't Argue With Success! Seriously, You Can't
Likewise, the anecdotal evidence of superbabies--babies talking at six months, reading at 18 months, being born with their eyes open [?], "wanting to walk" at three months--are simply hilarious. Deciding to buy a BabyPlus because some kid in Austria could sit up a month earlier than "normal" actually makes less sense than buying it because Gwen Stefani supposedly used one. And both of those reasons make less sense than a nightlight inspired by extraterrestrials.

BabyPlus Is Perfect For [Insert Sales Pitch Here]
The actual claims made by BabyPlus varies by country, mirroring each culture's most sensitive parental aspirations, insecurities and pressures. Here's the US:

BabyPlus® babies at birth and infancy:
* More readily nurse
* Have increased ability to self soothe
* Are more interactive and responsive
* Are better relaxed and alert at birth

And later in life, these children demonstrate:
* Earlier developmental milestones
* Improved school readiness
* Enhanced intellectual abilities
* Greater creativity and independence
* Longer attention spans

The pitch on BabyPlusAsia, meanwhile, begins, "BabyPlus® may be the most valuable educational system ever developed." Competitive advantage replaces any mention of self-soothing, breastfeeding, or attention spans:
The BabyPlus sound pattern introduces your child to a sequential learning process, built upon the natural rhythms of their own environment.

This "auditory exercise" strengthens brain connections during the developmental time period when the advantages will be most significant for a child. BabyPlus is the first educational tool designed for prenatal use that has been proven effective. BabyPlus children have an intellectual, developmental, creative, and emotional advantage from the time they are born.

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That
If you want to play music or rhythms to your unborn child, go right ahead. The Mozart Effect is a thoroughly disproved myth, but unless you spend your entire third trimester in front of the speaker tower of Queens Of The Stone Age, there's no identifiable way it could harm the fetus. There are plenty of ways to do it, including the most old-fashioned: singing. The BabyPlus timeline points out the low level of technology involved--the industry really took off in 1980 with introduction of the Sony Walkman. Logan's patent for his supposedly unique system cites eleven previous patents for prenatal audio belts and devices. [Oddly, though BabyPlus's "cardiac curriculum" was codified and put on the market as early as 1987, Logan only applied for a patent in 2002.]

CORRECTION: APPENDED
The craziest part is that Nicole Richie's baby daddy is a freakin' DJ is in a freakin' band, and yet she goes and blows $150 on 16 beat tracks composed by some total geezer quack from BF Seattle. Actually, the craziest part is that they totally used the same image as Baby Roadies' banner.

CORRECTION: Nicole Richie's longtime ex-boyfriend Adam Goldstein is a DJ. Richie's baby daddy is Joel Madden, lead singer in Good Charlotte. Given these delicate circumstances, I now see Ms. Richie as simply going to great lengths to avoid using iPod playlists from a previous relationship to program the neurons of her new man's baby. Very thoughtful. Daddy Types regrets the error.

babyplus_babyroadies.jpg

30 Comments

thanks for the extensive documentation. it seems like you could have just said - sounds like bs to me. how do you have time for this? and is Nicole Ritchie buying one supposed to be a recommendation? or did that just pique your interest?
Anyway, the important thing is that maybe someone will provide a link to where we can find some illuminated doorknobs. Genius! I've got to get one.

[eh, it was a fun couple of hours, everyone was asleep, my gym clothes were in the laundry, and I only had five other things I should've been doing... Joel asked the BS question on boingboing, but no one seemed to have answered it. I was getting ready to ignore the BabyPlus, but the Nicole Richie thing was such a PR set-up, I couldn't stop myself. She was the straw-shaped woman who broke the camel's back. -ed.]

bravura post. rock on.

you can save $150 by having your wife lean over and scream at her own abdomen: GO TO YALE!

[or "YOU BETTER NOT END UP AT YALE!" depending on your allegiances. Coincidentally, one book I turned up last night is Ralph Schoenstein's 2002 takedown of modern over-parenting, "http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0738205605/ref=nosim/shagpad/">Toilet-Trained For Yale. Anyone read it? Schoenstein describes himself as Bill Cosby's ghost writer, so I didn't spend the $0.01 to get a used copy. -ed.]

I often also get going on these sort of things. Thanks for doing the research so I can get on with other things in my life.

[you and me both. -ed.]

Hmmm - for us, it was a choice between buying the BabyPlus or a Lucky Astrology Mood Watch. Think I'll opt for the Mood Watch.

