Dore – The Miracle Cure For Dyslexia

November 4th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, brain gym, dore, mail, mirror, references, space | 71 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday November 4, 2006
The Guardian

Wouldn’t it be great if there really was an expensive proprietary cure for dyslexia? Oh hang on, there is: paint tycoon Wynford Dore has developed one, with NASA space technology. It’s only £1700, it has celebrity endorsements, it involves some special exercises, but it has been proven with experts. “A revolutionary drug-free dyslexia remedy has been hailed a wonder cure by experts,” said the Mirror on Monday, in fact. And in the Mail: “Millions of people with dyslexia have been given hope by a set of simple exercises that experts say can cure the disorder.”

This most recent wave of publicity was prompted by a paper on Dore’s miracle cure published in the academic journal Dyslexia. The story of why they should publish such a flawed study is, perhaps, for another day. But what might have made journalists approach this story with a slightly critical eye?

Well, investigative journalism giants “Tonight With Trevor McDonald” and “Richard and Judy” have already had their wrists badly slapped by the ITC for promoting Dore as a treatment for dyslexia, on two separate occasions. Those were based on a previous paper so flawed (even before it was subsequently misrepresented in the media) that it prompted an unprecedented number of critical commentaries – nine – to be published in the journal Dyslexia.

These commentaries pointed out that the subjects were not randomised – the experimenters could choose whether to put each child in the treatment group or the control group, and the two groups were mismatched in a way that could have advantaged the Dore treatment. The control group’s treatment was “nothing”, which was bound to produce an unfavourable result, compared with the attention lavished on children having the Dore treatment. Progress was measured, bizarrely, with screening tools rather than well validated tests, as we shall see later. The statistics were flawed. The details of the treatment were explicitly withheld because it was “commercially sensitive”. The evaluators were not blinded. And so on.

In fact, Dore’s last storm of “miracle cure” publicity was so bizarre that NASA, the US space agency, of all people, were inundated with enquiries and publicly stepped in with a press release to refute claims in the Independent and New Scientist that Dore used special NASA space technology and exercises in the cure (Dore deny involvement in these claims). When you’re so out there that the guys from Star Wars have to shoot you down, then you really know you’re getting somewhere.

But what about this current study? Well, it’s a follow up of those original children. Jenny Hope in the Daily Mail says there were 35 children with dyslexia. In fact only 29 children were followed up in this study, and only 8 of those had a diagnosis of dyslexia or dyspraxia. Some were, in fact, reading very well – up to 22 months ahead of their reading age! – before the treatment started. If she’d read the study carefully she might have flagged up some other flaws in it.

There was no control group this time, all the children had the Dore miracle cure, so there’s no way of knowing if the improvements were due to Dore or some other factors (the passage of time, or the non-specific effects of receiving extra input and attention from the Dore program, and so on).

The childrens’ progress was again measured with the “Dyslexia Screening Tool”, an odd choice: and gains were not made in reading, spelling, and writing, in the DST, but were made in bead threading, balance, and rapid naming. DST is a screening test, not something you’d use for repeated measures of development, and these improvements could reflect, for example, practise at doing the test (this is why we like control groups).

I get nerdier. The study reports benefits in SAT scores and something called NFER scores, but these contradict the DST data, and have other problems: SAT scores, for example, are not formal psychometric developmental measures, they are political audit tools, with vague and ill-defined criteria at each level. and produce “categorical data” which brings its own problems. Congratulations on getting this far. If your attention is starting to flag, then that only goes to show how commercially unattractive a real story, critically appraising real research, would be for a tabloid. In fact, I give up. It’s a miracle cure.


Astronauts and Dyslexia Research
Category: General
Dateline: March 2, 2001. Due to recent articles in the British press,
namely “The Independent”, that describe a new treatment for dyslexia
that utilizes “Space research, in the form of computerised balance
tests given to returning astronauts and corrective exercises that
reintroduce stability after weightlessness”, we have received numerous
requests for information concerning this research.

In response, the Acting NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer, Richard
S. Williams MD, has issued the following statement:

“In our experience, the prolonged exposure of Astronauts to the
microgravity environment of space flight does not give rise to any
physical symptoms or signs that would suggest dyslexia. To the best of
our knowledge, NASA is not funding or engaging in research concerning
dyslexia. Similarly, we do not have (or are unaware of) evidence that
any of our medical or rehabilitative interventions for the Astronauts
might be effective in treating dyslexia.”

