Monthly Archives: August 2009

Patrick Holford blogs cohort study which finds that “Multivitamin use was not related to total mortality”

I was interested to see Holford blogging about Pocobelli et al’s recent article on “Use of supplements of multivitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E in relation to mortality”. Holford reports the study as finding that “Multivitamin use cuts heart disease risk”. However, I have a number of concerns about Holford’s interpretation of this study Continue reading

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Science So What roundtable – join in the discussion

We have previously criticised the Science: So What? So Everything campaign. We would like to see them do better at science communication, so we were pleased to get an e-mail from Frank Swain (who is behind the excellent Science Punk and has been involved in Science: So What? since late July) inviting participation in a roundtable on the campaign:

the Science So What forum is now up and running, and I’d be happy to have your input on developments…I think most everyone is aware of what I’m pushing towards in this role, but here’s the brief:

Science: So What? is a Department of Business Innovation and Skills campaign to encourage wider public engagement in science at all levels – from casual interest to education and employment opportunities – as well as promoting greater understanding of why science is so important to the UK. Continue reading

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The Times and Hopkins allow Quinnell to plug Dore

Sigh. John Hopkins in the Times has given Scott Quinnell substantial opportunity to plug the Dore treatment for specific learning difficulties (which Quinnell has now invested in). Quinnell is a former rugby international, and his current support of Dore does not change the fact that there is not good evidence that Dore works.

Quinnell states that

I want to help children and adults overcome dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, autism and Asperger’s…I want to be able to help people not to be what they were before.

If he does want to help people with learning difficulties, there are so many more things that he could do. Promoting expensive ‘miracle cures’ – without good evidence that they work – is not helpful. Neither is the negative approach of seeking to have people “not…be what they were before”.

Many people with learning difficulties develop extremely effective coping strategies (in the article, Quinnell says he is/was dyspraxic; nonetheless, he was able to do remarkably well at sport). Providing appropriate support for people with learning difficulties is much more valuable than promoting non-evidence-based miracle cures.

The Times does give brief mention to the criticisms of Dore. However, these are not given nearly enough weight: the fact that expert psychologists specialising in the field have been scathingly critical of Dore is rather more relevant than the fact that a former rugby international (with a financial interest in Dore) says it works. However, the focus of the article is very much on Quinnell’s views; Hopkins does not even both to include a quote from any of Dore’s critics.

One would hope that a responsible newspaper would offer more evidence-based coverage of learning difficulties. The Times itself has noted some of the problems caused when Dore went into liquidation: it should be aware that plugging such ‘miracle cures’ is not risk-free. I have previously argued that

‘miracle cure appears not to work’ stories are seen as far less newsworthy than ‘miracle cure saves children and cute fluffy bunnies’ stories

It also appears that ‘miracle cure endorsed by celeb’ stories may be more newsworthy than ‘miracle cure still doesn’t work’ stories. That is a pity.

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Filed under ADHD, autism, autistic spectrum disorders, Dore, dyslexia, dyspraxia