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Irlen Syndrome

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
– George Santayana

Science-based medicine is more than a set of methods or certain philosophy of medicine – it is an entire approach to what should be the core questions for any interventionist profession: is it real and does it work?

These are often deceptively difficult questions to answer. Fortunately we have at least a century of experience applying systematic methods to answering these questions within the context of medicine. This is a wealth of history from which to learn, full of cautionary tales and enlightening examples.

However, as Winston Churchill lamented, we tend to forget the lessons of the past leading to, “…the most thoughtless of ages. Every day headlines and short views.”

Part of the mission of science-based medicine (and skepticism in general) is to remember the lessons of the past as they relate to science and pseudoscience, and to constantly remind the public and our colleagues of these lessons.

The history of medicine is littered with ideas that did not pan out, worthless treatments, non-existent diseases, and frequent error. That is unavoidable, and acceptable as long as we constantly strive to correct and minimize those errors.

The primary lesson of the history of medicine is that new ideas need to go through a rigorous process of evaluation before they should be generally accepted and implemented. We are constantly examining and refining those rigorous methods. They include careful evaluation of possible mechanisms and overall scientific plausibility, coupled with clinical evidence designed to eliminate all forms of bias and illusion.

The alternative is to be overwhelmed by bias and illusion, which tends to lead us to false positives – confirmation of our cherished guesses, and even to entire systems of medicine based on fairy tales and imagination.

Many of these medical treatments or systems, after being discarded by science because they failed in rigorous evaluation, continue on as scientific zombies – unkillable, immune to evidence and reason, going through the motions of life without actually being alive.

Irlen syndrome

In my opinion, Irlen syndrome is one such scientific zombie. The idea was created in the early 1980s by Helen Irlen, a therapist. Some people also give credit for co-developing the idea to New Zealander Olive Meares, a teacher. As described on Irlen.com:

The Irlen Method has been used for over 25 years to identify and help people with a type of processing problem called Irlen Syndrome, formerly known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS). Irlen Syndrome is not an optical problem. It is a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information. This problem tends to run in families and is not currently identified by other standardized educational or medical tests.

The notion is that the brain in some people with learning disabilities and other related problems has difficulty processing visual information, causing eye strain, mental fatigue, and poor performance on visual tasks, such as reading. This difficulty, however, is worse with certain frequencies of light, and if they can be filtered out with colored lenses the brain would have an easier time processing visual information, relieving symptoms.

It’s a bit of a far-fetched idea, but not a priori impossible. It does sound like the kind of overly simplistic idea a non-neuroscientist would think of. Regardless, sometimes naive guesses turn out to be correct, or at least contain a kernel of truth. We have had 25 years to test this idea scientifically – how has it fared?

Not very well, as you may have guessed. Reading through the literature, by 1990 the scientific community went from skeptical to outright rejection of Irlen syndrome. It never crossed the threshold of proving that it exists as a distinct entity. In medicine this can be tricky, as different diseases and disorders can overlap in their signs and symptoms. It is also easy to mistake many different disorders for one far-reaching disorder (which appears to be the case here).

The question is – is there anything unique to what is alleged to be Irlen syndrome? Does the concept add anything to our understanding of patients and how to treat them? Are there specific findings or tests that predict something about how a patient will respond to a treatment or the natural history of their illness? Without a specific feature, test result, or predictive value, it is likely that the alleged syndrome is an illusion rather than a genuine pathophysiological entity.

A 1990 critique concludes:

Furthermore, in the absence of any evidence that it is a separate and distinct entity, it appears that the scotopic sensitivity syndrome is, in fact, a symptom complex which results primarily from various refractive, binocular, and accommodative disorders. Some of the papers which support Irlen’s hypotheses provide reason to believe that there is a strong placebo effect.

Existing known eye disorders (listed above) explain the findings in patients diagnosed with Irlen syndrome. Further, when treated for these known eye conditions with established therapies, the patients improved and the findings used to diagnose Irlen syndrome resolved.

A 1991 review was not kind to the proponents:

Research on this is reviewed, and is also shown to have procedural irregularities which preclude firm conclusions. Owing to the poor quality of much of this research the claims of the protagonists of these therapies cannot be proved or disproved. A proposed new therapy is normally preceded by a valid theoretical hypothesis; this has been lacking in the present topic.

Another 1990 review focusing on treatments concluded:

Recent experimental evaluations of the lenses do not support the use of the lenses as a useful intervention for children with reading disabilities.

So – the syndrome does not appear to exist, the research is shoddy, and the specific treatments (colored lenses) do not appear to work. In a science-based world Irlen syndrome would have been pronounced dead in the early 1990s. The other possibility is that Irlen syndrome exists but the research was just inadequate, in which case the proper response would have been to do large rigorous trials to settle the question once and for all. We can jump ahead a decade to a 2002 review:

However, very little objective evidence has been provided to support anecdotal reports of improvements in visual performance. Many studies are flawed in that they lack controls for investigator bias, and placebo, learning and fatigue effects. Therefore, the use of tinted lenses in low vision remains controversial and eye care practitioners will have to continue to rely on anecdotal evidence to assist them in their prescribing decisions.

The research largely dries up there, except for some small physiological studies that I find unconvincing. One efficacy trial appears in PubMed after the 2002 review, a 2011 study:

RESULTS:
The Irlen diagnostician diagnosed Irlen syndrome in 77% of our poor readers. We found no evidence for any immediate benefit of Irlen colored overlays as measured by the reading-rate test or the global reading measure.
CONCLUSIONS:
Our data suggest that Irlen colored overlays do not have any demonstrable immediate effect on reading in children with reading difficulties.

Conclusion

Irlen syndrome is yet another example of a medical diagnosis and treatment that was promoted prior to adequate scientific evidence to establish that it is real, and treatments based upon the diagnosis are effective. A quarter of a century later evidence is still lacking, and what evidence we do have that is reasonably rigorous is negative.

The most parsimonious interpretation is that Irlen syndrome is not real. The label is being applied to a heterogeneous group of patient who have many other conditions. Colored lens therapy does not appear to work.

In my opinion, given that this is the status of Irlen syndrome after 25 years it is unethical to continue to promote and offer this as a treatment. The burden rests heavily on proponents to conduct large rigorous studies if they wish to persist in their claims, and then to abide by the results of those studies.

Otherwise Irlen syndrome (by its various names) will continue to exist as a medical zombie, alongside homeopathy, psychomotor patterning, acupuncture, subluxation theory, and other unkillable nonsense.

Posted in: Science and Medicine

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330 thoughts on “Irlen Syndrome

  1. windriven says:

    “[D]iscarded by science because they failed in rigorous evaluation, continue on as scientific zombies – unkillable, immune to evidence and reason,”

    Nice turn of phrase that captures the essence of sCAM.

    So if Irlen is just another example of the sCAM paradigm, what drives its proponents in the face of an abundance of evidence that it doesn’t exist? One presumes that confirmation bias lies at the heart of this. But we’ve all seen one or another of our pet theories evaporate in a puff of facts. Is the inability to accept scientific reality pathological or educational? I’ve long held that it is educational but if so, how does one explain the relative frequency of scientific denialism among putatively well educated people?

    1. Good question. I think it’s a false dichotomy to say – educational or pathological. It’s both (I would perhaps use personality instead of pathology) to varying degrees in different people.

      They justify their belief with anecdotal evidence. They lack appreciation for the deceptive nature of anecdotes, confirmation bias, etc. So they cherry pick positive studies or explain away the research by focusing on deficiencies while touting anecdotes. They just can’t imagine that their anecdotes are misleading.

      At worst they descend into frank conspiracy theories.

      1. windriven says:

        I used the word pathology intentionally because I’ve begun to wonder whether there is something fundamentally mis-wired in a brain that cannot grasp evidence. But on reflection personality is probably a better descriptor that aptly captures the difference between can’t and won’t.

    2. calliarcale says:

      It’s been said that man is not a rational animal, but a rationalizing one. Educated people are no more immune to logical error than anyone else. They’re just better equipped to spackle over the deficiencies in their argument with rationalizations. More skilled at finding justifications. This doesn’t mean they’re better at realizing when they’ve got things totally backwards.

      I personally doubt that there’s any pathology to this. I think it’s actually quite normal, and a consequence of our brain’s amazing power to learn and make generalizations. We take it for granted all the time, as a thousand optical illusions demonstrate; it shouldn’t be surprising that a lot of times, we overestimate its ability to tell us when we’re barking up the wrong tree.

      Pride, of course, has a lot to do with this too. Nobody likes being wrong, and educated people even more so since they’ve got a long experience of getting graded on their intellectual performance. Hence, when they are confronted with increasing amounts of evidence that they may be wrong, they become increasingly stubborn in insisting that they are right and finding increasingly creative justifications for their belief.

      1. mousethatroared says:

        Thumbs up on this explanations!

        1. calliarcale says:

          *blushes* Thanks! It’s stuff I’ve heard said before, but I’ve come to see the truth in it.

  2. I’m glad you’ve tackled this topic. A colleague recently contacted me to ask about student who was having difficulties with his course. The university Disability Services office had told the student he had Irlen syndrome, and recommend placing a coloured overlay over text when reading to decrease symptoms of visual stress. I was surprised as I thought Irlen syndrome had been debunked years ago, so I did a bit of Googling to find out how far this diagnosis was still being made. I found it featured on several University Disability Services websites, and was also being quite widely identified by opticians in the UK.
    If you Google ‘Irlen syndrome’ you will find a host of websites devoted to the topic, including those of the Irlen centres, which offer a downloadable checklist that you can complete to see if you have symptoms suggestive of the syndrome. These include a host of difficulties in different domains. The problem is that these are mostly vague, unquantified, and subjective and there has never, to my knowledge, been a study showing that they cluster together to form a coherent syndrome. I have migraines and I’m not too good at parking, and so on this checklist I would be identified as at risk and invited for further assessment. I guess this is one way the syndrome fails to die: by being defined in such as vague and all-inclusive way that there will be a steady stream of people convinced they have it.

    1. stuastro says:

      And then a different group of people with the same or similar set of “symptoms” will go and diagnose themselves with another non-existent “illness” and another group will self diagnose with yet another non-existent illness.
      I believe (oh how I dislike that word) that the more something is said, the “more true” it becomes.

  3. Clay Jones says:

    A few months ago there was an article in my local paper about the use of colored lenses to treat dyslexia at a Baton Rouge school. It of course featured a teary eyed mother and amazing testimonials from teachers. The gave the students a passage to read then gave them the same passage to read again with the special lenses in place. They of course improved.

  4. Travis says:

    My understanding is that looking through colored lenses can be very helpful for some dyslexics with reading (some googling seems to confirm this).

    This provides a straightforward explanation: this is a useful intervention for some people with dyslexia, but does not represent any kind of separate disorder or syndrome. Thoughts?

    (Also the comment form seems to be unusable in Firefox – everything below ‘Fill in your details below . . .’ is cut off; I had to come back with Chrome. Might want to check on that.)

    1. brewandferment says:

      Transparent yellow tinted plastic can be really helpful in reading old microfilm/fiche of historical documents. But that can be trivially analyzed and explained due purely to physics. Doesn’t need to imply anything more significant. So undoubtedly there would be other colors that would have different effects while using them–just as various camera filters (i.e. polarizing) produce assorted effects temporarily while in use.

  5. Travis says:

    Note: I tracked down the 2011 article, and they do indeed mention dyslexia specifically as being highly likely in their sample group due to the conditions of selection.

    I initially found the basic idea credible due to an anecdote from a college professor years ago about a dyslexic student, but this study strongly suggests this effect, if it exists, is at best too rare and individual to be of much general use.

    1. windriven says:

      Preferentially stimulating cone cells at given wavelengths has at least a fig leaf of plausibility but why then haven’t positive results emerged from testing?

  6. Felisa Weiss says:

    Ummm… I’m a Special Ed teacher & therapist & have used specific translucent gels & different colored paper & pens as “window” outliners that isolate words and sentences. Some children benefit greatly from these methods & others HATE using these techniques. Interestingly enough, my students are very polarized & opinionated on what works for them. The challenge with ‘proving’ methods (and I’m using the word method rather than disorder intentionally) such as Irlen is that empirical research hasn’t been done… we special education teachers, occupational therapists & clinical therapists are more focused on working directly with children rather than focusing on research & scientific study (which is a plus & negative)

    As someone who has multiple learning disabilities & neurological disorders, I can explain what works for me. I have several visual disorders: strabismus, astigmatism & left eye is near sighted & right eye is far sighted. When I was a child (18 months to 22 yrs old), my developmental neuro-opthomologist explained that my specific conditions are congenital & neurological. Even with visual therapy & shortening my eye muscles through surgery, I can’t change my occipital lobe. So, my eyes still turn in (esp. When tired)– in particular on my weaker side (I had perinatal insult to my right parietal lobe). All of the above causes me to have no depth perception & poor visual-spatial skills. To explain this in simplistic layman’s terms, this means I have difficulty changing lanes, parallel parking, get lost easily, following directions, tracking while reading, writing legibly, among other things.

    Another challenge I have is that I’m disabled by severe migraines, partial seizures & hypersensitivity to stimuli. Triggers include fluorescent lights, glare, very high contrast, geometric patterns, optical illusions (I hate those ‘magic eye’ art– I can’t see the image & it gives me headaches), not to mention other sensitivities. Certain typefaces, especially ones that are thick letters that are close together, especially on small Mass Paperbacks, tend to ‘jump’ & move. It makes it hard to track & read for long periods. I have a hard time copying from a board (I’m often doing this when I am transcribing for a student).

    Colored gels don’t address my challenges completely (& not all my students can tolerate this). Since my occipital lobe & nervous system can’t tolerate short waves in light (& high frequency in sound waves & vibrations), fluorescent lights makes me home bound for the most part. Unfortunately, most schools have fluorescent strips (& let them flicker & ring as money makes them change the lights infrequently); ADA doesn’t support me as changing lights would cause ‘undue hardship’ financially.

    Recently, several optical companies have developed lenses that filter short ultraviolet waves. Sunglasses aren’t totally helpful, as it causes pupils to dilate & if or was to wear them very often, it makes the eyes extra sensitive–opthomologists advise against this practice. So, even though I was skeptical, I sent my prescription (I wear bifocals & have an unusual script)& frames into the company.

    Fortunately, I have found that these lenses help me a lot in comparison to my other glasses w/o the filter. And I’m not talking about the placebo affect (I’ve tried to compare this to sunglasses). Granted, this isn’t Irlen, but it is based on light waves as well.

    I understand your skepticism. However, I question where you get your theories. What are your credentials? Are you an occupational therapist, special education teacher, neurologist, opthomologist or a clinician in a related field?

    Also, just because you haven’t done your research & have your doubts, please don’t equate this with conspiracy theories & pseudo-science.

    Thanks.

    1. windriven says:

      ” I question where you get your theories. What are your credentials? Are you an occupational therapist, special education teacher, neurologist, opthomologist or a clinician in a related field?”

      Dr. Novella is an MD neurologist and Assistant Professor at Yale School of Medicine. I think he clears the bar for credible commentary on this subject.

  7. windriven says:

    “Educated people are no more immune to logical error than anyone else. They’re just better equipped to spackle over the deficiencies in their argument with rationalizations. More skilled at finding justifications. This doesn’t mean they’re better at realizing when they’ve got things totally backwards.”

    I would think that the educated mind is more adept at recognizing logical fallacies and compensating for them rather than spackling over them. But reality proves me wrong, doesn’t it?

    “Pride, of course, has a lot to do with this too. Nobody likes being wrong, ”

    Just so. I’ve been called arrogant more times than I can count. Luckily, my arrogance has been leavened by the exigencies of entrepreneurship. When I’m considering a new product the first thing I do is get everyone together and have them shoot holes in the idea. A product idea that dies on the conference table is a lot cheaper than one that dies in the marketplace.

    I guess the point is that the quality of one’s reasoning may have something to do with how much skin they have in the game. If I were, say, a chiropractor how much incentive would I have to recognize that chiropractic is smoke and mirrors?

    1. calliarcale says:

      “I would think that the educated mind is more adept at recognizing logical fallacies and compensating for them rather than spackling over them.”

      I think the error you’re making is in assuming that educated people can reasonably be expected to have a solid grounding in logic and critical thinking. Yet this is not on any mandatory curriculum anywhere. You can get a great many advanced degrees, even in the sciences I’m sad to say, without ever learning about “regression to the mean” or “confirmation bias” or “ad hominem” (which many well-educated people falsely believe to mean “insult”, leaving them to totally fail to notice when someone is substituting a character attack for an actual argument, merely because it has been expressed politely).

      And even then, you have to remember that knowing about the foibles of the human mind is only part of the battle of critical thinking. It goes against the grain to doubt oneself. Being educated doesn’t change that. But it does provide new material for erecting defensive barriers against self-doubt. Very good, strong material, in fact, because educated people are used to having to ignore their doubts, to be confident, and have been praised for doing so. Though they should know their weaknesses better than the uneducated man, in practice, this often only gives them a false sense of security that they are too smart to fall prey to them.

  8. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    Frustratingly, it’s the well-educated people who seem to be able to erect endless defensive barriers and excuses in the face of the repeated failure of their pet theory to stand up to normal objective scrutiny.

    If the conviction that sugar pills are magic has been established as an unassailable fact in the mind if the believer literally everything else just has to get sufficiently bent to fit with it.

  9. Felisa Weiss says:

    Dorothy,

    I have a number of resources that would benefit people with Migraine Disorder & for those who have visual-spatial challenges. Irlen lenses & gels don’t necessarily address the needs for those with the above difficulties. There other supports that my students, clients & I have used that have markedly helped us. I can’t guarantee that what works for me will work for you as everyone’s neurological systems are different.

    Do you have a migraine specialist or neurologist that is educated in Migraine Disorders? PCPs & general neurologists are not trained to diagnose & treat moderate to severe disorders. Also, self-medicating is not addressing the root of the problem & could potentially be unsafe.

    Have you had a neuropsych evaluation? If your challenges are disruptive to your life & you have a neurologist, psychiatrist or therapist, you can as your practionares if it would be beneficial to get one.

    Can the moderator let me know if it’s ok to post links or suggestions (they are slightly off topic, but there are methods & people in field that provide for people w/related conditions)?

    —————-
    As for reading disabilities:

    There used to be the assumption that there was one type of reading disability/ dyslexia.
    Now, Special education teachers are aware there are different types Language-Based Learning Disabilities. Some of my students primarily have auditory processing issues. Short vowels & certain constenents can be confused for each other. We call it ‘challenges with look-alikes & sound-alikes’. Shaping sounds with their lips & tongue can be difficult (whether motor:dysphasia OR expressive language disabilities) and/or receptive language disabilities (hearing). In the this case, Irlen intervention would be a waste of time & the students would benefit more from special education teachers (w/specific training), occupational therapy & speech therapy.

    However, there is atypical dyslexia. Letter reversal can be an early sign in beginner readers & writers. Despite common misconception, most children w/dyslexia don’t write & read letters backwards after second-grade reading level. There can be tracking difficulties, eye fatigue, rubbing of the eyes, putting head close to paper, leaning torso on the desk, headaches, difficulty concentrating, tendency to fall asleep while reading, oppositional behavior during reading & writing, distractibiity, off-task behavior (drawing on reading material, surfing the Internet, talking to friends, wandering around room & frequent bathroom visits) & low frustration level. The positives of this type of reading disability is that these type of learners to be very verbal & creative & can benefit from multiple strategies, including Irlen treatment & visual support such as colored gels, different colored paper/print & diffuse lighting.

    Again, these are just a few examples of how intervention isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’.

  10. Felisa Weiss says:

    So, “Windriven”, thanks for correcting my neuro-opthomologist, Migraine Specialist & neurologists over the years. You must have so much more knowledge & experience.

    I guess they are all quacks. Also, my training & work as a special education teacher must be a bunch of bunk.

    I really appreciate that some aspects of Irlen techniques (remember, I’m not saying that Irlen Syndrome exists) are on the level of Flying Spaghetti Monsters, jackalopes & Scientology. ;-)

    1. windriven says:

      ???

      I corrected exactly what?

      You asked what Novella’s credentials are. I answered.

      I don’t explicitly discount your neuro-ophthalmologist or your migraine specialist. But I don’t know them, their backgrounds, or their approaches. Dr. Novella has a long and consistent record of fact-based analysis of medical topics and he has particular expertise in neurology. If you have compelling evidence that this analysis is flawed I’m sure everyone here would give you their rapt attention.

      All that out of the way, I specifically noted in another comment that the idea that preferential stimulation of cone cells with particular wavelengths offers a plausible starting point for research.

      So save your sarcasm for a time when I’ve earned it. Those times come around often enough.

  11. edpsychphd52276 says:

    Reading this article and the comments that follow is both disheartening and frustrating. As a highly educated person (I have an Ivy League education and a PhD to my name), I think it is irreprehensible for educated people to pass judgement and make decisions without reading the research for themselves. Don’t just read a summary of the research done by some biased third-party, but read the actual articles. There are more than 60 scientific journal articles about Irlen Syndrome and Colored Filters published in peer-reviewed academic journals all over the world that report positive results. Research conducted in the last 10 years includes double-blind, placebo-controlled experiments, advanced brain mapping technology, and long-term follow-up studies – all with positive results. Irlen Syndrome and the Irlen Method is still around 35 years later because it is real and it does work. If you really want the facts, read the research:

    Loew, S.J., & Watson, K. (2012). A prospective genetic marker of the visual perception disorder Meares–Irlen syndrome. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 114(3), 870-882.

    Robinson, G.L., Foreman, P.J., & Dear, K.G.B. (2000). The familial incidence of symptoms of Scotopic sensitivity/Irlen syndrome: comparison of referred and mass-screened groups. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 91, 707-724.

    Robinson, G.L., Foreman, P.J., Dear, K.G.B., and Sparkes, D. (2004). The Family Incidence of a Visual-Perceptual Subtype of Dyslexia. Nova Science Publishers, 27-40.

    Robinson, G.L., Roberts, T.K., McGregor, N.R., Dunstan, R.H., & Butt, H. (1999). Understanding the causal mechanisms of visual processing problems: a possible biochemical basis for Irlen Syndrome? Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 4(4), 21-29.

    Robinson, G.L., McGregor, N.R., Roberts, T.K., Dunstan, R.H., & Butt, H. (2001). A biochemical analysis of people with chronic fatigue who have Irlen syndrome: speculation concerning immune system dysfunction. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 93, 486-504.

    Sparks, D.L., Robinson, G.L., Dunstan, H., & Roberts, T.K. (2003). Plasma cholesterol levels and Irlen Syndrome: preliminary study of 10- to 17-yr., old students. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 97, 745-752.

    Chouinard, B.D., Zhou, C.l., Hrybousky, S., Kim, E.S., Commine, J. (2012). A functional neuroimaging case study of Meares-Irlen syndrome/visual stress (MISViS). Brain Topography, 25(3):293-307.

    Huang, J., Zong, X., Wilkins, A., Jenkins, B., Bozoki, A., Cao, Y. (2011). fMRI evidence that precision opthalmic tints reduce cortical hyperactivation in migraine. Cephalagia, 31(8):925-36.

    Lewine, J.D., Davis, J., Provencal, S., Edgar, J., Orrison, W. (1997). A magnetoencephalographic investigation of visual information processing in Irlen’s Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome. Conducted at The Center for Advanced Medical Technologies, The University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Department of Psychology, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    Riddell, P.M., Wilkins, A., Hainline, L. (2006). The effect of colored lenses on the visual evoked response in children with visual stress. Optom Vis Sci, 83(5), 299-305.

    Yellen, A. & Schweller, T. (2009). The Yellen-Schweller Effect: Visual Evoked Responses and Irlen Syndrome. http://www.yellenandassociates.com/pdf/Yellen_Schweller_Effect.pdf

    Bouldoukian, J., Wilkins, A.J., & Evans, B.J.W. (2002). Randomised controlled trial of the effect of coloured overlays on the rate of reading of people with specific learning difficulties. Ophthalmological and Physiological Optics, 22, 55-60.

    Noble, J., Orton, M., Irlen, S., Robinson, G. (2004). A controlled field study of the use of colored overlays on reading achievement. Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 9, 14-22.

    Park, S.H., Kim, S., Cho, Y.A., Joo, C. (2012). The Effect of Colored Filters in Patients with Meares-Irlen Syndrome. J Korean Ophthalmol Soc., 53(3):452-459. Korean. Published online 2012 March 15. http://dx.doi.org/10.3341/jkos.2012.53.3.452

    Robinson, G.L., & Foreman, P.J. (1999). Scotopic sensitivity/Irlen syndrome and the use of colored filters: A long-term placebo controlled study of reading strategies using analysis of miscue. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 88, 35-52.

    Robinson, G. L., & Foreman, P. J. (1999). Scotopic sensitivity/Irlen syndrome and the use of colored filters: A long-term placebo controlled and masked study of reading achievement and perception of ability. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 89(1), 83-113.

    Tyrrell, R., Holland, K., Dennis, D., & Wilkins, A. (1995). Coloured overlays, visual discomfort, visual search and classroom reading. Research in Reading, 18, 10-23.

    Williams, M.C., LeCluyse, K., & Rock Faucheux, A. (1992). Effective interventions for reading disability. Journal of the American Optometric Association, 63, 411-417.

    Wilkins, A.J., Evans, B.J.W., Brown, J.A., Busby, A.E., Wingfield, A.E., Jeanes, R.J., & Bald, J. (1994). Double-masked placebo-controlled trial of precision spectral filters in children who use colored overlays. Ophthalmological & Physiological Optics, 14, 365-370.

    Barbolini, G., Lazzerini, A., Pini, L.A., Steiner, F., Del Vecchio, G., Migaldi, M., Cavalllini, G.M. (2009). Malfunctioning cones and remedial tinted filters. Ophta, 2(209), 101-105.

    Chronicle, E.P., & Wilkins, A.J. (1991) Colour and visual discomfort in migraineurs. The Lancet, 338, 890.

    Wilkins, A., & Wilkinson, P. (1991). A tint to reduce eye strain from fluorescent lighting: Preliminary observations. Ophthalmological and Physiological Optics, 11, 172-175.

    Irlen, H., & Robinson, G.L. (1996). The effect of Irlen coloured filters on adult perception of workplace performance: a preliminary survey. Australian Journal of Remedial Education, 1, 7-17.

    Robinson, G.L., & Conway, R.N.F. (1994). Irlen filters and reading strategies: effect of coloured filters on reading achievement, specific reading strategies and perception of ability. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 79, 467-483.

    Robinson, G.L., & Conway, R.N.F. (2000). Irlen lenses and adults: a small scale study of reading speed, accuracy, comprehension and self-image. Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 5, 4-13.

    Whiting, P., & Robinson, G.L. (1988). Using Irlen coloured lenses for reading: A clinical study. Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 5, 7-10.

    Whiting, P., Robinson, G.L., & Parrot, C.F. (1994). Irlen colored filters for reading: a six year follow up. Australian Journal of Remedial Education, 26, 13-19.

    1. windriven says:

      “As a highly educated person (I have an Ivy League education and a PhD to my name), I think it is irreprehensible for educated people to pass judgement and make decisions without reading the research for themselves.”

      Not to be a prick or anything but I would have thought that the Ivies would have taught you that irreprehensible is not a word and that if it were it would mean pretty much the opposite of what you intended. I dunno. Maybe that gets lost in the leap from educated to highly educated.

      That said, it is a lengthy list that you’ve given us. The only publication that I personally recognize is Lancet. I’ll check that out if the paywall isn’t extreme. But look, sending us a shopping list isn’t all that helpful. If you have evidence that Irlen is real and that rose (or some other) colored glasses are useful in its treatment, Lay out your argument and back it up with specific references to a few of these.

      Finally, I take exception to your characterization of Novella as biased.

      “Don’t just read a summary of the research done by some biased third-party,”

      Many of us use this site because we have found over time the bloggers here to be reliable. They are frequently attacked as biased, paid off, and so forth and we watch the back and forth. So far, and speaking only for myself, I don’t always buy everything I read but I’ve not found a reason to find them biased in any factual sense. On the other hand I don’t know you from Adam’s house cat and excepting Lancet I don’t know if the publications you cited exercise meaningful peer review or are just happy to have submissions to fill out the covers.

      So help us out if you have something to offer.

      1. Open Mind says:

        So you don’t recognise all those well known journals, meaning your experience and knowledge base in the field is minimal, yet you support a neurologist who I’ll wager hasn’t read any of those journals either.

        Some practitoners (neurologist or otherwise) are only capable of giving opinions based purely on a medical model of vision and learning. That (quite naturally) biased opinion shouldn’t be confused with an “expert” opinion. Narrow mind and all that…

        1. windriven says:

          “So you don’t recognise all those well known journals,”

          By and large they are not well known or in any sense high impact. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

          “meaning your experience and knowledge base in the field is minimal”

          I believe I’ve said that elsewhere in this thread. If not, I’m saying it now. Minimal. But not nonexistent.

          “yet you support a neurologist who I’ll wager hasn’t read any of those journals either.”

          Absolutely, and that support is based on having followed his work in these pages for several years. I do not always agree with every conclusion that I read here but I always leave better informed than when I arrived. And I can’t recall ever having found a substantial factual error. That’s quite a record.

          “Some practitoners (neurologist or otherwise) are only capable of giving opinions based purely on a medical model of vision and learning.”

          Scroll up to the top of the page, dufus. The title of this blog is Science Based Medicine.

          “That (quite naturally) biased opinion shouldn’t be confused with an “expert” opinion. Narrow mind and all that…”

          Sorry but here you identify yourself as a moron. An open mind is not an unfiltered mind. That is the difference between erudition and ignorant gibberish. The scientific method is a well-proved filter that separates what is from what seems to be. You might try it some time.

          1. Open Mind says:

            Ah, the typical abuse forthcoming from a simple mind. One has to laugh when an educated man manifests such simplicity of thinking. I am sorry you are unable to think outside the square and seem happy to maintain opinions based on what you are told by others- that is a common fault of many. Many practitioners hide their narrow (pig-) mindedness behind a facade of “scientific proof” which they only demand of ideas foreign to their own preconception. Unfortunately this leads only to substandard patient management!

          2. Open Mind says:

            Incidentally, as someone once said…………“In science it is just as serious an error to ignore real but unpredictable data as it is to accept false data as true”.

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            First, welcome.

            Second, could you change your handle? I can only buy so many new keyboards.