The Mirror:–the-cure-&method=full&objectid=18012413&siteid=94762-name_page.html

The Daily Mail:


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71 Responses

  1. Lesley88 said,

    March 5, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Sorry me again.
    The rugby player in question happens to be the the president of the Welsh Dyslexia Project (a charity) and has been working with them for 5 years, visiting schools to talk to and support our learning disabled children. He is truly passionate about helping Dyslexics. He also has a number of well paid jobs. The accusation that he is paid to speak for Dore is a little unkind (and to accuse him of untruths is even worse).
    Why in the world would he say that the programme works for him, his children and other close relatives if it does not?

  2. Eugen said,

    March 5, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I’m sorry to say, but what Dore does is no miracle at all. He uses the same techniques used to remove capacity bottlenecks in large computers. Moreover, another dyslexia treatment, also employing techniques used to remove capacity bottlenecks in computers, now gives a money-back-guarantee (!) for dyslexia treatment. The guarantee is given for the automation of reading and writing skills, which suggest the primary characteristic for dyslexia won’t exist after the treatment.

    To make a long story short, the indicators for breakthrough dyslexia treatment are beginning to mount up. In the interest of those who suffer from dyslexia and other mental conditions, LET’s PLEASE STOP OPPOSING OTHER PARTIES. All parties hold critical data, Dore included. IT IS TIME FOR THE DIFFERENT PARTIES INVOLED TO PUT EMOTIONS ASIDE AND START WORKING TOGETHER.

    By the way, I have experienced breakthrough treatment frist hand. Without the breakthrough, my son would still have dyslexia and ADHD… I’m just one of more and more parents who start intiatives on their own as there is this mounting conflict between what is scientifically proven and what parents experience first hand.

    More indicators of breakthrough, facts, an appeal to work together, a request for research, etc. at

  3. miss ellie said,

    March 5, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Here here Eugene somebody else who feels that the opposition shoud stop and all parties should work together to help the children with dyslexia, dyspraxia etc where normal educational initiatives have been unable to do. We could fight this out for ever and day with those opposed to alternative treatments and those who agree. The problem is getting all parties involved researchers, scientists etc is not easy as they will all have something to loose and cling on to their own ideas because it is safe. They look at alternative teatments with suspision and maybe fear. That is a diifficult cycle to break. In the meantime parents like us will look for alternative treatments to help our children who we see geting further and further behind their peers and suffer mentally and socially because of it. If a treatment works for one child then it is worth it. The main reason for many peoples animosity towards Dore is because of the cost involved but for those of us who have seen the successful results in our children or even themselves then it is a small price to pay.

  4. Ben Goldacre said,

    March 5, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    hear hear, can we all stop thinking please?

  5. btljs said,

    March 10, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    i suggest you fund a study which does not produce spuriously positive data.

    Not only that – how about actually linking the testing on the programme to the problems which are supposedly being treated – not to the ability to balance on a rig or track a dot on a screen?

    Since taking my daughter off the programme, I have been corresponding with other disgruntled people who have been through the course. For the reasons above, the guarantee is not worth the paper it is written on. The point here is that everybody involved has a vested interest in the treatment being a success – not least the parents. It seems to me that this is one of the main reasons that the treatment is so expensive: if you are paying that much you really want it to work (I know I did!) and in true emperor’s new clothes style, nobody wants to admit they have been had.

    Those who have had positive outcomes should be pushing just as hard as those with negatives for full accountability. If they believe it works for some but not for others then why? A treatment can only be improved by refining it against new data – it’s selfish to simply say “it worked for me so leave it alone”. It’s arrogant to say “the people it didn’t work for didn’t try hard enough”. Has anybody actually tried doing the whole programme without the regular tests and ‘counselling’ sessions (I use the term loosely)? – oh I’m sorry you can’t because they won’t let you have the exercises unless you come to the tests. What about spending 10 minutes twice a day for nine months meditating, playing computer games or praying? We found that the morning session made us all calmer as we got ready for school, this might in turn have improved concentration during the day – do I put this down to cerebellar development? Could be. Could be divine intervention.

    In short: if there is something there then they owe it to the world to establish it beyond reasonable doubt; if there isn’t then they should admit it and stop ripping people off.

  6. spiller2007 said,

    March 16, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Black and White! Great except life’s not like that!

    Would you feel ripped off if yor 11 year old daughter had followed the Dore programme for 11 monhs, been quantatively assessed every 8 weeks and exhibited noticeable improvements in concentration, confidence, sleeping and co-ordination? Not to mention the improved reading and sequencing skills. By the time these exercises are proved to benefit a certain proportion of people and be generally available at lower cost/free, my daughter would have struggled through junior and secondary school.