The August 30 blog about BabyPlus, my developmental technology, contains numerous errors, corrected in sequence as follows:

[ed note: for clarity, I have added responses after each point. these responses were added around 11pm, after the comment where I shamelessly plugged my stories in the NYT.]

1. For many years celebrities have utilized BabyPlus during their pregnancy. No testimonials were or are solicited, therefore public statements about the product by any individual are entirely voluntary.

DT: Great. I never said they were compensated or solicited. Richie appears to have spent actual money on the product, but it's common practice in the baby industry to "gift" products to celebrities in hopes that they'll mention or be seen with them. This should be news to absolutely no one who's been in a supermarket checkout line.


2. In August 1982, People magazine and other media carried stories about the Susedik children, all of whom were several years advanced in schooling, and had experienced a range of sonic stimulation in the womb--but also received intensive postnatal enrichment. Whatever its cause, the consistency of their verified abilities caught my attention as an educator: The father's other interests were not at issue, rather the remarkable achievements of his offspring.

DT: Again, fine, but not really disputed. The fact remains that Logan's BabyPlus founding myth as repeated to various published accounts over 20+ years begins with a guy who claimed aliens turned him into a prolific inventor. You could argue that this is utterly irrelevant. Or if you were skeptical of the near-miraculous claims being made by the inventor of BabyPlus, this may have a non-trivial resonance.


3. As detailed in my book, Learning Before Birth: Every Child Deserves Giftedness, the BabyPlus history profiles rigorous science: a comprehensive theory which includes an explanatory mechanism supported by decades of studies from the mainstream academic community, a pilot assessment under obstetric supervision with parents from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds--its results subjected to computer analyses of empirical birth data against published norms--a comparative, controlled, independent clinical trial monitored for standardized cognitive and social skills over nine years, impoverished and single mothers included, by a physician team of developmental specialists, with all aspects of these components appearing in peer-reviewed professional journals.

DT: Set aside my cynicism at the idea that If parents-to-be want to see the actual proof, they should buy Logan's book AND THEN buy the gear on top of it. If such persuasive, documented, and accredited scientific proof for the various claims made by BabyPlus really IS in Logan's book, I would suggest putting some of it on the BabyPlus site.

The claims made by BabyPlus--I included just nine above, and the specifics vary significantly over time and across different non-scientific media--include the somewhat measurable [e.g., more relaxed, longer attention span] to the mushy subjective [e.g., nurses more readily, improved school readiness].

The real problem here--which Logan does not mention--is that almost every claimed benefit of the BabyPlus system as well as the underlying theories of synapse stimulation and fetal brain cell preservation are inherently untestable under the mainstream medical scientific community's standards. i.e., you can't conduct research on fetuses.

The postnatal effects, meanwhile could theoretically be identified by statistical correlation studies, the kind that show connections, but not "causes" per se. The methodology for these types of studies is widely understood and accepted. It's used to identify the relationship between TV watching and violent behavior; or between Bisphenol A and behavioral problems and childhood obesity. [Good thing there's nothing controversial about that.]

The result is a scientific credibility gap which is filled with the essentially unmeasurable and hence unverifiable, subjective claims on BabyPlus's site; the misleading, pseudo-scientific exercises of unaccredited promotional groups like APPPAH [see below, 10:56 comment]; and a heavy reliance on dramatic personal anecdotes and testimonials. If it were just a bunch of moms singing "I love BabyPlus," that'd be fine; instead, this unverifiable anecdotery is all dressed up with the trappings of scientific legitimacy that don't withstand scrutiny. This resonates--unintentionally, I'm sure--with Logan's offer to test the BabyPlus ourselves. "Try it, you'll like it" is an appeal from the world of taste, not science.


4. The integrity of this discovery's coverage in major venues such as the New York Times, London Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, CNN, BBC, and The Learning Channel, among hundreds of reports by equally credentialed media (all listed on www.babyplus.com and www.brentlogan.net), speaks for itself.

DT: I totally agree, though I think I also totally disagree with Logan on what it says. I didn't search Nexis, but I couldn't find a single published article questioning or even examining the BabyPlus's scientific claims in depth; they all accepted Logan's expert [sic] explanations unchallenged or merely reported them as his "beliefs" and let the credentials do the persuading. Here's The Manila Times, circa 1996:

Logan heads the BabyPlus Company and has conducted neurogenetic research at the Prenatal Institute in Washington since 1982. Among his findings were that newborn babies lose a significantcant amount of brain cells due to stress. Through sonic stimulation, Logan believes that this natural brain cell death will be minimized. Sonic stimulation's other benefits: long attention spans, parental voice recognition at birth, increased physical strength, early coordination and walking, and early language acquisition.