            Third, windriven did include several factual points before calling you a doufus and a moron – the journals are low-impact, his experience is that Dr. Novella researches well and includes few factual errors in his posts, the blog is explicitly based on a scientific paradigm, and “open minded” is not synonymous with “I believe everything someone tells me”.

            Fourth, you criticize him for degenerating into ad hominem by…insulting him. That’s an…interesting approach. One could even label it “hypocritical”.

            Fifth, Irlen Syndrome is extremely simple in that it’s a “one solution to many problems”. This is often a sign of pseudoscience, as is reluctance to change, reliance on anecdotes and failure to respond to criticism. All of these seem to be present in fact.

            Sixth, if the alleged cures of Irlen syndrome are as effective as portrayed – shouldn’t it be easy to demonstrate this in controlled trials? Why is it that these results are not forthcoming?

            Seventh, “real but unpredictable data” isn’t “real”; the essence of science is replicability under controlled conditions. If you can’t repeat results, then you don’t understand the problem. It’s possible that you are on the right track but doing something wrong – or it’s possible you’re just wrong. After a certain point, you simply have to give up.

            1. Open Mind says:

              With all due respect Mr Utridge,
              Your reputation proceeds you, making it difficult to take any of your comments seriously
              Homeopathy anyone

          4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Sorry, I don’t remember you. I deal with so many people dogmatically insisting on nonsense, I lose track rather easily. Perhaps if you stuck around and engaged on matters of substance rather than dropping in a comment then leaving, you might make an impression. Right now you are just part of the background blur of comments by SCAM promoters who show up, repeat the same credulous lines they have been fed by their naturopath, or homeopath, or whoever, then leave. It’s always funny to me that they are so skeptical about medicine, but will believe whatever a homeopath tells them during an appointment they have to pay for out of pocket.

            But anyhow what you are saying is, because you have disagreed with my comments in the past, you’re not going to read my comments now? How open-minded of you. Sounds like you are open minded only when it comes to confirming what you already believe, and are unwilling to actually learn more about the treatments you believe in so fervently. If you are curious about homeopathy, and you don’t seem to be, then I would suggest Jay Shelton’s Homeopathy: How it really works. If you are interested in knowing why you are so reluctant to change your mind, or learn something new, you would do well to read Carol Tavris’ Mistakes were Made (but not by me).

            Or, just keep handing money to your homeopath, accept whatever they say and whatever they sell you, and hope you never get seriously ill. Try not to think about whether you are just getting better on your own. Comfort yourself that you are too smart to fall for any bamboozlement and have no need to change your mind. That’s the ticket, you will never know doubt and never question your decisions. If you ever get cancer, please use homeopathy as a complement to conventional care, because untreated cancer is an ugly death.

        2. windriven says:

          “Many practitioners hide their narrow (pig-) mindedness behind a facade of “scientific proof” ”

          Oink, oink, oink, sooooo-weeeeeeeeeeee! Guilty as charged :-)

          ” I am sorry you are unable to think outside the square and seem happy to maintain opinions based on what you are told by others- that is a common fault of many.”

          I have a broad range of interests and some depth of knowledge in a few. The vast, vast majority of what I know I’ve been “told” by others. That is how education works. If I had to discover everything on my own I’d be a much narrower and shallower person. Unlike you.

          “In science it is just as serious an error to ignore real but unpredictable data as it is to accept false data as true”.

          The importance here lies with the word real. Further, data are just data, a series of numbers or observations. These must be fit into a testable narrative for them to achieve meaning.

    2. windriven says:

      Yeah well, I went to The Lancet and they want $31.50 to have a look. I’m frankly not $31.50 interested. No abstract either. But from the title and the references the paper seems to have a lot to do with migraine and nothing to do with Irlen. What up with that?

      1. Bobby Hannum says:

        I’m useful, hooray! Article is 4 paragraphs long if you’re being generous. Opener:

        “SIR,-People with migraine sometimes claim that their
        headaches are triggered by certain colours, usually red.’”

        The findings (after a somewhat confusing MM):

        “Although individuals varied widely in the colours chosen, the
        migraine group was significantly more likely than the controls to
        choose reddish colours as least comfortable ”

        And not my favorite statistical analysis but:

        “a two-sample test of the concentration variable4 showed
        that the angular variance of the CIE 1976 u’v’ hue-angles selected
        by the migraineurs was significantly lower than that of controls
        (p < 0-001). The groups did not differ when the most comfortable
        colours were considered (2 vs 5 for reddish, 13 vs 10 for other
        colours).”

        Conclusion:

        “Our findings suggest that the visual discomfort produced in
        migraineurs by such patterns may be determined by the colour of
        light used for illumination.”

        Now this may just be my non-Ivy-League-PhD-having ignorance, but this seems to be related to the topic at hand only by having somewhat similar components. Much like bread and beer. Similar ingredients, vastly different intentions.

        1. windriven says:

          Many thanks! I suspected as much but wasn’t interested in spending $30 to slake my suspicion.

          1. Bobby Hannum says:

            One of the benefits on being on a medical center campus.

  12. Alia says:

    Fascinating read – and absolutely new to me. I’ve never heard about Irlen Syndrome before, and as a teacher I encounter quite a lot of students with various learning disabilities, particularly dyslexia. But it seems that Irlen has never penetrated Eastern Europe.

    1. stuastro says:

      “it seems that Irlen has never penetrated Eastern Europe.”

      Good for eastern Europe then

  13. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Yep, it’s nice to see that it still holds – the more discredited or lacking in proof the theory, the more crazy it attracts.

    As for why educated people seem to fall for this kind of stuff more, it’s pure Dunning-Kruger. “If I can understand the sociological theory of reification, I can totally understand medicine. Further, I am immune to the placebo effect.” Sadly, not the case, and in fact you are probably more vulnerable to some of the cognitive biases out there because you are convinced of your own intelligence, the accuracy of your own experiences, the fidelity of your memory, and your ability to interpret them. Sadly, this is not the case.

    And for the laundry list of articles supporting Irlen syndrome – that’s about as useful as a google search with 52,000,000 results. Sure, there’s a lot there, but how much of it is meaningful? How many of those results had adequate controls, proper randomization, appropriate diagnosis and objective measures of improvements? Dr. Novella cites no less than three review articles, which have the tremendous advantage of combining multiple single articles in a systematic fashion (reducing the risk of cherry-picking) and assessing their quality. They are infinitely superior to an unfiltered list.

    If your response to a scientific discussion of the topic is “but it worked for me” (and even worse, “therefore it works for everyone”), you clearly do not understand why science is superior to other types of knowing. It is very, very easy to fool yourself. It’s easy for laypeople, it’s easy for scientists. That’s why science involves controls, replication, public peer review and an iterative approach. If your response to a review article or meta-analysis is an anecdote, you are actually regressing, you are moving backwards. We use anecdotes to generate hypotheses that are then tested rigorously, eventually combined into overviews of entire fields. To respond to a meta-analysis or secondary source with an anecdote is to get it completely wrong. I’m not sure what PhDs and higher degrees people claim to have, but it either didn’t take, or occurred in a field that lacks the methodologies found in medicine. A PhD in French literature is of little help in understanding the rationale for randomization and control groups. I speak and read French, but I would never believe that gave me the right or ability to analyze the subtext of Proust. I’m not that arrogant.

  14. qetzal says:

    edpsychphd52276 (aka Open Mind?) says:

    There are more than 60 scientific journal articles about Irlen Syndrome and Colored Filters published in peer-reviewed academic journals all over the world that report positive results. Research conducted in the last 10 years includes double-blind, placebo-controlled experiments, advanced brain mapping technology, and long-term follow-up studies – all with positive results.

    Rather than assuming ed’s citation list is a fair sample, I went to PubMed and searched for irlen[All Fields] AND Clinical Trial[ptyp]. There are only 8 hits, and only 2 within the past 10 years. The details are below. To me, they are quite consistent with no actual effect in a situation where bias and placebo effect are probably difficult to control. An optimist could perhaps still argue that there might be a real signal there, which just needs more work to tease out effectively. But ed’s claim of dozens of studies, all positive, is clearly wrong.

    (P.S. I hope the post length is excusable in the name of thoroughness.)

    Details:
    #1. Ritchie et al. (2011), Irlen colored overlays do not alleviate reading difficulties. Pediatrics 128:e932-8. Tested 61 kids aged 7-12 with reading difficulties (44 specifically with Irlen) for effects of filters on reading rate and a global reading measure. Found no evidence of benefit in either the overall group or the Irlen subgroup.

    #2. Vidal-Lopez (2011), The role of attributional bias and visual stress on the improvement of reading speed using colored filters. Percept Mot Skills 112:770-82. Tested 27 Irfen & 27 control children, mean age 12, for effects of filters on reading speed & accuracy. Found “support [for] some predictions of the theory of attributional bias.” Doesn’t mention in the abstract whether filter treatment actually improved reading.

    #3. Robinson & Foreman (1999), Scotopic sensitivity/Irlen syndrome and the use of coloured filters: a long-term placebo controlled and masked study of reading achievement and perception of ability. Percept Mot Skills 89:83-113. Tested 113 children with reading difficulties, 9-13 years old, with Placebo, Blue, or Optimal filters. Also tested 35 controls without filters. Found that treated groups showed significant improvements in reading accuracy & comprehension, but not speed, compared to controls. Critically, the abstract makes no mention of whether the improvement with Placebo filters was different than the improvement with Blue or Optimal filters.

    #4. Robinson & Foreman (1999), Scotopic sensitivity/Irlen syndrome and the use of coloured filters: a long-term placebo controlled and masked study of reading achievement and perception of ability. Percept Mot Skills 88:35-52. Exactly the same study group as the above paper, except this one focuses on errors in oral reading. Found no difference in improvement for treated vs control groups. Interestingly, this abstract says the control group has reading difficulties “but did not require coloured filters.” Implying the control group was a slightly different population, not from randomization? Also worth noting that the same two authors published two different slices of the same study in the same journal only 6 months apart.

    #5. Spafford et al. (1995) Contrast sensitivity differences between proficient and disabled readers using colored lenses. J Learn Disabil 28:240-52. Tested 4 adultes and 4 children with reading disabilities plus an equal number of adult & child controls. Found that lens color did not have a significant effect on affected subjects compared to controls.

    #6. Robinson & Conway (1994), Irlen filters and reading strategies: effect of coloured filters on reading achievement, specific reading strategies, and perception of ability. Percept Mot Skills 79:467-83. Tested tinted Irlen lenses in 29 subjects, vs. 31 controls. Found significant improvement in reading rate & comprehension, but not accuracy. Abstract gives no details on test & control groups to indicate if they were equivalent.

    #7. Blaskey et al. (1990), The effectiveness of Irlen filters for improving reading performance: a pilot study. J Learn Disabil 23:604-12. 30 adults, 9-51 years old, randomized to Irlen filter, vision therapy, or control. No significant gains for the Irlen filter group for reading rate, word recognition, or comprehension.

    #8. O’Connor et al. (1990), Reading disabilities and the effects of colored filters. J Learn Disabil 23:597-603. 92 children with reading disabilities were classified as either scotopic or nonscotopic and randomize to one of 6 treatment groups using colored or clear overlays. Reading rate, accuracy, and comprehension improved significantly in the scotopic children using the preferred color filter, compared to clear or different colored overlay. Nonscotopic children showed no change.

    Combining pubs 3 & 4, since they’re from a single study, here’s the final score:
    Clear positive claims: 2 (pubs 6 & 8, both from ~20 y ago)
    Clear negative claims: 3 (pubs 1, 5, 7, includes the most recent)
    Claims appear ambiguous (at best): 2 (pubs 2 & 3+4)

  15. Yodeladyhoo says:

    I’m guessing some die-hards just get caught between a rock and a hard place. Imagine being a 25-year-old in 1985 — ambitious, energetic, eager to make a difference in the world. You discover the Irlen Syndrome and pour heart and soul into taking every certification course, reading every book, learning every technique.

    Today you’re fat, fifty, and tired, and you’ve got four kids who want to go to college. It doesn’t matter if Irlen works or not; you’ve still got to make a living.

    It reminds me of a middle-aged minister who once told me, “I would be an atheist, but I already made a career out of this damn business.”

  16. Shoshana says:

    The tragedy of you misguided and misinformed information us shocking. I have used Irlen Method for over 6 years of my 35 years as an educator , occupational therapist and international speaker on learning challenges and assistive technology. Just as glasses for acuity enable certain people who need them to “see” more clearly, I have personally seen the profound results of wearing Irlen spectral filters on relieving severe and pervasive symptoms of visual stress and poor processing helping such issues as reading, math, sports performance, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and chronic migraines when all other treatments failed or produced minimal results. Consumers often bypass professionals limited by their ignorance of Irlen Method and find the irlen professionals found all over the USA and world. I hope your readers will look at this option with more open mindlessness and knowledge then you, who claim “expertise”!on this issue

    1. windriven says:

      “With more open mindedness, anyone can access the hundreds of research studies conducted internationally on the benefits of Irlen Method and the three that had poor controls and found no benefits. ”

      Well give us one or two well done studies, not a shopping list like the one above that wanders around the issue with many of the citations having nothing to do with Irlen. Don’t whine, make your case. But expect to be challenged before SBM readers embrace your evidence. That is how science works. You can’t throw out the equivalent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and have it swallowed without question.

      1. http://irlenvlcmd.com
        see the research articles section and the home page for a recently published study. Most of the studies were conducted in Australia (many government funded), Germany and Brazil (those studies were funded by the Brazilian government and conducted by opthamologists), as well as, numerous studies in the USA including the prison schools system, Dept of Education of Massachusetts, and many other Dept of Education studies in NY, CA, AZ etc. ” Seek and thou shalt find”. But you first want to believe that they exist….. There is a research packet available via http://www.irlen.com as well for a small fee. I would YOU to tell the many doctors and clients I work with that their making up their symptoms and relief using Irlen spectral filter, and see what they would tell you! How arrogant can one be to deny hundreds of thousands of people their reality. Even doctors recognize the power of the placebo affect, so even if the benefits are relative to the person , relief is the most important. At one time my doctor told me acupunture does not work, it is a placebo, and now he recommends it to his patients. With knowledge we all can grow smarter and more resourceful.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Why would we go to a proponent’s website rather than pubmed or google scholar? Researchers in Australia, Germany and Brazil are still capable of publishing in the peer-reviewed literature, not to mention if the approach was successful in Australia, Germany and Brazil, why isn’t it successful in other countries? How did these studies not get picked up in the meta-analyses Dr. Novella cites? Why is it that the effects apparently disappear when better experimental conditions are introduced? Do you have any proof that hundreds of thousands of people use the Irlen method?

          Incidentally, acupuncture is still regarded as placebo, as demonstrated by numerous studies. You may be confused in thinking that the “placebo effect” is simple, unitary and only affects the stupid. It is none of these things, and it is never a justification to charge money for an ineffective treatment. Patients are always better off getting a placebo effect bundled with an actual effective treatment.

      2. Irlen Method is just one of many interventions for visual stress and symptoms that result. I would not put all my eggs in one treatment basket for any client or private practice. Irlen diagnostic services are usually provided with other professional services for those who are appropriate candidates. Irlen screenings determine if one can benefit from the filters. IT is a process and takes training as any other professional skill and takes time to learn to be the most effective diagnostician one can be. I do not see any difference between learning to be an Irlen practitioner then learning to be an effective and well trained teacher or occupational therapist. You have to be willing to confront your ignorance before you can really learn. Your comments show a lack of willingness to be open to the possibility that Irlen Method works for those who are appropriate candidates for this valuable assistive technology intervention. See our free 4 page self test for the many symptoms that are presented in Irlen clients. http://irlen.com/long_self_test.php

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          It’s one intervention that, despite decades of research, has failed to be proven effective under controlled conditions. Why keep using it? Why not switch to more effective treatments? Is there any indication the research published in the peer reviewed literature on Irlen treatments were undertaken by untrained practitioners?

          Why do you keep accusing others of ignorance merely because they give more credibility to the peer reviewed scientific literature than your own personal experience? That seems rather arrogant, assuming that your experience is more credible than carefully conducted research. Have any studies been undertaken using the self-test you link to? And the criteria seems rather broad – that is a list of what, a hundred questions? And “If you answered yes to three or more of the questions in any one of the above sections, then problems in these areas may be helped with Irlen Colored Filters.” I mean, the questions are rather broad, don’t you think? They could apply to anyone. Difficulty parallel-parking? Tailgating? Difficulty judging distances? Stressful to drive into glare? Bump into things? Afraid of heights? “Disorganized? Have you ever heard of the Forer effect? Those questions could apply to anyone given the right circumstances, or even just in everyday functioning. I’m sure it’s great at convincing people they have some sort of disorder, I just question whether it is telling you anything meaningful. Has this list been validated anywhere, using standardized psychometrics? Does it successfully distinguish between groups? Does it have good reliability, internal and external validity? Because it just looks like one of many types of CAM tests that are useless at anything but convincing people they are sick.

          1. Alia says:

            A few years ago I would probably answer “yes” to several questions in the self-test (like bumping into things). But that’s because, as it turned out, I’m astigmatic in addition to being shortsighted. Fortunately, my new opthalmologist is truly science-based (in addition to being a specialist in aviation medicine), so I got my new glasses and most problems disappeared.

            1. Irlen diagnostic clients are all seen by an eye care professional at least 60 months prior to testing to eliminate visual acuity as the issue. No one symptom of the 4 pages of symptoms would qualify a person to be a candidate for Irlen spectral filters. The Irlen Screening process is a very inexpensive way to see if Irlen Spectral Filters are appropriate and I have had over 95% success rate with hundreds of clients when screened properly to eliminate those I cannot help (I have other interventions as a medical professional to suggest if they are not a candidate for Irlen Method). As with any other intervention, the key symptoms will provide a roadmap to intervention, usually not just Irlen Method but once the light sensitivity and visual distortions and stress are reduced or eliminated , other interventions and function are much more effective. Saving much agony, time and money in the process.

          2. Even if I did not have notebooks of research studies in my office from the last 20 years, Even if a reputable scientist would tell me there is no evidence of the existence of Irlen Syndrome (I actually call it Sensory Processing Disorder which is also a term only used in certain pediatric medical circles and has similar clinical research ), I would still use an intervention I have seen consistently over and over again provide immediate and profound results. I am a medical professional and a sceptic but I am not a fool to not try something that could potentially benefit my clients. I care more about the people I serve then bogus results of poorly documented research. When I see results with my own eyes, I cannot deny that the results exist. You can see the glass half empty or half full -depending on your bias. I choose to fill the glass with highly affective treatments and interventions that demonstrate results. I hope those of you who have the training in Irlen Method speak out. We are certainly a group of passionate advocates, professionals and consumers since we know the tragedy of “not knowing” and its devastating results. Training is the key not just putting a piece of colored plastic over a page or colored lenses over the eyes. It takes a lot of training to understand the neurobiology and the brain processing involved in testing and implementation

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Five years is your screening window? You wouldn’t want a more recent assessment than that? Jesus, you can go blind in five years.

            The screening process seems less a way of screening people and more a way of worrying them into a consultation. An explanation for all problems is an explanation for none, and a list of vague symptoms that applies to everybody is useless as a screening instrument. Where has it been validated to separate those with IS with those who lack it? What is its sensitivity and specificity? What is its false positive and false negative rate? A true medical test has to know the answers to these questions, which is yet more reason to suspect people are merely playing at medicine and science rather than doing it.

            If your success rate is so high, why not apply for funding for a clinical trial and publish your results? A 95% success rate for any real medical condition is remarkable, even vaccinations are rarely that good. Your methods could be helping millions instead of the hundreds you are able to see in your lifetime.

            The fact that you won’t believe reputable scientists, the fact that you find your personal experience more convincing than the studies, is the problem. It’s not a strength, it’s an indication of a failure to appreciate the scientific method and the results gathered through decades of research. I mean, from a skeptical perspective, it’s like you are bragging about how great you are at bloodletting. You’re treating a bug as if it were a feature. For you to claim to be a skeptic while simultaneously not seeing the weakness of your assertions suggests a profound misunderstanding of what it means to be skeptical. My definition of “skepticism” includes being keenly aware of the limitations of your own brain and senses. And if you cared about your clients, you might think about using scientifically-supported interventions as your current practices might be wasting money and time on inefficient or downright wrong practices. It’s not bias to point out that there is a lack of evidence for a procedure, though it is definitely bias to ignore that gap but keep charging people for your services. Passion is not a substitute for evidence, and it’s startling to me that you would ignore the analysis of Dr. Novella, who is a neurologist in favour of repeated, naive assertions that “it worked for me”.

          4. Alia says:

            So, what are we really talking about? Irlen Syndrome or Sensory Processing Disorder? Are these the same entities? I don’t think so, I’ve heard about the latter and it seems much wider than Irlen. And it is treated in other ways, not only with coloured filters.

            1. Irlen Syndrome, Meares Syndrome, scotopic sensitivity syndrome, visual sensory processing disorder, visual stress syndrome, light sensitivity syndrome, and visual dyslexia all names for the same term. As an occupational therapist, I work with sensory processing disorders involving vision, hearing, touch, motor coordination, proprioception, kinesthesia, olfactory and taste sensation and their manifestation in various learning and neurological conditions. Irlen Syndrome is just another term for what I have been treating in my private practice for over 23 years and 35 years as a special educator, however I now understand and know how to provide effective interventions for the visual sensory component which when addressed can assistive in balancing and regulating the other systems from overload.

          5. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Citation needed.

  17. Shoshana says:

    With more open mindedness, anyone can access the hundreds of research studies conducted internationally on the benefits of Irlen Method and the three that had poor controls and found no benefits. Tell the hundreds of thousands who have benefitted from irlen overlays and spectral filters, tell the parents of children who finally functioned in their academic and personal life with greater ease, success and accuracy – that there is “no” evidence that irlen Method works. With your writings – why not create opportunity instead of misinformation. It does work profoundly but it is not for everyone so screening is needed to determine candidates

    1. windriven says:

      Shoshana, there is a considerable difference between an open mind and slack-jawed credulity. Science based doesn’t mean ‘reject everything’ it means insist on credible evidence. You and the other Irlen apologists who have written here assiduously avoid providing evidence preferring instead to offer anecdote, special pleading and appeals to (your own) authority. That demonstrates that you believe in Irlen. It does not prove that Irlen has actual therapeutic value.

      @ the idiot who keeps posting shopping lists:

      Don’t. They prove nothing. I could compile a list twice that long ‘proving’ that the holocaust never happened or that cold fusion really works. Grow up Mr. Highly Ivyly Educated. If Irlen has value you should be able to build a case based on two or maybe three robustly constructed RCTs published in meaningful peer reviewed journals. Your inability to comprehend how science works much less how a scientific argument is mounted suggests that your time spent in academia was wasted.

      1. William
        the evidence is there you just have to click and google. Let the consumer decide and i am blessed to have a long list of medical and other professionals who know the benefits for their clients and educate them. I would be hesitant to use information you present due to the bias and lack of professional research you have done. What is your agenda in discrediting something you evidently know nothing about ??? I honestly do not get it!!!

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          So, you expect me to take that list of hundreds of articles, and find each one, and evaluate it separately? Why on earth would I waste the time? There have already been three review articles, all with the same conclusion. I am very willing to review the methodologically best articles available, if you have them, ideally from the past five years. I’m perfectly willing to do professional research in the form of reading peer-reviewed articles, if someone can just bring up a reasonable number of high quality articles. Not lists. I fail to see how this is an unreasonable request, and I don’t understand why the proponents of IS seem to be unable to meet with such a request. It seems less like you are “blessed” with such a list, and more like you are trying to snow people with spurious results. Or perhaps you are unable to examine the scientific merits of the articles? I am willing to inform myself, but I’m unwilling to take people’s words for it – it is far too easy for people to convince themselves that an effect exists when there is not one. Clearly you do not get it, or you wouldn’t continue to suggest that your personal experience is adequate to support Irlen syndrome’s existence.

          So, when you bring your car in to get fixed, do you decide what to fix? Or do you let the mechanic do that? When your computer is being fixed, do you tell them what software to use and how to configure it? For something as complex as medicine, I admit my lack of knowledge and delegate to an expert, a doctor, who has specialized for years. That is why I rely on the peer reviewed literature, and even then I still delegate – for real medical syndromes I refer to the expert bodies. If the AAP endorses a vaccination schedule, I adhere to it. If the American Board of Ophthalmology recommended Irlen syndrome, I would listen and give it the benefit of the doubt. The fact that, after several decades the ABO still fails to recognize it is quite the black mark.

          1. Open MInd says:

            Oh Please- let’s not let political statements dull our sense of awareness.

            The American Board of Ophthalmologists is on record as stating there is no link at all between vision and learning- one of the more foolish (or politically charged) comments in the history of medicine. Excellent surgical doctors. No idea whatsoever about functional visual disorders nor visual cognitive thinking.

            1. I am aware that you raised questions about Irlen Syndrome and other visual disorders that may impact learning. Your naturally have questions, given the joint policy statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
              I write to you as a psychiatrist with over 25 years of experience treating children, teens, and adults. Moreover, I write as the father of a daughter whose life was given back to her by being diagnosed and treated for Irlen Syndrome. It is my impression that many professional organizations are conservative, slow to change, and are motivated more by political issues than by science. Not having been a part of the deliberations of the Academies of Pediatrics and Ophthalmology, I cannot personally attest to their motivations. What I can attest to is that Irlen Syndrome is a very real condition. I have seen its effects on my daughter and on scores of my own patients, who travel to see me from all parts of the United States and throughout the world. My clinic performs functional brain imaging using SPECT scan technology. We see on our SPECT scans the impact on the brain of Irlen Syndrome and the normalization of brain function when Irlen Syndrome is treated successfully.
              Diagnosing Irlen Syndrome can make an enormous difference in the lives of those affected. Missing the diagnosis, as usually happens, can be tragic. I understand that your school serves students with special needs. I respectfully urge you to have each and every student in your school screened for Irlen Syndrome, as it is likely that a number of your current students have this condition.
              Please contact me if you have any questions.
              Joseph A. Annibali, M.D., Chief Psychiatrist, Amen Clinic DC
              Certified, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (703 880-4000

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Open Mind – that’s not a brief list of scientific articles testing a hypothesis. It is, ironically considering your opening line, a political statement.

            Dr. Annibali – my only question is – what are the best scientific articles you can locate that support Irlen syndrome? I’m totally uninterested in your personal opinions or your 25 years of experience. There are homeopaths with decades more experience than you who still think they are healing people, and I’m just as unconvinced by their opinions. In fact, you claiming that you were convinced by it working for your daughter is actually less compelling as you now have an emotional incentive to believe you undertook the correct actions. Medical organizations are not “slow”, the delay in a treatment being definitively proven to work, and acceptance by the professional body, is at worst a couple years. They are waiting for the same thing I am – good quality evidence. Want them to adopt IS? Prove it in well-designed trials. If Irlen syndrome is a real condition, shouldn’t it be easy to demonstrate? How do you explain the failure to demonstrate this despite three decades of testing? SPECT and other fancy brain scans only show differences in blood flow and activity, that’s by no means the same thing as demonstrating IS is a real entity (see Dr. Hall’s comments on the inappropriate use of brain scans here. Do we even know what a “normal” brain looks like? Do you use “normal” controls to compare with your experimental subjects? How do you know that the screening for Irlen Syndrome won’t be a complete waste of money?

            1. Dr. Daniel Amen’s (Dr. Annibali’s boss) 30 books, numerous published research articles, thousands of successful patients in 6 clinics nationwide, and PBS television show provide a lot of credibility I would say. I can see you are not very willing to be educated and to discredit Homeopathy which has existed successfully for longer then the drugs companies or allopathic systems is a tragedy as well. I am happy to say I am open to both systems and use integrative medical approaches where appropriate and affective. One could go to his or her grave waiting for the kind of research studies you are desiring rather then rational clinical trials and experience showing evidence of healing and remediation. Dr. Jean Ayers , the founder or Sensory Integration, was thought of as a quack in the 1950s by the medical profession since her research was clinical based – she was after all working with humans living in the world . http://irlenvlcmd.com/docs/AMEN_NEWSLETTER-1.pdf there brain scans show the evidence before immediately after using Irlen spectral filters. That was enough for me to want to explore knowing about Irlen Method!!!

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            1) You believe in homeopathy? You are profoundly ignorant, and it’s rather terrifying that you have any sort of medical role. The fact that you believe in homeopathy undercuts your credibility considerably, but does indicate why you believe in Irlen Syndrome and can’t see the flaws. You should read Homeopathy: How it really works by Jay Shelton. So why don’t you treat your clients with homeopathy then, because it’s sooooo effective!

            2) Clearly your mind is so open your brain has fallen out. Yet somehow it’s also not so open that you’ll actually entertain doubts or contrary information. So not so much “open minded” as it is “already convinced”.

            3) Sensory integration, for all that you find it convincing (is there anything you don’t find convincing?) is still regarded as unproven, so you aren’t gaining much by citing it.

            4) So the quack employs another quack. That’s astonishing.

  18. edpsychphd52276 says:

    The unprofessional mud-slinging that has taken over this comments section is disappointing. Thank you Shoshana for trying to reintroduce some professionally appropriate tone to these diatribes.

  19. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I’m curious why you think Shoshana’s comment is a useful addition to the discussion. It consists of two fallacies – “it worked for me” and “it is popular”. Neither demonstrates Irlen syndrome exists, or the interventions proposed work beyond mere placebo, attention or effort. None of the appeals for open-mindedness acknowledge that there are multiple review articles/meta-analyses that indicate Irlen syndrome doesn’t seem to exist, nor the quality (or lack thereof) of the studies alluded to. The appeal for careful screening is not the same thing as evidence that careful screening actually identifies a subgroup for whom IS-based interventions actually work. If such evidence exists, please present it. Shoshana’s posts are not “professionally appropriate”, they are unscientific assertions that Irlen syndrome works. Pointing out that someone is factually incorrect, that there is a dearth of quality science to support the claims of practitioners, is not “mud-slinging”. There is frankly no reason to accept someone’s bare assertions, particularly when predicated on fallacies, as equal to the peer-reviewed literature. If you find this rude, then I frankly don’t know how to respond beyond to note that your hurt feelings are also not a justification for your beliefs.

