UPDATE: Nature Publishing Group now appear to have removed the links criticised in this post and the page looks to be much improved (although see the additional criticism at LBRB)
Publishing’s Publishing Group’s (NPG) Scitable has previously been a fairly good example of accessible online science information. However, as Kev has noted, Nature’s NPG’s autism Scitable is well below their usual standard:
who thought it necessary to link to no less than three anti-vaccine links on the home page of this….blog? Wiki? Two links to Autism Speaks whose controllers recently attended a DAN! conference and one link to ARI itself.
Nature also links to Thoughtful House (the US autism clinic where Wakefield was based) when “Explaining the rise of reported cases”. Classy.
Particularly interesting – ‘interesting’ in the banging-head-on-desk-sense of the world – is the Autism Research Institute document they link re the Nutritional Treatment of autism Continue reading
I was delighted to see that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint of mine about Dore’s advertising. I complained about an advert referring to “help with Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia or Asperger’s”. The ASA has reviewed the evidence Dore submitted to support their claims, and found that:
the evidence was inadequate to support claims to treat those [Aspergers Syndrome and dyspraxia]. With regards to dyslexia and ADHD, we did not consider that the studies were sufficiently robust to support the treatment claims for those conditions, and we therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies).
I am delighted that the ASA has made such a firm ruling. Continue reading
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.
I was interested to see this clip on YouTube: apparently broadcast 26/6/09*. The interviewer gives Scott Quinnell ample time to plug Dore for the treatment of dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, autism and Asperger Syndrome. There are a number of important issues that the segment fails to cover. Among other concerns:
– There is no mention of the lack of good evidence that Dore is effective, or the high cost of the programme.
– There is no mention that Dynevor, which now owns Dore, was established by Quinnell (the interviewer actually introduces Quinnell’s involvement in Dore as ‘charity work’, although Quinnell makes clear that Dore is a business).
– There is no mention that Dore UK went into administration last year (something that prospective clients might want to know about, before they hand over their money). Continue reading
In June 2007, as the Autism Omnibus Hearings were in progress and the initial test case was being heard, Patrick Holford contacted his mailing list and asked them to sign a petition in support of Dr Andrew Wakefield. Although it doesn’t look like he ever signed the petition, it is clear that he influenced other people to sign, people who directly cited him as instrumental in the decision not to vaccinate children against preventable diseases.
Dr Carmel O’Donovan, Andrew Wakefield’s wife, recently emailed around asking for signatures in support of him. However, it seems that there is another petition, this one grandiosely and desperately asking people to sign up to We Support Andy Wakefield (Tiny URL’d). Age of Autism rather half-heartedly just reproduces the blusterous call for an enquiry (Tiny URL’d) and, without any trace of irony, condemns “the censorship of science” and the competence of Brian Deer in his remarkable investigative journalism.
We offer an annotated version of the petition: all links have been added by us and our text additions are in italics. Continue reading
The Autism Omnibus held hearings into three tests cases that were intended to establish a principle of general causation that links vaccinations with developmental conditions or neurological damage and would therefore qualify for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Three families agreed to be the test cases presented in court – the Cedillos, the Hazelhursts and the Snyders – on behalf of the Petitioners’ Steering Committee (PSC). However, the panel of Special Masters has ruled that the PSC did not presented sufficient plausible or adequante evidence to demonstrate that vaccines are causally linked to autism in these children, even using the comparatively light standard of the ‘preponderance of evidence’. Brief ruling note.
Thousands of parents who claimed that childhood vaccines had caused their children to develop autism are wrong and not entitled to federal compensation, a special court ruled today in three decisions with far-reaching implications for a bitterly fought medical controversy…
The decision by three independent special masters is especially telling because the special court’s rules did not require plaintiffs to prove their cases with scientific certainty — all the parents needed to show was that a preponderance of the evidence, or “50 percent and a hair,” supported their claims. The vaccine court effectively said today that the thousands of pending claims represented by the three test cases are on extremely shaky ground.
In his ruling on one case, special master George Hastings said the parents of Michelle Cedillo — who had charged that a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused their child to develop autism — had “been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment.”
There is some additional information on US Court of Federal Claims and the detailed rulings behind the decisions are available. Continue reading