Significantly, I never found any articles that discussed the Prenatal Institute, either. It's either a devastating reflection on the state of popular science reporting or damning evidence of the perceived irrelevance of the BabyPlus's claims that no one's apparently bothered to factcheck a story on them in 20 years.


5. 10,000 BabyPlus units were contributed to China, 5000 to Russia, and 500 to an innercity Indianapolis program--not audiocassete tapes but microchip sound generators--with 22 non-franchised distributorships worldwide, accounting for 150,000 births to date, including multiple usage; the oldest advantaged youths are now age 20.

DT: Fine. details not in the BabyPlus literature. Here's a 1990 report from a publication called "Hospital Doctor":

Uncomfortable births and unhappy babies could be a thing of the past if the methods of a US psychologist are as effective as he claims.
Dr. Brent Logan, from Washington, has produced a set of tapes which, he says, reduce complications in pregnancy by stimulating the fetal nervous system.
Fitted into a belt worn around a pregnant woman’s abdomen, the cassettes, called Babytapes, produce cardiac-like sounds which become more complex as pregnancy progresses.
Speaks for itself, I guess.


6. Prenatal Institute, a nonprofit Washington State corporation, was founded in 1983, maintains a Seattle address, has affiliate operations in five countries, and since 1995 actively occupies one-third of a 3000-square-foot facility; its charter specifies neurogenetic research and development, addressing a wide range of projects besides BabyPlus.

DT: So I was right, except in my characterization of a 3000-sf house as "small." duly noted.


7. My peer-reviewed articles have been published in the International Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, The Royal College of General Practitioners Official Reference Book, Prenatal Perception, Learning, and Bonding, Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, Prenatal Psychology News, and the Pre and Perinatal Psychology Journal; the latter organ's professional organization, the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health has for over two decades been comprised of leading psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, pediatricians, neuroscientists, educators, and nurses, all pioneering a completely new field of research which, like any scientific advance, is being steadily acknowledged by the traditional community of colleagues. Congress presentations of my work and their corresponding publication are both cited because the former--usually available shortly thereafter on recordings--are often supplemented in later print by further findings which attendees wish to review.

DT: See the 10:56 pm comment below. On the APPPAH issue, I swear, I'm not one of those white-lab-coated curmudgeons who covers his ears if it doesn't come from the American Academy of Pediatrics. But for the same two decades, the mainstream academic/scientific/medical community has been shunning the APPPAH, which does not help its credibility. Neither, frankly, does the wildly unprofessional ramble that comprises the APPPAH's history. With its boosterish tones and ubiquitous obsession with the question of acceptance of prenatal psychology, the APPPAH's website seems to me like little more than an advocacy group, craving scientific legitimacy. BabyPlus's claims are all made in scientific terms when, in fact, they stem from this remarkably uncritical, self-interested organization of true believers. That a conference full of psychologists can't see this is frankly baffling to me.

8. Linguistic differences and cultural interests reflect how BabyPlus is characterized in various countries; these descriptions merely address local priorities rather than alter the innovation's essence.

DT: The claims I cite are all in English, which eliminates the notion of linquistic differences. If the "innovation's essence" were actually measurable, demonstrable data, I would expect a lot less "cultural interest"-specific characterizations. On the other hand, if I had a product to sell, I'd try and figure out what the right local parental buttons to push were, and then claim hey, that's exactly what my product does! What're the odds?


9. Along with software copyrights and tradenames, my BabyPlus patenting process began in 1986 with its initial application, supported by provision to the United States Patent Office of professional papers, videocassettes, and media reports so that appropriate evaluation of the invention could proceed; the finally-issued patents referenced even remote--but not conflicting--prior art, which is a required part of any intellectual property's search for precedence; issuance of the key patents finally took place in 2002 and 2006.


DT: Again, yes. The prior art in question includes multiple sonic/audio fetal stimulation devices and belts. What I just noticed was that the claims in the patent linked above are actually for treatment of a "postnatal human" or "premature baby," for "accelerating or decelerating cortical alpha rhythms." Which appears to me to have nothing at all to do with intrauterine development at all. But then, in addition to not being a neurogenetic psychologist, I'm also not a patent lawyer. But the fact remains that the filing date on the patent was Feb 8, 2002. Does that mean there was an initial application filed in 1986 which was withdrawn or rejected?

10. Commercialization of BabyPlus did not commence until 1989, seven years after my theory was postulated, and four years from the onset of testing.

DT: ok.