    If Irlen syndrome exists, why can’t it be adequately demonstrated in well-controlled trials? That’s the central question that Shoshana is failing to engage with, instead falling back on personal experience. Neither does the tone trolling or “mean skeptic” gambit justify ignoring the science.

    You will not find an echo chamber here. If you find that jarring, that may be a reflection on your usual internet haunts.

  20. edpsychphd52276 says:

    You asked for the research…here it is. Yes, it includes double-blind, placebo controlled experimental designs. Yes, it includes longitudinal studies. Yes, it includes the hard science of fMRI scans. And, yes, it includes research from this decade.
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    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      That’s fantastic. But have you read and understood any of them?

      This one mentions Irlen syndrome thrice – twice in the references, once in the introduction to say “. On the other hand, Ciuffreda et al (1997) found no significant differences in the accommodative responses in a small group of Irlen lens wearers with and without their coloured lenses.”

      This one is about whether you can use an overlay on a mobile device. No person is tested, it in no way justifies or proves that Irlen syndrome exists or coloured overlays work.

      This one is an unpublished Master’s thesis, which apparently tested a single music student.

      At least 100 of your dump of references are from the 90′s, which means they were included in the meta-analyses, and thus were scientifically unconvincing.

      “The uses of colour in optometric practice to amelio-rate symptoms of visual stress” does not appear in a pubmed-indexed journal.

      “The role of attributional bias and visual stress on the improvement of reading speed using colored filters” concludes the abstract with “The results support some predictions of the theory of attributional bias, but more research is needed to assess each theory of reading speed.” This is not a robust validation of Irlen syndrome.

      This one had a very small n (17, divided into 12 with alleged Irlen syndrome and 5 with dyslexia). The two groups were compared and found to be different. The two groups started with different symptoms, and no intervention occurred. All you can say here is that “the two groups had different symptoms”. This proves nothing.

      This is a brief review of a small number of the probably hundreds of studies you have presented. If you are trying to prove something by snowing us with volume, all you are proving is that you are either dishonest or scientifically illiterate. Neither I, nor anyone else here is interested in reviewing hundreds of bumpf publications. If you are genuinely interested in attempting to convince anyone, identify the best studies, say five of them, and present them. Quality matters more than quantity, and if this is the best you can manage, I’m not surprised the scientific community is unconvinced.

    2. Already bored. How about you pick a single one that you think makes a clear and compelling argument for the existence of SSS as a distinct cognitive disorder.

      1. windriven says:

        It isn’t going to happen Mr. Graham. Scroll through the comments and you’ll find any number of commenters asking for exactly the same thing. These folks seem to have opted for the ‘bury ‘em in bullshit’ tactic. I’m not sure if this is because they are breathtakingly ignorant of scientific methodology and hence incapable of mounting such an argument or if there just are no paradigmatic studies to cite and build upon. I actually stopped caring which some time ago and follow the thread now purely for the entertainment value. I’m still chuckling over Shoshana Shamberg’s first comment of Aug 12.

        1. @wind yeah…I really should have checked but this topic got so big so quickly. I never understand this tactic. Are there people or perhaps even entire disciplines which argue by volume? I was particularly amused when Shoshanna started defending homeopathy.

          1. windriven says:

            “Are there people or perhaps even entire disciplines which argue by volume?”

            You’ve seen it with your own eyes! My belief is that this sort doesn’t believe that most readers will check their citations and that if they do they won’t be able to differentiate valid results from steaming, stinking mounds of bullshit. The alternative is that they themselves can’t make that differentiation. In the end it almost doesn’t matter. It is sort of like the punchline to the old joke: so are you drunk or stupid?

    3. Photon says:

      Impressive list, but does it really support your argument?

      I picked one of your references (Dusek, W., Pierscionek, B.K., & McClelland, J.F. (2010.) A survey of visual function in an Austrian population of school-age children with reading and writing difficulties. BMC Ophthalmology, 10(1), 16.) & checked.

      My reasons for choosing this paper were simply that Dr Pierscionek & I once shared an office when we were postgraduate students at the University of Melbourne, and it is freely available on line.

      The only relevance to tinted lenses this paper has is a passing reference to “Meares-Irlen syndrome”. No coloured filters were used in the study, and it’s findings (that children referred to an optometrist because of reading difficulties were more likely to have near-point problems, such as poor convergence or accommodation) were entirely uncontroversial in the science-based eyecare community.

      It should be noted that these types of problems are diagnosed and treated every day by optometrists and ophthalmologists, without needing to resort to scattergun questionaires and tinted lenses.

      While this study does not disprove the existence of “Irlen Syndrome”, the fact that you include it in your list of supporting studies suggests you might benefit by actually reading and understanding the papers before you cite them.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        From what everyone has said after reviewing a couple samples of these papers, myself included, it looks like someone simply punched “irlen syndrome” into google scholar, then copied every single resulting reference into a list. Quite clearly there was no regard for how each paper discussed, tested or criticized Irlen syndrome.

  21. Open Mind says:

    Why do some professions expound such arrogance?

    If I may be so bold as to educate, there are 4 forms of practitioners in this world to whom the public are exposed….

    1. Hard line medicos who are highly educated though are trained in a narrow stream of information and as such know little else. They demand a high level of evidenced based research for all other fields, whilst practising innumerable techniques which have never been exposed to the same level of scrutiny. Apparently that is considered OK because “by now we just know they work”. Some may call this the “GOD Syndrome”, with the misguided belief that their field is superior to all others when managing all patient needs

    2. Medicos who recognise these limitations and thus expand their knowledge base by learning from alternate treatments. They are able to integrate real world results into their model of patient care

    3. Non medical practitioners who recognise their limitations and thus expand their knowledge base by learning from other fields and integrating those fields into their patient care plan.

    4. Non medical practitioners who dogmatically maintain their own narrow view of reality and believe their methodology alone resolves nearly all patient needs.

    In terms of manifest intellectual capacity, groups 2 and 3 take the podium, followed distantly by group 1, who only just pip group 4. Conversely groups 1 and 4 remain the most arrogant and do their patients the most disservice..

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Groups two and three could more accurately be described as “people who don’t understand the human mind’s propensity towards bias, and are more willing to be convinced by their own experience than properly controlled trials”. They are not “open minded”, they are “lacking skepticism”. The fact that you don’t understand why groups 1 and 4 place more emphasis on proper trials and the reality they uncover says more about your understanding of science than anything else. You are basically saying “people who agree with me are smarter”, may I suggest that’s a questionable assumption? Probably one built up in whatever echo chamber you normally use to discuss Irlen syndrome.

      1. Open Mind says:

        Sorry Bill, though you’re being presumptuous again.
        I neither practice nor have ever partaken in using Irlen Lenses

        Guessing you’re a number 1 hey?

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Nope, just someone quite willing to point out that proponents of Irlen syndrome have not met the burden of proof to demonstrate it exists, or that coloured lenses are effective.

          My next guess is that you are someone who waves the flag of “open mindedness” as a totem to accept whatever people tell you. You should read some books:

          Mistakes were Made (but not by me) which will explain why, when faced with admitting you are wrong or attempting to discount anything which conflicts with your pre-existing worldview, you will pick the latter.

          Snake Oil Science which explains how proper controlled trials are conducted and why you need each component.

          Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (the one by Gary Taubes is about cold fusion, and it’s also interesting) which explains basic scientific principles and how CAM nonsense is nonsense.

          1. Open Mind says:

            “when faced with admitting you are wrong or attempting to discount anything which conflicts with your pre-existing worldview, you will pick the latter”

            How ironic!! THAT describes perfectly the dogma of traditional medicine which you preach unequivocally

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Why? Because I ask for proof before I believe something? I have asked for the best evidence for Irlen syndrome (and homeopathy, acupuncture, and other SCAMs) and the best I’ve seen are lengthy lists of what appear to be irrelevant or low-quality scientific papers, or assertions that “it worked for me”. I’ll change my mind, if you can give me a reason. “It worked for me” is not such a reason, and if you don’t understand why, then there’s not much point in discussing further.

  22. weing says:

    @Open

    Where would you place Shoshana and yourself in your categories of epistemic arrogance? And why?

    1. Open Mind says:

      Silly
      That would be telling!

      1. weing says:

        Yes, it would be telling. Don’t be coy. I’m curious whether you are like the 84% of Frenchmen that estimate they are better than average lovers?

  23. Madison Blane says:

    As with Felisa Weiss, I can’t explain to you why it works – (although I would be glad if someone could). I know what works for my family and I was thankful for a solution. I know that no one else can see through my eyes so, no, they DON’T understand. I know that for too many years, my brilliant mother was accused of faking, called stupid and placed in remediation just because her optical testing was ‘normal’ even though she couldn’t see.
    I really don’t care what it’s called – My mother, my children, and I, all three suffer from it. Not one of us can read under fluorescent light, not one optometrist can explain why. We are all 4 highly sensitive to daylight, it is blinding and causes severe migraines with minimal exposure, not one neurologist has an explanation. My children are not special education students, in fact they are both advanced education with IQ’s 30-35 points above average (as was I). Being tested under fluorescent lights (or anything other than dim lights) results in well below-average scores, no matter how many times it’s been tried. My children require gray papers and gray sheet-covers to pass their classes, especially maths. Even if given the gray test first, they still fail on white paper – we can’t see it! It isn’t dyslexia, we’ve all been tested, the letters only move about and get fuzzy under certain conditions of lighting. This is documented thoroughly. Yet, I am the only one with an abnormal scan or evaluation of any kind (seizures).
    So, until there’s a better theory, until there’s another explanation, I’m thankful that Disability Services covers it. Otherwise, I’d have never become a Registered Nurse and my children would have failed out of school long ago. Absence of critical research isn’t absence of a true condition.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      You should work with academic proponents to enroll in a series of tests and clinical trials, to see if you can identify the unique and distinguishing features of your conditions. That way people wouldn’t rely on a list of vague statements that could apply to anyone in order to identify those with IS. That would be of tremendous use, and go a long way towards convincing skeptics that there is actually something there.

      1. I am very happy to participate in any study anyone would like to organize or fund. I personally as a private practitioner with no means to take on such a project or need to but I think it would be an exciting endeavor. So William, will you walk the walk and talk and talk and fund and organize such a study with proper and professional controls and assessment processes.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Oh, no, I believe enough time and effort has been wasted on this to date. 30 years and no signal from the noise? Sounds spurious. There are a limited number of resources in the world, in terms of both time and money. I would much rather see any sort of private, federal or state funding go towards something seen as more promising. The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Given what’s been thrown at this already, more seems like a bad idea.

        2. weing says:

          “I personally as a private practitioner with no means to take on such a project or need to but I think it would be an exciting endeavor.”

          If you don’t see any need to make sure your practice is based on sound science, then don’t be upset when others point this out to you and ask for evidence and not testimony. I couldn’t find a methodology section in the references you cited from your website. I’m sure there are many learning and perceptual disabilities that are, thus far, undefined. With the testing described for IS, I suspect it is a wastebasket term that captures multiple disorders making specific treatments difficult to evaluate. Sort of like the FLK syndrome of yore.

    2. Thanks Madison. So well stated. Two of my own children (I have 6) have worn Irlen filters (one for an eye injury which caused light sensitivity and visual distortions under fluorescent lighting and another with severe ADHD symptoms and was able to get off medications). I wear them for night driving which helps a lot with intense fatigue and visual intolerance of lights at night.

      I have treated hundreds of clients with conditions you describe, who successfully overcame and succeeded after using Irlen Method, ranging from 5 years olds with severe ADHD and sensory processing disorders to 70 year olds with strokes and TBI. Across the lifespan, many members of some families with same condition and different symptoms , and across generations (Irlen Syndrome was present in 4 generations in one family).

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        They treated thousands of satisfied patients with bloodletting, leeches and powerful purgatives. You should try them too, since patient satisfaction is so important to you. I mean, who cares if it actually works? At least you’re still making money.

  24. weing says:

    “With more open mindedness, anyone can access the hundreds of research studies conducted internationally on the benefits of Irlen Method and the three that had poor controls and found no benefits.”

    Partially true. Anyone can access these studies, whether open-minded or not. To assess these studies, a little more is involved. It’s called critical thinking.

    1. http://irlenvlcmd.com/docs/ImprovementStandardTestScore.pdf
      overlay study

      http://irlenvlcmd.com/docs/PIONEER_VALLEY_PROJECT_Graphs.pdf
      Dept of Education study

      http://irlenvlcmd.com/docs/LACPA_May-June.pdf
      by Dr. Yellin in Psychology publication

      http://irlenvlcmd.com/docs/IrlenSchoolDistricts.pdf
      public and private schools successfully using Irlen Method to support instruction

      and there is a lot more. Those are just a few from my website
      Also very successful study was just published and results are in visual format on my home page http://www.irlenvlcmd.com

  25. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Your first link is an unpublished Master’s thesis. All the thesis shows is that the children involved changed. Do you know what the Hawthorne effect is? What was the control? If the control was “no intervention”, that’s not a control.

    Your second link appears to be an appeal to a politician, and is merely a list of claimed improvements. Again, where are the control groups?

    Your third link is to what looks like a popular publication or newsletter. Do you know what pubmed is? Is this pubmed-indexed? But more critically, this is a case study. There are no control groups again. It’s a single subject. It’s an anecdote. In science, these are at best hypothesis-generating, they are not proof. In pseudoscience and quackery, they are extraordinarily common, because you can pick and choose them, presenting only the ones that support your hypothesis and ignoring the ones that don’t. There is no rigor.

    Your fourth link is basically a list of schools. Assuming the all found the Irlen methods to be useful, you’re still at the “list of testimonials” level. Do you rigorously track schools for whom the the Irlen methods do not work? Again, there is no rigor.

    Your fifth link is again, just a link to your website.

    You appear to be scientifically illiterate. Do you know what a control group is and why it’s important? Have you ever taken even a basic course on research methodologies or statistics? If so, it didn’t take. Testimonials and anecdotes are not scientific evidence. If you think they are, you clearly don’t understand science.

    1. qetzal says:

      Interestingly, the third link has a reference list of its own. The first reference is Blaskey et al., which found that Irlen filters DID NOT IMPROVE reading rate, word recognition in context, or comprehension (as I noted upthread). The next reference is Floyd et al., which found that poor readers had altered perception of brightness & flicker, but DID NO TESTS of any kind on whether filters improved reading. The third reference is to a book by Irlen herself. The fourth reference is Kyd et al., which found that filters improved reading rate in scotopic children, but accuracy and comprehension GOT WORSE! The final reference is a two-page write=up that makes lots of claims but provides essentially no supporting evidence.

      Once again, I’m willing to consider that colored filters could conceivable make a difference. But the quality of data and literature citations offered so far in this thread by Irlen defenders are downright abysmal.

  26. If you look here: http://irlen.com/long_self_test.php and here: http://irlen.com/short_self_test.php

    You can find two tests one with 14 questions and one with over 125. However the threshold criteria for BOTH is answering THREE questions with “yes”. Can the Irlen institute not see how terrible this is as a diagnostic?

    @Shoshanna your first link shows no information about methodology. That might be a good place to look if you’re interested in alternative explanations for the alleged effect.

    The second link is assumed savings based on someone else research with the implied assumption that the research work (also with no comparison data).

  27. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Indeed, so far everything I’ve seen assumes an effect (or syndrome), it does not test for an effect. The causal path is “Irlen sydnrome exists, therefore improvements are caused by addressing the syndrome”. This is frequently the case in many CAM modalities – assume a cause and attribute an effect to it. Never is the bare existence of the cause actually tested, and never is it entertained that one explanation might be “there is no effect”.

    1. If you have not gone thru the 14 Irlen Screener’s Certification training which is the basic training just for Irlen Overlays and perceptual testing, then you really do not know what you are talking about. It also takes experience to understand how to test for visual processing and visual perceptual challenges and stress so the training plus about 20-30 screenings should give you enough knowledge to support or discredit our process. I think after that your tune would change, since you would screen for clients who would appropriate benefit or not. By the time they move on to spectral filters, you know it will work since they responding on one screening to improvements in reading or other visual perceptual skills. There is not much guess work but it is subjective just as vision exams and other medical exams have subjective data that professionals must use in addition to objective tests like blood work and EEG etc. The SPECT scans are a very interesting way to target the visual stress since you can see it while a person is working on a task immediately and you can see the calming of the brain with the spectral filters immediately afterward. That is pretty objective in my mind. I also use standardized testing from my OT training for visual perceptual testing when needed for insurance documentation : VMI. Peabody, TVPS, QNST, LAP, WISC, SFA, and the ETCH, to name a few. The Irlen Diagnostic training is much more extensive and involved about 10 hours a day for 5 days of training with Helen Irlen and her staff , and about 2 years of actually providing diagnostic testing. My office during that 2 years was in busy, successful vision care office with eye doctors . All clients had to be seen by an eye doctor prior to testing and often vision exercises were also provided with support from a developmental optometrist. Results were considerably quicker when a team approach was used.

      1. So are the self-tests good diagnostics or bad?….where is the research demonstrating the false positive/false negative rates?

        One of the reasons I bring them up is because, they are obviously near useless AND you posted something you called a study from irlen.com which advocated special education students performing this.

        1. Doctor’s use similar checklists to get an idea of the complaints of their patients and teachers and therapists use similar checklists to guide them in their treatment plans. Checklists are used in many evaluations and verified with other types of test. The checklist symptoms can be administered by the client independent of a professional so FREE which is very helpful to those of us who want to see if the person is even a candidate for Irlen Method. If not I have other interventions to address specific symptoms so the checklist helps me in more then just Irlen Method. The Autism Checklist is an excellent tool for any practitioner working with persons with autism, sensory processing disorders etc. It is FREE . Just go to http://irlen.com/autism_questionnaire.php

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            The difference being, the doctors’ checklists are validated, or screen for objective, well-studied and -demonstrated conditions. Yours aren’t. Doctors’ checklists are also usually fairly specific, and often involve refinements of symptoms until you arrive at a condition for which you can test. You can’t compare your checklists of vague, applicable-to-anyone, horoscope-style checklists to the Structured Clinical Interview-D. Seriously, have you ever heard of the Forer effect? Your lists are lists of Forer symptoms. “I am sometimes clumsy”, “I find it hard to drive into a sunset”, “I sometimes have trouble reading”. Useless. Like so many quack tests, it’s not a method used to identify syndromes from a mass of symptoms, it’s a way to generate patients by making them think about normal, every-day actions or events in a pathological way.

            Jesus, your autism screening questionnaire is just as absurd – do you ever have to take a break after reading for an hour? Really? Do you have trouble with revolving doors? Difficulty making eye contact is a core symptom of autism – are you diagnosing autism, or are you trying to refine something about the diagnosis? I bet for that $28 fee, everybody gets coloured lenses.

          2. You really need to learn how to construct an argument. I asked if THOSE checklists are useful. Clearly SOME checklists are useful diagnostics. Was that somehow unclear? Why would the existence of other valid checklists validate the checklists on irlen.com?

            Please provide research validating these particular checklists. Please provide how sensitive and specific they are. Or at least an argument as to how three answers to the long/short irlen checklists could possibly be useful.

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Echoing weing, confidence is no substitute for sound testing. The list of doctors who confidently did harmful or wasteful things to patients is quite long – trepanation, bloodletting, purges, homeopathy, psychoanalysis, mesmerism, sodium thiopental interviews, frontal lobotomies, facilitated communication, refrigerator mothers, attachment parenting, and the list goes on.

            It can be difficult to have your beliefs challenged, particularly when you are strongly invested in them. It can be frustrating when you find your usual answers to be criticized rather than accepted. It can be scary when you realize the standards, methods and training you received were based in illusory foundations. It is hard to admit you are wrong, harder still to change your practice in particular when it’s also your livelihood. Good luck, have courage and I hope, I urge you, to look into some of the resources recommended. R. Barker Bausell’s Snake Oil Science is a good starting point as it focuses on method – not a panacea, but certainly better than anecdote.

            I wouldn’t wave the whole “military“, “higher education” or “medical clinics” flag around here too much – often CAM practices are embraced for being lucrative and increasing patient satisfaction. That doesn’t mean it works.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        The most scrupulous training in nonsense merely results in someone highly knowledgeable about nonsense – this applies to religion, homeopathy, creationism, fiction and fairies. Pointing to a training course as proof that Irlen syndrome exists is about as useful as pointing to churches as proof that God exists. I bet it’s great for Helen Irlen’s bottom line to require 50 hours of training per customer-therapist. And the fact that you keep providing spurious, awful and if qetzal pointed out above, at times outright contradictory of your claims. As several of us suspected, the long list of citations provided are merely snowjobs, massive dumps of articles that you hope will not be read because they are universally of poor quality or prove the opposite conclusion of what they are supposed to.

        If your screening process is as effective as you claim, research becomes easier since you should be filtering out the kinds of clients that won’t respond to treatment and thus drag down the numbers. You would be better able to match groups, which again should make it easier to demonstrate an effect. And while there are subjective elements to some optometric tests, there are also subjective ones – you can easily demonstrate that a particular lens improves vision over another with a wildly different prescription.

        Insurance disbursements also doesn’t indicate Irlen syndrome works, merely that insurance companies will pay for it. It would suggest a need for me to change insurers though.

        EEGs and other brain scans, bar frank anatomical abnormalities, are far too new to correlate to processing disturbances. There’s a backlash in the neurological community against the absurd assertions made about brainscans, and they are useless if they don’t correlate, in well-controlled tests, to improvements in other areas.

        1. In invite anyone on this list to email me via my website. I am removing myself from this fruitless and unproductive conversation. I am confident that my professional standards are enhanced with the inclusion of Irlen Method and the method of diagnostic and screening criteria for my clients. With a network of thousands of professionals from numerous professions including doctor’s, therapists, educators, and administrators of various government and private agencies. Our network includes researchers as well from the military to higher education and medical clinics. Thanks for this most interesting experience. You have helped me to be more passionate about spreading the word about Irlen Method since I can see that education of professionals is often more needed then ever before. May those who can benefit find access to information they need to get the help they need!!! in spite of professionals whose choose ignorance over experience.

          1. So are we choosing “ignorance over experience”? What about the experience of people here? Why does your experience trump mine or anyone else’s?

            Can’t you see this is WHY a science based approach to medicine is necessary and why the world has already far, far, far too many people “passionate about spreading the word”?

          2. Harriet Hall says:

            Takes marbles and goes home because the other players won’t let her win by changing the rules.

          3. windriven says:

            @Dr. Hall

            “Takes marbles and goes home”

            Another flouncer! And she isn’t even British. Cheerio then!

          4. weing says:

            “I am confident that my professional standards are enhanced with the inclusion of Irlen Method and the method of diagnostic and screening criteria for my clients.”

            Make sure your confidence is not misplaced. The people practicing facilitated communication were also confident.

  28. Open Mind says:

    And so Medicine successfully bullies another alternate professional into partial submission. It’s particularly good at marshalling it’s forces against anything it can’t understand. So Sad.

    That from the profession singularly responsible for the greatest number of mismanagement induced death in the history of health intervention.

    1. Yawn. Your pseudo-open-minded posturing is boring…

      Shoshanna left because she couldn’t contribute to a rational discussion. She simply did not have the tools to discuss her position in a useful way. Seemingly neither do you but if you want to stop your childish behavior and actually put forward an argument for SSS as a distinct cognitive disorder then please do.

      1. Open Mind says:

        One would find it perplexing to indulge in rational discussion with a collection of traditionalists (read- old fashioned and incapable of expanding thoughts into the new sciences) . It’s the boorish old guard which make other more progressive and open minded professionals so appealing to large sectors of the public.

        RE: SSS , IS , etc, I actually am not of the opinion that it exists as a separate disorder of cognitive thinking. I suspect (and nothing more) it is a subset of a wider range of visual functional and developmental disorders, and may be linked in some way to migraine-like process. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the topic nor do I practise it. However I am not too ignorant so as to dismiss the possibilities without further research.

        1. “One would find it perplexing to indulge in rational discussion with a collection of traditionalists (read- old fashioned and incapable of expanding thoughts into the new sciences)”

          Unless you mean something irrational by “new sciences” then your assumption is categorically incorrect. Again you have come back with a post that is near vacuous. Instead of providing evidence for (or against) the thing being discussed or arguing for a particular objective standard of evidence. You make unfair and inaccurate assertions about the character of people here.

          “I don’t pretend to be an expert on the topic nor do I practise it. However I am not too ignorant so as to dismiss the possibilities without further research.”

          What would be the magical threshold of research which would appease you?

          1. Open Mind says:

            “What would be the magical threshold of research which would appease you?”

            What a naïve comment. Such specificity! It is an indication of a primitive scientific thought process to expect the world to exist in only black or white.

          2. “What a naïve comment. Such specificity! It is an indication of a primitive scientific thought process to expect the world to exist in only black or white.”

            Yawn, now you’re just being a vacuous jerk, instead of simply vacuous.

            You said “to dismiss the possibilities without further research.” which implies that some level of research would be adequate to dismiss something. Either you can express that now or you can not. If you can not express that now then perhaps you would consider coming back when you can.

            1. Open Mind says:

              You consider me a vacuous jerk. I consider your comments indicative of a pompous ass.
              If only life and the universe were as simplistic as you and as your narrow view of science would prefer.
              A closed mind requires the ultimate research of a multi centre, double blind study. At least for all other fields on endeavour other than it’s own turf, and therein lies the hypocrisy! Never mind all those who may suffer in the interim.
              An open mind is more willing to critically analyse that which it sees with it’s own eyes, rather than rely PURELY on the whims of the academic fraternity and it’s political and drug company masters. To not recognise this is the height of naivety.

              1. “You consider me a vacuous jerk. I consider your comments indicative of a pompous ass.”

                The salient difference being that I was pretty clear as to what made your post vacuous. You simply show no ability to add to the discussion about either the likelihood of the claim(s) (SSS is not a distinct neurological condition and irlen is not a clinically helpful modality) OR what standard of evidence we should be judging people by. I’m sure you’re all mad about something or someone but it probably isn’t me.

                “A closed mind requires the ultimate research of a multi centre, double blind study. At least for all other fields on endeavour other than it’s own turf, and therein lies the hypocrisy!”

                Your prejudicial language aside. Requires for what? You really should concentrate on argument rather than rhetoric. We were, at one point talking (or at least I was, you seem to want to turn this into some kind of soapbox to play the victim or some other drama) about “dismissing without further study”. Would a negative result on a well-done study (large, well-controlled, low variability, clear outcomes,etc..) be good reason to dismiss a modality? Sure. You seem to be pretty bold to claim there’s some other superior standard of evidence but you are terribly shy about saying exactly what.

                “An open mind is more willing to critically analyse that which it sees with it’s own eyes”

                How is a well-done study NOT a form of critical analysis of what you see with your own eyes?

                “rather than rely PURELY on the whims of the academic fraternity and it’s political and drug company masters. To not recognise this is the height of naivety”

                Yawn. Oh it’s that tired trope. It sounds like you consider published peer-reviewed research to be lower quality evidence than what you observe directly (either universally or generally). So if you see someone who by your observation alone appears to improve wearing indigo shades then regardless of any body of evidence of any size to the contrary then this validates the modality. You might retreat to a position of “Well it validates it for that particular person.”

                Anyway if you want to try to define what your standard of evidence is, that is define it in a way that can be usefully discussed. That would be cool. I will probably tear it to shreds. So on the other hand you might just want to keep to making vague snippish remarks. You’ll be able to preserve your self-esteem much longer that way.

                Also, if at all possible try not to talk like you’re at a Renaissance fair.

              2. Open Mind says:

                Such pompous foolishness!

                My point, if you care to re-read the salient points and interpret them in a manner befitting a professional, is that….

                -Evidence based research is indeed an important tool
                -EBR is not fool proof
                -EBR is frequently selectively published, for the benefit of political and /or financial gain
                -Clinical observation by experienced practitioners with a discerning mind frequently occurs decades before the sheep mentality of specific collective academic fraternities is able to satisfy itself with these new theories
                -Many patients suffer unnecessarily whilst the masses await such “proof”, a sad indictment which at best manifests clinical incompetence.

                Very simple really. Please do try and follow the logical thinking pathway if possible.

              3. “-Evidence based research is indeed an important tool”

                Not disputed by Dr. Novella or myself.

                “-EBR is not fool proof”

                Not disputed by Dr. Novella or myself.

                “-EBR is frequently selectively published, for the benefit of political and /or financial gain”

                Not disputed by Dr. Novella or myself. Although we probably don’t agree on some of the definitions of “frequently” or “benefit”

                “-Clinical observation by experienced practitioners with a discerning mind frequently occurs decades before the sheep mentality of specific collective academic fraternities is able to satisfy itself with these new theories”

                Your prejudicial language aside. Frequently? How frequently? How would you establish that someone is an “experienced practitioner” or possesses a “discerning mind”. For example how do you know that people possessing both these qualities are only correct 1 in 100 times and cause harm 5 in 100 times?

                All in all you’ve said virtually nothing. Sometimes things are wrong, sometimes they are right. Sometimes a single person can be correct in contrast to popular belief.

                However what I asked for (and what you constantly try to use as a platform to either to posture or insult) is that in *this* case *you* said that you would not dismiss Irlen without further evidence. Clearly that implies a standard of evidence which is not met by what Dr. Novella presented.

                And as I’m still asking exactly what other evidence you would like…

                …and you just can’t answer possibly because you’re afraid or you just don’t know or perhaps you’ve made some kind of identity out of thinking you’re asking the “really important questions” whatever.

                The question is still there and your methodology is nowhere to be seen. So you should find it utterly correct that when forced to choose between an known, demonstrated and (reasonably) formalized way of analyzing evidence and your ineffable one. That we ignorant mortals choose the former.

              4. Open Mind says:

                “Yawn. Oh it’s that tired trope. It sounds like you consider published peer-reviewed research to be lower quality evidence than what you observe directly (either universally or generally).”

                Sometimes. Occasionally. Absolutely!
                Some published, peer reviewed research is absolute tripe. Some is excellent.

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Trolling troll is obvious.

