Brainduck’s Weblog
Psychology geek tries to explain a few things.

Jun
20

Dear Dr Rutherford,

We have both been asked by the forum moderators at Dore Talk to move debate elsewhere.

I understand you were also less than happy at having your reply to the Guardian ‘Bad Science‘ article mentioning my blog deleted by the newspaper moderators on grounds of libel, as was I – I’d far rather debate with facts than lawyers & there’s a lot there I’d enjoy answering.

Therefore could I suggest that we continue our interesting discussion on Dore Talk in the comments section below this posting?

Since your Guardian post described me as ‘Bloggers … hide behind anonymity and make comments which are ill informed, based on limited knowledge, biased and have therefore been very damaging to Dore’, I do hope that you will find it worth your while to correct a few of the most painfully glaring of what must surely be my many mistakes on this blog. Pick anything you like, if I’ve been wrong I’ll be only too happy to correct it. It shouldn’t be too difficult for you to find something, I am after all an undergrad & therefore lower in the academic pecking order than a lab rat, and since you think I’ve been so ‘damaging’ then it must surely be worth your while to spend a few minutes setting me right?

To start this off, I’ve re-posted your Guardian comment in the comments section of this post. I promise not to delete anything you write (except for swearwords which tend to mess up my access) & the comments on here are un-moderated (except a standard spam-filter). If you’d rather have this discussion elsewhere on the same terms, please do suggest it. Anyone else with an interest in the research is of course very welcome to join in the discussion, though please be aware I’m aiming for more of a no-holds-barred academic debate than sharing personal anecdotes, otherwise I’d leave it on Dore Talk.

I’ve posted this invitation on Dore Talk, if anyone knows of other ways to bring this to Dr Rutherford’s attention, please do pass them on.

Thank you,

Duck.

May
27

Several sources indicate that US Dore centres have also closed down. It looks as though people will be switched to My Dore, a website giving videos and instructions for the exercises.

I’d suggest cancelling any payments which may be due or cheques you may have written that have not yet been cashed, as soon as possible. More information when I’ve got it.

May
24

*updated with info on administrators, Friday 31st May*

DORE UK have shut down, officially confirmed.

‘It is with great regret that we have to announce that Dore has been put into the hands of advisors. As a result Dore is closing all of the UK centres which deliver the Dore Programme with immediate effect.

We are determined to find a way for every client who is on the program to have their treatment completed. We are presently exploring alternative arrangements to ensure every client is cared for.

We will be updating this page of our website every few days with news regarding alternative arrangements for continued programme delivery so please check frequently.

We still want to help people to identify any learning difficulties they may be struggling with, so we are continuing to make our online symptoms test available. We will provide you with a personal report that outlines any learning difficulty and the likely severity.’

Staff were told at lunchtime on Friday 23rd. Clients have been discussing what to do next on DORE talk. I’ve set up an alternative forum (now completely run by DORE parents, I’ve turned over all admin powers) in case DOREtalk closes without notice. Hopefully people will be able to share information on what is going on and any legal steps which should be taken.

What to do now?

If you are a staff member with unpaid wages or a client with uncompleted treatment, probably the most important thing you can do to get your money back is register as a creditor with the administrators. Woodgate in Australia, this is a letter from the UK adminstrators. Unfortunately both the UK and Australian administrators have said that clients are very unlikely to get refunds from Dore itself.

Trading Standards is a good place to start for an overview of the relevant law. If you’ve paid by credit card that’s the first place to try claiming a refund, debit cards are less likely but worth a try. If you have a finance deal then you may also receive some money back (thanks Jon for info) The Insolvency Service has all sorts of useful albeit detailed information, including what to do if you are owed money by a company in liquidation. Citizen’s Advice Bureau may be able to help.

Staff should read this guide to getting some wages back, up to £330/week, more detailed information for employees here (pdf). Forms and how to apply are at Redundancy Payments Service. You should apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance immediately, as it can’t be backdated & will affect how much you can get from the Redundancy Payments Service.

Podblack makes useful suggestions for Australia. I’m no expert here, if you know more please pass it on. Since I originally wrote this entry the US has also shut, again I don’t know a lot about the law there but if you do please tell me and I’ll add it.

What Happened?

I’ve posted some of this previously – here I’m trying to put all the available information in one place in roughly chronological order, in the hope of building up a picture of what was going on.