Had the blog's author read my seminal articles--appearing in their entirety on www.brentlogan.net--the independent clinical trial publication on www.babyplus.com, my book, Learning Before Birth, Sarah Brewer's Super Baby (herself an M.D. who used BabyPlus), or Armin Brott's The Expectant Father, the above emendations would have been unnecessary. But becoming informed about any genuine breakthrough requires effort beyond the superficial, and this opportunity to respond factually is much appreciated.

DT: I approached BabyPlus as a consumer/parent would, researching and characterizing the claims made on the BabyPlus site, the articles cited and reproduced on BabyPlus, and I then followed up by researching the claimed independent scientific validation of the BabyPlus technology. All of these were found severely lacking, unpersuasive, or misleading in their characterization as detailed above.

In addition, I took the step of tracking down the one remaining legitimate-sounding citation on the BabyPlus site, the RCGP Handbook, and while I'm still waiting to receive a hard copy of the article--and the BabyPlus ad running with it--the RCGP's characterization of the Handbook in no way matches the context in which BabyPlus cites it, i.e., as scientifically recognized validation of the company's claims.

I just can't see how a scientific or medical claim can be put forward for a product and then supported by "read my book, read my self-published white paper where I find my theories and claims to be valid." What of BabyPlus's claimed benefits are supported by Sarah Brewer and Armin Brott? There's no mention of Brott's endorsement on the BabyPlus site, is there?

And finally--for the moment--this comment: "But becoming informed about any genuine breakthrough requires effort beyond the superficial" is exactly why I took the effort to look at the superficially scientific-sounding claims BabyPlus has been making, because once you look more closely, they fall apart, or at least turn out to be much much less than "scientific." And yet, they rely on a combination of perceived authority, credentials, shallow media recitations, and misrepresentations of scientific validity to dupe unsuspecting parents into throwing away $150--plus the cost of the book.

Brent Logan, Ph.D., Director
Prenatal Institute, Seattle
brentlogan@mindspring.com

[I will get to each of your points in turn, and not in italics, but I don't see anything in your comment that warrants a change in my original post. But as for a medical professional appealing to the scientific or child development credentials of People magazine, I think you just proved my original point. I also see several additional misleading statements and misrepresentations. After reviewing all the third-party literature and sources on the Babyplus site and finding them lacking or not as described, you'll forgive me for not pursuing more of your self-published, self-supporting work, which I'm sure backs up every claim you make. DT's is the first reportage I've seen that actually questions BabyPlus's claims and examines the supposed scientific literature backing up those claims. As it turns out, DT has been doing followup research on the literature cited on BabyPlus's site. Your response provides the perfect opportunity to publish and examine it in the open. -ed.]

Your interest in this fascinating topic is most sincerely welcomed, although I would encourage you to read the technical literature so that your responses are knowledgeable (if you do wish to approach the subject's science, it will take some technical immersion--and, frankly, my book's bibliography of the authoritative works is a good place to start). For the sake of veracity try to avoid ad hominem arguments, and feel free to query me before posting if you want yours to be an investigation demonstrating fairness. Also, I might suggest that should you personally like to evaluate BabyPlus--in your family or with friends or associates--please let me know and I will see that you receive a unit, gratis. Finally, to demonstrate we are being absolutely up front, your full name and credentials--if any--would be appropriate.

Brent Logan

PS--If you reread my prior comment, you will see that People magazine was not provided as a professional resource, but only named as the vehicle which happened to first carry an historical story which piqued my curiosity.

[that's a lot of attitude for a guy whose research has never been accepted in an accredited, peer-reviewed journal. My name's Greg Allen, I have an MBA from Wharton and a BA from Brigham Young University, so I'm obviously a non-scientist. I'm a regular contributor to the New York Times, but on art and economic-related topics, so I expect at least a journalistic level of criticality--but with far more analysis and examination of the evidence than your company has received over the last twenty years. If you want my SAT and IQ tests, I'll just say that I killed them both, but that I'm extremely skeptical of over-reliance on credentials, especially when authoritative-sounding ones can be so easily conjured up from thin air. But then, that's really the whole point of my issues with BabyPlus; as my original post makes clear, it's not the minutiae of Babyplus's claims I was poking holes in--I'm happy to leave that to the expert scientific community to assess--it's the layman-deceiving veneer of scientific authority with which they have been presented over the years. But it's my turn to put the kid to bed, so I'll deal with you later. -ed.]