  29. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Why is it bullying to ask for good evidence before spending time, money or delivering treatment? It’s not the skeptics fault that there is no evidence beyond anecdotes and poorly designed trials to support Irlen syndrome. It’s not our fault that Irlen syndrome doesn’t align with what is known of human vision and neurology. It’s not our fault they chose to waste their time and money on poorly-designed trials lacking even basic control groups rather than on something that might genuinely reveal something about the hypothesis (probably that it was a poor one). Nobody was harangued or belittled off the site, there were merely repeated requests for the kind of basic information you would find to support nearly any scientific diagnosis or treatment. The thing is, we would like to understand the world, which often means giving up on hypotheses that we feel affinity for if the evidence doesn’t exist to support it. If there were any good evidence for Irlen syndrome, then efforts would be made to understand it, to change how we think about the brain and eyes into a more accurate version. It’s not the skeptic’s fault that proponents of Irlen syndrome did some shoddy studies and then shut down their critical faculties. I’m not sure why you are claiming that “further research” is needed. It’s not. better research is needed, and frankly if someone is too busy making money off of Irlen syndrome to wonder if they’re doing the right thing on the basis of good-quality research, I have little sympathy for them and even less respect.

    I have a standard question I ask in these situations – what would you do if the head of Pfizer came to you with the same evidence for a new drug? What would you do if Ian Read started showing up in comments and on commercials saying “look, we gave it to 30 people and they all got better. We’ve got these tests to show that they had the problem, and then got better. We asked questions like ‘are you happy’ and ‘do you sometimes forget things’, and they answered yes, and then we gave them douchenoxicol and afterwards they all said that they felt a lot better. I took douchenoxicol and man, my life has been nothing but orgasms and puppies ever since.” Would you buy that drug? Would you think it was effective? If you wouldn’t, then why the double-standard? Why is it not OK for Ian Read to sell drugs on the basis of low-quality evidence, but it’s just fine for proponents of Irlen syndrome (or homeopathy, or acupuncture, or supplements, or coffee enemas)?

    Also, yes, medicine does have medical errors. You read about them in the medical scientific literature, which is part of a self-reflective effort to consistently improve care and reduce harms. Medicine is self-critical, and changes in the face of evidence. Medicine treats the sick, sometime the dying, and it is both imperfect, and at times helpless. None of which has anything to do with the failure of Irlen syndrome as a clinical entity.

    1. One might even argue that in order for medicine, as a body of knowledge to continue to help people. It is *required* to have a high standard of evidence.

      Lower the standard of evidence and you will increase the number of non-helping modalities in greater number than the ones that help.

  30. weing says:

    “It’s particularly good at marshalling it’s forces against anything it can’t understand.”
    Please teach us. We are very good at understanding lack of scientific rigor. I still can’t understand quantum mechanics. I am not against it, however. Please elaborate on your accusation. How many died? How many were saved?

    1. Open Mind says:

      Oh please, don’t insult everyone’s intelligence.

      Medicine is a fine and proud profession which has save countless lives.

      However SOME of our more pompous fraternity are of the opinion that no other reasonable opinion exists other than their own. Equally that no such opinion could exist without having its base in shonky attempts at seeking financial gain.

      This GOD COMPLEX contributes to various levels of substandard patient care, up the extreme of medically induced fatalities.

      If you are unaware of such facts, then perhaps you should seek to educate yourself through your own research into the topic- Google and PubMed is your friend. One suspects I am not!

      1. windriven says:

        “Oh please, don’t insult everyone’s intelligence.”

        My intelligence has been offended for some time in this thread. But it is you and your co-delusionals who are doing the insulting. Ewing, Jonathan Graham, WLU and others have labored mightily to induce you to produce a scientifically compelling argument. We have instead been treated to variations on themes of anecdote, special pleading and appeals to (dubious) authority.

        You are frankly full of shit when you moan that

        “SOME of our more pompous fraternity are of the opinion that no other reasonable opinion exists other than their own.”

        This is not about opinion it is about reality versus fantasy. The superiority of Faulkner over Hemingway is an issue of opinion. Medical diagnosis and treatment of visual disorders are issues of science.

        1. Open Mind says:

          ” The superiority of Faulkner over Hemingway is an issue of opinion. Medical diagnosis and treatment of visual disorders are issues of science”

          I’m sorry, though not every practitioner in the world agrees with that statement, or at least with it’s implications. Your thinking seems steeped in black vs white. Others believe in innumerable shades of grey.

          You can consider that a metaphorical statement from someone who is “full of shit”, or an attempt to make you understand that the rules in which you think and play are not followed by all (and nor should they be).

          1. windriven says:

            Let’s put aside beliefs and stick with facts. You do understand the difference, yes?

            As to shades of gray, science is replete with them. But they take the form of conditionals and confidence factors, not ‘because I believe it’.

  31. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    You consider me a vacuous jerk. I consider your comments indicative of a pompous ass.

    I don’t think you are a vacuous jerk, my description of you as a troll was on the basis of thinking you were an attention whore. If you were sincere, you would try to engage substantively rather than taking hollow cheap shots from the sidelines. Jonathan seems to think you are ignorant, and willfully so. Another option is that you realize the scientific bankruptcy of CAM and know that if you ever made a positive statement you would be immediately shot down. One must keep an open mind, it could be one, the other, all or none, or you might not even realize why you are doing it.

    If only life and the universe were as simplistic as you and as your narrow view of science would prefer.

    It’s funny when people accuse science of being narrow merely because it asks for proof. Science expanded the number of elements from four to over 100. It expanded treatment options from bloodletting, herbs and purgatives to the untold riches we have today. It expanded the universe from a series of armillary spheres to the current, nigh-endless void. It expanded the number of worlds from two to billions upon billions. It expanded the age of the universe from 7,000 to 13.5 billion (naturally, there’s also the creation stories of the non-JHVHs, but rather than going through every single “turtles all the way down” myth I’ll stick with what I’m familiar). Science expanded our senses from a tiny range of sound and light to an endless modulation of wavelengths revealing whole worlds we knew nothing about. It extended our senses from millimeters to angstroms, from kilometers to light years. Science discovered volcanoes under the oceans, terrible lizards who ruled our murine predecessors, asteroids that shattered the world, glaciers that circled the globe, the origins of man in ape rather than god. Science exposed the lie of vitalism, extended lives, cured cancer, discovered vitamins, discovered radiation (then found it was bad for us). And in the last group of discoveries, quacks were poised to kill the discoveries and loot their corpses.

    A closed mind requires the ultimate research of a multi centre, double blind study. At least for all other fields on endeavour other than it’s own turf, and therein lies the hypocrisy! Never mind all those who may suffer in the interim.

    A closed mind refuses to discard an idea, no matter how many times it fails testing. An open mind is open to the possibility of novelty, but also the possibility that they are wrong. A well-designed RCT would be extremely helpful in settling the question, but there are many other methods that could be used to test the assumptions of Irlen syndrome – but all require some degree of control. Proponents of Irlen syndrome demand money, attention and respect, they try to invoke science without actually doing any. There are limited resources in the world, and it only makes sense to me that we expend them on the most promising and fruitful areas, the ones that clearly and consistently show the ability of signal to rise from the noise. I don’t know why you find this so unreasonable. I don’t know why you demand special treatment for Irlen syndrome, on the basis of poor-quality evidence. Why does Irlen syndrome merit ignoring the scientific process when other modalities with clear evidence of benefit (i.e. hormone replacement therapy) must bow to the evidence and change in the face of it.

    And above all, why can’t proponents of Irlen syndrome be bothered to simply do good science?

    An open mind is more willing to critically analyse that which it sees with it’s own eyes, rather than rely PURELY on the whims of the academic fraternity and it’s political and drug company masters. To not recognise this is the height of naivety.

    That’s true, anecdote is a wonderful hypothesis-generating tool. But those hypotheses must be tested, and an open mind is willing to discard failed ideas. Despite your moniker, the one idea that fails to enter your allegedly open mind is that Irlen syndrome might be an artifact of other circumstances. Again, I’m willing to change my mind – but show me the evidence. Drug companies are not all-powerful, they too must bow to the evidence, and have. The fact that drug companies have behaved badly is not a justification for Irlen syndrome, that’s a false dilemma. Politicians, unfortunately, are often immune to evidence.

    Also, coloured sheet companies are not-for-profit? Practitioners do it for free? There are monied interests in Irlen syndrome too. And beyond money, there are matters of professional pride and individual self-esteem. No practitioner wants to acknowledge that they may have been wasting their clients’ money for decades, there is an emotional motive as well as a financial one. Even within drug companies, some of the scientists are motivated by a desire to cure disease, to help people in some way. Pointing to another’s flaws as if they excuse your own is base hypocrisy. I have no interest, financial or otherwise, in Irlen syndrome. I’m merely pointing out, for free, that the evidence for it is poor. I’m sorry if you find that frustrating, but that’s the truth of the matter. I will change my mind if you can produce good evidence.

    1. William – Nicely done. If you don’t mind, I would like to quote an excerpt from this on the SGU tonight.

    2. Open Mind says:

      Sorry Billy boy, though you’re not thinking straight. A few salient points which may help deal with your confusion….
      1. You waffle a lot about science being brilliant. I agree wholeheartedly. Somewhat wasted verbosity.
      2. You continue to argue about IS, yet I have told you that I neither practise nor have ever been treated for the condition, IF it indeed exists. Again, somewhat wasted verbosity.
      3. You stoop to calling me a “whore”! You do yourself a disservice old man. Pretty brave as a keyboard warrior hey!

  32. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Oh please, don’t insult everyone’s intelligence.

    You seem to be handling that quite nicely.

    However SOME of our more pompous fraternity are of the opinion that no other reasonable opinion exists other than their own.

    That’s amusing coming from someone who refuses to entertain even the idea Irlen syndrome might not exist, despite a lack of convincing evidence.

    Equally that no such opinion could exist without having its base in shonky attempts at seeking financial gain.

    What financial motive is involved here beyond that found among the practitioners of Irlen syndrome, the clinics where they work, the societies they pay dues into and the authors of the publications that are written? How does another entity gain financially when Irlen syndrome is considered disproven? How do I gain, when this comment is free, this website costs me nothing, and you may have noticed that I comment on nearly every post that shows up on this site. I haven’t been waiting like a spider in its nest for this article to be written, I merely pointed out the obvious (Irlen syndrome lacks convincing evidence that it exists) when the post appeared.

    This GOD COMPLEX contributes to various levels of substandard patient care, up the extreme of medically induced fatalities.

    Yes, care can be substandard, and yes, being a doctor can require considerable confidence and faith in your own abilities (Dr. Gorski has posted on this). But when a CAM proponent shows up insisting they have the truth, and it’s a truth that contradicts what is known about the body and mind, what has been built up over centuries of careful study, on the basis of little more than shoddy self-confirming experiments and personal experience, I’m not surprised you get dismissed. One must respect science

    If you are unaware of such facts, then perhaps you should seek to educate yourself through your own research into the topic- Google and PubMed is your friend. One suspects I am not!

    So, despite being a proponent and apparently familiar with the condition, it’s up to us to do the work, to sift through pubmed and find the good studies? Well, I’m going to defer to Dr. Novella, who in turn defers to the three review articles on Irlen syndrome. They reviewed the evidence, they parsed its quality, and they came up unconvinced. I’m with them, not the person who insists we ignore the literature in favour of deceptive personal experience. If you can’t understand why I would do that, then you should read some of the books I recommended.

  33. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    @ Dr. Novella

    Of course, I would be honoured.

    @Open mind

    1. You waffle a lot about science being brilliant. I agree wholeheartedly. Somewhat wasted verbosity.

    So why do you think its methods do not apply or are ineffectual when it comes to this particular theory, as you do repeatedly in your comments?

    2. You continue to argue about IS, yet I have told you that I neither practise nor have ever been treated for the condition, IF it indeed exists. Again, somewhat wasted verbosity.

    So why waste time with blatantly antiscientific fallacies like “Big Pharma” and pedantic nit-picking? Why claim a neurologist wouldn’t have anything of merit to say about the topic? Why support laundry-lists of sources that, when actually read, belie rather than buttress the claims made of IS? Why claim that neurology and the “medical model” is unable to assess IS? Why accuse people who don’t agree with you of being simple-minded, or outright stupid, merely because they don’t agree with you and prefer to refer to the scientific literature? Why pretend that personal experience is superior to science? Why support homeopathy, which is profoundly scientific and consistently fails all well-designed tests? Why proclaim the American Board of Opthamologists is a political body rather than a scientific one? All of which you do on August 8th by the way, in various comments.

    Why not engage with matters of substance rather than vague pronouncements of “science doesn’t know everything”? Why describe medicine as a “dogma” when it quite obviously is self-critical and changes in the face of good evidence? This is particularly ironic when you consider how dogmatically it is insisted that IS exists despite lacking good evidence. Why be coy and vague rather than clear in your statements and reasoning? Why resort to vague platitudes rather than coherent principles and facts? Why claim that asking for good evidence is “bullying”, which you do on August 13th?

    3. You stoop to calling me a “whore”! You do yourself a disservice old man. Pretty brave as a keyboard warrior hey!

    I’ll stop calling you a whore for attention when you stop whoring for attention. Say something specific. Defend a position. Knocking down other positions with factual criticisms is valuable and necessary – but all it does is reduce the other position. Again, valuable and necessary. Doesn’t do shit-all to support your assertions though, it’s the kind of vague posturing that CAM promoters rely on, hoping that the masses don’t realize the two are disconnected. It’s the kind of criticisms creationists rely on, with the implicit assumption that if evolution is flawed then God is real.

    Until you abandon your vacuous penchant for spurious commentary, I’ll keep calling you on being vacuous and spurious, and label it as I see fit. For instance, you claim earlier today that we are ignoring the “salient points”. Well, perhaps we missed them – please restate them. “Science isn’t always right” is not a salient point, it does not prove the existence of anything but the errors science makes. Science knows this, but merely because science does make errors doesn’t mean the entire edifice is flawed or worthless. Science makes errors, but it also corrects them. You are trying to claim “because science makes mistakes, the entire enterprise can’t be trusted”. That’s false. Science, in its rigor, testing and falsification also reveals far more about the universe than the vague stories we tell ourselves in its absence. Similarly, the presence of arrogant doctors and medical errors in no way means that medicine is nothing but errors, or that all doctors are arrogant.

    It’s also amusing that the profoundly arrogant, the scientifically illiterate SCAM promoters who don’t even realize why their interventions are so unlikely, who take as absolute the words of 2,000 year old Chinese texts or 250 year old German quacks, or modern gurus with no credibility beyond their cults, claim to know with absolute certainty that they are right, the evidence is wrong, and most amusingly of all, that doctors are the arrogant ones. It must be how a cosmologist feels when they get trapped by an astrologer during a cocktail party.

    Finally, if me calling you an attention whore is sufficient to drive you to anger, you might consider why I chose those particular words, and perhaps whether they madden you because they are true. Please be reassured that if we were at the same cocktail party and you were making the same arguments with the same intent, I would call you an attention whore to your face. If you don’t like it, you are free to leave. You’re contributing nothing to the conversation of merit or substance and your flirtatious declinations to submit anything but platitudes is repetitious.

  34. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Man, that is one hungry troll.

  35. “-Clinical observation by experienced practitioners with a discerning mind frequently occurs decades before the sheep mentality of specific collective academic fraternities is able to satisfy itself with these new theories”

    By this logic I should go to the lottery commission and ask for my millions. They know people win all the time. Why wait to go through the bother of picking numbers.

    It’s obvious when talking about the lottery, why not with new treatments? The fallacy is the same – sure, treatments that are eventually confirmed may seem inevitable in retrospect. But there are hundreds of failed treatments for everyone that makes it through, and if anything the evidence shows that new treatments are adopted too early – not delayed.

    You can’t know which treatments will turn out to be valid until you do the rigorous science. If you think you can know before the science, then you are engaging in magical thinking or deception.

    1. Open MInd says:

      “By this logic I should go to the lottery commission and ask for my millions. They know people win all the time. Why wait to go through the bother of picking numbers.”

      Steven that is one of the more ludicrous analogies I’ve ever heard.
      So we have (1) Practitioners (in whichever field) who apply therapy and observe a repeatable cause and effect with measurable clinical data before and after, which in turn correlates with reportable improvement by the patient and by third parties (teachers, psychologists, paediatricians), despite the absence (YET?) of iron clad academic research (for whatever reason)…. vs….
      (2) Your group of gamblers who you describe as predicting the future….

      Sorry. I understand where you’re trying to go with the concept, However with all due respect, that’s not one of your finest moments as far as scientific analysis goes.

      “You can’t know which treatments will turn out to be valid until you do the rigorous science.”

      Sure. Of course. With emphasis on the word “know”. Though (in the absence of blatant charlatan like behaviour) I would argue sometimes it is inappropriate to wait and let patients suffer in the interim whilst our academic brethren spend decades designing, instigating and analysing sufficient and longitudinal studies to determine the complete validity of the theory.
      Even if the procedure in question ends up being a manifestation or subset of another (perhaps not yet discovered) condition, then if patient life quality is enhanced, at worst the practitioner is guilty of using that tried and true medical treatment termed placebo.

      Despite Mr Utridge’s propensity for diatribe and standing upon his soapbox proclaiming the brilliance of science (in addition to his misguided, dangerous and foolish attempts at appearing tough) , his verbosity outweighs his comprehension. I am anything but anti-science. Indeed far to the contrary. My point is that academics SOMETIMES live in a world far removed from clinical reality. Working at the coalface with real people needing immediate assistance, I am quite willing to discuss and /or try (with full disclosure to the patient) what mainstream medicine may consider some alternate treatments (IN ADDITION TO MORE STANDARD MANAGEMENT). I would argue that at times we OWE that to our patients.

      As an example……Ultridge complains that I was critical of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. As is his way, he generalised my comment referring to their political motivation in one topic as an all encompassing comment that they are a political body (Self indulgence does that to some! )
      Yet that fine governing body recently commissioned a study which “proved” there was no link between the visual system and learning. Why? Because their peer reviewed, published study showed there was no correlation between academic performance and visual anomalies such as strabismus, corrected refractive error and ocular pathology. Fascinating terms of reference used for that study! They chose 3 visual conditions already well known for decades to not heavily impact upon classroom performance, whilst ignoring the ones argued by others to be related. Then surprise surprise they found no link and extended that to conclude this proved vision and learning were unrelated. Their final self-serving conclusion?? That this was evidence that patients with visual problems or learning problems should only consult with…ophthalmologists and paediatricians!
      Brilliant! Chose terms of reference of your study which you know will support your case and ignore other conditions which (you probably deep down know) will disprove your case. Attain the (pre-determined) results and have that reviewed and published by your like-minded peers. Then effectively use that elementary school quality research as political propaganda. Pathetic really.

      OF COURSE not all science and studies are like that, THOUGH MANY ARE. If one chooses to accept such “well run” studies by such “reputable bodies” then patients will be denied management which can enhance their vision, academic pursuits and lives.

      Science does require discerning minds. However I restate simply that SOMETIMES awaiting the burden of proof is tantamount to patient neglect.

      1. weing says:

        “However I restate simply that SOMETIMES awaiting the burden of proof is tantamount to patient neglect.”
        As long as you tell the patients that you are only entertaining them as you have nothing substantial to offer them.

      2. weing says:

        Can you be a little more specific about the study you mention? The joint statement refers to a lot more than a single study.
        http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/ClinicalStatements_Content.aspx?cid=8aa39ca4-039a-4329-beec-42e5a3007329

        Are you one of those people that believe that by constant practice of swimming, you will develop a physique like Michael Phelps? Personally, I think it’s his physique that makes him such a good swimmer.

  36. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I’m sorry, though not every practitioner in the world agrees with that statement, or at least with it’s implications. Your thinking seems steeped in black vs white. Others believe in innumerable shades of grey.
    You can consider that a metaphorical statement from someone who is “full of shit”, or an attempt to make you understand that the rules in which you think and play are not followed by all (and nor should they be).

    That’s a lovely statement about science, but science never pretends to be black or white. Science is suffused with shades of grey. But that doesn’t change the fact that there is very little evidence for Irlen syndrome, nor does it change the fact that the shades of grey are darkened or lightened on the basis of evidence. Assertions that Irlen syndrome exist are not evidence, any more than assertions that God exists is evidence of divinity. Nobody here is insisting that Irlen syndrome doesn’t exist, or can’t exist, no matter how much you pretend otherwise. The consistent statements have been:

    1) The evidence basis for Irlen syndrome existing, and for coloured filters helping with reading comprehension is narrow and poor, such that confidently predicting coloured filters will improve patient outcomes is unwarranted.

    2) The present understanding of the brain and visual system does not readily support the idea that Irlen syndrome is a real and distinct clinical entity. Of the two choices, our current understanding of neurological and visual systems is flawed versus Irlen syndrome is best explained through nonspecific effects, the latter is more likely.

    3) Personal testimonials and lengthy lists of resources are not good-quality evidence and do not warrant the dogmatic claims made for the effectiveness of Irlen syndrome and the use of coloured filters.

    Skeptics may have been irritated into sharp criticisms of how Irlen syndrome is promoted here, and questioned the motives and intellectual capacity of proponents. This is primarily due to those same proponents dogmatically insisting on claims that far outstrip the evidence base and ignoring rebuttals and requests for better evidence in favour of further personal assertions, testimonials and dogma. Really, you have been rather politely received for the most part. Instead of calling you an idiot, there have been several substantive efforts to provide meaningful replies to your claims. I’m sorry if you are unable to understand them (I am happy to be clearer if you think it would help), and I’m contemptuous if you are merely unwilling.

    1. Open Mind says:

      “Really, you have been rather politely received for the most part. Instead of calling you an idiot, there have been several substantive efforts to provide meaningful replies to your claims. I’m sorry if you are unable to understand them (I am happy to be clearer if you think it would help), and I’m contemptuous if you are merely unwilling.”

      As befits one perhaps attached to his own dogma rather that considering all possible options, you failed to consider the other possibility that I am neither “unable to understand” or “merely unwilling” to do so, though have taken on board your comments, analysed them, interpreted them, then discarded them as not being sufficiently convincing.

      Unless of course you are too pompous to accept such a response could exist in your concept of reality. Then again, that would be consistent with the mindset of one who must believe anyone not conforming to their all knowing intellect as a troll!

  37. Greg in Calgary says:

    In light of the discussions above, you might be interested to learn that our legislature here in Alberta is reviewing a bill which would require teachers to refer some children with reading difficulties to a certified Irlen screener for testing. As far as I can tell from listening to an interview with the lady who wrote the bill, it’s based on the thinnest of anecdotal evidence and the support of a legion of Irlen testing facilities and practitioners, all of whom would benefit financially by the passing of this legislation.

    Here’s a link to the current state of things and some documentation, which contains Bill 204, and a number of submissions from interested parties. Surprise appearance by Helen Irlen! I haven’t finished reading the submissions, but so far they recap what’s been discussed here.

    A fascinating attempt to define science by popularity, followed by a legislative end run to establish credibility and provide financial security for Irlen’s believers.

  38. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    So we have (1) Practitioners (in whichever field) who apply therapy and observe a repeatable cause and effect with measurable clinical data before and after, which in turn correlates with reportable improvement by the patient and by third parties (teachers, psychologists, paediatricians), despite the absence (YET?) of iron clad academic research (for whatever reason)

    Actually, here is where your reasoning falls down and where you most clearly fail to understand science. Practitioners observe an association between action and improvement. Practitioners of Irlen syndrome then attribute the outcome to their actions, specifically their interventions. Science recognizes that this is anecdote, and the plural of anecdotes is not data – there are multiple possible explanations for the association and it is premature to say “improvements in reading” are due to coloured filters. You even use the word “correlates” without appreciating its implications for your argument. Correlation does not equal causation and humans are terrible at recognizing their own flaws and inappropriate attribution of causation.

    If proponents of Irlen syndrome have such “iron clad academic research”, then they have not presented it. That’s in fact the reason why they keep getting criticized in these comments, an interesting point that somehow you and others somehow fail to grasp consistent repetition. Your faith in the human mind to properly attribute cause and effect is misplaced.

    I would argue sometimes it is inappropriate to wait and let patients suffer in the interim whilst our academic brethren spend decades designing, instigating and analysing sufficient and longitudinal studies to determine the complete validity of the theory.

    So you are in favour of opening up multiple sclerosis patients to the so-called “liberation” procedure then? Despite the fact that subsequent research has consistently failed to find benefit? The thing is, there are multitudes of possible interventions, but there are limited funds and time with which to deliver them. Your approach opens the door to quackery, unnecessary medical deaths and wastes of millions. It would be great if science and medicine were quicker, but it’s not. And your medical version of “think of the children” doesn’t speed it. For the good of future sufferers (and whoever pays for medical care), it is imperative that we properly test interventions before promulgating them.

    Even if the procedure in question ends up being a manifestation or subset of another (perhaps not yet discovered) condition, then if patient life quality is enhanced, at worst the practitioner is guilty of using that tried and true medical treatment termed placebo.

    Your proposal would reduce quantity of life at the expense of quality. Plus, I have an issue with lying to patients. I think it’s wrong. Also, “placebo” is not a medical treatment, it’s not powerful, it doesn’t produce objective improvements, and there is no reason it can’t be harnessed while delivering real care. This is a pathetic argument frequently floated by SCAM proponents, in my opinion so they can avoid changing their minds, and above all avoid changing their (lucrative) practices. And people say Big Pharma is unethical and greedy.

    I am anything but anti-science.

    This coming from the person promoting anecdote over study. Do you know what the Dunning-Kruger effect is? Because you embody it.

    Indeed far to the contrary. My point is that academics SOMETIMES live in a world far removed from clinical reality.

    You treat this feature like it’s a bug. You need that distance. Without it, you end up with worthless studies, massive waste and the crawling to a halt of the progress of science. A balance is needed. Indeed, you might look at The Emperor of all Maladies for an example of what happens when the careful protocols of a study are relaxed (specifically the breast cancer detection and demonstration project, though page 298 has a brief summary of the results). Compassion is necessary in providing treatment, but it can be crippling for the long-term health of medical research.

    I am quite willing to discuss and /or try (with full disclosure to the patient) what mainstream medicine may consider some alternate treatments (IN ADDITION TO MORE STANDARD MANAGEMENT)

    And if that alternative treatment is a complete waste of time and money like homeopathy? Or if it’s actively harmful, like many herbal treatments are?

    Yet that fine governing body recently commissioned a study which “proved” there was no link between the visual system and learning [snip] Attain the (pre-determined) results and have that reviewed and published by your like-minded peers. Then effectively use that elementary school quality research as political propaganda.

    None of this proves that Irlen syndrome works, and practitioners have still failed to muster any real proof. Yes, bad studies happen (if this one happened, citation needed). The results reflect only on the bad study. They do not magically validate the preferred treatments of those who criticize the entity. It is not “you are right or I am”, it is “evidence supports this specific intervention”. Pointing out the ABO is a political body doesn’t magically generate evidence for Irlen syndrome, I simply don’t see how you can fail to recognize this fact.

    Science does require discerning minds. However I restate simply that SOMETIMES awaiting the burden of proof is tantamount to patient neglect.

    Well, that mindset led to thousands of years of bloodletting. Also, how do you know when it is better to wait for burden of proof, versus charging ahead with unproven treatments? How does this line up with three decades of consistent failure to validate Irlen syndrome? Don’t you think 30 years is enough? And are you familiar with laetrile?

  39. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    As befits one perhaps attached to his own dogma rather that considering all possible options, you failed to consider the other possibility that I am neither “unable to understand” or “merely unwilling” to do so, though have taken on board your comments, analysed them, interpreted them, then discarded them as not being sufficiently convincing.

    Well, “attention whore” is still on the block but I’ll concede it is looking less likely now that you’re getting specific. Of course it’s quickly revealing that you don’t understand science nearly as well as you think you do. I’ll now add another option – you are have a grossly inflated opinion of your own competence and a distorted appreciation for medical research.

    I’m not attached to dogma. I have no particular expertise in ophthalmology or neurology. I can however parse the quality of research methodologies in general terms.

    Unless of course you are too pompous to accept such a response could exist in your concept of reality. Then again, that would be consistent with the mindset of one who must believe anyone not conforming to their all knowing intellect as a troll!

    You’re right, I should have included Dunning-Kruger as an option. Though if I’m being technical, Dunning-Kruger is a subset of both “unwilling” and “unable” to understand. If nothing else, your unwarranted embrace of anecdotes certainly is revealing.

    1. Open Mind says:

      ” Dunning-Kruger ” THAT is humorous!
      3 words for you….POT…KETTLE ….BLACK

      As for your unprofessional and disgusting use of (“whore”) language Mr. Utridge , my husband, whom has now lost all respect for you, wishes to follow up on that when you two catch up next!

      1. Karl Withakay says:

        Open Mind: “Mr. Utridge , my husband, whom has now lost all respect for you, wishes to follow up on that when you two catch up next!”

        I’m going to give you a chance here to clarify that this was not a thinly veiled threat of physical violence: Please clarify the meaning of your comment.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          If it makes you feel any better, I have about as much respect for Open Mind’s investigative ability to discover my real-life identity as I have for her scientific reasoning capabilities.

        2. Open Mind says:

          Silly! Jumping to conclusions again- how unlike a sceptic.
          “Follow up on that” could of course refer to meeting and having a lovely chat over the meaning of life whilst sipping tea in the garden. It could mean a multitude of things.
          Funny how real word data can be interpreted in so many ways by such suspicious minds.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Sure, and that’s fine. But since I don’t actually know who you, or your husband are in real life, it really does look like a threat. I’m in agreement with Karl that an allusion to violence is a valid interpretation of your clumsily coy comment.

  40. Nikki says:

    I don’t believe Irlens Syndrome has the evidence to support it from the literature I have read and I’m not a doctor by any means. Just someone with chronic migraines with persistent migraine auras. I looked into this because my persistent migraine auras are quite distorting and wondered if colored filters could potentially reduce my perception of some of these distortions while at the same time reducing some of the photosensitivity. There has been research into specific color filters for photophobia and I wondered if perhaps a specific color might in fact help more for some of the more distorting auras. Perhaps I speculated even with the visual snow. I never got the glasses but I do like the filters for the computer and so forth. I have no idea if glasses of a specific color would in fact help with this issue but one interesting study caught my eye in regards to this very things. http://www.a-health-blog.com/study-finds-that-tinted-specs-offer-relief-for-migraine-sufferers.html So it is very possible specific glasses of a specific tint could in fact help me, however, would Irlens be accurate enough to pinpoint it? All I know is that I can’t afford to muck about finding the right specific tint assuming this might actually help with this, given it might not. However, clearly when it comes to PMA there are little that does help. All I know is that perhaps it isn’t color that is causing these visual issues, perhaps it is something along the lines of cortical hyperactivation seen in some migraine patients. And when it comes to migraines, they are not always diagnosed properly. The Irlens Institute by the way put me at the pretty severe end of things… but I cannot stare at patterns. Patterns and lines are a nightmare. And yes, the more you look the more bizarre it gets. And the more likely a migraine will occur. So ironically there could very well be a neurological phenomena in migraine patients, or seen in other neurological conditions, that could benefit from color filters and not a syndrome in-itself. I know in my case I certainly don’t think it is a syndrome outside of the migraine phenomena… I just thought perhaps I could ‘block’ some of the crap I was seeing. Personally I think it would be an interesting area to research further in regards to specific neurological conditions that get visual distortions.

