A quick break from your usual Holford coverage, to note how excited I was when I saw Wynford Dore claiming a number of breakthroughs in understanding and treating of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). However, when I followed the link he gave – expecting to find an article in a journal like Nature Neuroscience or The Lancet – I found an article in, um, that well-known medical journal The Leamington Courier. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with local papers – but they’re not peer-reviewed, and not exactly where one expects to break the news of one’s great research achievements.
Naturally, an article in a local paper doesn’t give the detail that one would want about methodology etc. However, among other things, The Leamington Courier notes that only 56 children with diagnoses of ASD (or, as The Courier tactfully puts it “diagnosed as suffering from autism”) have been through the programme. If n=56 children, that’s not enough to make confident clinical recommendations (and, assuming Dore used a control group – necessary for good quality research in this area – there would have only been 23 children diagnosed with ASDs having gone through the programme).
Of course, Dore shouldn’t make us guess like this. As BrainDuck puts it
publishing science by press-release to local papers first is Not On, particularly when said science could influence desparate people to hand over a lot of money to you in the hope of a ‘cure’…It’s not OK to say ‘The Dore Clinic has achieved massive successes while working with 1,000 patients suffering from the symptoms of high-functioning autism’, when the article goes on to say ‘In addition 56 people who had been formally diagnosed as suffering from autism have now completed the programme’.
A member of Dore staff informs BrainDuck that “The date for the release of this research has not been set yet – so like you I also wait with anticipation.” Wynford Dore states that “if we could start a major research project now I believe there would be some very worthwhile results within a year or two.” This is shocking: good practice is to do the research and then decide on treatment recommendations, not recommend a certain treatments while hope that – if you could carry out some decent research – it would generate ‘worthwhile’ results.
Wynford Dore, however, offers some helpful alternate advice to those trying to assess the Dore programmes efficacy based on their prestigious Courier publication: “Keep your fingers crossed!”