Dear Mr. Allen:

Thanks for sketching your background, an education which should amply demonstrate the "level of criticality" you claim. However, this assertion becomes questionable when, among your many contrary examples, you continue stressing a lack of peer-review for my publications in journals which fully employ that process, or specify BabyPlus donations to countries other than those receiving these units . . . but are unable to detect any cause requiring "a change in my original post." Nor do I find such need in that which I have written. Therefore it would not seem out of hand to ask for hard evidence (as opposed to opinion) documenting each of your charges, so that reasonable readers can make their own intelligent judgements.

In anticipation,

Brent Logan

PS--With an MFA, an obsession for the German Expressionists, and an avocation painting oils, I am quite interested in your NYT art pieces; could you suggest some I might look at? Thanks much.

you're in luck, the NYT just opened its archives for free reading.

As for peer-review, maybe my terms aren't clear enough: should I say accredited? Because the APPPAH's journal just does not count in my--or as far as I know, the scientific and medical community's--book.

If you're the one making the prenatal revolutionary claims, the onus is on you to provide "hard evidence". That's a challenge I made above.

What non-APPPAH-affiliated scientific/medical publications have accepted Babyplus-related research findings? Since its founding, the APPPAH has been consistently shunned by the established medical/scientific community. Why? How do the research methods and analytical practices of the APPPAH differ from the medical community's?

To someone even slightly skeptical as myself, I would have to see the consistent rejection of the APPPAH and its work as a substantial blow to the credibility of the theories and practices it puts forward. And yet, the APPPAH--especially as exemplified by BabyPlus's claims--seems intent on carrying on with a pseudo-scientific kabuki dance, reviewing and publishing within its own paradigm, and happily leading the layperson believe that it's all accepted science.

And if you're talking about the RCGP Handbook, the only non-APPPAH publication on the BabyPlus list I linked to, I've actually been researching that. So far, I've learned that's not peer-reviewed, it's not for presenting research, and it's a reference publication that accepts ads from the subjects who write their own, unreviewed copy.

Dear Mr. Allen:

Since you have expended considerable effort to criticize BabyPlus from many angles, I was hopeful that openmindedness would at least be exercised in the face of honest answers, and in that spirit I will respond again (see my numbered comments below). What stands out is absence of any indication that you have actually read my articles or book (I will gladly send a copy), in which case your basic antipathy to this new science might lessen. Certainly because of your editing DaddyTypes, reference to your own child, and mention of your spouse's interest in the product, perhaps pregnancy is at hand or being considered . . . for which I will provide you a free unit to observe its unqualified attributes (the same offer applies if a friend or associate is expecting).

Now, though midnight here, abbreviated remarks to yours:

1. Apparently our supermarkets are less aggressive.

2. Not a myth--and still irrelevant.

3. Having not spent time with my book, you miss those points intended for an audience wishing to pursue their interests further. In fact, animal research over 30 years by University of California at Berkeley neuroanatomist Marian Diamond (see her Enriching Heredity) reveals outcomes applicable to humans; moreover, BabyPlus birthweight, length, and cranial circumference--with reduced cesareans--are the sorts of measurable data my articles chronicle, along with the Johns Hopkins Clinical and Linguistic Auditory Milestone Scale for cognitive performance to age two, and the Vineland Social Social Maturity Scale for interpersonal skills into adolescence. Dig into my literature, and you will find the testability you seek. It should also be mentioned that for a decade I have circulated an open invitation for a comparative fMRI neonatal assessment by any reputable institution--utilizing their own protocol, at least 90 participants--ideally interdepartmental to reduce the typical $500,000 cost.

DT: so cognitive development does take place in the womb? This is news how? Does Marian Diamond have a professional view of BabyPlus that we can evaluate? The fact that a fetus can hear or that fetal brains grow is NOT demonstrable proof that the BabyPlus system is any different from a mom playing the piano, or standing in front of a speaker, or marching in a parade.

You throw out the names of academic institutions as if that lends any credibility to your research. That's like saying Microsoft endorses BabyPlus because you made your presentation in PowerPoint. If your research had any rigor, it would have been accepted for publication in SOMETHING with a shred of medical credibility. Or is the utter lack of a response to this decade-long open call a mainstream conspiracy against you? If BabyPlus has sold 150,000 units at $150/ea [they used to be $249], that's $22.5 million in revenue. If credible scientific standards were a priority for BabyPlus, it would seem there's plenty of money to invest in it. My suspicion is the veneer of credibility is plenty for BabyPlus's purposes.


4. Efforts to credibly dispute BabyPlus have not been successful, hence your lack of locating such information. Also, I am not in the commercial realm (sometimes confused by the popular media): My technology has been licensed since commercialization in 1989, and is currently available in 22 countries through non-franchised distributorships.