    1. Nikki says:

      Here is a link to the Journal. I have not read it myself as I don’t subscribe to it. It was a small study but most of the fMRI ones tend to be. http://cep.sagepub.com/content/31/8/925.abstract

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        If you refer to Dr. Novella’s original post, he essentially posits that Irlen syndrome is a wastebasket diagnosis for a variety of conditions that are actually clinically distinct. While filtering lenses might work for certain conditions, such as migraines for instance, assuming the blocked frequencies stimulate certain parts of the brain or some similar mechanism, then there might be something there. Of course, that is mere speculation, not proof, and it would have to be separately tested. And assuming it is real, assuming filtering lenses do prevent migraines, that does nothing to prove that Irlen syndrome helps with reading difficulties.

        Part of the problem is that Irlen syndrome tries to be the One Cause To All ProblemsTM. This is always extremely unlikely. Even in cases where conditions are known as “the great imitator” because of their variety of symptoms (like Lupus, or MS), the symptoms themselves are variable even if the cause is not. For a single condition to cause multiple symptoms, stable over time, and be fixed by a single solution, and for this to not have been realized yet, is extremely unlikely. Not “homeopathy” unlikely, but definitely “acupuncture” unlikely.

        Again, it’s up to proponents to do good-quality research and present it to the scientific community, rather than relying on shoddy research, testimonials and accusations of conspiracy.

        Really, for something as trivial as “we put on glasses”, that shouldn’t be hard. Jebus, your control group could be as simple as tinted lights to match the frequencies. I don’t know how this hasn’t been done yet.

        1. Nikki says:

          “If you refer to Dr. Novella’s original post, he essentially posits that Irlen syndrome is a wastebasket diagnosis for a variety of conditions that are actually clinically distinct. While filtering lenses might work for certain conditions, such as migraines for instance, assuming the blocked frequencies stimulate certain parts of the brain or some similar mechanism, then there might be something there. Of course, that is mere speculation, not proof, and it would have to be separately tested. And assuming it is real, assuming filtering lenses do prevent migraines, that does nothing to prove that Irlen syndrome helps with reading difficulties.” I don’t disagree at all. Migraines of course are clinically distinct and highly unlikely that everyone that has them, or persistent migraines with them, also has an additional condition of Irlens Syndrome that mimics their persistent migraine auras. Most people with migraines don’t actually believe the theory behind Irlens works for why the glasses are an option they think there is a possibility it might have an affect on the brain, for other reasons. Most on the photosensitivity angle. Which is why that one study is intriguing for those of us with migraines with persistent migraine auras anyway, whether that turns out to have good potential who knows… but clearly that is specific to migraines, not Irlens syndrome. And clearly one doesn’t validate the other… completely different theories at work for one thing. I just found it ironic that there is a possibility someone with chronic migraines with persistent migraine auras would coincidentally find some potential reduction in migraines and migraine auras by getting Irlens glasses… for completely different reasons behind why they were working. Which is why testimonials in this case would not be valid. However when it comes to tinted glasses… people with migraines Love them, but most of us are not willing to pay this much for them. (And some do) And according to the criteria for Irlens, as I said I am on the severe side… as I think most would be with persistent migraine auras of any moderate to severe intensity… but pretty sure 90% of people with chronic migraines would fit the criteria somewhere on the spectrum. There is nothing in the little online quiz or the diagnostic test that would indicate to me that I have anything other than migraines… which make me photosensitive and, yes, in my case grids, patterns garble things up and so do the other auras. But the fact that many people with migraines would also fit the spectrum somewhere…That is Never a good sign. That just doesn’t make logical sense. Unless you think there are people with Irlens syndrome… and ‘coincidentally’ some other people fit the criteria for other diseases and also may benefit from the glasses, but don’t have the syndrome itself. Unfortunately many people with chronic illnesses would fit the criteria as well as symptoms of their condition.

          It is rather misleading to people with chronic illnesses to imply this subset of symptoms can be resolved with a pair of glasses. Many of the symptoms on the list can be attributed to issues people have from being chronically ill and not any other reason at all.

          That does not say it is not possible that it exists as a medical condition. But these Irlens sites can’t link research for it with other medical conditions and think that is somehow valid. People with migraines find that and believe there is a valid causal link and that is not accurate in the least. You can’t say… hey these help with migraines when the reason it helps for migraines may be very different. Likely one reason is photosensitivity (studies have shown to exist prior to a migraine, there are issues with florescents, then of course actual photosensitivity either constant or during a migraine). Possibly the other reason cortical hyperactivation. And of course just pain and eye fatigue and actual auras. Since we don’t know the answer there we certainly can’t say it is because these people had Irlens syndrome. That is a false leap in reasoning. We know they have migraines. Possibly some of the intensity or frequency diminished to some degree but we have no clue Why. But the cause of the symptoms is the migraines. Why would there be two causes there? The word that is missing here is migraine trigger, not cause. So the link is missing. It is possible light and grids and patterns Trigger migraines in some people, some of the time, and tinted glasses May help and it would be interesting to know Why that is. Which is why studies into that are interesting. To suggest that people with migraines might be getting migraines Because they have Irlens syndrome? You’re adding another cause to explain symptoms already explained by the actual disease itself, but then doesn’t fully eliminate the disease it causes? Why? But it does get people with migraines to buy the glasses, and that is a large market right there. (so… makes business sense).

          To do pure research on it, it would have to be exclusively on people with Irlens syndrome, no other problematic health related problems or eye related disorders. Otherwise what you have is symptoms of other conditions… not a condition in-itself simple as that. Something current. I admit it would be difficult for supporters to definitively prove. I have visual snow along with my persistent migraine auras and I know people with just visual snow without migraines eagerly awaiting research on just visual snow that might finally validate that as a neurological condition of its own… I admit that might be a tricky one to prove and these things can be. That one is a fascinating one. Anyway, that aside, if researchers want to prove it is a syndrome then isolate people with it and study it intensely. Go for it. Maybe they will find something entirely different than they thought. Like… maybe a lot of people with insane silent migraines. Who knows. I would not be one to stop research. However, it is an error to connect it to other conditions.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Indeed, one of the substantial downsides to quackery of the Irlen sort is that research in the area acquires a stink, and even valid topics that touch on and are related to the area begin to get eye rolls rather than interest from actual experts. You see it with Peter Duesberg’s oncovirus research (though he himself now disowns it), I’m guessing there is something similar happening with Lyme disease compared to chronic Lyme disease, and nutritional interventions for AIDS patients.

            Much like bad money drives out good, bad research drives out good.

  41. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    ”Dunning-Kruger ” THAT is humorous! 3 words for you….POT…KETTLE ….BLACK

    The difference being I am not advocating for the existence of a syndrome that after 30 years research has not managed to verify, that is accompanied by considerable advocacy with anecdotes but no data, and I also appear to understand a bit more about science than you. For instance, I realize that calling a kettle black doesn’t make it black, you have to verify the actual colour of the pot. I’m sure for you someone telling you the colour of the pot is sufficient.

    As for your unprofessional and disgusting use of (“whore”) language Mr. Utridge , my husband, whom has now lost all respect for you, wishes to follow up on that when you two catch up next!

    So are you threatening to have your husband beat me up because you can’t handle losing an argument? He could go to jail for that, are you sure you want to risk it? Also, a “whore” is a generic term for someone who exchanges services for money, usually sexual. To be clear, I wasn’t saying you trade sexual favours for attention. I was saying it appeared that for you attention is a form of currency that you were willing to debase yourself to acquire, like a troll. Sometimes the truth hurts, and Freud would say the reaction you are expressing would justify my assessment.

    Incidentally, your husband’s opinion of me is of little relevance to my life or self-esteem. I’m quite indifferent to the opinions of strangers on the internet, let alone the opinions of husbands of strangers on the internet. Tell him I said “hi”, and that he has my sympathies. And I’m not a professional, so why would I restrict myself to professional language?

    If it makes you feel any better, I now think you are less of an attention whore, and more unjustifiably confident in your grasp of science. I mean sweet flying monkey Jebus, you think that anecdotes are adequate to justify practice, how appallingly ignorant is that? By the 12 gibbering faces of Shiva, if you think science stops at anecdotes, I shudder to think at what you consider poor quality evidence! May Ahura Mazda’s holy burn me to a cinder and throw the ashes into Angra Mainyu’s bladder, you make me despair of the ability of human kind to think critically.

    I mean, I know I’m ignorant. I know very little about the brain beyond neurons, glial cells and action potentials, and I admit I’ll never have sufficient grasp of the brain to debate neurology with proponents of IS or real neurologists. But I know enough about scientific methodology to realize that cognitive biases render human intuitions useless bar generating new ideas to test, I know that recall bias will ensure misses are forgotten but hits vividly recalled. I know that adequate control groups are absolutely necessary and why. I know why a systematic review is superior to clinician experience and single studies. I know correlation is not causation. I understand a bit about the economics of medicine and therefore why adequate clinical trials are needed. I know that accusing an organization of making a decision solely out of political realities is a lazy person’s excuse to justify a pre-conceived conclusion, and that such ad hominem accusations are all-too-common. I recognize that clinicians have made correct and incorrect guesses about treatments and that the only way to tell the difference is good-quality research (in other words, I understand Dr. Novella’s analogy).

    I know where my limits are, and I try to be careful about identifying them and staying within them. You don’t seem to entertain the fact that there might even be limits to even your factual knowledge about science, let alone that you might be wrong on specific points. Of the two of us, to me it is rather clear which one is more egregiously in error regards Dunning-Kruger.

    But hey, please yourself. Keep talking about how anecdotes are important, you’re just proving my point with every post.

    1. Open Mind says:

      “I mean, I know I’m ignorant. I know very little about the brain beyond neurons, glial cells and action potentials, and I admit I’ll never have sufficient grasp of the brain to debate neurology with proponents of IS or real neurologists.”

      ENOUGH SAID. Anything else you say on the topic becomes the opinion of an intellectual simpleton. You don’t even know what you don’t even know! For that I can only sympathise and look down upon you as suffering from “small man” syndrome; a sad simplistic creature who is somewhat titillated by the need to make sexual innuendos to compensate for their own personal failings in that area. Indeed our staff psychiatrist describes your behaviour here as consistent with that.

      In the words of some of my other colleagues….

      “The quackbusters, I’ve found, aren’t individually, or in groups, that bright. Read delicensed MD Stephen Barrett’s website “quackwatch.com,” and his resume, and you’ll see what I mean – and he’s their chief propagandist. Everything he says is like he was simply filling out a form someone, with a higher intelligence, gave him. His mouthings are boringly the same, each and every time.”.

      As for “real neurologists” from whom you apparently glean your infantile knowledge base, in the words of others…………..

      “Novella claims to be a neurology professor at Yale University, and throws the name “Yale” around like he was throwing seed to the morning chickens – but, to me, that is an outright fabrication. Novella, evidence shows, works for a medical center that “rents” the name “Yale” from the University, who then, assuming the monthly payments are up to date, gets to claim that all their staff doctors are, in fact, professors at Yale (insert bad smell here).
      In short, Novella is just another justifiably self-disappointed crap-career loser…”

      It seems all is not as it seems on this website. Cloak and daggers everywhere. The opinions and thoughts of some (multi-identity) posters is no more “real” than Mr Novellas’ “all natural” hair.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Well, right off the bat, Stephen Barrett is not delicensed. He voluntarily retired from medical practice to devote himself to quackwatch fulltime. I would be the first to agree that in many ways his posts are very similar, but for the reason that so many of mine are somewhat repetitive – SCAM promoters keep repeating the same spurious arguments. “Big pharma” somehow stops them from conducting and publishing good quality research. Their experience triumphs controlled studies. Just try it. Skeptics are arrogant (because they don’t believe my pronouncements in the absence of evidence). I took homeopathy and it made my syphilis go away six months later, and cleared up the side effects of the antibiotics I was taking for my syphilis. However, his grasp of details and history of a lot of “classic” old-school quackery like laetrile is fantastic.

        Of course, you have been rather sparing in your arguments regarding how Irlen syndrome fits with what is known of neurology. One can’t just claim “science doesn’t know everything” as if it supported what you want to replace science with. As I have said, I have an open mind, if good evidence is available. I’m not sure why you’re insisting that one must maintain an open mind at all costs, even if it means abandoning what we already know of the brain. Your version of “an open mind” is rather close to a complete absence of critical faculties, taking people at their word, requiring no proof whatsoever, and being willing to part with our hard-earned money so long as someone has confidence rather than evidence. Keep in mind, people were confident the sun orbited the earth, leeches were confident their ability to cure disease with bloodletting, and Columbus was confident he could reach China by crossing the Atlantic. Confidence is no substitute for data.

        Dr. Novella did not mention his association with Yale in the article. Windriven brought it up when Felisa Weiss asked what his qualifications were. You were the only person to bring up this association as if it proved something. Dr. Novella did, however, bring up the peer-reviewed literature several times. It is on that basis that he asks us to consider the validity of his conclusions, not on his association with Yale. Your point is distraction, not substance. He doesn’t ask us to trust him based on his association, or even qualifications – merely on his ability to cite and synthesize the evidence. Why not engage with that instead of baseless ad hominem attacks?

        You seem to be taking losing the argument repeatedly rather poorly, and appear to be projecting paranoia on the situation. Do you normally win arguments with this level of discourse? Because I could see being frustrated at doing so poorly in an area you seem to consider yourself quite adept in. Losing your illusions is always painful, this must be rather like when you found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. Perhaps you should take a break. Just to let you know, you’re once again shading towards the “whore for attention” with your points, though I will admit that there is a heavy overlay of crank being slathered upon you.

        Also, I quite know that there is much that I don’t know, that’s why I defer to actual professionals who do know what they are talking about – in the form of the peer reviewed literature. And I’ve only pointed out patterns in your behaviour, you were the first person to start insulting others’ appearances. That’s not a sign of a good argument.

        Final point, I am probably a below-average lover (and driver, and in terms of work ethic). The only place I really do better than average is reading and arguing, and even there I specialize. I’m also a decent cook, and I like to think I’m not a bad husband (bedroom-area excluded). I’m not sure what this has to do with the scientific basis of Irlen syndrome though, could you demonstrate the link for me? It’s like you’re just trying to hurt my feelings or win the argument by attacking my character.

        Oh well, at least it’s not my hair.

      2. Harriet Hall says:

        @ Open Mind,

        Watch out! You are repeating the lies and malicious gossip of the notorious Tim Bolen, a despicable character who was once a publicist for Hulda Clark and her quack “zapper” that allegedly cured cancer. He has a long history of distributing false, misleading, and defamatory messages about antiquackery activists through the Internet, and he has been sued for libel because of it. As WLU says, Dr. Barrett was never “de-licensed.” You can read Dr. Barrett’s response to Bolen’s accusations and insults at http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/bolen.html. And you can read more about Bolen at Ratbags: http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/timoranter.htm

        Before you repeated Bolen’s lies, you might have bothered to check the Yale School of Medicine website where Dr. Novella is clearly listed as being on the faculty. See http://medicine.yale.edu/neurology/people/steven_novella-1.profile And you could easily have found out that his office is in the Yale Physicians Building where many others on the Yale faculty have their offices. It is ridiculous to suggest that they had to “rent” the name Yale.

        We seldom ban commenters, but consider yourself warned. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated.

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Oh, also, a point I forgot to make earlier. I suppose I was rattled at having to defend my sexual inadequacies in what I thought was a rational discussion. But anyway, even if you were accurate that Dr. Barrett had lost his medical license – how in any way does that impair his ability to make a reasoned argument? I mean, I’m not a doctor, but somehow I managed to reason out that anecdote is not superior to structured data and control groups. I mean, even a small child was able to point to the Emperor’s nudity.

        I was always under the impression that the quality of the argument mattered more than who made it.

        Do you have an alternative system of evaluating arguments? Can you let us know who is permitted to have valid arguments, and who we get to ignore because of who they are? Is it a sex thing again, do only women have good arguments? Because if that’s the case, Dr. Hall is more than capable of demolishing you in far fewer words than I.

        1. Open Mind says:

          “I suppose I was rattled at having to defend my sexual inadequacies in what I thought was a rational discussion”

          THAT happens when you stoop to calling someone with a differing opinion to you a “whore” !!!!!!!!

          “I’m not a doctor”

          THAT’s right. You’re a nobody. A sad little man who spends hours on the internet trying to understand concepts far beyond your intelligence; reading a little about lots of things by other biased individuals and thinking that makes you qualified to make an opinion which has any merit other than within your tiny neural framework.

          You continually ask other posters throughout this pathetic site to “prove” to you their opinions. You over-estimate your importance. Many (non-septic) posters feel absolutely no need nor desire whatsoever to prove any of our beliefs to crabby old people like yourself. It’s just not important to us. We come on here briefly to observe and ridicule your pseudo-intellect, not learn from you. The “contempt” goes both ways sir. The American public vote with their feet, and alternative medicine (often defined purely as different to the self serving interests of some in traditional medicine) continues to become more prevalent in areas where traditional teachings fail miserably. Rome burns whilst Nero fiddles.

          1. Chris says:

            Explain to us why we should care about the opinion of someone who does not know how to check the directory of a university?

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            THAT happens when you stoop to calling someone with a differing opinion to you a “whore” !!!!!!!!

            You keep missing out on the “for attention” part, not to mention my concession that you’re probably not a troll, but merely a CAM proponent slowly realizing that you have no ability to defend it.

            THAT’s right. You’re a nobody. A sad little man who spends hours on the internet trying to understand concepts far beyond your intelligence; reading a little about lots of things by other biased individuals and thinking that makes you qualified to make an opinion which has any merit other than within your tiny neural framework.

            …and with that I win the argument.

            Keeping in mind, of course, that you are someone willing to argue with such a sad little man. And that sad little man keeps making points you are only able to defend against by stooping to insults. Jebus, you made fun of Dr. Novella’s hair rather than acknowledge the research he cited.

            What you are experiencing is cognitive dissonance. Carol Tavris has a chapter on this in Mistakes were made (but not by me); good book, very worth reading. You believe you are a smart person, and that therefore your opinions must be correct. You have been presented with quite reasonable proof that your opinions are incorrect (as are your facts). Now presented with a choice between “I am smart” and “I am wrong”, you are attempting to defend the latter by attacking the source of your frustration – me. Your implicit assumption is that if you can somehow tear me down, make me look stupid, make me feel bad, make me lose my temper, then you can preserve the belief that you are a canny consumer, clever and with the inside track on science. You are attempting to preserve an edifice of distorted science you use to prop up your beliefs, an interlocking series of “science doesn’t know everything”, “CAM helped people/me”, “science is distorted by profits”, “science supports CAM” and at the top, “I’m smarter than doctors/skeptics/neurologists with my post-modern beliefs about science”. I’ve been steadily kicking at those props, and your belief about your own intelligence and wit is taking a kicking as well. You know what you should do? Admit you make mistakes. Admit you can be wrong. Admit you were wrong – you could start with your claims about Stephen Barrett being delicensed. You might want to apologize to Dr. Novella, not for mocking his hair (which is awesome, he’s a silver fox) but for attempting to belittle his hair rather than engage his arguments. Don’t bother apologizing to me, I don’t care.

            You continually ask other posters throughout this pathetic site to “prove” to you their opinions. You over-estimate your importance.

            It’s not about my importance. I agree, I’m not important. The important thing is the peer-reviewed literature, I merely am able to point to it, to assess and link to it.

            If this site is so pathetic, why waste your time on it? Now that you’ve descended into little more than bitter insults, it’s rather obvious you’re not going to win any friends or arguments.

            Many (non-septic) posters feel absolutely no need nor desire whatsoever to prove any of our beliefs to crabby old people like yourself. It’s just not important to us. We come on here briefly to observe and ridicule your pseudo-intellect, not learn from you.

            Again, then why are you here?

            Also, it’s less that you have a lack of desire to prove your beliefs, than it is a complete inability. Your usual anecdotes and sophistry are not convincing here, and that quite obviously frustrates you.
            The “contempt” goes both ways sir. The American public vote with their feet, and alternative medicine (often defined purely as different to the self serving interests of some in traditional medicine) continues to become more prevalent in areas where traditional teachings fail miserably. Rome burns whilst Nero fiddles.1) Alternative medicine isn’t self-serving?
            2) I have more pity than contempt for you. And considerable sympathy, until one realises how omnipresent the Dunning-Kruger effect is, the scientific world can be a harsh place to exist in.
            3) I’m not American, I have a real health care system. Not too long ago, it stopped providing public funds for chiropractic, and I don’t think it ever funded naturopathy, homeopathy or acupuncture. This heartens me.

            1. Open Mind says:

              So, to summarise, you’re right……because you say you are, based on your incomplete understanding of the little snippets of information you have read and tried to understand in the scientific literature. You are foolishly deluded into thinking you are important enough in the scheme of things to make a relevant judgement. You just keep on believing that if it helps with your clearly profoundly lacking self esteem.

              Do try to get a life outside of a pathetic internet based existence. You asked why I am on this forum- I only joined the discussion on the request of some colleagues who find you mildly amusing. You were that, until you escalated things with blatant sexism and sexual abuse.

              You don’t remotely fool me or my colleagues with your attempts at appearing intelligent. You know only what you have read; polluted by the inability to recognise the failings of scientists (for all of science’s undoubted glory).

              In the REAL world people like you and your kind have no place. WE serve to help the public, and do so to the best of our abilities and with the best of intentions. YOU serve to denigrate that which you do not understand; irrespective of the consequence. For that you should be eternally condemned.

              Until we meet again!

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            I don’t really lack self-esteem. I don’t think that I’m even average at most things. I think I’m poor at a lot of things. I have a couple areas where I think I do better than average. I see this as being realistic about my limitations. I certainly don’t think I’m important.

            Why don’t your colleagues drop by themselves for a discussion? Perhaps they could make some factual points that don’t involve insulting others’ hair and sexual abilities, that would be a refreshing change.

            I firmly recognize that individual scientists fail, and spectacularly, all the time. Jonas Salk wasted his life after inventing the polio vaccine. Linus Pauling totally pissed away all his talents on vitamin C quackery. Luc Montagnier has embraced homeopathy, the poor bastard. Kary Mullis, never a stable man, appears to have done little of note after developing polymerase chain reaction techniques. Peter Duesberg, a brilliant virologist, has fallen so far down the rabbit hole of AIDS denialism that his good work with oncoviruses carries a stink that few are willing to bear. Pons and Fleishmann have disappeared from the map despite being talented electrochemists after the cold fusion debacle. Individual scientists fail, but the edifice of science moves on because of its public nature and rigorous scrutiny of a community.

            Your help to the community might be little more than helping them waste money on useless treatments. If you use Irlen syndrome in your practice, this appears to be the case (though you claim you don’t, making me wonder why you are arguing the points as vehemently as you are). You may think your version of “customer satisfaction” service is helping the public, but if you are wasting their time and money then you are a net drain upon the world, no matter how good they feel about it.

            I really hope we don’t meet again, you are profoundly unpleasant and increasingly histrionic.

          4. Chris says:

            Open Mind:

            In the REAL world people like you and your kind have no place. WE serve to help the public, and do so to the best of our abilities and with the best of intentions.

            And yet you don’t know how to double check the claim that someone is not a university professor by actually going to the Yale site and checking its online directory? Are you serious?

            I am sorry, but that is just pathetic.

      4. Chris says:

        Open Mind:

        As for “real neurologists” from whom you apparently glean your infantile knowledge base, in the words of others………….

        Which was followed by an easily testable claim that Dr. Novella is not a Yale neurologist. Which, “Open” Mind you did not even bother to check.

        Here is how to get the link posted by Dr. Hall: Go to the Yale University website. Click on the word “Directories”, and then put in the name of the person. And voila! There it is, a page saying Dr. Novella is an Assistant Professor of Neurology.

        Perhaps, Open Mind, you should stop going to your usual websites and learn how to do real research. You could start by taking some basic science and computer classes at your local community college. Or go to your local library and take a “how to search on your computer” class. They will can tell you how to tell good from bad information (that is their job), and how to actually use online directories.

  42. weing says:

    ““I’m not a doctor”

    THAT’s right. You’re a nobody.” etc

    You are implying that you have to be a doctor to be a somebody. What an arrogant attitude. Also, wrong. I hope you are not a doctor. It would make me ashamed of my profession. Clearly you are not representative of the rest of us.

  43. weing says:

    “In the REAL world people like you and your kind have no place. WE serve to help the public, and do so to the best of our abilities and with the best of intentions. YOU serve to denigrate that which you do not understand; irrespective of the consequence. For that you should be eternally condemned.

    Until we meet again!”

    Someone has an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Who is doing the denigrating here? Anyway, that does sound like a flounce.

  44. weing says:

    I think she said she is the product of an ivy league education and a PhD. You’ve gotta be kidding! I would like to know which ivy league school so I could steer people away from it. It seems they were only able to teach her self-importance and putting on of airs.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      It could be an Ivy league education in literary studies or French literature. I’m sure it’s an excellent education in literary studies and French literature, but it renders you about as informed and capable regards medical research as, say, a rubber chicken would. Just like my education in anatomy, physiology and psychology render me utterly useless in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, literary studies and French literature.

      But I think the real issue is that it was edpsychphd52276, not Open Mind, who claimed an Ivy League education. I don’t know if they were the same person.

      1. weing says:

        “But I think the real issue is that it was edpsychphd52276, not Open Mind, who claimed an Ivy League education.”
        You are right. I just rechecked. My browser has been doing funny things today. The postings seem to be all over the place. When I checked earlier, it did look like it was Open Mind. Strange.

        1. ChristopherNg says:

          Perhaps Open Mind has not covered herself in glory with her comments, though lets face it, WilliamLawrenceUtridge does tend to preen as though he has one hand on the keyboard and one fiddling somewhere else

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Do you mean, like, a thesaurus? I will readily concede that my prose is more than a little purple. Though, strictly speaking, both are on the keyboard as I use an online thesaurus.

            If you mean I’m masturbating, the text-based medium allows for ambiguity, but such an implication might say more about you than it does about me.

  45. Marion says:

    My education (M.S., PhD) and most of my life’s time spent has been in mathematics: proving theorems in a subfield of differential equations. While there are certainly important differences between the nature of doing mathematical proofs (proofs starting with given axioms) versus computer programming (which I’ve done some, too) versus the scientific method (proposes hypotheses, testing theories – essentially, the objective outside physical world – the data – is the axiom), these activities share one important feature:

    prior to proof, mathematicians may have their biases on which way – true or false – a certain mathematical statement will turn out to be. Let’s say false is our pre-conceived opinion. While we may spend a great deal of our time to proving the statement false, we also go out of our way to prove the statement true.

    Countless times I have been disappointed – heartbroken – that I spent months, years, trying to prove statement X, only to find out later, either by myself or I discover in the literature, that not X is true. I have withdrawn papers from peer-reviewed publication after *I* found errors in them, which the over-burdened reviewers did not catch. It drives me crazy to see even mere typographical errors etched in granite for all eternity in the published literature (luckily, all the math papers I did successfully publish were correct mathematically).

    Similarly, true scientists go out of their way to disprove their preferred theories, to get the strongest possible statement possible.

    The very nature of sCAM practitioners is the antithesis of this sort of self-criticism.

    I never once heard a homeopath, or chiropractor, or Irlen syndromist (?) talk about a study in which they tried their hardest to disprove homeopathy, etc for some particular illness, exasperated that they could find no better treatment, no better competing theory than “like cures like” or — what’s the theory behind chiropracty again? – only to despondently conclude that homeopathy, Irlen just HAS to be the most plausible treatment for whatever, pending further evidence to the contrary.

    That is what real researchers do.

    1. Open Mind says:

      “Similarly, true scientists go out of their way to disprove their preferred theories, to get the strongest possible statement possible.

      The very nature of sCAM practitioners is the antithesis of this sort of self-criticism.

      I never once heard a homeopath, or chiropractor, or Irlen syndromist (?) talk about a study in which they tried their hardest to disprove homeopathy, etc for some particular illness, exasperated that they could find no better treatment, no better competing theory than “like cures like” or — what’s the theory behind chiropracty again? – only to despondently conclude that homeopathy, Irlen just HAS to be the most plausible treatment for whatever, pending further evidence to the contrary.

      That is what real researchers do.”

      Sorry Marion though you ignore the double standards inherent in so many comments by “sceptics”.

      I have never once heard of any of your “true scientists” going out of their way to disprove their preferred theory, which in this case seems to be that Irlen Syndrome is a scam. So have they sat down with an Irlen practitioner, sought advice on their exact methodology, and then sought to reproduce that in a scientific study, before thinking of denouncing it?? I think not.

      You are right however when you describe the inherent bias in the eyes of researchers. They can and often do see only what they want to see

      1. Chris says:

        There is actually a difference in proof between math and science. Marion does understand that. You obviously don’t.

        Oh, wait. You are the person who read that Dr. Novella was not a professor at Yale and actually believed it! You did not even bother going to the Yale site and checking their directory. Seriously, if you can’t look up something as simple as that yourself, why should we care about your opinions?

        Oh, and congratulations to WLU for the fabulous Quote of the Week on the SGU. Woot! It was a section of Comment #32 of this thread, and it was cool to hear it read directly into my ears. Totally awesome.

        By the way, Open Mind, your comment #5 was the “Name that Logical Fallacy” on the SGU. Congratulations for that rather dubious honor.

        1. Open Mind says:

          I wear criticism from clowns as a badge of honour

          1. Chris says:

            Good for you, “Open” Mind.

            The criticism is from something you did not do: check the data for yourself.

            You repeated nonsense like it was some kind of truth. But you did spend the thirty seconds to see if it was actually true. This means you consider it a “badge of honour” to not be able to think for yourself by not bothering to double check the dreck you have been fed.