In January 2008, Gimpy found that the DORE UK accounts showed that they had an accumulated loss of ~£6.8 million to 2006 (~US$13 million ~AUS$14 million). Gimpy and I raised this on DORE talk, but were told that ‘discussion was not appropriate’. Also in January 2008, Convex Capital, a consultancy firm, were brought in. The reasons for this may be inferred from Wynford Dore’s statement ‘I have no hesitation in recommending Convex Capital to any company that wants to make more money, quicker’. Gimpy has since looked at the 2007 accounts, which show an accumulated loss of £8.3 million. Treatments were being funded by the recruitment of new clients. It is difficult to see how existing clients could now be provided with services or refunds, particularly since it is clear that this will not now happen in Australia despite early suggestions that this might be possible, and UK staff having been ‘told they no longer have a job‘.

DORE in the UK and in Australia kept trading as normal, and recruiting clients who were required to pay ~£2000 up-front, right up until they closed (Aus 15th May, UK 23rd May). Cheques in Australia were still being cashed the day parents were told, after the company had gone into administration. In an exceptional piece of bad judgement, Kenny Logan, a rugby player paid by DORE, discussed his dyslexia on BBC Radio Four ‘consumer programme’ ‘You And Yours‘ on 19th May. Although Logan did not mention DORE by name, the presenters went on to discuss the programme by name in wholly favourable terms, even though clients in Australia had already lost everything they paid, and DORE UK would suffer a similar predictable fate just four days later.

FAQs for clients of DORE

‘Couldn’t you see these problems coming?
Answer: We were very confident until just these last few days that funding would be
available to maintain the whole operation. We have spent considerable time in talks with
various investors who have expressed interest in supporting the venture. Unfortunately a
firm agreement has not materialised in time to save the situation.’ (emphasis mine).

DORE Australia did not inform clients or staff that they were entitled to attend the first meeting of creditors
on May 23rd, potentially preventing them receiving any refunds or back wages after liquidation. However, the first media reports a week after the receivership state ‘Giles Woodgate from the administrator Woodgate and Co says it is unlikely that creditors will get their money back’. The only official source of information for DORE Australia clients and staff remains appointments cancelled at short notice, and a post tucked away on DORE talk from Wynford Dore’s daughter, even the website is still up as normal (all as of Friday 23rd May).

Wynford Dore left another education-related company on May 15th, the day DORE Australia collapsed. On May 23rd, when DORE UK shut, Wynford emailed customers personally with an apology, again blaming lack of government support for the closures. DORE UK also placed an announcement on the front page of their website. Wynford’s daughter has also been posting on DOREtalk, wondering whether to keep the forums open for now.

Not much information on the rest of the world for now. A staff member in the Carribean is expecting to go to work as normal on the 24th, and New Zealand was still operating as of the 20th May. However, as the FAQs emailed to clients state ‘After many years and £15 million of funding provided by Wynford, it is clear that our ability to continue subsidising the programme to the extent necessary had become impossible’, it’s not clear how DORE worldwide could continue.

More info when I have it. As ever, if you know anything you want to pass on, please leave a comment or email brainquack at gmail dot com.

I’d also suggest keeping an eye on the blogs Gimpy, Podblack, LeftBrainRightBrain, HolfordWatch and Bad Science for emerging developments.

Why?

Regular readers will be unsurprised to know that I suspect the lack of decent research and evidence for the claims made contributed to difficulties. DORE blamed the Australian situation on their lack of government support, which I have countered previously. Without good evidence that the programme worked, it is unreasonable to expect it to be rolled out widely in schools and the health service. Myomancy has criticised the business model, but I suspect it was never meant to last this long without government funding. When the research didn’t justify further official funding, they couldn’t keep going indefinitely.

Wynford Dore’s farewell email talked about ‘Scientifically proven results‘, when the only published peer-reviewed research was the Balsall Common studies with just six participants who actually had a diagnosis of dyslexia (by comparison, my un-funded, single-handed undergraduate project looks at 12 people with a formal dyslexia diagnosis and 12 matched controls, so it’s not so hard to do). I’ve blogged Balsall Common and discussed it on DOREtalk. I’ve also discussed several pieces of unpublished DORE ‘research’ on this blog. I’m afraid that none of them together or separately even come close to supporting a claim of ‘scientifically proven results’ for dyslexia, or for any of the other conditions which DORE claim to treat. Bad Science has discussed the Balsall Common studies. Podblack has discussed a recent paper on how DORE came to be as accepted as it was in mainstream teaching, and why such practice is not always evidence-based. HolfordWatch has also looked at how the research and the marketing claims do not always match up. LeftBrainRightBrain has gone through the same DORE research into Aspergers, published in a local newspaper, that I looked at. Many of the key research papers and journal letters are available in full for free, and if you’re half the geek I am make for interesting reading. It’s not much more expensive to do good research than bad, and with real results showing effectiveness then you could make a case for DORE to be publically funded. Such results have not been forthcoming. This has been covered up by glitzy marketing, positive anecdotes, and a habit of unleashing the lawyers on anyone who criticised DORE. The legal suppression of criticism has extended to academics, self-help groups, and most horrifyingly even parents who just wanted to say that the treatment didn’t work for their child.