DT: Given the intense prevarication I've seen in just 24 hours, I'm sure if someone HAD tried to dispute a BabyPlus claim, you would alternately overwhelm, intimidate, and bore them into giving up. The reality is, most people just don't care enough about a harmless crackpot scheme that provides little more than a headscratching diversion in a newspaper or evening news report. Or on a blog.

Odd that you claim to be commercially unrelated to BabyPlus, when the site is filled with so many articles over so long that connect you to it directly, and yet never a word of correction. I'm sorry, but I just find this not credible.


5. As previously indicated, the audiocassette version gave way to a BabyPlus microchip unit in 1992, so your 1990 quote references only the original format.

6. No, your other errors were corrected as well.

7. Here we concur: Although the APPAH peer-review journal published my early articles (which were heavily pruned by its editor, Thomas Verny, author of The Secret Life of the Unborn Child), I parted ways with this organization about 1993 for some of the faults you cite.

DT: Interesting that such non-credible organizations and publications are so prominently promoted on the BabyPlus page, then, without a single mention of the APPPAH's shortcomings. Until someone calls you out on the organization. Why not flag the compromised research--in the interest of openness, of course? Or better yet, remove it from the BabyPlus site so it doesn't mislead people?

As for an author who does not take responsibility for his own published research--or a journal which does not recognize the importance of the author's prerogative, well, I guess that speaks for itself. Your guru-vs-guru catfight sounds more like a religious or literary rift than an actual debate over scientifically grounded facts.


8. Non-native speakers of any language never entirely eliminate their unique nuances, while cultural differences definitely do prioritize BabyPlus features according to local perceptions.

9. You were only reading the second of two patents (use my name to search under "USPTO" again); after several years the 1986 application was abandoned for replacement by much broader claims.

DT: Indeed, here is the
link to the patent for prenatal use, issued in 2002.

In your sleuthing, beyond at least exerting a minimal effort to peruse my articles and book, you might consider my articles in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, which does not carry the stigma acquired by the APPPAH, and particularly note the detailed BabyPlus section in Dr. Sarah Brewer's volume. (Also, Armin Brott was specifically referring to my book.) You might wish to further consider why among 150,000 BabyPlus youth, there has not been a single complaint (the rare damaged unit replaced free) or litigation--when normative infant or childhood problems afflict substantial percentages of the general population, and these families include large numbers of low-income, single mother, as well multiethnic individuals.

DT:the Journal you mention is published by the ISPPM, international doppelganger to the "stigmatized" APPPAH. According to the ISPPM website, the APPPAH is their closest "partner", which, to me, doesn't make this international bunch of peers doesn't seem any more credible than the domestic ones BabyPlus is totally not talking to right now.

as a single complainant with multiple degrees and too much time and confidence on his hands who's nonetheless been barraged with jargon, intimidation, namedropping, and namecalling, I can tell you that there could be any number of unattractive reasons that BabyPlus's disadvantaged, ""multiethnic" beneficiaries have not lodged a "single complaint"; they quickly learn just to shut up and the crazy man will go away. Or, caught up in the upsidedown chaos of life with a newborn, they never make the correlation between two hours of drumbeats six months ago and their kid's sitting up a week "earlier than normal." Does anyone complain to the Chinese restaurant when his fortune cookie doesn't pan out?


Really challenge your skepticism, and let me send you my book and a convincing BabyPlus.

Kind regards,

Brent Logan

DT: you can keep it, thanks.

I'm working on the reply to the above reply and will edit it in-line above.

But on the subject of credentials, I just did a search of Dr. Logan's PhD and thesis at the University of Washington, which returned nothing. But since they have incomplete data for degrees awarded before 1983, I will wait until the University Registrar verifies it manually for me.

I'm having trouble with this one:

He also holds a teaching and research professorship in developmental psychology with Centro de Estudios Mediterrano-Puig, in Valencia, Spain.
I could only find five Google results for the corrected spelling, "Centro de Estudios Mediterrano-Puig," two of which concerned legal notices of a judgment against the company [yes, it's listed as S.A., SOCIEDAD ANONIMA, the equivalent of a US "Inc."] in 1998-9, and a citation from a business directory from 1994.

I would imagine an august institution capable of supporting international "teaching and research professorships" would have a higher profile online. Or any sign of its existence at all for the last ten years. Also, a professorship would seem to imply some kind of governing academic body somewhere, and yet... nada.

Wait a sec: "Efforts to credibly dispute BabyPlus have not been successful..."

That's not how it works. Hey! I invented room-temperature cold fusion! Prove it doesn't work!

You make claims, you provide the proof that it *does* work.

Sounds like the same thing that BOSE does.