            Some of us like to learn from our errors. You obviously revel in being clueless.

            1. Open Mind says:

              You’re not very good at following a point are you Chris?

              My ‘badge of honour” refers to your comment that my words were listed under “Name that logical fallacy”.

              If you’d bothered to spend the 30 seconds to follow that line of conversation correctly you wouldn’t have made such a glaring error. Since you are clearly incapable of following a simple flow of conversation, why should we listen to anything you say?

              You don’t seem to have very much to say of relevance do you Chris.? Another wannabe??

          2. Chris says:

            Ugh.. “But you did NOT spend the thirty seconds”

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Where do you wear your badge for being bad at making and defending a coherent point? Also, you’re back to being a bit of a whore for attention, since you’re mostly just throwing out insults and accusations. However, I will concede another possibility is that after around a week of failing to score any substantive points, you may be simply lashing out in an attempt to preserve your sense of identity as an intelligent, critical person. You also don’t seem to be aware that modern scientific epistemology places emphasis on disproof, testing the specific parts of a theory in an effort to disprove them. However, the line between proving a theory (which can never really be done) and disproving a theory is a faint one. There are lots of scientific articles which contain failed hypotheses that are since discarded. For a relatively recently example, there is the Women’s Health Initiative’s findings that hormone replacement therapy is actually more dangerous than previously anticipated (see here, and I’m pretty sure they wanted to find out that HRT was either neutral or beneficial), and the results for vitamin supplementation and health (beta-carotene, retinol, lycopene, and lutein for one, multivitamins for another, and vitamin E for a third. Those are the ones of the top of my head that I’m familiar with, but I’m sure there are more as you delve deeper into the sub-sub-sub specialties that characterize most science these days.

            Hey Chris, not only was I in the SGU, they said it was an unusually long one! Now I am indeed preening.

        2. Chris says:

          WLU: “Where do you wear your badge for being bad at making and defending a coherent point?”

          The same place where she keeps her pride for believing easily disproven nonsense.

    2. “While we may spend a great deal of our time to proving the statement false, we also go out of our way to prove the statement true.”

      Well said…after all, to paraphrase Feynman the easiest person to fool is yourself…and sometimes much of science is in the checking. I mean think about Wiles proof, he spent years on that and a problem was found several months after he presented the proof. He then spent another year fixing that.

      Moving on to less rigorous fields, in the physical sciences some of this “checking” is seen in experimental design. Studies employ experts in the investigated field or utilize data from said experts regardless of what they think about the actual discipline – Reiki, TCM, Homeopathists, Acupuncturists. They will also employ sham controls – untrained people who attempt to perform the same technique such as Reiki AND just in case the sham practitioner accidentally performs Reiki (somehow) you sometimes include a no-treatment arm or a secondary control.

      While having all that in an experiment isn’t always necessary it does show how medical researchers attempt to prove themselves wrong just in one facet of experimental design.

      1. weing says:

        Didn’t Henri Poincare have his solution to the three body problem published, only to have someone point out that there was an error? Poor guy spent a fortune buying all the issues of the journal and destroying it so that his error wouldn’t spread.

        1. Marion says:

          I would not know about that. I do know Henri Poincare proved that no solutions of the 3-body problem of 3 bodies subject to inverse-square laws of attraction or repulsion, in terms of algebraic functions and first integrals (of algebraic functions).

          As in medicine, where “to cure” or “remission” or “under control” must be carefully defined in terms of comparing how many more years one would live if one had not taken medicine X to how many more years one would live taking medicine X, and nothing else (eliminating all confounding variables),
          the word “solution” in math also requires a careful definition.

          You give me any nonlinear differential equation (or system of equations) that can be finitely written down (so already I’m eliminating an infinitely long differential equation), such as the N-body problem, I can “solve” it by merely repeating differentiating the equation and generating a Taylor series solution (and pray to the Mighty Spaghetti Monster) that it has a nonzero radius of convergence.

          I never got far in actuarial exams, passing only the first 2 (Probability and Interest Rate Theory), before realizing there’s no point to me spending hundreds of dollars on exams when there are no jobs in the field, but studying for these exams greatly inspired my creativity and passion in mathematical modeling. Had I gone further in the series of exams, we’d study what are called decrement models, where we take into account the fact that if you die from X1, then you don’t die from X(n) for all n not equal to 1. I was more interested in creating and playing and computing wiht my own models than actually passing the exams.

          The important thing I felt actuarial exams taught students, as did my undergraduate chemical engineering classes, was practice practice and practice in carefully defining useful variables. I cannot count how many times i have seen arguments in real life, and on the internet, over miscommunications that come from not taking the time to set up proper definitions.

          Defining what it means to be “cured” (or treated, or under control, or whatever) is the canonical example of why consistent definitions are necessary.

          1. Marion says:

            I meant to add: but my Taylor series solution of a nonlinear ODE would be practically useless, unless I demanded more stringent conditions on it, such as the n-th term be an algebraic function of n, whose degree of algebraicity be bounded by some constant. That sort of thing.

            As far as being aware of not fooling oneself, while certainly true in theorem proving, it becomes even more obvious to the layperson in the field of computer programming. I’ve gone to war with my computer in Java programming. The endless testing, constantly being proved wrong about one’s cherished assumptions, by constantly pushing oneself to test as wide a range of parameters as possible.

            Medicine, science, math, programming – all very humbling experiences.

  46. weing says:

    “I have never once heard of any of your “true scientists” going out of their way to disprove their preferred theory, which in this case seems to be that Irlen Syndrome is a scam.”

    That is not a theory. It is a suspicion. That’s why we need to know whether the Irlen syndromists have done the necessary steps as described by Marion. It looks like they haven’t.

  47. ChristopherNg says:

    Open Mind I think studies have been done, like the 2011 study Dr. Novella cites.

    1. Open Mind says:

      Perhaps I did not make myself clear. That study’s abstract suggest it only compares reading rate after the use of overlays, not any change in visual symptoms.

      Also the following study, listed on the same page as the one Dr. Novella used, seems to give the opposing result…so who do we believe (and no I haven’t read the whole studies).

      J Learn Disabil. 1990 Dec;23(10):597-603, 620.
      Reading disabilities and the effects of colored filters.
      O’Connor PD, Sofo F, Kendall L, Olsen G.

  48. weing says:

    “I have never once heard of any of your “true scientists” going out of their way to disprove their preferred theory, which in this case seems to be that Irlen Syndrome is a scam.”

    Not saying that I am a scientist, but how do you know that my preferred theory is not that Irlen Syndrome is real? And I am just doing my job.

  49. Scott says:

    Thank you for covering this!! It is challenging to get access to the research sometimes.

  50. Open Mind says:

    No comment about the O’Connor study ? Or is it just convenient to ignore if it doesn’t match a pre-conceived idea?

    To quote …….
    “Ninety-two children with significant reading disabilities were classified as either scotopic or nonscotopic using the Irlen Differential Perceptual Schedule, and were randomly assigned to one of six treatment groups using colored or clear overlays. Reading performance (rate, accuracy, and comprehension) as measured by the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability (Neale, 1987) and the Formal Reading Inventory (Wiederholt, 1986) improved significantly when the scotopic children read with the preferred colored overlay filter compared to clear or different-colored overlay filters. Nonscotopic children showed no change.”

    1. Chris says:

      Hint: it is a 20+ year old study, plus you are being ignored.

      That often happens when someone believes something that can be disproved in less than sixty seconds. Did you even know that Yale University had a website?

      1. Open Mind says:

        Great Science Chris.
        You dismiss a study because it is 20 years old…then base your opinion on your infamous Yale Associate Dr Novella who referred to 2 papers which were 20+ years old, 1 which is 10+ years old, and only 1 more recent study, which had even lower subject numbers than the one I referred to.
        IF that, as it seems, is your reasoning, then you do science a disservice.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          One would note that the 10-year-old paper at minimum would include this 1990 study in its discussion of the topic, and probably the 20-year-old papers as well. Please see my comment below regards why single studies are less important than the three reviews Dr. Novella discusses. The greater disservice to science here is the willingness to believe a single, possibly anomalous study in the face of three systematic reviews. You could try downloading the three studies and reviewing them to see if they discussed the 1990 paper, and their conclusions on it. Again, it’s not about cherry-picking the studies that support your point, it’s about reviewing the totality of the literature for a convergence, a pattern of results.

    2. weing says:

      It was a small study. The groups were about 13-15 each. I had the impression that the blinding was insufficient. It looked as if the subjects were first tested and were aware of which overlay was their preferred one. It’s like being told that kids like you do bad on these tasks or vice-versa. You then sink or rise to meet your expectations.

      1. Open Mind says:

        How do propose that could be done better.
        By the very definition of the visual testing process, the subject of course will “be aware of which overlay was their preferred one”. I would be interested in knowing how it would be possible to mask subjects in this scenario.

        It’s like saying a study on spectacle function is flawed when a myope prescribed strong glasses claims they really function better, with their response being invalid because they “know” that they see better.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Most 20-year-old studies of relevance to a topic have been replicated and extended since that time. Has this one? How do you know that it’s not the 1 in 20 studies we expect to be positive due to chance with a p value of 0.05? How do you know you are not cherry-picking a rare statistical anomaly bobbing about in a sea of failures? That’s why single studies are rarely “magic bullets” that prove or disprove a phenomena, one relies on the totality of the scientific literature on the topic to look for a pattern of convergence. In particular, one generally looks for systematic reviews and meta-analyses that address the literature as a whole to avoid bias (which will also use mathematical tests to look for publication bias and similar fudges).

          You know, like the three systematic reviews that Dr. Novella cited in his article, all of which concluded there wasn’t much there and it wasn’t really worth either the money or the hype.

          1. At one point in time I thought OpenMind said they were in favor of applying one’s “reasoning mind” (or something, I’m too apathetic to go back and check) to the vile outpourings of academia. :-)

            Which makes me wonder why she’s ignoring the reviews. An SR is exactly that, applying a reasoned objective standard to a large body of evidence. Perhaps it’s just the objective part she doesn’t like.

        2. Chris says:

          Around twenty years ago my oldest child participated in a study by a grad student on reading strategies. It was one of many that were going on, kind of a benefit of living near a very large research university.

          Also, I remember reading some silly thing that voice timbre was indicative of gender confusion in children. I shared that with my son’s speech therapist and we both had a good laugh. She also told me that with the way learning research has been growing, that any paper over five years old should be ignored.

          What you did was “cherry pick” a study to support a gimmick. Gimmicks have been big in teaching reading for decades. Having a kid with a developmental disability means that I had “helpful” folks try to convince me that their special trick works.

          Fortunately he went to a school that did was really works: a dedicated and very patient teacher who worked with small groups of kids. Many of those kids had severe speech disorders (like mine) and/or were hearing impaired. Funny glasses would have had no effect.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Strictly speaking, I think the gadget they use are actually coloured plastic overlays on pages. And J. Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen had some discussion of the potentially genetic roots to homosexuality, bisexuality and transexuality that led to altered voice pitch.

            These random facts brought to you by my eclectic reading tastes and desperate pedantry.

          2. Chris says:

            It is still a gimmick.

            While looking for information on why my kid could not speak when he was three years old I read lots of weird stuff. The book that tried to predict a child’s sexuality with voice pitch was mild compared the book length advertisement by Glenn Doman.

          3. Open Mind says:

            “Fortunately he went to a school that did was really works: a dedicated and very patient teacher who worked with small groups of kids. Many of those kids had severe speech disorders (like mine) and/or were hearing impaired. Funny glasses would have had no effect.”"

            I am sorry to hear that you and your son had a linguistic based developmental delay which inhibited his early academic progress. If that was his issue, then indeed lenses of any sort would not help. However I don’t think supporters of Irlen and colorimetry make that claim. They claim to help a different subset of patients with learning disabilities.

            Your anecdote does nothing to support nor hinder the argument about Irlen etc. A multifactorial approach to LD is always the best

          4. Open Mind says:

            “She also told me that with the way learning research has been growing, that any paper over five years old should be ignored.”

            So by that argument, which seems logical and hard to argue against, then Novella’s quoted
            1991 and 2002 reviews which everyone here seems to take as gospel are effectively useless!!!

            Using 10 and 20 year old reviews to base an article on says a little about Novella’s sceptical and rigid mindset. Similarly the willingness of William et al to form their opinion on Novella’s bias says something about the sheep mentality. If my hero says it is so..it must be so. Never mind the poor use of science.

          5. Chris says:

            It is just a gimmick. And when one has a child with medical issues, lots of gimmicks are suggested. At least colored plastic is not dangerous. But still a gimmick.

            And cherry picking dubious studies is not going to change that.

          6. Chris says:

            ‘Using 10 and 20 year old reviews to base an article on says a little about Novella’s sceptical and rigid mindset.”

            It is quite common that when an idea, or in this case a gimmick, is found to be useless: real scientists go to other more promising modalities.

            Dr. Novella wrote a similar article years ago about the Doman/Delacato patterning nonsense. I referred to it when someone was trying to trump it on a listserv for my son’s disability. She told me it was old, so no good. The thing is that it never changed.

            The fact that your cherry picked paper was old, and that the more recent studies show no effect indicates real researchers don’t care about gimmicks that don’t work. They are more interested in things that do work. Which is typically a combination of phonetic techniques and recognizing certain words by their visual patterns (which is why when you misspell a word it just looks wrong), and lots of time, patience and practice.

            Twenty five years ago I knew none of this. I assumed that all my kids would be brilliant, but the roll of genetic dice dictated something completely different. I never had problems in school and did not understand those who struggled. But then I had a baby who spent his first week in a hospital due to seizures. I ended up opening my mind to a whole new world and learned lots from his ten years of speech therapy, fifteen years of IEP meetings, and visits with the neurologists.

            And one thing I did learn very quickly was to recognize the difference between reality, nonsense and gimmicks.

            By the way, my youngest is wired to learn how to interpret written symbols very quickly. Just by being read to she was already reading a bit before kindergarten. She also caught on to sight reading quickly in violin lessons. She sometimes had joint lessons with a girl just a week younger than her who corrected her position, but actually learned pieces more by ear… my daughter would correct her sight reading (turned this child was dyslexic). We figured the genetic dice gave her father’s skill at pattern recognition (he always wins at Boggle) and her maternal grandfather’s skill with language (a linguist who speaks over a half a dozen languages).

            And since she knows how difficult it is for some to even learn how to speak, she does not think less than others who have issues with literacy. One of her Swedish language classmates asked her what she did to learn so quickly. She replied it was just the way her brain was wired, and it has nothing to do with intelligence or effort.

            1. Open Mind says:

              “It is quite common that when an idea, or in this case a gimmick, is found to be useless: real scientists go to other more promising modalities.”

              This lack of logic by sceptics on this forum is mind boggling!!!!

              First you all criticize practitioners who supposedly rely on anecdotes and individual cases, then you relate your experiences from watching your own personal families history of specific learning difficulties and use that to form the basis of your opinions!

              Then you listen to Novella who quotes decade old studies, whilst criticising others who refer to decade old studies.

              Then you try to rationalise that by claiming somehow there must be a logical cut off period of research beyond which all “real scientists” give up and so don’t follow the ongoing literature and miss the newer research (ignorance is bliss)?

              Then you claim “the more recent studies showed no effect”, which is ignorant in the extreme as it fails to take into account numerous studies in the past decade.

              Then some posters gave the sceptics a list of some studies, and that was ridiculed primarily because the chief antagonists couldn’t be bothered to actually read through them all and wanted “the best” studies cherry picked and summarised for them. Apparently “cherry picking ” is acceptable.

              Then others (myself) get criticised for “cherry picking ” one study (which I only did because it popped up on the page Novella linked to, and highlighted his lack of scientific awareness).Now apparently “cherry picking” is not acceptable.

              The double standards are palpable. Sorry sceptics- you’ve done nothing here though manifest lack of knowledge (both in science and in logical thinking), and patent bias, which serves to only support the beliefs of that which you seek to denigrate. Despite
              WilliamLawrenceUtridge’s claims, I do not use Irlen myself, though I am keen to learn. I considered it prudent to read the thought of those who both support and those who ridicule it. I have to say some of the stupidity I have encountered on this forum does nothing to seriously work against Irlen (or the more scientific colorimetry).

              If you look up the work of Prof. Bruce Evans from the UK you’ll find a long stream of recent scientific data supporting the use of colour filters (specifically colorimetry)- peer reviewed, published studies. No I’m not going to help you find them- do you own research- they’re there.

              1. “First you all criticize practitioners who supposedly rely on anecdotes and individual cases, then you relate your experiences from watching your own personal families history of specific learning difficulties and use that to form the basis of your opinions!”

                Well a) “you all” is incorrect and b) What someone “uses to form the basis of your opinions” is conjecture – it’s not something you can observe. At best you can observe someone *saying* that.

                “Then you listen to Novella who quotes decade old studies, whilst criticising others who refer to decade old studies.”

                Actually I read the abstracts of the SR’s he pointed to and the 2011 study and the O’Connor study. Two of the reviews mention that the research of Irlen was poorly done.

                “Then you try to rationalise that by claiming somehow there must be a logical cut off period of research beyond which all “real scientists” give up and so don’t” follow the ongoing literature and miss the newer research (ignorance is bliss)?”

                Again you can’t observe some of the things you are claiming. Research does go through periods of waxing and waning and while there is much research, I’m not sure what is meant by “real scientists” but people who are not convinced of an outcome would seem less disposed to continue with work that has yielded little in the way of good results.

                ‘Then you claim “the more recent studies showed no effect”, which is ignorant in the extreme as it fails to take into account numerous studies in the past decade.’

                Again…which ones that specifically target Irlen as a distinct neurological disorder? IIRC You cited O’Connor and…well…O’Connor and that you claimed didn’t read entirely.

                “Then some posters gave the sceptics a list of some studies, and that was ridiculed primarily because the chief antagonists couldn’t be bothered to actually read through them all and wanted “the best” studies cherry picked and summarised for them. Apparently “cherry picking ” is acceptable.”

                Only if you get to re-define the term. Cherry-picking usually refers to choosing studies which support one’s position (or the position one is selling) ignoring STRONGER EVIDENCE to the contrary. Asking for the studies with the largest N, clearest outcomes, soundest methodology, best blinded and in this particular case largest strength of effect. Is simply good practice.

                “Then others (myself) get criticised for “cherry picking ” one study (which I only did because it popped up on the page Novella linked to, and highlighted his lack of scientific awareness).Now apparently “cherry picking” is not acceptable.”

                See above definition. One study, in the face of a larger contrary body of evidence is not enough. If you are so in love with O’Connor you need to argue it on it’s merits over the contents of a review. What did O’Connor do that the reviews didn’t? Is there an outcome they missed? Did they do better blinding, have larger groups, better methodology? Yes I know that requires work but nobody said Science was easy. Your next move is, of course to claim that this is everyone else’s job but yours. However in fact many of us HAVE read studies on that list and posted what we think of them (or mentioned that they would have been included in the search pool for the SR).

                Also that list got criticized because it was clearly just a broad search for some terms. Some of the ones I scanned had little or nothing to do with what’s being discussed here.

                “I considered it prudent to read the thought of those who both support and those who ridicule it.”

                If you mean “pro and con” and if you had read even the abstracts of the SR’s Dr. Novella posted. You would have known that at least one of them did that very thing and still found little reason to support SSS.

                “If you look up the work of Prof. Bruce Evans from the UK you’ll find a long stream of recent scientific data supporting the use of colour filters (specifically colorimetry)- peer reviewed, published studies.”

                Yawn. Yes you googled some stuff, didn’t read them and are now wanting to lecture everyone. Double yawn.

                More than a little irony that you want to accuse people here of having an arbitrary standard of evidence. Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing. You have been asked by myself many times to clearly define what evidence would be sufficient to rule out SSS and Irlen as a distinct and novel disorder (which is what Novella appeared to be talking about) and you don’t seem to have much to say on that.

              2. Open Mind says:

                “If you look up the work of Prof. Bruce Evans from the UK you’ll find a long stream of recent scientific data supporting the use of colour filters (specifically colorimetry)- peer reviewed, published studies.”

                “Yawn. Yes you googled some stuff, didn’t read them and are now wanting to lecture everyone. Double yawn.”

                Sorry Mr ( I speak bestest English and can be a pratt telling people off for not speaking so good) Graham, though, as is you way, you have made silly assumptions and ended up looking like an —.
                I heard Prof Evans lecture at a conference a few weeks ago and spoke with him at the lunch break. Then in the past week have been in contact with his lab, who sent me a list of research articles to peruse. Unlike yourself I’ve then sought to form my own informed opinion and have read 23 of the articles so far.

                So Triple Yawn to you for your boorish arrogance and ignorance. People reading this need to know not to take seriously the opinions of some of the completely ignorant sceptics like yourself, who grossly over-estimate their own knowledge and importance.

              3. Christopher Ng says:

                Open Mind I’m not sure Jonathan’s “you all” gibe was making fun of your grammar so much as referring to the thought that you may be generalising us sceptics as being all the same.

                I still think Irlen Syndrome can be confined to the “not proven” pile, however I like your feistiness and some of us do need a kick up the backside sometimes. Carry on!

              4. “Sorry Mr ( I speak bestest English and can be a pratt telling people off for not speaking so good)”
                No I was pointing out that you have made some bad generalizations and noted things that you can’t possibly observe. Do you berate yourself when you make the mistake you think others are doing?

                “I heard Prof Evans lecture at a conference a few weeks ago and spoke with him at the lunch break. Then in the past week have been in contact with his lab, who sent me a list of research articles to peruse. Unlike yourself I’ve then sought to form my own informed opinion and have read 23 of the articles so far.”

                If true then it would be nice if you shared actual information rather than just constantly sniping at people for imagined offenses. However given your behavior here, nearly eschewing rational discourse and post after post of vacuous sniping. Almost always focusing on something other than the points at hand (i.e. SSS – distinct neurological condition, evidence for dismissing or not dismissing Irlen/SSS, what evidence would be sufficient to dismiss Irlen/SSS). When you actually appear to do something useful like – link to a study, it’s one you haven’t even read. So forgive me if I’m doubtful that you’ve read 23 articles directly speaking about SSS, or perhaps anything at all.

                “So Triple Yawn to you for your boorish arrogance and ignorance. People reading this need to know not to take seriously the opinions of some of the completely ignorant sceptics like yourself, who grossly over-estimate their own knowledge and importance.”

                Absolute perfect example of the majority of your postings. Nothing but personal attacks of dubious merit. Discuss the issue, provide information, add something useful to the discussion. Stop being this nearly useless persona you project here.

          7. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Your anecdote does nothing to support nor hinder the argument about Irlen etc. A multifactorial approach to LD is always the best

            An evidence-based approach is always best. The application of multiple forms of nonsense is still nonsense, homeopathy is not improved by the addition of acupuncture.

            Using 10 and 20 year old reviews to base an article on says a little about Novella’s sceptical and rigid mindset. Similarly the willingness of William et al to form their opinion on Novella’s bias says something about the sheep mentality. If my hero says it is so..it must be so. Never mind the poor use of science.

            I’m not “sheeplishly” basing my opinion on Dr. Novella, I’m basing my opinion on three review articles that Dr. Novella cites. There’s a difference. And if there are high-quality studies since the last review article, I have yet to see anybody provide them. Feel free to be the first. Scott Lilienfeld had an interesting discussion of IS last year, as an exemplar of one of the characteristics of pseudoscience, specifically lack of boundaries. Something that can cure everything likely cures nothing.

            Then you claim “the more recent studies showed no effect”, which is ignorant in the extreme as it fails to take into account numerous studies in the past decade.

            What recent studies? Specifically, what good ones? You’ve found one decent study from 1990, please provide studies of similar quality since then. I’ve looked at a couple in the laundry lists above, they were pretty shoddy. “Cherry picking” based on results is bad, “cherry picking” based on quality is much more reasonable, but nobody here is going to bother doing a systematic review of the topic. It’s merely illustrative to point out the lack of evidence base. Your inability to see the difference suggests bad-faith nitpicking, or possibly scientific incompetence. Have you switched to attempting to defend Irlen syndrome itself since attempting to criticize science and skeptics here in general didn’t work in terms of shoring up your self-image? Or just argumentative?

            I do not use Irlen myself, though I am keen to learn

            Interesting, reaction formation. Why not do a systematic review of the literature yourself and decide if there is an evidence base for it, rather than deciding you like it merely because people you disagree with think it is stupid? Seems a rather irrational and unproductive approach. Hell, you could even write a guest post for SBM and defend Irlen syndrome!

            I mean, if you work with individuals with learning disabilities, wouldn’t you want to be reasonably confident that you aren’t wasting their time or money?

            I considered it prudent to read the thought of those who both support and those who ridicule it.

            That’s a reasonable and defensible approach, in fact Dr. Hall recommends it repeatedly. One must also, of course, parse the quality of arguments. Since so many proponents of IS rely on anecdotes, the quality is usually bad.

            I have to say some of the stupidity I have encountered on this forum does nothing to seriously work against Irlen (or the more scientific colorimetry).

            What about the criticisms found in the scientific literature? I mean, we’re at best generally criticizing based on principles, actual ophthalmologists and neurologists would have more substantive things to say.

            If you look up the work of Prof. Bruce Evans from the UK you’ll find a long stream of recent scientific data supporting the use of colour filters (specifically colorimetry)- peer reviewed, published studies. No I’m not going to help you find them- do you own research- they’re there.

            Yeah, but we don’t care about Irlen syndrome bar how it is an example of pseudoscience. Even if Dr. Evans does identify specific uses of coloured filters for a limited number of conditions, that doesn’t validate IS, which is portrayed as a panacea. He would be identifying real conditions that actually benefit from these lenses, which lays out a much more limited set of circumstances where they are useful. That’s not really Irlen syndrome, though.

            1. Open Mind says:

              “Yeah, but we don’t care about Irlen syndrome bar how it is an example of pseudoscience. Even if Dr. Evans does identify specific uses of coloured filters for a limited number of conditions, that doesn’t validate IS, which is portrayed as a panacea. He would be identifying real conditions that actually benefit from these lenses, which lays out a much more limited set of circumstances where they are useful. That’s not really Irlen syndrome, though.”

              I’m sorry Mr sceptic, though do you actually have ANY idea about what you are talking about??
              Irlen syndrome claims to treat a specific type of visual dyslexia. They make no claim to be a panacea for all types of learning difficulties. Personally I think they are on the right track though use too simplistic a testing modality; a significant flaw which leads to inconsistent results.
              Colorimetry claims exactly the same thing as Irlen, and through Dr Evans and his research team have numerous studies to support the theory (again look it up yourself- I’m not your research assistant).

              So Evans’s colorimetry and Irlen are the same theory and management; the primary difference being that Evan’s uses a colorimeter which provides thousands more choice of colour hue and saturation from which to choose when seeking the ideal coloured filter for the patient.

              Those real conditions to which you refer Dr Evans as treating are the same “real conditions” Irlen claims to treat. I just think Evans’s testing methodology is better.

            2. Open Mind says:

              “Why not do a systematic review of the literature yourself and decide if there is an evidence base for it, rather than deciding you like it merely because people you disagree with think it is stupid? Seems a rather irrational and unproductive approach. Hell, you could even write a guest post for SBM and defend Irlen syndrome!

              I mean, if you work with individuals with learning disabilities, wouldn’t you want to be reasonably confident that you aren’t wasting their time or money?”

              THAT is exactly what I have done. I’ve heard the foolishness from the likes of you on one side, and read the generally older articles which dismiss Irlen Syndrome.
              I’ve also searched for and read many of the more recent articles, which seem the strongly support the notion of using colour to assist certain subsets of learning difficulties.
              Funny how in 1 week I managed to find all the recent published articles by Prof Evans and his study group, yet Novella apparently couldn’t find them at all before he wrote his “expert piece” in this fine forum.
              Sorry though Novella looses all remaining credibility when he neglects (either deliberately or though just poor science) all of Prof. Evan’s work when putting forth a supposed summary of work in this area..

              1. “THAT is exactly what I have done.”

                Doubtful. But please post your SR. (Not to be accused – falsely – again of being a grammar Nazi but “done” is past tense so I figure you must have the SR ready to go – at least in first draft)

                …or whenever you get around to constructing one. Please use the proper form as outlined in Sackett’s EBM handbook, and since your sample is bound to be large please include reasoning why your conclusions are statistically significant)

                …or far, far, far, far, far more likely – come up with a tired excuse for not posting OR post something that isn’t an SR.

                I know where I’d lay my money.

              2. Open Mind says:

                “THAT is exactly what I have done.”

                Doubtful. But please post your SR. (Not to be accused – falsely – again of being a grammar Nazi but “done” is past tense so I figure you must have the SR ready to go – at least in first draft)

                …or whenever you get around to constructing one. Please use the proper form as outlined in Sackett’s EBM handbook, and since your sample is bound to be large please include reasoning why your conclusions are statistically significant)

                …or far, far, far, far, far more likely – come up with a tired excuse for not posting OR post something that isn’t an SR.

                I know where I’d lay my money”

                THAT is kind of pathetic Graham. Arrogance and foolishness. So you can’t be bothered doing your own research so you try to badger others into handing it over on a plate for you. Of course if they don’t help you out, then of course they must not have done anything and ere lying.
                Stop acting like a schoolyard prat double daring someone to complete a task.

                Get off your lazy backside, so your own research and you might learn something, instead of having someone hand it to you a platter. And if you stupidly think that means I haven’t read any of the articles sent to me, then tough! My job isn’t to feed you information- it’s (i) to learn, and (ii) to make others realise your idea are not gospel.

              3. “THAT is kind of pathetic Graham. Arrogance and foolishness. So you can’t be bothered doing your own research so you try to badger others into handing it over on a plate for you.”

                It’s not that I can’t be bothered but rather that I have. Including reading a few of the ones posted in the “laundry list” and the one study cited by you (which you claim not to have read completely) and I have found little to be excited about. Where the studies weren’t irrelevant, they were poorly done where they weren’t poorly done they were negative or their effect was small enough that it’s not uneasonable to consider them discountable as supporting SSS.

                There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking someone who has or pretends to have research which is contrary to your position. It’s not arrogant, it’s not foolish. It’s what someone with an open mind would do.

                “Of course if they don’t help you out, then of course they must not have done anything and ere lying.”

                For someone who carps (poorly) about logic. You don’t seem to have a much of a grasp. No, your refusal does not necessitate that you are lying but given how little good reason there is to withhold it; combined with how much you eschew doing research here (such as reading studies). It would be irresponsible not to update the probabiliy that you are lying…positively.