    How much is a Gym membership? Music lessons? Stagecoach? After school clubs? Tutors? Schooltrips? Learning aids?

    Had the Dore programme not had such a promising outcome, I would still not be a disgruntled customer. There were no outlandish promises and we had our expectations managed throughout.

    I would love to see qualatitive results published and definitive proof but at the end of the day, seeing is believing.

    I’d like to have waited and chosen a proven (beyond doubt) treatment, but life’s about making choices and taking risks.

  7. tracyann said,

    April 17, 2007 at 10:36 pm


    I am a mother of a 15yr old boy who has been on the Dore rogramme. I did not have a bad experience with a salesman we had a really mild manner gentleman, but having said that a friend of mine did have a bad experience of a really pushy saleman which did put her off signing up. I rang the centre myself and complained as i did not agree with this. I felt they had let her down by employing this kind of salesman. Because I cannot praise the programme enough. It took about 2mths for things to start changing after that it was up hill all the way. Hes been on the programme for 13th now and done exceptionally well. To those people who have been through the Breakthrough programme and it worked, WELL DONE, really, because I know how hard it must have been at times to get your child to do the exercises. As a parent what ever method works for your child that great. For me I feel we might not have been so successful if we did not have the 6-8 weeks assessment at the Dore Centre and someone at the end of the phone. We worked towards each assessment to measure improvements . This was our insentive. The exercises are also changed after each assessment depending on the results, whether you try the Breakthrough programme or the Dore programme you have to do the exercise religiously, do not miss an exercise unless really ill, and never just because little joey is having a tantrum or the stoppy teenager can not be botherd. Just remember to take a deep breath and keep saying to yourself Im the Parent Im the Parent. Then get them done. The rewards are fantastic.

    Wouldn’t it be great if all the agencies worked together and there were no egos.

  8. cynicalswine said,

    April 25, 2007 at 5:55 am

    On the one hand a request for a study of this miracle, highly commercial treatment for a debilitating condition and on the other a lot of anecdotal evidence which may or may not be submitted by representatives of the company trying to sell it.

    If Dore is prepared to submit to a double blind assessment of the process and the treatment is found to be useful then there’s more fluff to put on the cover of the sales materials = a win for Dore. Even if his top secret proprietary treatment tools are revealed he’ll still make a fortune selling books. Any reluctance to take part in a real scientific study just stinks of snake oil.

  9. eraina said,

    August 15, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    my son used the dore programme, after 11days he was riding a 2 wheeled bike with no hands…this is the kid that couldnt even walk through a doorway without bumpinginto it or walk in a straight line…and sure as hell couldnt ride a bike!!! so for any sceptics out there YES Dore does work. I dont know and i really dont care how when or where they did their research, id give the money, time, effort etc all over again to see the changes in my sons coordination, writing, schoolwork, self esteem etc etc..i could go on, and i probably will if you let me!!!!!

  10. j said,

    October 13, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    my son used the dore programme, after 11days he was riding a 2 wheeled bike with no hands…this is the kid that couldnt even walk through a doorway without bumpinginto it or walk in a straight line…and sure as hell couldnt ride a bike!!! so for any sceptics out there YES Dore does work.

    I started to read relatively late, and went from barely reading at all to reading unusually well for my age within less than one week. I’m glad that your son has learned to ride a bike so quickly, but that may not have been down to Dore.

    People can change in interesting – often surprising – ways. For obvious reasons, kids often develop more quickly than adults. This can happen completely without interventions such as Dore.

  11. torpedo said,

    November 26, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    I have discovered that there is a website in the USA that seems to offer roughly the same equipment that the Dore programme is offering for a lot less money. The website address is This website does cover dyslexia and ADHD. I suggest that people should look at this site before going to the Dore Programme to get ideas how to proceed.

  12. mandie2 said,

    December 21, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    update: having tried the Dore programme with my son, it was not succesful for him. I am happy for those who have had a positive result but perhaps the organisers need to do their own research more thoroughly into the specific difficulties it is making a positive difference to and not just accepting everybody willing to sign up.

    I also wonder however, if there is a placebo affect in the first stages, as you are so desperate for it to work, that anything your child does is attributed to the programme. Are people still convinced of a clear benefit after a year? I know I wasnt after a couple of months.