Whatever really happened, the obvious distress of those caught up in it doesn’t do anyone any good. I wish all the best to the clients, & staff who worked directly with them. The one thing all Educational Psychology research can agree on is the importance of hope, supportive and involved care-givers, and I’d add a good streak of determination to that. The families who have the commitment to tackle the DORE programme have every chance of doing well, with or without it. Good luck to all.

May
18

DORE have at last put up a brief confirmation on DOREtalk that DORE Australia are not operating due to being in financial trouble. If you’ve come to this blog looking for information on that, please read the post below this one first, I’m updating it regularly with any & all sources I can find.

I’ve tried to keep people up to date with the situation on the post below, and let people know what is going on when DORE haven’t – as a DORE supporter put it: ‘It would be nice to hear from someone in the know, rather than ‘dore bashers’ to hear whats going on either way’. So well done to DORE for putting a bit of info up eventually, though DORE Australia staff seem to have been sent home with no warning whatsoever, and DORE USA staff ‘have not heard any details at all. I wish I knew what to tell you.’ My post below has more info on the current DORE Australia situation & all the links I can find.

I am, however, going to have to take issue with the explanation that DORE have given for their difficulties. Quotations below taken from the only DORE announcement so far, a short post hidden on their forums.

The issues of learning and attention are problems that the Government should be taking responsibility for. They don’t even automatically screen every child in our schools. Dore has spent huge sums of money developing screening tests and providing them for parents who are concerned.’

I agree more should be done in schools. The Dyslexia Screening Test, as developed by Prof Nicholson & used in most of DORE’s research, is admitted by Prof Nicholson himself to lack specificity. The tests which DORE uses to assess suitability for the programme & their own diagnosis of ‘cerebellar developmental delay’ aren’t screening for learning and attention, they cost ~£500 a time, and aren’t based on ‘NASA Technology’ as DORE originally claimed. Testing for working memory impairment is possible, there’s some interesting new research (some carried out here at York, research funded by the UK govt), & it’s certainly an important area to look at – but this is being done & funded, just not by DORE.

A project like this needs the support of Governments’

This has happened in Australia. DORE’s ‘ACE (Assessment of Cerebellar Efficiency)’ screening was trialled in Tasmania in 2006, and seems to have been rolled out further in 2007. I’ve not seen any research published based on this work, unfortunately – why not? Additionally, a town in Australia seems to have decided to integrate the DORE programme into its education system, launched by the Mayor. ‘The council established a $40,000 trust fund made up from a council grant and community donations to help subsidise local children through the program’. Given that DORE have only been in Australia a few years, that’s not so bad – the sort of pilot projects which *if properly evaluated* could support the wider use of an intervention programme.

We are doing our best to make it available now. If they came along today to put it into schools, we would help them all we could – and that is where it needs to be.’

If this was the case, then full information should be made available on all aspects of the DORE method – not hidden by ‘commercial confidentiality’, so that DORE can be properly evaluated. Any treatment needs to be researched and evaluated so the most effective methods possible can be used. If DORE really wanted to ‘help all it could’ and get the best treatments out there NOW, they would not use commercial confidentiality, and they would argue their corner with research instead of by sueing people.

I suspect that what’s contributed more to the difficulties of DORE is that the Australian press have been somewhat less uncritically accepting of DORE’s unsupported claims. In particular, ‘Four Corners: The Behaviour Business‘ did an excellent job of reporting on DORE, including making most of the relevant scientific papers available in full freely on their website. The programme’s still available to watch there, along with transcripts & related info, & I’d very much recommend checking the site out. It’s quite a balanced programme, including anecdotes from a family who believe that DORE worked for them, interviews with DORE staff, & a discussion of the Balsall Common studies & evidence by DORE researchers & critics. Probably the most informative 45 minutes you’ll spend if you are interested in the background to this.

I’ll leave the last words to Wynford Dore himself, in the ‘Four Corners’ programme:
“There is an attitude in Australia, kind of pioneering, straightforward, let’s get on with the job. If the Dore Program works then how do I get it? In other cultures they will look much harder for I want this research and that research and that proof and that evidence. The typical Australian is: does it work mate? Let’s do it then.”

And if it doesn’t work, what then?

May
17

Last updated Saturday morning, GMT. I’ve written a timeline of UK & international DORE goings-on in another post, will be updating there from now on instead.