                “Get off your lazy backside, so your own research and you might learn something, instead of having someone hand it to you a platter. And if you stupidly think that means I haven’t read any of the articles sent to me, then tough! My job isn’t to feed you information”

                …and a coda of more irrelevant prattle. My advice still stands: Your persona here is very nearly useless. While being useless isn’t, to my knowledge something you can get banned for. One would hope people would wish for something more.

                “(ii) to make others realise your idea are not gospel.”

                A really good way to do that is provide strong evidence demonstrating SSS as a distinct neurological disorder. Which you claim to have..right there on your computer. So far you’re not doing a very good job..at doing your job.

                …and of course I win my bet.

              4. Open Mind says:

                “Your persona here is very nearly useless. While being useless isn’t, to my knowledge something you can get banned for. One would hope people would wish for something more”.

                You are a sad , grumpy, friendless man aren’t you Mr Graham. I am “useless” to you, and happily so, given your inability to see beyond your spiteful nose. Childish attempts at denigrating others won’t work with me sir- I’m quite comfortable with who I am and what I do.

                Your pompous posts on the other hand are consistent with a schoolyard bully; with all his inadequacies and frustrations. Do try to get a life and learn how to get along with people- less likely to end up a lonely old man then!

              5. “You are a sad , grumpy, friendless man aren’t you Mr Graham. I am “useless” to you, and happily so”

                What I’m saying is someone who doesn’t contribute to the discussion is useless and you are very nearly that. Your contributions are pretty much two studies, neither of which are very useful and a long stream of invective directed at anyone who doesn’t take your word that SSS is an open issue. I haven’t characterized you just the persona you use here. For all I know you’re a productive member of society elsewhere. One would hope anyway…

                “Childish attempts at denigrating others won’t work with me sir- I’m quite comfortable with who I am and what I do. ”

                It’s just a fact. Ether you are advancing the discussion or you are not. So far you aren’t adding much.

                “Your pompous posts on the other hand are consistent with a schoolyard bully”

                In what way? What power do I have over you or anyone here? The strongest word I’ve used to you is “jerk” (In my defense you were being exactly that). So I’m not verbally bullying anyone. I’m saying you aren’t contributing.

                I’m also saying that when someone says “There isn’t enough evidence to close the door” implies a standard of evidence. If you’re not willing to discuss why the methodology of the SR’s and studies Dr. Novella posted were bad, or why some particular study is better or what standard of evidence we should judge these things. Then there really isn’t much to talk about with regard to this particular issue.

          8. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Arrogance and foolishness. So you can’t be bothered doing your own research so you try to badger others into handing it over on a plate for you.

            Graham isn’t the one claiming IS exists. The burden of proof is on the claimant. Ask a real scientist for proof of their positive claims, they will cite the literature and discuss it in detail, strengths, weaknesses, promising avenues. Fake or inept scientists will assert based on their own experience and pretend that’s good enough. Incompetent scientists will ignore the flaws and only conduct and publish studies that muddy the water further, or simply waste money.

            Stop acting like a schoolyard prat double daring someone to complete a task.

            Stop acting like Irlen syndrome is some sort of misunderstood genius unjustly ignored by the experts. 30 years of research hasn’t turned up a whole lot of promising results. It’s quite reasonable to turn to more promising avenues. If proponents wish to be taken seriously, they need to conduct better research. And it would be nice if at some point they acknowledged just how weak their own testimonials are in the face of the dearth of evidence.

            Get off your lazy backside, so your own research and you might learn something, instead of having someone hand it to you a platter.

            You are the one making dramatic claims for Irlen syndrome. You are the one claiming to have good evidence for this. You are the one who claims to have reviewed Dr. Evans research on the subject. You are also the one who is claiming it is positive, but absolutely refuse to link to any of it. Perhaps you are lazy, perhaps you realize the evidence isn’t that good, perhaps you should link to the best studies and explain how it supports IS rather than merely asserting that we are lazy and stupid.

            And if you stupidly think that means I haven’t read any of the articles sent to me, then tough!

            The vacuousness of your claims and lack of proof makes it extremely easy to believe that you haven’t read any of the articles.

            My job isn’t to feed you information- it’s (i) to learn, and (ii) to make others realise your idea are not gospel.

            If you want us to believe anything you say, it kinda is because this is a blog about science-based medicine, not anecdote and assertion-based medicine. If you want us to just take your word for it, you’re in the wrong part of the internet.

            Why so reluctant to take the simple step of googling a study you have apparently already read and simply pasting in the resulting url? Surely you realize that failing to undertake such simple actions makes it look like you are bluffing, right?

            1. Open Mind says:

              “Why so reluctant to take the simple step of googling a study you have apparently already read and simply pasting in the resulting url? Surely you realize that failing to undertake such simple actions makes it look like you are bluffing, right?”

              Against my better judgement I’ll pamper to your whims once……
              Newman Wright,B.,. Wilkins, Arnold J and Zoukos Y (2007)
              SPECTRAL FILTERS CAN IMPROVE READING AND VISUAL SEARCH
              IN PATIENTS WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS Journal of Neurology 254 (12) 1729 – 1735

              Not necessarily the best, though it’s the one I’m reading at the moment and the quality of the journal can’t be faulted.

              (Just don’t let that poor dear Jonathan Graham see- he thinks I’m just a liar and I’d hate to do anything to hinder his psychological dependence upon maintaining his narrow spectral view of the world).

              1. What makes you think that study has anything to do with SSS or Irlen?

              2. “Not necessarily the best, though it’s the one I’m reading at the moment and the quality of the journal can’t be faulted.”

                Uh want to hear another thing that might make someone think you’re bluffing? Giving weak evidence when you claim to have strong evidence.

  51. weing says:

    “The double standards are palpable. Sorry sceptics- you’ve done nothing here though manifest lack of knowledge (both in science and in logical thinking), and patent bias, which serves to only support the beliefs of that which you seek to denigrate.”

    Tu quoque. Confirmation bias applies to everyone, skeptics are not immune. That’s why we have wives, to set us straight about the proverbial beam in our eyes. Regarding anecdotes, that is all most of us have. My experience practicing medicine is all anecdotal. If studies show that a different treatment is more efficacious, I change.

  52. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I heard Prof Evans lecture at a conference a few weeks ago and spoke with him at the lunch break. Then in the past week have been in contact with his lab, who sent me a list of research articles to peruse. Unlike yourself I’ve then sought to form my own informed opinion and have read 23 of the articles so far.

    Well clearly you care more about the topic than us. I simply couldn’t be bothered, I mostly restrict myself to pointing out why the arguments made for Irlen syndrome are sub-par and unconvincing. Also note that Chris’ “anecdote” is not really an “anecdote”, it is a story about how an evidence-based approached was successful in delivering improvements to her child – which we would expect. It’s not an anecdote held up to disprove the scientific consensus or to over-ride better quality evidence.

    Irlen syndrome claims to treat a specific type of visual dyslexia.

    From Irlen.com’s “who do we help” page:
    - Gifted & Average Students
    - Reading Problems, Dyslexia & Learning Difficulties
    - ADD/HD
    - Headaches & Migraines
    - Light Sensitivity, Fluorescent Lights & Irlen
    - Autism & Asperger Syndrome
    - Traumatic Head Injuries
    - Psychological, Medical and Visual
    Irlen.ca has the same list. Irlencolo.com says IS is found in “12 – 14% of general population, 25 – 30% of individuals with Autism, 30 – 35% of individuals with ADD/HD, 46% of individuals with identified learning difficulties” and “Irlen Syndrome can be brought on at any age by a stroke or brain injury”. Is there some sort of overall governing body that solely restricts its practice Irlen syndrome to just a certain type of visual dyslexia? Please link. Otherwise your claims run the risk of being considered part of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Dr. Evan’s work may be akin to chiropractors who only treat back pain, or medical acupuncturists who only treat acute musculoskeletal pain, but that would apparently make him the exception rather than the rule. In which case, will you join us in condemning those practitioners who claim to be able to treat headaches, autism, brain injuries and other problems?

    Could you post a link, or even just the title, of an article that Dr. Evan has published? Perhaps pick out the very best one and we can discuss it? Why isn’t he publishing about it? Pubmed suggests the last relevant article he wrote was back in 2008, and before that it was 2005. The 2008 article suggests that precision tinted lenses might help with people with a pattern glare test results >3 might have less visual stress if they have precision tinted lenses. I wonder if simple sunglasses might work as well. But nothing about reading disabilities. The 2002 experimental trial I did find, at 11 years old is hardly new, did find reading improvements, though there are issues (most notably, the actual changes in reading speed were unimpressive for most, at around 5%; only 2/100 seemed to show clinically significant improvement, specifically a 25% increase in reading speed). The 2005 paper was a summary of the topic, not original experimental evidence.

    Funny how in 1 week I managed to find all the recent published articles by Prof Evans and his study group

    Where are the recent ones? The most recent I found was from 2008, 5 years old. Why is it only one study group? I mean, when you look at a lot of research topics, it’s rare you only get one group focussing on it. Preventing neovascularization of tumors for instance, has a variety of competing groups including our own Dr. Gorski.

    You seem curiously prone to proclaiming victory over some rather shaky evidence. You are also curiously prone to discounting what appear to me to be quite reasonable criticisms of the work you are citing. Overall, it seems less like you are interested in a discussion of the issue, generating lists of positive and negative characteristics of the topic and research, and more like you just want to win the argument.

    And that’s not science. That’s the human mind’s tendency to resolve cognitive dissonance by denigrating the facts and people who challenge your self-concept.

    Why not merely admit that there is limited evidence regarding Irlen syndrome, that it is not heavily researched, and that it’s an open question? Why assume bad faith on the part of the commenters here, the American Board of Ophthalmology and Dr. Novella?

    1. Open Mind says:

      “In which case, will you join us in condemning those practitioners who claim to be able to treat …, autism, brain injuries and other problems?”

      I may be mistaken, though my understanding is that Colorimetry practitioners do not claim to treat those conditions; they claim to be able to help the visual correlates of those conditions. There is a definitive difference in the 2 statements

    2. Open Mind says:

      “Why not merely admit that there is limited evidence regarding Irlen syndrome, that it is not heavily researched, and that it’s an open question? Why assume bad faith on the part of the commenters here, the American Board of Ophthalmology and Dr. Novella?”

      Finally a semblance of sensibility. THAT first statement is EXACTLY my point. I do think the evidence is incomplete and the question very much open.
      However……..Novella foolishly doe not conclude that. He shuts the door on it without truly understanding the principles, and says “it is unethical to continue to promote and offer this as a treatment”. THAT reeks of closing the door, not requesting more data. To question the ethics of professionals who claim success with helping some patients WHEN THE DOOR IS STILL OPEN is both “bad faith” and frankly unprofessional.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Actually, Dr. Novella’s challenge is not bad faith and unprofessional. It’s a valuable challenge that nonscientific practitioners need to realize their confidence needs to be challenged. Confidence must be challenged, as it is too easy to fall into a trap of confirmation bias. It is up to practitioners to demonstrate these work through controlled trials or similar high-quality proof, otherwise there is a significant risk of wasting time and money. It is unethical to promote and offer this as treatment during its current state in anything but a controlled trial. People who do so are no better than Stanislaw Burzynski, any homeopath, or Pfizer promoting Viagra for women.

        The chance that IS and coloured overlays may work is not the same thing as they do work and should be widely used. Given the current state of knowledge and proof of Irlen syndrome, it should not be promoted as a cure for anything. The current research base is not enough to claim it as an effective treatment, and it is perfectly reasonable to say “30 years of research with no good results means it’s time to abandon this line of inquiry and move on to more promising areas of research”. This is a judgement call, when to draw this line is a matter of opinion. But claiming enough evidence exists to promote this as an effective treatment is simply wrong.

      2. “THAT first statement is EXACTLY my point. I do think the evidence is incomplete and the question very much open.”

        Largely a useless statement. A useful statement would concern how you know the door is open and how you would know when to close it.

        See, and I’m probably not talking to Open Mind anymore because she’s off writing a snippy and for the most part irrelevant response.

        The utility in the metaphor of “the door” is that it is an object distinct from ourselves. I don’t need to believe Dr. Novella about the door being open or closed. I can go look at it myself. Dr. Novella might say the door is open when I think it closed but I could ask Dr. Novella as to why he considers it closed and he could explain his rationale. We then could discuss if the standard of evidence is appropriate and/or consistent. Even if Dr. Novella was tight-lipped about his standard. I could still infer his standard through repeated questioning along the lines of “Would you consider it closed if there was an N=5000 trial, with the following features”. I could then even argue Dr. Novella on the point by showing him parallel examples where he is forced to accept something ridiculous or inconstant with his behavior e.g. “Well if only an N=5000 will do, do you consider ALL research on acoustic neuromas entirely open to as most have very small N due to the rarity of the disease?”

        However, if you watch closely you can see that Open Mind has avoided having those conversations and it just goes to show…

        ***If there’s no way you can tell what makes a door open or closed. You really don’t have much evidence of there being any door at all.***

        1. Skeech says:

          Man WTF?

          How anal are you? Talk fucking sense- not through ya arse

          1. Interesting. Christopher Ng references Skeech in his post and while Skeech posted before Christopher by about 25 min. Skeech’s comment didn’t get approved until after Christophers – at least from my IP. However someone who is logged into the same session would be able to see posts that are still awaiting moderation.

            I wonder is this just some random stranger who decided to go to an old SBM post then dig through a few hundred comments and respond to a topic s/he hasn’t participated in prior just to insult me or… :-)

          2. Chris says:

            Johnathan Graham:

            Interesting. Christopher Ng references Skeech in his post and while Skeech posted before Christopher by about 25 min. Skeech’s comment didn’t get approved until after Christophers – at least from my IP.

            One possible explanation:

            The comments feed, http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/comments/feed/, posts the entire comment before it appears in the blog thread. I have clicked on many of them to see where they fit in the thread, but found that they were not yet posted.

        2. “However, if you watch closely you can see that Open Mind has avoided having those conversations and it just goes to show…”

          For all the merits of the argument, there may be a reason she doesn’t have that sort of conversation with you………It’s BORING. Skeech is crass though right. No wonder you have no friends on Facebook if that is how you try to talk to people!!

          1. Open Mind has shown she has no problem demonstrating someone is wrong (even if she’s incorrect more often than not) or to address some inconsequential issue. She certainly has no problem doing that with me. Providing this standard of evidence would be a great opportunity to do just that but that’s where she gets all shy.

            So your theory doesn’t hold much water. A more likely reason is that Open Mind isn’t actually here to discuss anything of note or interest.

            Is it really so hard to see that most of her posts are a game of “You’re wrong but I won’t say (usefully) how?”

            Come on, it’s obvious (these are all paraphrased).

            “Oh you need to look at ALL the evidence”
            “Which evidence?”
            “I won’t tell you.”

            “I have done a systematic review of a larger dataset than any prior SR and the results are contrary to the three latest SRs”
            “Can I see it?”
            “No”

            “Can you provide a strong example of SSS being a distinct neurological condition?”
            “No”

  53. weing says:

    Just out of curiosity. How does the ease of reading square with studies showing that information presented in fonts that are difficult to read, is retained better?

  54. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Spectral filters can improve reading and visual search in patients with multiple sclerosis.

    Good, thank you. This does seem like a decent trial, there were efforts at matched control groups. I found a full-text version online, interestingly, not once does the word “Irlen” or “scotopic” appear. The introduction attributes the symptoms of visual stress (itself a rather large collection of things) among multiple sclerosis patients to optic neuritis and cortical hyperexcitability. It’s oddly reliant on a single reference to a then in-press paper about the use of coloured filters for reading difficulties with autistic children. This is a reasonable starting point for research regarding MS patients, though a lot more work would need to be done to isolate where the filters may be helping – eyes? Brain? Optic nerve? And like the American Academy of Pediatrics says, there’s a lot of problems with research in the area.

    Again, this is not a slam-dunk, this is a reasonable starting point. This single article does not vindicate the whole field, it suggests further work for one population. Science builds like a house – each brick is a small but necessary addition. This is a decent brick for a house about multiple sclerosis* but it does not automatically have any implications for people with autism, learning disabilities or really any other population. What else do you have? And if you protest that you just gave us what we asked for and therefore you are done – you’re not and that’s not how science works. No field or proof is built on a single paper. Even Einstein’s insight regarding the interconversion of energy and matter (or the speed of light, or relativity) only provided a basis for further empirical testing – nobody read it and proclaimed physics to be over (or even revolutionized).

    *I’m not good with metaphors.

    1. Apparently “visual stress” is a synonym – at least according to Wikipedia for Irlen. That seemed incongruent to me as well.

      My concerns would be:

      a) Small sample. Which means we’re using T-statistics – no data to support that the null-hypothesis is t-distributed. It’s not unreasonable to believe that in a disease like MS there is some skew in a given sample with regard to a particular symptom.

      b) It seems like there was a fair amount of overlap between the treatment and control groups in the reading test.

      c) The strength of effect appears to be at odds with the claims of Irlen syndrome. 16% improvement in reading rate. When you consider this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e7/Irlen_syndrome_text.png/250px-Irlen_syndrome_text.png

      Is what Irlen syndrome claims to treat. I mean if you were to give that to a group of people I would expect more than a sixteen percent drop.

      1. Open Mind says:

        “Apparently “visual stress” is a synonym – at least according to Wikipedia for Irlen. That seemed incongruent to me as well.”

        My Goodness Master Graham!

        So (I) you base you knowledge in this area on Wikipedia??? That made me laugh. Yet you expound a science based approach! That borders on (and encroaches beyond) being hypocritical, wouldn’t you say!

        (ii) You don’t actually know what Irlen syndrome really is do you? Or “visual stress”? If you don’t actually understand the visual and neurological connotations of the condition, than that explains your proclaimed inability to see the relevance of the study I listed (“What makes you think that study has anything to do with SSS or Irlen”).

        1. “you base you knowledge in this area on Wikipedia”

          No, I think Wikipedia is a source of information on language usage.. Apparently not unfounded as searching for “visual stress” and Irlen brings back a number of hits from people and institutions who claim to treat Irlen (as well as the Wikipedia article).

          “You don’t actually know what Irlen syndrome really is do you? ”

          Well I’m not convinced Irlen is anything and neither are you (otherwise it’s not an “open question” but perhaps you lied there?). So it seems rather ridiculous to preen and posture about how one knows what something “really is”. Of course that’s never stopped you before.

          The more important point is, sadly the one you don’t understand. The study was weak in design, effect and it’s statistical analysis and that’s just when we’re applying it to it’s subject group:People with MS.

          It’s still weaker than what Dr. Novella posted. So you might want to post one which was around N=100, with a simple design and strong effect. After all, you’ve implied you have stronger research right? Since you already have done an SR in what appears to be a few days. Why not a meta-analysis? A sharp stick like yourself should be able to whip that up in 24 hrs.

          I await your academic outpourings with baited breath…

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Wikipedia is to knowledge as a mine is to iron.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          I don’t think anyone knows what Irlen syndrome is. As Lilienfeld pointed out in the article I linked to several days ago, it lacks boundary conditions. If proponents can’t even define it clearly enough to be investigated, and that’s my impression, then you can’t investigate it properly. And while wikipedia can’t really be trusted, you can look into the initial sources. For instance, this one saying it’s probably other conditions, or this one saying the evidence is only anecdotal, or this one talking about all the agencies that reject it, the fact that it seems to be merely a collection of other recognized visual conditions, the lack of objective proof it even exists, the lack of good research converging on a consistent set of findings that coloured overlays help. Two further points:

          1) It is a tremendous problem for proponents of Irlen syndrome that the science simply fails to support them. The inability or refusal to engage with the scientific evidence as a whole is rather a problem for the practitioners who use it, and is a large reason why they get little respect here.

          2) For someone who allegedly doesn’t care about Irlen syndrome, you sure are spending a lot of time defending it. I suspect it’s because you can’t handle the bruising your ego got and now are looking for excuses and justifications to resolve the cognitive dissonance. You could try simply admitting you are wrong, you are human, and you used some pretty shoddy, unconvincing arguments.

          1. Open Mind says:

            “For someone who allegedly doesn’t care about Irlen syndrome, you sure are spending a lot of time defending it. I suspect it’s because you can’t handle the bruising your ego got and now are looking for excuses and justifications to resolve the cognitive dissonance”.

            You just don’t get it do you?
            We have patients who the normal system has failed- Ophthalmologists, paediatricians, teachers, and optometrists. A few months some parents asked about Colorimetry and I promised to look into it; which I have.

            I’ve explored some of the main proponents of the theory, from Colorimetry and its more scientific outlook, and it’s poor cousin Irlen Syndrome. Some experts in the field suggested I look at this forum to hear some of the objections to their work; which I have.

            I’m far from convinced Irlen exists as a separate entity other than as a marketing plan. Equally I’m far from convinced by the narrow minded views of some of the more stereotypical useless sceptics here. With regard to delayed visual perceptual development in some individuals and it’s impact in reading, and also in a subset of the population with migrainous /pattern glare profiles, I more than strongly suspect there’s something there. More studies are clearly needed, though our clinic is more than willing to refer patients to alternative practitioners when all other options have been explored and failed. Therein lies any frustration with the more simple individuals here are willing to discount things, and selectively demand a burden of proof. Closed minds are simple minds, and I have no respect for that. That’s not scientific- that’s just stupidity. I’ve certainly not heard enough convincing, intelligent points from the usual suspects to prove they know what they’re talking about.

            My ego is far from bruised WLU . I am more humoured by the pompous posturing of some of the more ludicrous (especially Master Graham and his attempts to appear intellectual whilst succeeding only in coming across as a pratt).

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            I’m far from convinced Irlen exists as a separate entity other than as a marketing plan.

            Then why do you keep arguing that we’re stupid and it exists? Why not clarify the numb of reality rather than attempting to defend the obfuscating cloud of ill-defined over-selling?

            You keep claiming we’re “narrow-minded”. We’re not. We merely look for proof, and refuse to believe a treatment exists for a hypothetical condition when the proof is unconvincing. Not to us – to the experts, who seem rather convinced as a whole that Irlen syndrome is, for lack of a better word, nonexistent. Coloured filters may help those subgroups diagnosed with Irlen syndrome who actually have something else. Real scientists remove those subgroups and keep testing rather than using them, wittingly or un, to buttress a pet hypothesis.

            More studies are clearly needed, though our clinic is more than willing to refer patients to alternative practitioners when all other options have been explored and failed.

            And like all clinics willing to do this, that means you are more willing to waste your clients money and forego your professional duties than you are to tell them an unfortunate truth – you don’t know how to help them and there may not be anything you can do. Alternative practitioners bleed clients of funds in pursuit of illusory patient satisfaction, if you’re actually a science-based practitioner you should be a gatekeeper educating your patients and explaining why those practices are wastes of money.

            But whatever, be a shruggie.

            1. Open Mind says:

              “Coloured filters may help those subgroups diagnosed with Irlen syndrome who actually have something else. Real scientists remove those subgroups and keep testing rather than using them, wittingly or un, to buttress a pet hypothesis”

              What, pray tell, are the conditions you describe as “something else”?

              What are those subgroups? Are you, as you seem to be, suggesting that there are some conditions for which coloured filters prove beneficial, perhaps with regard to disorders of visual perception, or pattern induced migraine?

              Did it occur to you that perhaps those conditions are, in fact, the SAME as Irlen Syndrome, and that “Irlen Syndrome” may simply be the marketing term used by that particular group? If those subgroups exist, then by definition IS exists.

              THAT summarises my suspicion of the field. IS seems to be an old, early foray into the concept of the therapeutic benefits of coloured filters, and perhaps commandeered by a UK based marketing model. It is simplistic in its methodology, when compared to the use of formal Colorimetry instrumentation.

            2. Open MInd says:

              “And like all clinics willing to do this, that means you are more willing to waste your clients money and forego your professional duties than you are to tell them an unfortunate truth – you don’t know how to help them and there may not be anything you can do. Alternative practitioners bleed clients of funds in pursuit of illusory patient satisfaction”

              THAT is your opinion, and no amount of real world experience is going to change that (especially when you have no “real world” experience in the area).
              You dogmatically claim this may “waste your clients money”. I beg to differ strongly. We will advise patients of the pros and cons of what you term “alternative ” treatments (including chiropractic and acupuncture on occasions). Remember these are patients and clients for whom mainstream medicine or academia has failed. They are entitled to be made aware of their options in order to make an informed decision. Contrary to your assertion, it is my professional duty to do so.
              If their quality of life is improved, then they would argue very strongly with you that they have wasted their money.

              Indeed, by that stage many would testify that mainstream medicine and remedial care, as defined by your narrow interpretation of being science based, has wasted enormous amounts of their resources; both time and financial.

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            What, pray tell, are the conditions you describe as “something else”?

            I don’t know, I’m not an optometrist or ophthalmologist. I’m merely pointing to a criticism made by actual experts. The lack of boundary conditions detailed by Lilienfeld et al. rather underscores this.

            We will advise patients of the pros and cons of what you term “alternative ” treatments (including chiropractic and acupuncture on occasions).

            What are the pros of chiropractic? Do you inform them of the risk of cerebral arterial dissection? Why not go with a physiotherapist, since at best chiropractors are a flavour of physiotherapists, meanwhile the worst are utter quacks.

            Remember these are patients and clients for whom mainstream medicine or academia has failed. They are entitled to be made aware of their options in order to make an informed decision. Contrary to your assertion, it is my professional duty to do so.

            Even if those options completely lack an evidence base? Even if those options have no evidence of working? I’ve had recommendations like that made to me, and it felt like a betrayal from my doctor to whom I turn for expert advice that filters out the nonsense. I was not amused.

            If their quality of life is improved, then they would argue very strongly with you that they have wasted their money.

            …unless that quality of life would have improved anyway merely by waiting. In which case, that’s very much a waste of money. You don’t know, you are attributing causality in absence of evidence. In these cases, you’re at best keeping them entertained while they healed on their own. That money would be better spent on a Wii.

  55. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I wouldn’t trust wikipedia’s article on IS, it doesn’t comply with the manual of style and the structure and content don’t pass my editorial sniff test. Looks like it was written by a proponent or at least someone with leanings towards it.

    The article by Lilienfeld I linked to a couple days ago talked about IS’s lack of boundary conditions as an exemplar of pseudoscience – by claiming to be everything to everyone for all symptoms and curing all problems, it ends up being nothing.

    The overall problem is – this single study isn’t enough to address all the claims made for IS, and isn’t enough to overcome the objections raised in the review articles and statement by the AAP. If there were more studies like this, you might actually learn something, and you could start separating useful kernels from spurious chaff.

    That’s the problem with poor-quality science, it tends to push out any good information or results you have and develops a stink that drives away serious researchers.

    1. “this single study isn’t enough to address all the claims made for IS, and isn’t enough to overcome the objections raised in the review articles and statement by the AAP”

      It doesn’t even stand up well to the study in Pediatrics http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/4/e932.long

      Sample was much smaller, the study design more complicated, the outcome was weak. Also while I haven’t spent any time using a Irlen sheet. I’m pretty sure if I put something on my book that made it half as bright it would be annoying.

  56. Jennifer Chan says:

    I have read this post with disbelief.

    The criticisms are unfounded. We have been using coloured filters on our clients for over 25 years. To say they do not work is just plain stupid.

    Our clients report enormous benefits, as do their teachers. I do not care HOW it works. I just want my clients to have a better life.

    Some here just do not understand that.

    1. “We have been using coloured filters on our clients for over 25 years. To say they do not work is just plain stupid.”

      Well if I were to read your post as it is written it would seem that you believe that anything where a group of practitioners practice something, claim observed benefits which are against a significant body of research. Then everyone who thinks otherwise is stupid. Is that correct?

      “Our clients report enormous benefits, as do their teachers.”

      Define “enormous”. Is a 16% increase in reading speed “enormous”? Then how do you explain the disparity between research and what you observe? Especially it’s strength of effect.

      1. Jennifer Chan says:

        I am saying that the children we work with report significant improvement in comfort when reading. Their teachers report the kids have more confidence and their grades improve.
        We use coloured filters which our school provides for free to our children.
        So tell me the problem??

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          It’s bad science. It shuts down critical thinking. It wastes time and money. And in particular, it prevents you from looking for what may be a real problem (particularly since Irlen syndrome seems to be made up of multiple real conditions that are poorly differentiated by credulous practitioners).

        2. “I am saying that the children we work with report significant improvement in comfort when reading.”

          You missed two of my questions:

          i) What is “significant improvement in comfort” and “more confidence” and “improved grades” (Note that you appear to have changed your argument here. Before you said “ENORMOUS BENEFIT” that seems rather larger than “significant improvement”). It’s also interesting that only one of those is actually something that you could be usefully measured.

          ii) How do you explain your observations in light of research?

          “So tell me the problem??”
          Is there any problem with spending money and time on something which is not causing an effect?

          1. skeech says:

            Man that pole is stuck SO far up your – - – -
            (Bet you’ll enjoy pulling it, and in, and out, and in though)

            You’re a LOSER

          2. Chris says:

            Why do you think insults are a valid form of evidence?

          3. weing says:

            Me suspects that “cheeks” is the allegedly Open Minded’s hubby.

            1. Open MInd says:

              “Me suspects that “cheeks” is the allegedly Open Minded’s hubby.”

              Oh please! My husband thinks the internet is for checking football scores only, and he does not waste his time with verbal aggression (barking dogs and all that).

          4. weing says:

            “Oh please! My husband thinks the internet is for checking football scores only, and he does not waste his time with verbal aggression (barking dogs and all that).”

            Looks then, you have yourself an admirer.

  57. Jennifer Chan says:

    BTW it looks like it is true!
    Mr Jonathan Graham does have 0 friends on facebook!!!!!

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Physicians used bloodletting and purgatives for millenia, swearing that they were effective. Perhaps you should try using lancets and bodkins with your clients, maybe it will help? What I’m getting at is that certainty is no substitute for evidence. And further, if it is as successful as you say, shouldn’t it be relatively easy to demonstrate in scientific trials? Why do you think the research consistently fails to find benefit? Have you read the research and attempted to identify why the addition of controls makes the benefits vanish?

      Better yet, seek funding for a series of controlled trials to attempt to falsify the hypothesis that coloured overlays work. Try to isolate individual factors – is it specific colours for specific clients? Is it practice? Which clients?

