The Dore Program has been coming under a lot of fire over the last few days with complaints about the way its sold and strong criticism of the scientific research. Now, five board members of the scientific journal Dyslexia that published the study have resigned in protest.
According to a Sunday Times article there was great concern over the validity of the research and the close links between the journal’s editor and one of the authors of the study.
Several academics raised concerns over apparent conflicts of interest. Reynolds was paid £30,000 in expenses by Dore to carry out the study, and was formerly a paid director in a company run by the businessman. Three quarters of the screening tests on the children were carried out by researchers from DDAT, a Dore firm.
Professor Rod Nicolson, a psychologist at Sheffield University and the study’s co-author, supervises the postgraduate study of Dore’s business partner, Dr Roy Rutherford.
Dore has also sponsored three PhD students in Nicolson’s department. Questions have also been raised over Nicolson’s working relationship with Angela Fawcett, editor of Dyslexia. They have written 30 articles and three books together.
Wynford Dore, the man behind the Dore Program, has attracted criticism ever since he started his approach to dyslexia and ADHD. He brought the skills he learnt as an successful entrepreneur in the hard and gritty industrial paint business to the more refined and cultured areas of science and education. His knack for self-publicity and willingness to take chances were always going to annoy many people and calling his new book The Miracle Cure was just pouring petrol onto an already large fire.
Central to this argument is an ethical question about commercial interests and science. This debate has raged in the pharmaceutical business for years. There is no doubt that drug companies have pushed the boundaries of science along and through their drugs helped many people. But the drug companies are also aggressive in selling their product and part of this is presenting favourable research in the best possible light. When does good marketing step over the line and become deception? This question is more complicated in Dore’s case because no one else is willing to research the Dore Program so the only research being done has to be funded by Dore, automatically creating a conflict of interest.
The criticism of Dore should be seen in a healthy light. It is a debate and most significant advances in science have been accompanied by long and often bitter debates. This is science in action and all parties deserve credit for their role in it.