Remember those scientists who resigned over publication of research into the Dore Program? At the time it was odd that only five or the twenty or so experts on the Dyslexia Journal’s expert panel resigned. If the research was of such poor quality why didn’t all the experts resign? This suggested that there was something going on over and above a simple dispute about a scientific paper.
Now we have some more information. The five people who resigned are:
According to a Sunday Time article, they resigned because of “concerns over apparent conflicts of interest” and “[the paper’s author’s] working relationship with Angela Fawcett, editor of Dyslexia”. As these are the stated reasons I think it is worth examining the connections between the five rebels.
- Professors Snowling and Hulme are married to each other
- Snowling and Hulme (plus one other) jointly received a £1.26M research grant from the Wellcome Trust
- Snowling, Hulme, and Hatcher all work in the same department in York University. In fact Snowling and Hulme (along with two others) run the department and control its budget
- Rack is the Dyslexia Action’s Head of Assessment and Evaluation whilst Snowling is an Honorary Fellow
- Rack works in Dyslexia Action’s York office which is based in York University close to Snowling’s, Hulme’s and Hatcher’s officers
- On her department’s website, Uta Frith lists Snowling as a collaborator
- All five have written and published papers with each other on numerous occasions including one attacking the Dore program
There is nothing unusual or wrong about these connections. Pick any five scientists working in the same field and you will find similar connections. This is how science works. What is wrong is for this gang of five to carry out a cheap stunt in order to criticise others for potential conflict of interests and close working relations when they themselves enjoy a similar situation.
The real reason behind the gang of five’s resignation is simply professional rivalry. All five have spent many years doing research into phonic based treatments of dyslexia so naturally they are against Dore’s approach that potentially invalidates their life’s work. Such rivalry is healthy and has characterised many of the great scientific debates but cheap stunts and newspaper articles should play no part in science.