[what, lie on their resume'? -ed.]

This has been enormously entertaining and informative. I've been searching the web looking for any review of this product that isn't just passing along what Babyplus claims. Thanks for doing the legwork for me. I'm one of those gullible and insecure mothers-to-be who almost bought the unit.

This is the problem with the human race and Americans in general. I heard about this product and thought, "how great would this be for my pregnant wife." I had heard random musings throughout my life about the benefits of music to babies in the womb. The literature seemed professional and the claims weren't so ridiculous as to be unbelievable. I decided to take the time, which I have to do more often these days, to run a search online to see if this was a scam. I came across this site and I'm glad I did. It opened my eyes and saved me some money and time. I appreciate your efforts to take on the ego and unscrupulous claims of a shuckster. It's to bad that more journalists, especially ones tasked with writing about these topics, were not as astute and dogged as you. You have my utmost respect.

Thanks for this, everyone. I do not understand why a digital answering machine costs $15 and this thing could be worth 10 times more? I am very technical and there is no way the price could be right based on what I have read here, let alone the lack of independent certification.

I work for a very large technology company and I can tell you this, before anyone buys anything from us, they require a complete request for proposal as well as industry recognized certifications that are current. I wonder if 60 Minutes would be interested in this? Wait, I do not want to give this product any free advertisement.

I have read other places that if anyone really wants this product to test, just get an ipod and find the mp3's for it on p2p.

I was glad to read your comments about the BabyPlus. I'm an expectant mother and my husband and I were discussing this device. I have a Master's in Psychology and I was very skeptical when I saw this thing in the maternity store. I have tried all afternoon to find peer reveiwed journal articles that back up the BabyPlus claims. I found only the ones published by Dr. Logan in the journal you mentioned.

You have to give the guy credit, though. He has quite a racket going and he has set up a whole system to make it look like legitimate science. I'm sure he's raking in the money selling these things for $150 when they probably cost bout $10 to make.

Wow! I am an expectant first mother who almost bought in to the claims. I even said to a coworker, "I'll try anything to help increase the chances of baby sleeping through the night!" It is overpriced, but I figured it's to pay the research and design which went into it. Though no credible website spoke of the 'breakthrough' on their own. What I did find were ads disguised as articles.

With the amount of unsolicited advice I've received from other mothers, I have come to realize that women LOVE to talk about what works and what doesn't, how you should raise your child and how you shouldn't etc. Why on earth is there absolutley no reviews by any moms on any of the parenting/maternity websites? The lack of independant review is what made me hesistate in my purchase. Seeing so many on this website that went through the same skepticism as I solidified it.

Darn, I really wanted Baby to sleep through the night at two weeks of age...

Ann

Ann,

Parent reviews are located, & I'm trying not to be funny here, on the Walmart website. No genius babies mentioned to date but that will probably change when the owner sees my post - won't be able to help himself I'm sure!

You know if someone really wanted the child to hear patterns of beats "in utero" you could always use the belly like a drum... It's FREE! lol

Meanwhile I shall keep playing rock & classical music to my belly. I dunno I guess I want him hearing sounds outside the womb - not vice versa. :)


Have a great one!
Nico MBA

[I have no idea what this means, but the only kind of review of a POS like the Babyplus that would be worth anything is if the kid is born tapping his fingers to the Babyplus beat. There is absolutely NO way that parents could identify anything that happens as a result of Babyplus. -ed.]

What I'm trying to find out is if The Prelearning Program / Prelearning, Inc. was originally Brent Logan's company. I just called Babyplus and couldn't get a straight answer from the receptionist (she didn't know) and everyone was out of the office. Any takers? Does anybody know?

[The Prelearning Program" is referenced on Babyplus.com in a 1987 article. Sounds like the same thing, no pun intended. -ed.]

Wow that was a long read, but entertaining and informative. I almost purchased this because I was SO SOLD on the whole idea. Thanks for doing all that research! Expecting now, 18 weeks, will not be purchasing the babyplus.

Unfortunately, I came across this after purchasing BabyPlus and using the system through my pregnancy. Starting at around 30 weeks, I used the BabyPlus system as directed. My daughter was in a breached position (head up), with her left ear facing my outer stomach for most of the pregnancy. Due to her positioning, the BabyPlus system was playing primarily into her left ear. She was born on July 16th (2008), with permanent (moderate - possibly moderate to severe) sensorineural hearing loss in her left ear. This type of hearing loss is mainly "..due to poor hair cell function. The hair cells may be abnormal at birth...There are both external causes of damage, like noise trauma ..." My husband's family and my family do not have any history of hearing loss. Needless to say, we're in shock. Our daughter will be wearing a hearing aid for the rest of her life - starting now, at 4 months old. I cannot guarantee that the hearing loss was caused by this product; but, it is a scary coincidence. I regret using this product and would like to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience. I can be contacted at ruthcgreenfield@gmail.com.

