Rock and Roll

June 18th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 19 Comments »

God bless Paul Flynn MP, a proper old school labour parliamentarian, strikingly sensible on drugs policy, and now this Early Day Motion on the miracle cure peddlers at Dore, the excellent blog coverage, and the the atrocious media promotion. Very, very good work indeed: this is as excellent as Wednesday lunchtime gets.

EDM 1770


Flynn, Paul

That this House is appalled at the gullible uncritical promotion by the media of Dore, a claimed miracle cure for dyslexia, in the absence of scientific proof of its value; notes that there were five resignations from the editorial board of the journal Dyslexia in protest at false claims published in that journal on the efficacy of Dore; welcomes Ofcom’s finding that Dore’s television advertisement was in breach of its rules on evidence,; calls on the Jeremy Vine Show, Channel Five News, Radio Five Live, BBC London, ITV Central, ITV Yorkshire, the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, Scotland on Sunday, Tonight with Trevor McDonald and You and Yours to correct the false impressions they broadcast on an unproven treatment; and congratulates the bloggers and journalist Ben Goldacre for exposing this bad science and other exploitative snake oil salespeople.

Flynn says, on his website:

“Will the media react and repent their gullibility ? Persuade your MP to sign. The number is 1770.”

You can email your MP – and find out what they do all day as well – at the excellent, run by my geek-engagement-in-politics chums at mysociety. Key issues, not that you need to be told: the media repeatedly promoted Dore through uncritical anecdotal promotion using someone who was paid to promote the company, and others, despite repeated rulings from regulators and a gigantic chorus of academics pointing out that the evidence for the “miracle cure” was rubbish.

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.

If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

19 Responses

  1. brainduck said,

    June 18, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Wow, I never thought I’d get mentioned in Parliament as anything other than an antisocial menace to society!

  2. cebolla said,

    June 18, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Damn, my MP is David Amess…I doubt he’ remembered to put his trousers on today, let alone be persuaded to actually do something intelligent with his time.

  3. SubMoron said,

    June 18, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I’ve e-mailed my MP and hope that he responds. It all depends on whether there are votes in it I suppose, though this is a very safe seat.
    What’s all this “WordPress” log on? It wouldn’t recognise me, made me re-register and sent me round in circles to get here and comment. My computer always remembered my username so I’m not sure if SubMoron is who I used to be?

  4. nix said,

    June 18, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I suspect it would be more helpful if I got my MP to vote *against* it.

    I mean, who on earth would believe anything that Nadine Dorries supported?

  5. Henry said,

    June 19, 2008 at 1:09 am

    No point for me. My MP’s George ‘Leatherface’ Galloway.

    Who, despite his party’s manifesto, which declares:

    Respect …opposes any change in legislation that restricts abortion rights and defends the right to choose.

    …never bothered to turn up to the recent HFE vote on the abortion limit.


  6. Little Zeb said,

    June 19, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Glenda Jackson has been asked. First time I’ve tried to contact an MP too.

  7. evalgo_iavot said,

    June 19, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    i just badgered simon hughes about it.

    on a related topic, does anyone know anything about an organisation called INPP? (the institute for neuro-physiological psychology).

    their programme has been uncritically promoted in the london borough i work in and one or two schools have taken it on. inpp have also been trying to cash in on the problems dore has had:

    the website is certainly dressed in convincing-sounding-to-the-layperson scientific terminology (about reflexes and cns maturity) but the “research” and “publications” sections don’t give me much confidence in the quality of the evidence.

    should i be treating this as a braingym or should i give it a chance?

  8. brainduck said,

    June 20, 2008 at 2:44 am

    INPP – see here:
    for an interesting discussion on the ‘retained reflexes’ stuff in the context of ‘Brain Gym’. Haven’t looked in great depth at INPP, but not terribly convinced by it I’m afraid.

  9. germslayer said,

    June 20, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Michael Fallon duly asked.
    I got a very nice letter from him last time explaining why he felt that homeopathy saved the NHS money…(!)

  10. evalgo_iavot said,

    June 21, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    thanks brainduck – interesting article

  11. Robert Carnegie said,

    June 21, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    I gather an EDM requires very little effort to sign. Is there a closing date?

  12. CrackMouse said,

    June 23, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Contacted my local MP about this. Don’t have much hope for any response, though. I’ve written to Lyn Brown seven times in the past and have had only one reply – outlining her continuing support for homeopathy…. not a good sign.

  13. Jo the Hat said,

    June 24, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Have contacted Stewart Jackson – will see if anything productive comes of it. Anyone fancying clubbing together to buy Jeremy Vine a copy of The Tiger That Isn’t? If he could start to look at statistics with open eyes, perhaps he could look at more difficult things that way too…

  14. bhaji said,

    June 24, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Amazing, email to Anne Main MP for St Albans, has resuted in her replying to me by post confirming that subsequent to my email she has added her name to this EDM.

    Despite her continuing support for homeopathy.

  15. srenals said,

    June 27, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Happy to say that Mark Lazarowicz MP for Edinburgh North & Leith has signed the EDM – “I have a great deal of respect for the Bad Science column in the Guardian, which I read regularly”

  16. Robert Carnegie said,

    June 28, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    On reflection, wouldn’t it have been more to the point for Parliament to censure Dore while it was actually trading, and aren’t there other unconventional therapy companies still in business that should be scrutinised for greater actual public good? I mean, if I went into business selling, let’s say health water, I would not be especially worried about running out of funds and -then- having -my- name on an Early Day Motion.

    Really the target of the EDM is The Media, but will The Media notice?

  17. robaker said,

    July 1, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Had a nice letter back from Mark Pritchard. While being deeply sceptical about miracle cures he doesn’t know enough to be entirely sure that Dore is bad science. I think that means he’s not going to sign. Or maybe he will. I’m not sure.

  18. Jammydodger said,

    July 12, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    I wrote to Danny Alexander, my local MP (Inverness,Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey).

    He replied…

    “Having read your e-mail and the EDM am happy to put my name to it and have therefore signed the EDM as requested”

    So now I’m getting a warm enfranchised feeling now …

    Help! I can feel a headline coming on…

    “Scientist links Active participation in democracy to improved health” …

    Well I am one and it made me feel better” 🙂

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