An offer: if anyone wants to make available information about what is going on without revealing their identity, I’m happy to re-post stuff anonymously, unedited and in full. Bung me an email on brainquack at gmail dot com. Doesn’t matter what I think of the research, ATM even DORE staff internationally don’t seem to have definitive info, and I’d rather not leave people in the dark unnecessarily. I’ll add any other sources of info if you let me know too, official or otherwise.

DORE Australia have gone into ‘voluntary receivership‘ from May 15th, according to a note tucked away on the DORE forums published Sunday afternoon. ‘Creditor information‘ documents confirm this. DORE New Zealand seem to be still keeping appointments. Unconfirmed suggestions that following the creditor’s meeting on May 23rd they’ve gone into liquidation. Creditors (including staff & clients) are ‘unlikely to get their money back‘. DORE UK are also in administration, this has been confirmed by staff.

DORE UK may also be sailing a bit close to the wind, though DORE staff have not been so keen to answer questions.

No gloating – I’d rather have the research they’ve apparently been planning to start (though a better look at the stuff they’ve said they’ve done would be nice too). I wonder if Australian families will get their money back from the rest of the DORE organisation?

More here as of Sunday 18th May lunchtime (GMT): Australian DORE customer has appointment cancelled, Gimpy’s latest – including comments from other DORE customers who’ve been let down, and it’s hit the DORE Yahoo group too, where USA staff don’t seem to know one way or the other what is going on. Still nothing on any official DORE site, though there’s been a few comments from parents on DORE talk.

Sunday afternoon: It’s official, DORE Australia are in ‘voluntary administration’. No info on what will happen next, or if parents will get their money back. More from DORE Australia staff on DOREtalk, who don’t seem to have been told much & are going home unpaid. Podblack, a (rather good) Australian EdPsych blogger, has explained a bit more about what might happen next under Australian law. She’s planning a visit when it’s Monday there, so worth a check later when I’ll be asleep. Holfordwatch have discussed the DORE official statement in more detail, so have I above.

Sunday evening: This rather interesting news dated Jan 08, c/o a comment by Tom on Gimpy’s blog reveals that DORE may have realised they needed to sort the financial side out for a while. Quote from Wynford Dore: ‘I have no hesitation in recommending Convex Capital to any company that wants to make more money, quicker’.

Monday morning: Creditor Information documents, c/o Gimpy. First creditor’s meeting is at Sydney Masonic Centre, Northcott Room, Fifth Floor, 66 Goulburn Street, Sydney, NSW on Friday 23 May 2008 at 11.30am. It also has the first helpful bit of information I’ve seen from DORE for parents ‘On 16 May 2008 temporarily suspended operations at clinics whilst business activities are reviewed. Clients with clinical questions should contact the company on 1300 55 77 11’ . Podblack has checked things out on the ground, apparently the only advice is to call back in 7 to 10 days, she also gives information which may be useful to ex-staff – check the comments for more from an ex-staff member.

Monday afternoon: Myomancy has picked this up, with an interesting question about intellectual property rights.

Tuesday night: more on the forums, seems DORE NZ are still going ahead with appointments.

Friday 23rd morning: The creditor’s meeting should have happened by now, without DORE ever announcing it to the parents who are creditors. A week on, there’s still only been the one post on DOREtalk as official notice of anything which is happening, and the Australian website is still up unchanged. Comment on Gimpy’s blog suggests that DORE Australia may have gone into liquidation, though of course this is as yet unconfirmed.

Friday afternoon: First media report. Programme & some head office staff have had their contracts terminated. The administrators say that creditors are unlikely to get their money back, will know whether the business is viable in the next few days.

Friday afternoon: DORE UK cancels appointments ‘as DORE are in adminstration‘, confirmed by UK staff. See here also.

Saturday 24th: Australian TV picks this up.

‘GILES WOODGATE, WOODGATE & CO: The company’s insolvent, they have substantial debts. They owe between $12 and $13 million and the assets aren’t there to match it.’

May
02

There’s a discussion of Brain Gym on the NeuroLogica blog, written from a neurological rather than EdPsych perspective. I found the discussion of the history of ‘psychomotor patterning’ most interesting – useful background to understand the development of movement-based approaches to treating learning difficulties and disabilities.

(BTW, sorry for lack of recent posts, final exams & dissertation deadlines are keeping me rather busier than I’d like).

Apr
03

Last week I helped to give a workshop on poverty & mental health at MEDSIN Oxford, a medical student conference (I snuck in under false pretences, being a psychology student, but it was very interesting). I’m uploading to here the overheads we used for the talk, and the information we gave people to take away. It’s a bit too long and with too many pictures to read nicely as a blog post, but nevertheless I hope that people may find it interesting.