Interesting read --

My brother's wife used this device (or a similar one ) and gave birth 8-9 weeks premature. Is there any information (anecdotal or otherwise) that might suggest a proclivity for premature births when using the BabyPlus or similar device?

i never found any actual scientific studies of anything involving BabyPlus, and can't think of any similar anecdotes. But 8-9 wks premature is premature, but not out of the ordinary. Tens of thousands of kids born premature didn't get within a hundred miles of a BabyPlus.

can babyplus cause deafness? Isn't it too loud for the foetus?

probably not; it's really not that loud.

My ex wife used the Babyplus during her pregnancy with our son. He is now 14 and for the last 5 years been diagnosed with Aspergers...both sides of famalies have no mental history so I believe this is a direct result from the BabyPlus...My son is very intelligent however his understanding and reasoning is dreadful. He needs an exact and precise answer to all his questions so he can understand it in his own mind. He has a lack of concentration as finds learning boring because its not explained in a way he understands. I genuinely believe the Babyplus with its continous daily beats for 6 months messed with my sons brain and now has problems with his thought process, concentration and understanding...i wish we had just left it to the way god intended...Natural.!!

I used babyplus with all of my kids and they are great, healthy and happy. To blame babyplus for your kid's aspergers or hearing problem is as ludicrous as Mr. Logan trying to dress up his product in the veneer of scientific authority.

What it comes down to is this: if you believe that the large body of research on fetal stimulation (and here I do not mean Dr. Logan's self-serving 'research') is potentially applicable to humans (not just mice) and $150 is a rounding error in your monthly budget, then this is the best method available to get that stimulation in the fetal environment.

If it does no harm, and is potentially useful (again: do mice studies have bearing on humans? I think so, but that is a personal call until we have more research) why not use it?

My kids are wonderful. I'll never know if babyplus contributed or not, but I know that there was no downside and meaningful potential for upside (see aforementioned mice studies.) I'll take those odds for $150.

Brent Logan is a scam artist, liar and thief, the walking wounded of this earth, a hopeless sociopath--underlying narcissistic personality disorder with borderline personality organization. He lied, stole and deceived his way through Seattle social service agencies in the 1970's, with a classic glib psychopathic style, and an morally insane lack of integrity. Brent has no conscience, probably realizes it, doesn't care, too sick. His writings are hysterically overwrought, so funny, you can feel the venomous envy underneath his tumescent, bloated prose. What are the facts? A family totally controlled by him, isolated. An adopted daughter "the child" he called her--ran away to become a prostitute in L.A. he reported, with no emotion, Do i smell sexual abuse at home on that one Brent? So please everyone, leave the poor Axis II patient alone, though his narcissism so desperately needs your attention as he chuckles and scribbles his bloated babbling of lies to con another person he so despises...and seeths inwardly with rage and envy. You can do nothing with people like this--they are beyond help, as real psychiatrists realize. Not ones with made-up degrees. Brent never participated in a legitimate scientific study, obviously. I hope you're enjoying all the valuable little items you pathologically stole from people Brent. I know how much you are enjoying this scam. What did you parents do to create a human with hideously damaged super ego functioning? Have fun scammin' with that piece of baby puke harness that is worthless. I can see you cackling away to yourself as you answer the questions of people who are wasting their time writing you,
Saw what you did. Know who you are.


Hmmm... don't know about the comment from Simone Freud. Bit weird. Could be accused of being "tumescent, bloated prose" itself but hey on to BabyPlus.

My wife used it for both our kids, who are now 10 & 13. The first thing we noticed is that the baby does respond. The beat is pretty repetitive for 1/2 hour or so, then the pattern changes just at the end. The baby would respond to the pattern, by turning and kicking.

For both babies the labour was noticably short (3hours)

Both babies the doctors remarked on how strong and alert they were. (Anecdotally) they seemed to cry a lot less than other kids. Daughter walked at 8 months, son was 1st to read in his class.

Now they are above average but not freakily so. We don't have time or money to hothouse them or anything, they seem to educate themselves pretty well. They both are noticably athletic, unlike their parents.

My personal feeling is that if you can afford $150 or borrow one from someone, it won't create a superkid, but might help with shorter labour, stronger baby, and easier time bringing up kids.


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