BBC Radio 5 lets Scott Quinnell plug Dore, uncritically

BBC Radio 5 Live had Scott Quinnell on the 6/11/09 breakfast show*, for Dyslexia Awareness Week. Unfortunately, his conversation on the breakfast show gave him an opportunity to plug Dore unchallenged. We have a number of concerns about this radio segment:

  • Quinnell is allowed to state that by “stimulating…three senses” Dore “allows the neural pathways to be automatic between the cerebellum and…your thinking brain”.  There is not good evidence for this claim, but Quinnell is allowed to assert it unchallenged.
  • The BBC presenter talking with Quinnell comes across as supporting such claims, stating that it is “extraordinary…to think that [Dore exercises] can translate into being able to look at a page and to read”.
  • There is no mention of the lack of good evidence that the Dore treatment is effective.
  • There is no mention that Dore UK went into administration last year.
  • There is no mention of the fact that Dore is a commercial (and rather expensive) programme, nor that Dynevor, which now owns Dore, was established by Quinnell
  • The presenter has to check pronunciation of ‘Dore’ while discussing it with Quinnell on air.  I am not sure if this speaks to the quality of the pre-broadcast research into Dore and dyslexia.

In response to a previous complaint, I was told that the BBC

never intended to give Quinnell a platform in any way to promote Dore

I wonder what the intention was with this national radio slot?

It is a shame that Dyslexia Awareness Week could not have been used as a reason for discussion of evidence-based approaches to dyslexia. It is not appropriate for the BBC to allow an expensive and highly time-consuming commercial dyslexia treatment – without good evidence of efficacy – to be promoted in this way. I will be complaining to the BBC about this. I would encourage readers to do the same.

* on iplayer now, about 2:56 in.

PS: apologies if there is some repetition of this post: some of the mistakes made were similar enough that I found this hard to avoid.

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6 Comments

Filed under Dore, dyslexia

6 responses to “BBC Radio 5 lets Scott Quinnell plug Dore, uncritically

  1. Well done. It is a shame that the media continues to allow such unchallenged plugs for Dore. I wonder if there is an element of fear, given that Dore have previously instructed their lawyers to correspond with a number of people.* I also wonder why, if this is the case, the media don’t simply avoid the subject rather than continue to print and broadcast uncritical plugs.

    *As noted by Ben Goldacre here: link.

    An academic has received a letter threatening legal action, delivered in person to her home, for daring to speak about her concerns over the evidence for Dore when asked by journalists. Dore’s lawyers have sent multiple extensive letters and faxes to this newspaper, warning us against all kinds of things. I get paid the same for this column whether it takes me two hours or a week. This may go some small way to explaining why you will hear only praise heaped upon Dore in the media.

  2. brainduck

    Thanks, I’d been wondering where to find that.
    The ‘get anecdotes into the news’ approach is harder to tackle than their previous ‘scienceyness’.

  3. It would appear that PHA media were behind this –

    – they are PR agents for Dore.

    http://tinyurl.com/y8jd4qd

  4. I’ve now had a response to my complaint from the BBC – talking about ‘balance’. Even if the BBC’s coverage of non-evidence-based interventions for Specific Learning Difficulties does provide balance between these and more evidence-based approaches (not convinced it does) this is not a good outcome. The evidence is not balanced, so neither should the coverage be.

  5. Pingback: BBC response to complaint about Quinnell and Dore on Radio 5: it’s all about the balance. « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

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