Poverty and Mental Health information

Poverty and Mental Health overheads

Sorry it’s a bit more technical language than I’d usually use on this blog since it’s meant for medical students, but I haven’t got time to re-write it at the moment. Again, many thanks to TL who wrote a lot of the above, and a reminder that, like everything on this blog, the above work is under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative licence. The downloads are PDF-d, can provide them in any formats OpenOffice can cope with if you bung me a comment. NB none of the names, email addresses, geographical addresses, or other contact details on there are my own, please don’t try to get in touch with me on them because it will just confuse people, if you would like more info please bung me a comment instead.

Mar
14

I’ve been listening to a very interesting programme on BBC Radio 4, about dyslexia.

There’s some interesting comments from Prof Nicholson (co-author of the ‘Balsall Common’ DORE studies). This particularly discusses the development, uses, and limitations of the ‘Dyslexia Screening Test’ which Prof Nicholson developed, & which is used as a test of progress in the DORE research which I have read.

Prof Nicholson: ‘You would normally try to include a few more than necessary … children with hearing impairment, dyspraxia … if we were starting again we would call it something else’. (My transcript – I don’t type that fast, may not be word-for-word). He also talks about the bead-threading & ‘postural stability’ aspects of the DST.

There’s a bit from Prof Snowling, a discussion on phonics of dyslexia in other languages, and a description of multi-sensory phonics teaching.

The programme is part of a series called ‘Am I normal?’ & also discusses the ethics & technical aspects of testing for developmental disorders in an accessible & informative way. It’s well worth a listen, but unfortunately will only be up on the ‘Listen Again’ section of the BBC website for another few days, and I’ve not been able to find a more permanent copy or transcript. The next programme will be on Dyscalculalia, broadcast 18 March, 9pm, and repeated on the 19 March at 4:30pm.

(BTW, sorry for lack of recent updates – too many exams!)

Jan
24

DORE have chosen to distribute their news of a ‘Major Autism Breakthrough’ via the doubtless-estimable Leamington Courier.

Now, I’m all for the public understanding of science, and particularly advances in educational psychology, or I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

However, publishing science by press-release to local papers first is Not On, particularly when said science could influence desparate people to hand over a lot of money to you in the hope of a ‘cure’.

It’s not OK to say ‘The Dore Clinic has achieved massive successes while working with 1,000 patients suffering from the symptoms of high-functioning autism’, when the article goes on to say ‘In addition 56 people who had been formally diagnosed as suffering from autism have now completed the programme’.

So, how many people with an actual diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), given by someone qualified to do so, were actually helped? There’s a lot of difference between the reliability of research on 1000 people, and on 56. If your child is diagnosed with an ASD, then the results of the 56 are a lot more relevant than 1000 people who may or may not have had some ASD traits, which are not uncommon within the general population and particularly amongst people with PDDs.

How were these people helped? We don’t actually know. The paper doesn’t seem to have been published in a journal, or made available on a DORE website, as far as I can tell (I’d love a copy when it does show up). What does ‘expressed emotion’ mean in practice, and how do you measure it improving?

‘Of this number 100 per cent showed improvement across a battery of cognitive, literacy and motor tests’ looks good but doesn’t mean much. If everyone scored higher on standing on wobble-boards & throwing beanbags post-DORE, that would count as an (unsurprising) improvement – but it would not necessarily help people much in their everyday lives. We also don’t have any demographic data – if most of the group are young, you would expect them to get better at things over the 18 months – 2 years DORE usually seems to take.

We have no information on drop-out rates. This is important, because people who don’t see an improvement will be more likely to drop out. If half of people who perform below average (so 50% of the sample) drop out, overall scores will improve – even if any ‘improvement’ or ‘getting worse’ was completely down to normal variation. It depends on how they’ve done the stats, but if you assume that the most severely affected to start of with will be more likely to drop out (& it’s not hard to see that someone with particularly problematic ASD symptoms might be less able to keep up regular daily exercises), and their scores are included in the initial but not the final groups, this makes matters even worse. This is why publishing your data & stats is important. (BTW, does anyone know drop-out rates for DORE? Unofficially I’ve heard 50%, but I’d appreciate info).
Again, this study does not seem to have a control group – so again you can’t tell what was just normal progression with time, what is non-specific effects which could be obtained by telling the family to pat their head & rub their tummy for 15 minutes twice a day as opposed to anything to do with DORE or the cerebellum specifically. ‘Doing something’, giving a child lots of attention, raised expectations, etc, will all have very real effects on a person & their family. We also don’t know what else they’ve done. I was interested to find that it’s not uncommon for DORE to suggest 1:1 more conventional tuition alongside the programme – so looking at studies of people in the ‘real world’ doing DORE then the question isn’t so much ‘How does DORE compare to doing nothing’ as ‘How does DORE & extra 1:1 help compare to doing nothing?’.

