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Am I going for a job interview with a woo pusher?

by CronoDAS1 min read25th Aug 20197 comments


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I responded to a job posting on Indeed and have been called in for an interview. This is the first job interview I've had in a long time.


Unfortunately I think the people at http://njneurofeedback.com might be selling woo, and I have some serious moral objections to defrauding people with placebo treatments. Are they pushing bullshit?

Edit: I went to the interview. It turns out that they misinterpreted my resume and they quickly told me that they wanted someone with more experience and sent me home.

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I've looked a bit into neurofeedback. There's some things that seem to basically be disproven, but the impression I get overall was that there's some in promising early evidence of neurofeedback, but it hasn't received a lot of funding or attention to do larger studies. I definitely wouldn't put it in the same class as say homeopathy.

If you haven't interviewed in awhile, no harm in practicing on them. It does seem pretty woo-ey, but one can make a pretty strong argument that most popular woo contains some actually helpful elements. I do worry that the job is actually a sales job in the guise of a technician (like it's based on commissions or quotas for clients you bring in), and if that's not what you want, you should be extremely clear about it before you accept.

Seconding the part about "it's totally fine to practice on these people." (I'd personally lean towards "if I'm worried about a job being ethically questionable, I feel even more comfortable than usual 'using' them to practice interviewing")

Right. Remember that interviews are two-sided! They are evaluating you, and you are evaluating them as well. Go in with the attitude that if they have an issue with you being concerned about whether their thing is real, then it's not a place you want to work, so you want to be open about your doubts and see if they can prove them wrong.

Evidence for its effectiveness seems to be limited or nonexistent: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK253825/

Based on the provider's website, I'd be skeptical that they're taking a rigorous approach (even controlling for the shaky fundamentals), given the appearance of a "shotgun" approach, where they seem to have basically targeted a large number of common, disparate conditions with one treatment.

I'm a little more skeptical when looking at their website. They say "similar to an EEG", which means they're not using EEG, the most promising neurofeedback treatment. Their about page talks about qEEG, but in their pictures I'm not seeing anything that could be an EEG, it might just be that they're showing the treament and not the diagnosis because it looks cooler, but if they have any EEG machine I don't know why they wouldn't use it for neurofeedback. They also talk about HRV training, which I would give about 53% percent chance of having a positive effect

Looking at their pictures:

They appear to be using CES on the brain, which isn't neurofeedback at all, in neural stimulation. My guess is that it probably helps certain brain functions while limiting others, similar to TMS. They appear to be combining this with trancatenous vagus nerve stimulation, which has some promising preliminary evidence, and visual brain entrainment, which AFAICT is disproven.

N=1: Person close to me had NF treatment for ADHD and it was very effective. Unfortunately the outfit closed up, there was no local alternative, and he/she regressed. I think there is something to it.

But no doubt there is a lot of woo woo everywhere. Use as interview practice and ask them what is their evidence (other than X on their web site which no doubt you will closely examine).

... looks further ... they look pretty serious to me