So, what were the Daily Mail and Jerome Burne thinking when they put together this latest compilation of innuendo framed by the emotive photograph of a distressed child who seems trapped between two uncaring, faceless white coats? Continue reading
Tag Archives: children
Will Patrick Holford Be Calling Upon His Mailing List to Sign the New Andrew Wakefield Petition? If So, We’ve Made Some Annotations
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
Last year, Food for the Brain modified some advice on dietary exclusions for children – when we pointed out that such changes should be implemented under medical and/or dietetic supervision. We were therefore disappointed to see iAfrica reporting Holford’s advice that “in order to maximise your children’s potential” you should:
Take your child off foods with additives or added sugar [and] Eliminate allergens from the diet…If you suspect your child is intolerant to a particular food, eliminate it from their diet and monitor the difference/reaction. If after two weeks if you see no difference in the behaviour or symptoms, reintroduce it and see if there’s a reaction. The most common foods that cause problems are wheat, gluten (the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and to a lesser extent oats), diary foods and eggs.
It is a cliché that certain generations and demographics in the UK are obsessed by their bowel movements. However, for what probably seem like tremendously good reasons of public health, Times Educational Supplement has revealed that Japan Toilet Institute has successfully introduced a campaign about their special interest into schools in Japan. Continue reading
Looking over the Durham fish oil (non)trial again, I noticed something I had missed: they have previously claimed to be looking at three quite different things in order to determine whether the pills are effective. They started out (back in 2006) with a press release where they promised to measure efficacy by comparing students’ actual GCSE results to their predicted results. Not terribly promising methodologically, but at least Durham were explicit about what was going to be measured. Except that, in their response to a 2008 FOIA request, Durham stated that
All that was being sought was the number of children taking up the offer of capsules and a comparison of GCSE results from the previous year
To me, that sounds rather different. Then, to make matters worse (as we have already noted) Durham eventually chose to measure how fish oil takers compared with ‘matched pairs’ from the same year group. Again, this is a different test of whether the pills work. Those of you wondering why Durham are taking so long to release these results might also be interested to know that the 2006 press release promised that
the first test of the supplement’s effectiveness will be when they sit their ‘mock’ exams this December.
It is good practice to decide what you are measuring – and how you are going to judge the efficacy of a treatment – before starting a trial: otherwise, it can be tempting to change what is measured in order to generate the ‘right’ result. While I cannot know why Durham have discussed plans to measure the ‘success’ of fish oil in this (non)trial in three ways since 2006, this gives yet another reason why it is imperative that Durham release their data ASAP: so that the claims in their press releases can be scrutinised.
Rather than Durham playing third time lucky with tests of efficacy, could this be a case for Einstein creature?
Dr Ben Goldacre of badscience.net has posted a summary of the Durham Fish Oil
Trials Initiative and the latest update to the saga in which Durham Council has released the data showing spectacularly successful outcomes. Except, it hasn’t. Enquiring minds want to know if the data are being held over to be released with a fanfare at the Food for the Brain conference and the session where Dr Madeleine Portwood is scheduled to announce the outcome of the trials initiative. Continue reading
Bad Science‘s Dr Ben Goldacre has collaborated with Radio 4 to produce a 2-part exploration of the potent, intriguing power of placebo. Both Part 1 and Part 2 discussed the history, science and theatre of this fascinating phenomenon and it has been notable that the examples spanned from Perkins Tractors, Mesmer and animal magnetism, to work that was published only this year. Placebo has such an extensive and rich history and encompasses so many issues aside from medicine such as social influence and trust that it isn’t practical to present more than a tasting menu of it in 2 half-hour programes. Nonetheless, at the risk of sounding like Brillat-Savarin, it was strangely unsatisfying that neither of the programmes addressed the issue that some researchers argue that the placebo is both over-rated and ineffective and that there is no role for it in medicine, outside the context of a clinical trial. Continue reading
Back in April you may recall an onslaught of celebrities who gave their spectacularly uninformed assessment of the Cochrane Antioxidants Review with an astonishing retread of former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford’s borrowed criticisms. That star-studded spectacle of misinformed jackdaws was enlivened by Dr Aust’s intervention and his musings on the nature of expertise. We speculated as to what had prompted Carole Caplin’s extraordinarily through-the-looking-glass stance on the issue of sponsorship and conflicts of interest. We highlighted Caplin’s comment that, “It must be obvious to everyone who hasn’t got a vested interest in supplements that [the Cochrane antioxidant] review is absolute rubbish, it contains fundamental flaws” as so strange that it deserves special note. Continue reading
Orac has issued a real challenge for science communication that is asking for ideas from framers on how to address the public health issue of anti-vaccination propaganda. Commenter DLC has suggested that bloggers should go through the vaccination schedule and discuss the rationale for each one in plain language. Continue reading