The point of peer-review is that experts in the field can look at a paper and correct mistakes before it goes out for public consumption. The point of publishing your full methodology & results is so that people can read them for themselves and see what you did, decide if you did it right, and maybe do it again to see if the same thing happens. Publishing unreviewed press releases with hyped claims is irresponsible. Not telling people exactly what you have done, what you found, and how you measured it, doesn’t allow them to weigh up the research for themselves.

Incidentally, some of the language used in the newspaper article is – rather outdated & patronising to say the least. I’m hoping that’s due to staff on a local paper not being used to covering disability-related stories, but ‘high-functioning autistic cases’ don’t exist – people with ASD do. They’ve also managed to mention ‘suffering’ seven times in a short article. I would strongly suggest a look at the NAS on ‘What (not) to say about autism’.

National Autistic Society’s rather noncommittal response to DORE .

I’ve heard of ‘publish or perish’, but this is getting daft. If the research was as good as it says, Nature Neuroscience at the very least would be falling over themselves to get their hands on it. It would be huge & deeply exciting news. The front pages of broadsheet papers would doubtless be devoting many inches. So why do DORE feel they need to publish this first in an obscure local newspaper, if the research is that good or the findings that exciting?

Jan
23

THIS IS NOT SOMETHING I HAVE WRITTEN. Most of this post is copy & pasted. I am reproducing it here because I do not like legal threats being used to silence people. Argue with evidence, not lawyers.

From The Quackometer blog, these first two posts have attracted grumpy legal-type letters:

Right Royal College of Pompous Quackery – Dublin
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I had to share this with you. Following on from my recent Quack Word ‘Doctor’ blog, I came across the Royal College of Alternative Medicine (RCAM) , a Dublin based – well, I’m not sure quite what it is…

What caught my eye was just the shameless aggrandisement of the site. It is quite hilarious, if not a little repetitive at times. Calling yourself ‘Doctor’ is somewhat pompous when all you have done is paid for some international postage. However, the man behind RCAM has absolutely no shame and titles himself as the:

Distinguished Provost of RCAM (Royal College of Alternative Medicine) Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK)

Wow! Probably, just Joe to his mates. Naturally, when you Google the qualification FRCAM(Dublin), there is only person who appears to revel in this achievement. I’ll leave the rest as an excercise for the reader.

The distinguished provost looks like he is just another pseudoscientific nutritionist, his spin being “Nutritional Immunomodulation”. This is obviously a lot more clever than Patrick Holfords mere ‘Optimum Nutrition’, but having only one ‘omnipill’ is probably a poorer commercial decision that Patrick’s vast range of supplements.

Obviously, Professor Obi has had a few problems with what probably amount to bewildering comments about his site as the legal threats and press releases concerning his ‘ethical’ responses to criticisms cover more space than anything else. ‘Ethical’ is a favourite word on the site.

The most recent press release states,

7th September 2006 : The Distinguished RCAM Provost, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK) has formally accepted appointment as Chief Professorial Examiner for the Doctor of Science (DSc) programme in Evidence Based, Alternative Medicine (EBAM) of a highly respected International University in one of the British Commonwealth Protectorates.

This new qualification is primarily aimed at Medical Graduates, Physicians, Surgeons, Pharmacists, Dentists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Opticians, Wellness Consultants, Herbalists, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths , Healers, Podiatrists , Chiropodists , Scientists , Healers ,Therapists, Homeopaths, Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Nurses wishing to ethically upgrade their current Qualifications in Alternative Medicine over an exceedingly intensive 12 – 36 month period of study.

British Commonwealth Protectorates? Could that be Dublin?

I really have no idea what this organisation is all about. But it looks like it could be getting quite big soon…

RCAM currently has International Vacancies for One Million (1,000,000) ‘Foundation Fellows’ (’Movers and Shakers’) ; who will independently play a highly pivotal role in diligently mentoring (and regulating) it’s future Global Membership.

So if you really think that you seriously have what it takes to become a ‘Leader’ in Alternative Medicine , then (perhaps) RCAM may definitely be exactly what the Doctor ordered for you.

One million. That’s a lot of quacks! And they are just to mentor (and regulate) the wider quack membership! This man has ambition.

