Today’s edition of Bad Science covers a so-called ‘miracle cure’ for dyslexia which has been persistently promoted in the UK media, despite numerous complaints upheld by media regulators, veiled threats of legal action against people who say it doesn’t work and five editors of a scientific journal resigning over the publication of a flawed study on the treatment.
Personally, I would have thought anyone promoting their ‘treatment’ under the name “miracle cure” is asking for trouble but apparently with enough celebrity endorsement you can get away with promoting your product without the need for irony (quite hard work in modern Britain, I can tell you).
The system was developed by paint millionaire Wynford Dore and involves various balancing and co-ordination exercises supposedly to strengthen the cerebellum, which Dore argues is functionally impaired in dyslexia.
There’s actually a fair amount of independent research on the role of the cerebellem in dyslexia but, sadly, the idea that exercises might help treat this has the sole drawback of not being supported by the scientific evidence.
Interestingly, it seems that the company went bankrupt yesterday and have just closed up shop. That might have been a result of charging ¬£2,000 for the course.
Ben Goldacre has more on the whole sordid tale over at Bad Science.
Link to Bad Science on the Dore ‘miracle’ ‘cure’ for dyslexia.
4 thoughts on “‘Miracle cure’ for dyslexia fails to make the grade”
I’ve been covering the collapse of DORE in Australia and the UK, details here: http://brainduck.wordpress.com/2008/05/24/doreshut/
and more on DORE background & ‘research’ here: http://brainduck.wordpress.com/tag/dore/.
It’s an interesting if murky tale of the misuse of lawyers to enforce nothing but positive press coverage, despite research so bad that I can take it apart as a humble undergrad.
The collapse is rather nasty – there’s a lot of desperately upset clients & staff who had nothing to do with the shady marketing side of things. DORE were taking new customers, at ¬£2000 up-front, right until they closed.
Blogged the sorry tale of the collapse here: http://brainduck.wordpress.com/2008/05/24/doreshut/
there’s more on my blog about the ‘research’ and company activities.
One of the problems of the whole Dore situation was that it polarized people and a lot of the people, scientists included, stopped trying to find answer and started attacking their opponents. A lot of this is down to Wynford Dore’s personality, and yes, calling your book “Miracle Cure” was bloody stupid as I wrote about at the time [ http://www.myomancy.com/2006/11/scientists_resi ] .
But Wynford was not the only one at fault. Several senior dyslexia researchers repeatedly stated, on TV and radio, that Dore could never work. They did this with no more evidence that Wynford Dore had who was claiming it always worked.
The anecdotal evidence that some people going through the program did see a massive reduction in symptoms (such as myself) was dismissed out-of-hand by the Anti crowd whilst Dore jumped on it claiming it as proof. Neither side demonstrated much open-minded scientific curiosity.
Both sides also resorted to cheap stunts. Dore wheeled out his daughter at every opportunity. Whilst the Anti’s organised group resignations to prevent research being published.
It is interesting to note that one or more of the scientist who took part in that stunt have a long relationship with Dyslexia Action. A commercial firm dressed up as a charity that has never published any research on the effectiveness of its treatment program. See [ http://www.myomancy.com/2007/09/2088 ] and [ http://www.myomancy.com/2007/02/who_are_dyslexi ] for more details.
One last point to mention in response to Brainduck’s comments:
Whilst there are plenty of reasons to criticise Wynford Dore, the fact that the business stayed open taking money to the last minute is not one of them. This is standard business practice and is supported by professional Administrators because continuing to trade gives them the best chance of being able to sell the company as a going concern. Only once the Administrators have decided that it cannot continue to operate should it cease to trade. Unfortunately there are always unlucky customers who hand over their money just before this happens.
P.s. On a completely different note. Thank you to Mind Hacks for mentioning Match It For Pratchett. I run the website and all publicity is greatly appreciated.
I am now receiving treatment that is well below
the threshold of scientific proof for one of the
incurables. I was forced to stop mainstream drug treatment because of side effects. I refuse to
lay back and say OK doc I give up my life to
your all encompassing control and scientific
methodology. I have nothing against drug
treatment I was just not going to let myself
continue to get worse just to please the nice
friendly doctor. Mine is no “miracle cure”
but so far so good.
Just the title “Miracle Cure” would have forced
me to look elsewhere if I had dyslexia. As myomancy/Chris has said people on both side of the issue seem to be acting like hucksters.
One is accepted and one is not. The sanctimony
of scientists kinda makes me sick sometimes.
there are plenty of frauds and quacks out there
and anyone going for any alternative treatment
needs to step lightly because it is a minefield.