    Of course the people who run the course will say that the lack of results in our case is because we havent completed the whole year, I would be sceptical in saying that ‘what is going to happen at the end of one year? Some sudden transformation?’ If this really works then surely gradual progress would be apparent?

    What has worked? A friend told me of a very gifted man in complimentary therapies. Although a little sceptical, some tinctures and a bit of cranial manipulation and my son has made great strides in his concentration. Appointments every 2 months (total appointments will be 3 or 4) are free, cost of tinctures/tablets under £40 (and they last the 2 months) a tiny fraction of what the dore programme has cost me and results came very quickly and are very noticeable! Good luck to all those parents out there trying to find the best way to support your children.

  13. JuddTom said,

    January 30, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    so you havent completely abandoned the alternative approach?

  14. darrenforster99 said,

    April 5, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Re: Tessa K – Blue Tinted Glasses…

    I have Asperger’s Syndrome (dx’ed as adult) and ADHD (dx’ed at school) and I go regularly to a support group for people with Asperger’s in Warrington (WAspS). These once brought someone down from a company called Irlen’s that deals with these “blue tinted glasses”. They aren’t actually blue tinted they have to do an assesment to see which are the best colour for each child to use. When I was there the lady went through with overlays to test me and when she got to a green/blue one I was suprised that the text seemed to be magnified (I actually asked her if she’d magnified the text). She said it’s not magnified but people with Irlen’s seem to notice that when the correct colour is found the text appears to be magnified (obviously there must be something there as I’d said first about it being magnified before she said about this). The only problem with this is that the NHS refuse to acknowledge Irlen’s as a genuine medical condition (kind of like it took them 40 years to acknowledge that Asperger’s existed and now they’re trying to run around like headless chickens trying to get everyone who was misdiagnosed, diagnosed properly, now they’ve screwed up peoples lives, so they don’t get their asses sued for misdiagnosis and refusing to believe what America realised 40 years ago, and their also doing the same trick with Adult ADHD (the only problem is they can get away with this because people with ADHD have such a short attention span that by the time their banging on the door of the Dr. asking for diagnosis and writing loads of letters to get dx’ed they’ve got bored of trying to get a dx and their attention has gone to something else).

  15. Chad said,

    April 6, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    My son has just completed the DORE programme at the manchester centre. I really do urge people to think carefully before spending 2000 pounds on a treatment that does not work. My son has Aspergers and they were confident at the centre that the programme would help, 14 months later and we are £2000 pounds poorer and have made no progress at all. I have all the excercised and would be pleased to pass them on to anybody that wants them for free! Dore claim that the excercises are unique to each patient, but I was told by a DORE employee on the phone that my son has had all the excercised now. I have also looked at another patients book and they were almost identical!! So much for the excercised being unique to each person and tailored to your individual needs. I have asked dore for a refund but no luck, they tell me my son did make progress based on their balance test, I know my son better than anyone and no progress was made at all, he just became better at the balance test after a while. PLEASE DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY AS I DID PLEASE.

  16. dystalk said,

    June 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    The above is very interesting indeed; I had heard about Bad Science’s article on Dore, but I hadn’t actually come across it before.

    For a well-reasoned video from Oxford Professor Dorothy Bishop on ‘evaluating alternative solutions for dyslexia’ (in which she uses Dore as her prime example), please see here:

    Very interested in any feedback anyone has – positive or negative of course.

  17. samrobbo said,

    June 25, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Yes, it’s very easy to doubt it’s effectiveness.Just as it’s difficult for some people to believe dyslexia actually exists. Dyslexia is hard to quantify and measure, it is not just about spelling or reading but an exhausting processing problem. How can you define whether Dore works without being able to quantify dyslexia? For once it may be possible that the solution has arrived before the experts have decided what the problem is. Well for those of us who have suffered from dyslexia or have children who have struggled with it….we couldn’t wait for you, we have the answer right here. And yes it turned our life around and I don’t need anyone to verify or justify its validity because I have seen it with my own eyes.

  18. peteben said,

    July 3, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Did dore work for my 11 year old son?? we think so .we stuck at the program for 15 months before they went bump??and left us on our own until we contacted them. then they wanted a futher £49 per month as they claimed they had restuctured we had already paid £2500 for the 18 month program if this program realy works WHY do celleb rugby player get paid huge amounts to indorse it???as on central news (midlands) 2 july 09.

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  21. ToddD0362 said,

    December 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    My wife was diagnoses with dyslexia… the blue colored glasses did not work for her… Although it wasn’t to much of a disability for her, she lives with the affliction very well.

    The Swimming Pool Tips Guy