The Big J really hates real doctors. This is his most recent press release…

RCAM would like to warmly commend the various Chieftans of the National Health Service of the United Kingdom for ethically and appropriately ignoring utterly misguided calls (from a rather amusing Group of thirteen Clinical Yestermen) to compel Hard-Working (and Tax-Paying) British Citizens to additionally pay for Life Enhancing Alternative Medicine Interventions out of their very own pockets – rather than get such treatments free via the NHS. RCAM would like to also categorically state that such exceedingly flawed ‘G-13′ demands that the National Health Service of the United Kingdom expediently abandon Alternative Medicine altogether (in total favour of Conventional Medicine) be diplomatically treated with the very utmost contempt which such unguarded verbal flippance duly deserves ; as none of these 13 ‘Eminent UK Scientists’ behind such calls has professionally attained Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications in Alternative Medicine and as such cannot be deemed competent enough to make such sweeping ‘Shilly-Shally’ statements about the noble independent specialty of Alternative Medicine.

RCAM therefore publicly advises the General Public to lawfully go about their normal Wellness-Seeking Behaviour as usual – without any unwarranted prejudice or fear resulting from such highly self-serving, morally unethical , abjectly crude , totally unprofessional, utterly unstatesmanly, morbidly barbaric, wantonly uncivilized, profanely undemocratic and unspeakably sacrilegious perpetual affronts on the therapeutically formidable institution of Alternative Medicine.

Now, I do not have ‘Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications’ in Santa Clause Studies to know he does not exist. But hey. I must be a morbidly barbaric and profanely undemocratic, unethical duck.

So, struggling around the acres of pomposity I find one place where Prof Joe might be making some money. You can call him to seek his wisdom, after pre-booking an hour’s slot (and handing over your credit card) for a mere 300 Euros. Alternatively, you can pay by the minute on the contact line for a trifling $10 per minute.

Its going to cost you $20 just for Joe to say Hello and to read out his numerous titles, qualifications and names. Not bad ‘ethical’ work.

Ethical Quackery, the Monarchy and Kate Moss
Thursday, October 12, 2006
No, this is not about our Defender of Quackery, our Quack-in-Chief His Royal Quackiness, Prince Charles, but about the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi. And yes, it is just a rather lame story written solely to get a picture of Kate on my blog.

I’ve written a rather lazy blog on the distinguished professor before that was just a bit of a gawp at his quacktastic website and what looks like a health phone-line scam.

Well, I’ve done a little more digging with Google and it has revealed a few quack gems. It has been pretty hard work, since Google returns some 6,000 pages, the vast majority just appears to be Prof Obi’s self-promotion. However, if you persist in digging a few interesting facts turn up.

So, what has the little black duck found out about the “most Controversial Retired Physician and ‘A-List’ Medical Celebrity, Dr Joseph Chikelue Obi”?

Here we go…

1. The Irish Independent reports that his college does not exist at the Dublin address given on the web site. There’s a surprise! It’s just a front.

2. The Independent goes on. “In January 2003, he was suspended by for serious professional misconduct at South Tyneside District Hospital. Among the allegations made were that he failed to attend to patients, wrote strange notes about colleagues and at one point gave a dating agency phone number to a psychiatric patient.”

3. He was being investigated by the police for taking thousands of pounds of a 58 year old woman to in order to cure a long standing illness.

4. The GMC strike Dr Obi off their register for “serious professional misconduct”. So much for him being retired.

5. On another tack, Dr Obi has been involved in a little cyber-squatting. This looks as if it took place while he was a doctor – always after a few quid!

6. Since then, now self-titled Prof Obi, a few new avenues have been opened, including trying to entice Kate Moss away to one of his ’safe-houses’ in Ireland. Hat’s off!

He is quoted as saying:

“Under the European Convention on Human Rights, Miss Moss still has fundamental rights, just like anyone else out there, and as far as I am concerned, she is not guilty of anything until an Ethical Jury says so.”

(I mentioned before that ‘ethical’ was one of his favourite words.)

7. Prof Obi has been developing a Penis Enlarger (watch out Kate) that his own Royal College has now endorsed.

8. At least one person (out of the targeted million) has paid Prof Obi the fees for his college to accredit them. Dr Michael Keet (8 Canards) of the Central London College of Reflexology handed over ‘hundreds’. Do we feel sorry for out-quacked quacks? I guess we ought to.

9. For those of you wanting to see behind the grand titles and see the real human being, Joseph lists his interests as Comedy in London, Whole Food Nutrition and Christian Music. On this ‘Meetup’ site, he describes himself as “Just a very ordinary guy . . .”. That’s nice.

