Looking at the Wikipedia page for Dore, we were interested to note that IP address 22.214.171.124 was associated with a number of edits to this page. Some of these changes – such as a 31/12/09 edit – seem to make the Wikipedia page more positive about the Dore treatment. Whois information links this IP to a Dave Harris. By a pure coincidence, I’m sure, a Dave Harris happens to be Dore’s Senior Systems Engineer.
I do like wikipedia.
After Wednesday’s ASA ruling, it’s great to see Dore starting to get some critical publicity. The Sun’s Jane Symons reports that
Professor Maggie Snowling, a literacy expert based at York University, has analysed the trial most often used by promoters of the programme. She said: “There were no significant improvements on the key tasks of reading and writing. The improvements were in things like threading beads.”
Shirley Cramer of the charity Dyslexia Action welcomed the ruling. “The ASA have looked carefully at the evidence, which is what we have done. Scientists have said you cannot make claims on the basis of this flimsy evidence.”
She said that parents found paid-for internet links particularly confusing as many did not realise they were in effect advertisements.
“A lot of parents use the internet to research these problems, but one of the worrying things with this sort of commercial stuff is that parents often find it difficult to tell what is legitimate and what’s not.”
In the past she says the charity has been “innundated” with calls from people who felt let down after spending thousands on the controversial courses.
She added that personalised exercises can help some people with dyspraxia – but these are available on the NHS.
The Mirror reports that
the Advertising Standards Authority has asked Dynevor to stand up its claims.
The firm sent two studies but the ASA ruled both flawed and said the online plugs were misleading.
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
The BBC have now responded to a complaint I submitted about how Scott Quinnell was allowed to plug Dore for dyslexia on Radio 5. The substantive parts of the BBC’s response are below:
It’s not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes. In dealing with any controversial matter the BBC is required to give a fair and balanced report. However, balance can’t simply be judged on the basis of the time allocated to the representatives of either side of an argument. Account also needs to be taken of the way a subject is covered over a period of time, across our output as a whole. Perfect balance is difficult to achieve on every single occasion but overall we believe it is a more achievable goal.
It’s part of our role as an impartial observer is to report a wide range of views on a particular topic but the BBC makes no editorial comment or judgement on the views expressed by contributors to our programmes. Although some people believe that a programme should not allow certain groups or individuals to air their views, we feel that it’s better to include many viewpoints wherever possible. This may include hearing opinions which some people may personally disagree with but which individuals may be fully entitled to hold in the context of legitimate debate.
We hope such an approach is more likely to provide the public with access to differing perspectives on a subject and to help explain context. Programmes do aim to ensure guests are challenged about their views or provide opportunity for contrasting views from other contributors and the audience. I’m sorry if you felt this wasn’t the case on this occasion but as mentioned this isn’t always possible within individual programmes.
However, a key part of ‘5 Live Breakfast’ is listener contribution and they do have different ways for listeners to get in touch and add to discussions and debates. The following website provides details on how you can do this:
In this context, the reference to balance is completely unhelpful. There is not good evidence that Dore is effective. If ‘balance’ means giving non-evidence-based interventions as much or more coverage as evidence-based ones – and attributing as much credibility to interventions without a good evidence-base as to evidence-based ones – this does not serve the BBC’s listeners well. Continue reading
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.
Filed under Dore, dyslexia
ITV Yorkshire chose to dedicate over two minutes of their 6pm news bulletin today to an uncritical plug for the Dore treatment for learning difficulties.* The lack of good evidence that the Dore programme works – and the fact that Dore UK went into administration last year – were not enough to prevent them from doing so.
Joanna – a dyslexic Dore client – is introduced as someone whose life was “transformed” by “a special programme designed to help stimulate the part of the brain that stimulates learning”. This type of position is maintained throughout the segment, but there are a number of problems with it:
- Whatever Dore is designed to do, there is no good evidence that it works.
- Dore aims to stimulate the cerebellum. This region of the brain appears to play a role in learning, but so do others. There is no one ‘part of the brain that stimulates learning’.
Joanna was on the Dore programme for two years, and has clearly made good progress over those two years. However, people with learning difficulties do develop and progress, even without treatment: there is no way of knowing whether or not Dore was responsible for her progress.
These are all pretty obvious points, but the news segment did not have anyone presenting this point of view or explaining about evidence-based treatments for learning difficulties. Indeed – rather than referring interested viewers to reliable charities such as the British Dyslexia Association – the segment ends with a link to Dore UK’s website displayed on the screen (and read out by the presenter).
A final concern is the negative approach to learning difficulties outlined in the ITV segment. Joanna’s dyslexia is said to have affected her chances of “leading a normal, independent life”. Dyslexic people – even quite severely dyslexic – can and do live independent lives.** Especially as there is not good evidence that Dore cures dyslexia, it is highly irresponsible to present such a negative view of the life chances of dyslexics. Continue reading
We have previously blogged about how BBC1 gave Scott Quinnell a golden opportunity to plug Dore (a non-evidence based treatment for dyslexia and various learning difficulties) uncritically. We complained to the BBC about this, and have just had a response: it was very disappointing.
The BBC simply replied that
it was never intended to give Quinnell a platform in any way to promote Dore. It was more of an attempt at reflecting a human interest story whereby an international sportsman has had to cope with this disadvantage.
If this interview was not intended to give Quinnell an opportunity to plug Dore, then it was seriously mishandled (watch this YouTube clip to see what I mean). However, the BBC do not seem to acknowledge the extent of their failure, and there is no mention of what (if any) action they will take to prevent similar failures in future, and no apology for the poor standard of the interview with Quinnell. 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
Gratifyingly, Paul Flynn has now followed up some of the discussions around the Dore treatment for dyslexia and other conditions:
What EDM persuaded great journalist Ben Goldacre (below) to say “Parliament congratulating bloggers while castigating the media? It’s like a dream come true. I’m going to put on some Def Leppard and punch the air.”
It was about the so called-Dyslexia cure Dore. Now the splendid Welsh Language current affairs programme Taro Naw is preparing a programme on the debacle.
It was convenient to do an interview on the Maes yesterday as my contribution. One of the questions was how could we argue against the value of Dore for dyslexic children if parents notice an improvement.
This is not unusual even when medicine and treatment are inert. Placebos have a great record in curing illnesses. Nature and the human body are marvellous at improving health.
Dore expanded rapidly with a treatment that cost £2,000 and had not been subjected to rigorous scientific appraisal. Continue reading
Filed under Dore, dyslexia