10. His name appears very often on the blog Abolish The General Medical Council (GMC), often reporting something he has got up to. The blog describes itself as:

An ethical blog for those who publicly feel that the General Medical Council (GMC) should be Statutorily Abolished in favour of a Medical Licensing Commission (MLC) to solely register and revalidate Doctors who practise Conventional Medicine in the UK. The Blog also recommends that the GMC/MLC hands all disciplinary functions over to an Independent Clinical Tribunal (ICT) in keeping with the EU Convention on Human Rights ; to avoid (both) Institutional Bias and Multiple Jeopardy.

Oooh. There is that word ‘ethical’ again. And ‘European Human Rights’. No name is given for the blog author but the avatar is a portrait of the queen. Another apparent obsession of Prof Obi – royalty. Could the author be none other than the Professor himself, a little agrieved for his ticking off? I hope you all click through to the blog. Maybe we will show up in his stats and whoever the writer is can get in contact and confirm one way or another.

I rather hope it is, as the final thing I turned up would just be fantastic…

11. Is the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Obi now selling ethical ring-tones? I do hope so.

Watch out Crazy Frog! Here comes the Crazy Provost…

For completeness I am posting here an extract from the North East News, Evening Chronicle article linked to above.
In the article dated 21st April 2004 it states:

Long list of titles
Dr Obi uses a number of medical and professional titles online and claims membership of a long list of organisations.
These include FRCAM (Dublin), FRIPH (UK) FACAM (USA) and provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine (RCAM Dublin).
The Royal College of Alternative Medicine appears to be little more than a website. It is listed as a company at Companies Registration Office in Dublin but the phone number given is not in use. Fellowship of the RCA is available to buy from the site.
Dr Obi, originally from Nigeria, does not say where he did his doctorate in science (DSc) or when he joined the Royal Institute of Public Health (RIPH). No one was able to confirm whether or not Dr Obi was a member of the RIPH when the Chronicle contacted it.
Dr Obi says he is a member of the Institute of Clinical Research (ICR), a training body based in Maidenhead that sells membership online for £50.
He also says he is a member of the International Stress Management Association, which also sells membership online from as little as £30.
Dr Obi also claims to be a member of the World Medical Association (WMA), which sells annual membership via its website for 37 euros.
Events that led to failed career
August 2000 – Starts work as a senior house officer in the department of psychiatry at South Tyneside District Hospital.
January 2001 – Leaves following a complaint.
September 2002 – Registration suspended by the GMC for 18 months for reasons
surrounding his “fitness to practise” and “for the protection of the public”.
January 2003 – Dr Obi is found guilty of serious professional misconduct by a GMC hearing which he does not attend.
Obi is said to have made offensive and insensitive comments to psychiatric patients and failed to respond to his pager.
In a previous job in Harrogate it was alleged he failed to conduct an outpatient clinic and failed to properly treat a patient with a heart attack.
And in Pontefract he is said to have described a colleague as a “stupid cow”, spent an excessive time on a computer, and called a surgeon a liar.
August 2003 -Dr Obi launches a campaign to get elected to the North East Assembly, even though no referendum has been held. He describes himself as “North East Assembly Aspirant – Independent (non-aligned)”.
August 2004 -Dr Obi refused to speak to the Chronicle. His campaign website is closed down after he posted defamatory statements there.

A subsequent article entitled Shamed doctor quizzed was published on 15th September 2004.

It’s a pity the Quackometer’s web host, Netcetera, can’t be bothered to read about Mr Obi’s disreputable past.

On 24th August 2004, the Evening Chronicle had this to say about Mr Obi:

Avoid at all costs

Sacked for serious professional misconduct and his registration suspended by the GMC, Joseph Chikelue Obi is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the best man to be trusted with your health.

Yet the disgraced former health employee is free to peddle his dubious services on the internet.

Despite being booted out of his job at South Tyneside General Hospital, the shamed health worker is currently touting for business on the worldwide web.

And he’s doing very well out of it, thank you very much.

One desperate woman, unaware of his past, has handed over £3,500… and, not surprisingly, is now feeling even worse than ever.

Operating under the grand title of Professor Obi, it appears he is breaking no law and is free to sell health advice to anyone willing to part with their hard-earned cash.

He may be untouchable in the eyes of the law but morally he is surely operating on shaky ground. Is a disgraced hospital worker really the best person to be dishing out health advice?

If you’re thinking of taking up Mr Obi’s advice, we would advise you to read our story first. It may save you some money.

See also Banned Doctor Claims to Head College that Does Not Exist, and more ways to make money (£31/minute for downloading an MP3? That’s – odd).

Thanks to PV from whom I copied most of this. Pass it on!.

AGAIN, NEARLY ALL OF THE ABOVE IS COPY & PASTE. I did not write it. I just don’t like legal bullying taking over from rational argument.