      The thing is – assuming coloured overlays work, if you use them you help maybe dozens of clients every year. If you prove that it works, you will help millions. And if it doesn’t work, then you can stop wasting your clients’ time and money.

      If nothing can convince you that Irlen syndrome doesn’t exist, then you aren’t doing science and you shouldn’t bother discussing it here as you will get no respect. given your use of anecdote and “it worked for me”, I hold little hope but feel free to prove me wrong.

      I’m not even on facebook, are you going to try to belittle me about that?

      1. Jennnifer Chan says:

        “If nothing can convince you that Irlen syndrome doesn’t exist, then you aren’t doing science ”

        Then the “science” is lacking and must improve so that it matches reality

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          This only happens by people doing further research. It’s possible there’s a nub of truth there, that you could help uncover and turn into conventional practice – again, helping millions rather than dozens. The nice thing about science is, it iteratively approaches reality so if Irlen syndrome genuinely exists, it will be clarified through proper research.

          However, if science persistently fails to find any evidence of Irlen syndrome, then it’s quite possible that it doesn’t exist. The claim that it must exist and that science is wrong is a hallmark of the pseudoscientist who doesn’t realize it is quite easy to be wrong about attribution.

          It’s quite possible that the reality is Irlen syndrome doesn’t exist. If you refuse to entertain this as a possibility, you are not doing, and will never do science.

        2. “Then the “science” is lacking and must improve so that it matches reality”

          How do you know it doesn’t already match reality? Do you not think you currently dismiss things on equivalent evidence?

    2. Someone from Facebook should forward these anecdotes on to their UI/UX group. It might imply that the average person still doesn’t know how to use their privacy settings.

      But then again what do I know I’m a friendless troll…. :)

      1. Jennifer Chan says:

        “But then again what do I know I’m a friendless troll” Jonathan Graham

        Just thought it was worth repeating

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          It’s not, it’s an ad hominem and a distraction.

        2. 小姐陳黃毛丫頭

        3. Chris says:

          “Mr Jonathan Graham does have 0 friends on facebook!!!!!”

          And how does provide evidence for your claims? If you are claiming that there are significant gains in reading by using bits of color plastic, then perform a study.

          Measure the performance of the students when you get them, then test them later. Then make sure there is an equivalent group of children who are given the same tests. Then publish the results.

          This can be done by coordinating with a school or school district. If you contact the college of education at a local research university for help, or getting some graduate students to do the study. Especially since they would not have a conflict of interest like you do.

          That would much more useful than declarations saying “it worked for us” and “you don’t have any Facebook” friends.

    3. Windy says:

      I don’t ‘do’ Facebook but I’d make an exception for Mr. Graham if I for a moment thought it would make a difference to him or anyone else whose opinion might interest him.

      1. Awww Windy.

        (and you know what they say…Jonathan Graham’s heart grew three sizes that day)

        As a dad, my FB life is pretty much shared between technical stuff and putting up pictures of my kids.

  58. weing says:

    I’m trying to limit my facebook friends to less than 15. If I accept someone new as a friend, I have to de-friend someone.

  59. Windy says:

    @ WLU, Jonathan Graham, ewing, et al

    I wonder if we all think the time spent and the words written responding to Open Mouth was worth it? It was clear fairly early on that she was just trolling. You all made terrific points – often repeatedly. But to what effect? There was never a shared language, never a chance for a meaningful exchange of ideas, because that was never her intention.

    On the one hand it is unseemly to let credulous froth appear unanswered in these pages. On the other it gives a measure of credibility to the troll when we keep feeding her; engaging her as if her opinions merited attention rather than ignoring the ravings of a delusional and self-important pot-stirrer.

    Just asking the question :-)

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      There is no effect on the trolls or the true believers, but there is an effect on other readers of the comments. It helps to persuade fence-sitters, it educates readers in the process of critical thinking and the scientific method, and it gives readers ammunition for counteracting the same misinformation and fallacious arguments in other settings.

      1. scott says:

        It is good reference for others. Personally I do not feel good enough to debate nor have an interest.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        It helps that a lot of replies are pretty basic logic or pointing to experiences that are readily available to people. Even a basic question like “how many people tried this and didn’t get better?” can give readers an “aha!” moment, an intuitive grasp of logical fallacies that might take a paragraph or more to explain.

      3. Open Mind says:

        In addition to highlighting to bystanders that some of the scepticism is irrational and peddled by misinformed individuals with no experience in the field; armed only with the ability to repeat verbatim one narrow viewpoint read online

        1. Can anyone demonstrate how the above statement applies to anyone OTHER than Open Mind? Claims to be skeptical: Check. Is misinformed: Check. Repeats pretty much something found online: Check.

          I mean if you add “insult”, “misunderstand” and “make sweeping generalizations” – that would be pretty much the totality of her posts.

        2. weing says:

          Are you confessing that you don’t have experience in skepticism? I think it shows. Because some points of view and studies don’t agree with your own, you close your mind to the possibility that they may be correct. Which leads to the question of what your criteria for accepting new information are? I don’t recall anyone here calling for doing less studies of learning problems. I have no problem with more studies to further refine the disabilities and to have more targeted therapy. I looked into the color filters a few years ago and came away with the distinct impression that it was just marketing hype looking to separate me from my money.

          1. Chris says:

            “I looked into the color filters a few years ago and came away with the distinct impression that it was just marketing hype looking to separate me from my money.”

            It is just a gimmick.

            Just take cheap pieces of colored plastic and declare it helps kids read. Then charge twice for the tutoring.

        3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Asking for evidence is not irrational. Continuing to believe in the face of contrary evidence is. Believing more strongly merely because you are losing an argument – even more irrational.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I like to argue :)

      When it gets to clown-makeup grimace territory, that’s when I stop. If the argument continues to develop, I keep engaging.

      1. “I like to argue :)”

        I plead “no contest” to that too. I do think about windy’s point. Were I to guess OM is satisfying something far removed from intellectual curiosity. Still…I had some free time this week…

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Is “windy” “windriven”? Same avatar.

          I don’t like change. CHANGE IT BACK!!1!!1!!

        2. Chris says:

          I didn’t have the time to argue as much as I wanted. Also I was turned off by OM’s condescension about my experience as a parent of child with developmental disabilities. Especially since I learned to spot nonsense when he was still very young.

          1. Open MInd says:

            “Also I was turned off by OM’s condescension about my experience as a parent of child with developmental disabilities. Especially since I learned to spot nonsense when he was still very young.”

            I most certainly had no intention to be condescending toward you or your child’s personal situation. I feel nothing but empathy for parents in that difficult situation.

            HOWEVER….
            I pointed out (consistent with the criticism levelled by others for the exact same reason), that personal experiences / anecdotes apparently are irrelevant and prove nothing. The sceptics will point out the emotional bias in using your personal experience as a basis for forming a clinical opinion. Furthermore, claiming you can now simply “spot nonsense” is a foolish statement inconsistent with the philosophies of “Science based (limited) medicine”.
            I doubt you have completed a thorough, multi- centred, double blind study to determine your predictive abilities in that regard.You can’t have it both ways

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Anecdotes that illustrate the effectiveness of evidence-based care is one of two reasonable uses (the other being hypothesis generation). Chris doesn’t need to conduct multi-centre, randomized controlled trials – they have already been done.

          3. Chris says:

            Open Mind, you did not make any sense and are not worth my time.

  60. windriven says:

    @Jonathan, WLU, Dr. Hall, et al

    I hope my comment didn’t come across as a criticism. It was simply an observation.

    I too love to debate and gleefully engage with this ilk from time to time.

    This particular thread ran to many, many entries. I wonder if the fence sitters followed along as the inanities grew grosser and grosser? If so it had value beyond the obvious entertainment value. *

    I did learn that both WLU *and* Jonathan are sad and lonely. It brought a tears to my eyes. But I dried them once I stopped laughing.

    Finally, Windy was one of my efforts to avoid moderation purgatory. I don’t expect to use it again as (are you listening Paul?) it didn’t work. :-)

    *There was a brief point about 2/3 through when I thought Mouth was drifting back to reality. Sadly, it was an illusion.

    1. No worries WD I think about exactly the same things. In truth OM reminds me a little of myself in my late teens, when I was a stupid(er) git. By withholding in an argument you can call people arrogant because they haven’t examined *all* the evidence (since you haven’t held yours up for examination), pat yourself on the back for knowing “the real deal” and pretend you’re being the patient teacher by letting people “work it out on their own”. All at the same time. It’s a pretty sweet deal for your ego. Especially when the alternative is being wrong.

      1. Open Mind says:

        “All at the same time. It’s a pretty sweet deal for your ego”

        You are being obtuse again. I am no expert and make no claim to be. I was here to learn why some people are against the concept of coloured filters. I’ve seen and read little here to convince me one way or the other. I’m certainly not here to try to convince you of anything- I don’t think your mind would be capable to absorbing ANY external conflicting data.

        What I have learnt is that most here have no idea on where Irlen fits in the scheme of colorimetry and visual perceptual difficulties (in whatever class of patient- autistic, MS etc. etc.). I question your views when you don’t understand the question!

        I’ve also learnt the ego’s of some here are so large that they cannot understand why someone would not agree with them (and their narrow view of the world).

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          I am no expert and make no claim to be.

          Then why don’t you trust the experts who have genuinely examined the condition and found it wanting?

          I was here to learn why some people are against the concept of coloured filters. I’ve seen and read little here to convince me one way or the other [snip] What I have learnt is that most here have no idea on where Irlen fits in the scheme of colorimetry and visual perceptual difficulties (in whatever class of patient- autistic, MS etc. etc.). I question your views when you don’t understand the question!

          Rather missing the point that Dr. Novella’s original post was about using an example, Irlen syndrome, to illustrate how some practices and practitioners resist science. It was never about the evidence for Irlen syndrome. The scientific here aren’t interested in the specifics – they are interested in the opinion of those experts who have reviewed the specifics.

          I’ve also learnt the ego’s of some here are so large that they cannot understand why someone would not agree with them (and their narrow view of the world).

          I would say, at minimum, that rather applies to you as well. Again, I haven’t delved deep into the literature, particularly the primary literature. I’m deferring to those who have, who consistently find Irlen syndrome hasn’t produced any convincing evidence yet.

  61. “You are being obtuse again. I am no expert and make no claim to be.”

    And that, and pretty much your entire post is, unsurprisingly irrelevant to virtu ally everything I said. You don’t have be or claim to be an expert to have all the hang-ups I’ve pointed out. When someone like you misses the point entirely do you still call yourself obtuse? Or is there some gentler word you use to salve that ego?

    “What I have learnt is that most here have no idea on where Irlen fits in the scheme of colorimetry and visual perceptual difficulties ”

    A statement of similar utility to “What is the taxonomy of a unicorn?”

    “I question your views when you don’t understand the question!”

    Lady I’m pretty sure you don’t even understand what my views are.

    “I was here to learn why some people are against the concept of coloured filters. I’ve seen and read little here to convince me one way or the other. ”

    Again this is unsurprising because you appear to have, for whatever reason not absorbed the information presented. If you did and you still had a contrary opinion it would because you have specific critique of the methodology, outcomes or statistical analysis which you could post here. Which you haven’t in any useful sense.

    Even though you claim to have read dozens of studies. You have selected exactly two studies which have outcomes which you think are incongruent with the body of evidence. Neither are of very high-power, strong effect or particularly well-done (which of course calls into question whether they are incongruent or not)

    Finally, even if you had no ability to critique the body of work. You could at least be expected to articulate what you are looking for and why you think that makes or breaks the issue. Which again you haven’t (despite being asked several times, in several ways by several people).

    So yes, given that you don’t know what’s being presented, don’t know why you have a problem with it and don’t know what target you are trying to hit by looking at evidence. It is utterly unsurprising that you are in the same state when you entered this forum.

    1. Open Mind says:

      “It is utterly unsurprising that you are in the same state when you entered this forum.”

      On the contrary, you arrogant, patronising man, I have learnt that some of the sceptics here thrive on being sceptic rather than actually being intelligent. Deny the existence in totality of anything we can’t yet fully understand!
      I have absorbed the information you have sprouted (it’s not been particularly intellectually challenging), and then discarded most of it as being polluted hot air billowing from a deflating vessel.

      1. “Deny the. existence in totality of anything we can’t yet fully understand!”

        Then you are either espousing a minority view, or haven’t been listening to me or in my estimation WLU either and probably not Dr. Novella.

        “I have absorbed the information you have sprouted”

        …but still show no sign of it or any sign of having absorbed any other information you have been presented with. If so you could produce feedback which adds to the discussion. So far you have produced virtually nothing and as I’ve said before this persona you wear here – which absorbs nothing and returns nothing. Is useless.

        1. Open MInd says:

          “Then you are either espousing a minority view, or haven’t been listening to me or in my estimation WLU either and probably not Dr. Novella.”

          Such arrogance and indeed ignorance. If my view is that Irlen Syndrome exists, then thousands around the world who are managed with colorimetry etc. suggest the “minority” is pretty large. The majority view is not always the accurate view.
          As for not listening to yourself or Novella, it is a manifestation of your arrogance that you cannot understand how someone could listen to you and not agree with you. Do you expect everyone in your life to agree with your thoughts?

          “…but still show no sign of it or any sign of having absorbed any other information you have been presented with. ”

          You mean I show no sign of having “blindly accepted” the reality of your information in the face of contrasting (and more eloquently expressed) information elsewhere. I do not champion IS, though I ma open to exploring it. That seems to offend your underlying absence of creative thinking and narrow mindedness.

          1. “Such arrogance and indeed ignorance.”

            I agree that describes your post completely.

            “If my view is that Irlen Syndrome exists, then thousands around the world who are managed with colorimetry etc. suggest the “minority” is pretty large.”

            Your ability to get things wrong is impressive. For example you response here is irrelevant even though the point of yours I was addressing was quoted. You said that skeptics here “Deny the. existence in totality of anything we can’t yet fully understand!” and I’m saying that to say that about people here is either referencing some minority of folk (at least in this thread) OR if you’re speaking about WLU, Novella and myself you’ve not listened terribly well…if at all.

            “As for not listening to yourself or Novella, it is a manifestation of your arrogance that you cannot understand how someone could listen to you and not agree with you. Do you expect everyone in your life to agree with your thoughts?”

            ROFL. No hardly, that’s pretty close to confabulation.

            “You mean I show no sign of having “blindly accepted” the reality of your information in the face of contrasting (and more eloquently expressed) information elsewhere.”

            No, you show virtually no sign of having acquired any information pertinent to the discussion of any kind here or anywhere else. If you had you would be capable of an intelligent dialogue on the information in the article and the couple of studies you have posted cites for.

            But you have not shown much ability to do so. So again you should just drop your silly persona with all it’s boasting and preening and drama. Read the studies, make intelligent observations – for or against. Argue based on reason and logic. Instead of doing virtually everything but as you have been.

  62. weing says:

    “We will advise patients of the pros and cons of what you term “alternative ” treatments (including chiropractic and acupuncture on occasions). Remember these are patients and clients for whom mainstream medicine or academia has failed.”

    What would be the reason for mainstream medicine failing them? I can think of several, mainstream medicine is probably not as good as SCAM at treating imaginary illnesses.
    There may not be a treatment for the illness at the present time, medicine can only offer palliative therapy there. SCAM can offer them false hope. The illness is self limiting and just takes time to get over it, SCAM can pretend to cure them. The patient received the treatment but it takes time to see the effects and patient wants it now and doesn’t want to wait, SCAM can entertain them till the medicine works. There may be other ways. But these quickly come to mind.

    1. Open Mind says:

      “What would be the reason for mainstream medicine failing them? I can think of several,”

      I’ll give you another….When mainstream medicine’s knowledge base is too limited and it refuses to look outside of its incredibly narrow sphere of reference, leaving it’s patients to suffer horrendous medical bills and ongoing pain and suffering.

      Medicine to me is still our greatest weapon in helping our patients. Though Medicine’s arrogance and sometimes unwillingness to include CAM in its patient care is both its greatest weakness and crime against humanity. (And THAT is NOT a minority view, however much it saddens me)

      1. weing says:

        “When mainstream medicine’s knowledge base is too limited and it refuses to look outside of its incredibly narrow sphere of reference, leaving it’s patients to suffer horrendous medical bills and ongoing pain and suffering.”

        That would fall under the rubric of there is no treatment at present. That was the case with AIDS when it first came out. Look at the progress we have made! We need funding like that for research on many diseases for which there is no cure. What in the world makes you think CAM had the cure for AIDS and has the cure for these? There is a great opportunity cost incurred by wasting all that money on CAM instead of real research.

      2. windriven says:

        To trivialize crimes against humanity betrays your pathetic shallowness. Mass rape as a military or political tactic is a crime against humanity. Gassing thousands of civilians is a crime against humanity. Hacking half a million of your countrymen to death because they usher from a different tribe is a crime against humanity.

        Not folding over to suck up colored gels and twirling needles and squirting espresso up the ass is, in its most generous reading, a difference of opinion and in its most realistic reading the simple exercise of routine intelligence in rejecting unproven modalities.

        Some of your earlier gibberish amused me. Now you just disgust me.

        1. Open Mind says:

          “To trivialize crimes against humanity betrays your pathetic shallowness. Mass rape as a military or political tactic is a crime against humanity. Gassing thousands of civilians is a crime against humanity. Hacking half a million of your countrymen to death because they usher from a different tribe is a crime against humanity.”

          Oh get over yourself Windy. What a childish, foolish, emotive response which means absolutely nothing. No one is trivialising such atrocities so get off your high horse and stop blowing wind.

          Medicine is an evolving field, though does so at a snail’s pace. The sceptical community (thankfully a minority) are the greatest culprits; acting as you do as an impediment to progress in directions which don’t fit your own health care model.
          THAT indeed is a crime against humanity, through administering incomplete health care. That, whether you are able to admit your fallacies or not, is how much of the world, particularly in the East, sees Medicine

          1. windriven says:

            You are a sad fool, awash in ignorance and self-righteousness. You confuse an open sewer with an open mind. Anything that anyone claims as therapeutic is embraceable in your world. It must be so because you lack the framework and intellectual rigor to filter the useful from the hallucinatory. You would have made an exceptional alchemist or astrologer.

            You claim that medicine evolves at a snail’s pace. But in less than 100 years medicine has developed a huge range of antibiotics ranging from sulfa drugs to fourth (some would count fifth) generation cephalosporins, vanquished polio, wiped smallpox from the face of the earth, battled AIDS from certain death sentence to chronic disease, taken the mortality rate for appendicitis from 26% to less than 1%* and developed the surgical arts to the point that major organ transplantation is approaching routine. And that’s but a tiny, tiny fraction of the list of medicine’s accomplishments.

            And all of your navel-gazing woo has accomplished … what? Zip. Nada. Bupkis. A little doctor feelgood sold to the feeble-minded. Snake oil and magic incantations.

            So eff off, punk. You offer nothing here but woolly thinking and snark.

            *http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/23319/InTech-Appendicitis_and_appendicectomy.pdf

            1. Open Mind says:

              You are a presumptive, rude fool sir; you have no idea of my profession nor of how our patients are managed.
              Our multidisciplinary clinic practices primarily what you would call “science based medicine”, from Paediatricians and Physicians through to our staff Occupational Therapists, Educational Psychologists and 1 part time Optometrist. Though (unlike your narrow minded self) we are simply willing to refer to other disciplines when we feel it is appropriate.

              And might I add that for all our wonderful achievements in western medicine, we as a whole have been directly responsible for the unnecessary suffering and death of millions. We are not as great as some of us think! You preen as though we should be proud of our achievements as profession over the past 100 years. Clearly you deal only with a select, financially advanced section of the community in your ivory tower.

              So if you don’t mind perhaps, to quote your own distasteful manners, perhaps you should “eff off” yourself and seek to enhance your knowledge so you can contribute to Medicine advancing learning; not being a dead weight upon it.

            2. Jennifer Chan says:

              I might also wonder aloud why you are so threatened by everything outside your narrow spheres of reference. I suspect your financial interests are being threatened by large members of the population seeking alternative care, and particularly from practitioners with a more holistic view of the world than you seem to exhibit. Many patients now run away from old fashioned practitioners seemingly like yourself, who place their own prejudices ahead of patient care. You have much to learn, though you are entitled to keep your mind in the dark if you wish- just don’t expect all patients or other practitioners to respect you for it.

              I would strongly recommend seeking professional advice (science based of course); either anger management, or perhaps a form of meditation. You will be less prone to silly outbursts and cerebral haemorrhaging.

          2. weing says:

            “Medicine is an evolving field, though does so at a snail’s pace. The sceptical community (thankfully a minority) are the greatest culprits; acting as you do as an impediment to progress in directions which don’t fit your own health care model.”

            So, skeptics are responsible for the slow progress of medicine? Not those that end up wasting precious research dollars on fantasy?

            1. Jennifer Chan says:

              So THAT is it? I understand now.

              You sceptics are just concerned that you lose research dollars to other areas which many deem more worthwhile!

              A Shameful excuse for your viewpoint

          3. windriven says:

            “You preen as though we should be proud of our achievements as profession over the past 100 years. ”

            And you, sad troll, can’t answer, can you? What scourges of humanity has sCAM conquered? Name the three that you think are most significant.

            “Our multidisciplinary clinic practices primarily what you would call “science based medicine”,”

            I take I then that your practice is only secondarily incompetent and delusional. How comforting.

          4. windriven says:

            “You are a presumptive, rude fool sir; you have no idea of my profession nor of how our patients are managed.”

            You have told us how your patients are managed: in part by the seat of your pants. So I am not presumptive. I’m simply taking you at your word.

            Happy to be rude to a quack though. Guilty as charged.

            As to who is the fool, I’m happy to let my peers call that for themselves. And you, sad harridan, will likely never be my peer.,

          5. Follow the Money says:

            Open Mind: “…we are simply willing to refer to other disciplines when we feel it is appropriate.”

            Don’t you mean “when there’s money to be made”?

            My analysis shows a strong correlation between belief in Irlen Syndrome and a financial interest in selling a solution.

          6. windriven says:

            @Jennifer Chan

            “I suspect your financial interests are being threatened by large members of the population seeking alternative care, and particularly from practitioners with a more holistic view of the world than you seem to exhibit.”

            Oh my, no. In fact, quality medical care – science based medicine, you understand – is a scarce resource. I’m all for large members of the population running off to kooks and charlatans. Frees up scarce resources for the rest of it. But it is ethically and morally imperative that they make an informed decision when they do so.

          7. windriven says:

            @Jennifer Chan

            “You sceptics are just concerned that you lose research dollars to other areas which many deem more worthwhile!”

            Not at all! We have NCCAM which spends 100% of its research dollars on sCAM. And after a billion plus spent we have exactly what to show for it? How has our knowledge been expanded for that billion? What great and munificent benefit has rained on mankind?

            Louder, please! I can’t hear you!

            Meanwhile, science based medicine has brought fertility to untold numbers of barren couples, cured many stomach ulcers, learned to repair the damaged cruciate ligaments of athletes, replaced the kidneys of dying diabetics, brought cures to some breast cancer victims, to name just a teensy tiny fraction of the great things science has done with the research funds it has been given.

          8. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            At a snail’s pace? Are you kidding? In the 30 years since Irlen began promoting her unjustified quackery, the revolutions in cancer treatment, vaccination, stomach ulcers, microsurgery, cardiac care, genetic modification, genetic testing and more are revolutionary. I challenge you to find another area in medicine where practice has not improved or been discarded in three decades. All the areas I can think of are areas that have never changed in response to evidence (CAM).

          9. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            At a snail’s pace? Are you kidding? In the 30 years since Irlen began promoting her unjustified quackery, the revolutions in cancer treatment, vaccination, stomach ulcers, microsurgery, cardiac care, genetic modification, genetic testing and more are revolutionary. I challenge you to find another area in medicine where practice has not improved or been discarded in three decades. All the areas I can think of are areas that have never changed in response to evidence (CAM).

            @Jennifer Chan

            I suspect your financial interests are being threatened by large members of the population seeking alternative care, and particularly from practitioners with a more holistic view of the world than you seem to exhibit.

            I have no financial interest, I am not a medical professional. I’m merely offended at the credulous promotion in the face of such startlingly poor evidence.

            People throw around “holistic” as if it had meaning, when it’s really just a hand-wave to distract from the fact that the solution being offered lacks any reason to believe it beyond a series of fallacies. It’s quite similar to “natural”, as if people don’t naturally die of cancer, smallpox or malnutrition without the invention of unnatural medicine. “Holistic” is a shabby bit of marketing used to cover the fact that you’re merely shoehorning in unjustified claims into what has an actual evidence base.

            Also, claims of financial motives, in the absence of proof, is merely an excuse used by lazy people to avoid having to question their knowledge, assumptions and the evidence base for their claims.

      3. windriven says:

        “You preen as though we should be proud of our achievements as profession over the past 100 years. Clearly you deal only with a select, financially advanced section of the community in your ivory tower.”

        My goodness, try as I might I struggle to find anything in your comment that rises above the level of flatulence. Do you think that the elimination of smallpox and the virtual elimination of polio only helped the wealthy? Drag your sorry sack of bones off to Rwanda or Pakistan and have another think. The only things standing between the world’s impoverished and a Malthusian nightmare are the fruits of science based medicine and science based agriculture and science based public health.

        Squeal on. You dig yourself deeper with every comment.

        1. weing says:

          “You sceptics are just concerned that you lose research dollars to other areas which many deem more worthwhile!

          A Shameful excuse for your viewpoint”

          Very shameful? I don’t do research. I wait for the results of research to offer my patients. We probably could have had a cure for pancreatic cancer or Alzheimer’s by now if we hadn’t wasted it on the fantasy of CAM. I guess we’ll just have to wait longer.

  63. weing says:

    “Though Medicine’s arrogance and sometimes unwillingness to include CAM in its patient care is both its greatest weakness and crime against humanity. (And THAT is NOT a minority view, however much it saddens me)”

    I would say that must be one of those majority views that are inaccurate.

  64. Skeech says:

    Ha Ha Ha
    Me and Jon Graham go way back- in another life. He’s always full of shite.
    He loves to bully women don’t you Jonny. Why don’t you tell everyone what happened to your wife!!!!!
    Relevent ?????? Hell Yes. Goes to heart of credibility your Honor!

    MF!!

    1. Chris says:

      So you have no evidence.

      So how much do you get paid being a troll? You are certainly not a great endorsement for colored bits of plastic.

    2. David Gorski says:

      @Skeech: Whatever this is about, it is off topic at SBM. It might even be defamatory, although we at SBM do not have the knowledge to evaluate it for that. Do not make any further comments of this sort, or you’re gone. In the meantime, I’m putting you into the “automatic moderate” filter. Any future comments you make will automatically go to moderation. If they consist of more than insults and insinuations of wife abuse, I’ll approve them. If not, I’ll just ban you altogether.

    3. windriven says:

      I take it that you are in the UK there Screech. I understand that UK’s laws on slander are a bit less forgiving than here in the US.

  65. WENDI says:

    WESTERN SCIENCE MAKE MONEY FIRST BEFORE IT HELPS PEOPLE
    CHINESE MEDICINE UNDERSTANDS BEST, WITH DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE HUMAN SOUL THAN YOUR HOSPITAL DOCTORS- OUR PEOPLE SUFFER WHILE DRUG COMPANIES MAKE DOLLARS

    1. windriven says:

      SO GO TO A TCM PRACTITIONER. BUT HOW ABOUT SWEARING OFF ANY USE OF NASTY MONEY-GRUBBING MEDICAL DOCTORS? You come up with something serious, have a nice cup of ti quan yin after an acupuncture treatment. Problem solved.

  66. Open Mind says:

    Open Mind: “…we are simply willing to refer to other disciplines when we feel it is appropriate.”

    “Don’t you mean “when there’s money to be made”?

    My analysis shows a strong correlation between belief in Irlen Syndrome and a financial interest in selling a solution.”

    Did it not occur to you that we make NO money on the occasions we refer patients elsewhere, such as to chiropractors? In those rare cases we forgo fees for our services by suggesting alternate practitioners from whom we feel the patient may benefit. It is called “putting the patient’s interests before our own”; an apparently foreign concept to some here.

    That somewhat negates your last comment re: correlation b/w belief in a CAM and financial interests. Though your accusation at some level can be directed accurately at EVERY form of practitioner or business. You simply choose to use that general statement selectivity towards CAM. Though why would such selective bias surprise me here? Monkey See- Monkey Do

    1. windriven says:

      “Did it not occur to you that we make NO money on the occasions we refer patients elsewhere, such as to chiropractors?”

      And this differs from the circumstance where, say, an internist refers a patient to an oncologist or a surgeon or a pulmonologist or a physical therapist exactly how?

  67. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENT WENDI BUT DON’T YOU THINK IT REASONABLE THAT DOCTORS HAVE PROOF THAT THEIR TREATMENTS WORK BEFORE THEY USE THEM, IF NOTHING ELSE THAN TO AVOID WASTING MONEY?

    ALSO, DO ANTIBIOTICS STOP WORKING WHEN THEY MOVE PAST A CERTAIN LINE OF LONGITUDE? BECAUSE OTHERWISE I DON’T KNOW WHAT “WESTERN” MEDICINE IS.

    WHAT PART OF THE SOUL DO YOU TREAT IN ORDER TO PREVENT POLIO?

  68. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Did it not occur to you that we make NO money on the occasions we refer patients elsewhere, such as to chiropractors? In those rare cases we forgo fees for our services by suggesting alternate practitioners from whom we feel the patient may benefit. It is called “putting the patient’s interests before our own”; an apparently foreign concept to some here.

    I always thought your irrational promotion of “open-mindedness” and subsequently your credulous promotion of Irlen syndrome itself was due to something other than financial motives. It’s cheering to see that I’m right – you were a pre-existing believer in CAM, which predisposes you to confirmation bias and fanciful nonsense. Being called on it apparently cemented your beliefs. So you are well-intentioned, but unable to see the weaknesses in the evidence, over-willing to trust people’s opinions without examining or understanding the evidence itself, and above all prone to the self-justification that infects humans in nearly all circumstances.

    That somewhat negates your last comment re: correlation b/w belief in a CAM and financial interests. Though your accusation at some level can be directed accurately at EVERY form of practitioner or business. You simply choose to use that general statement selectivity towards CAM. Though why would such selective bias surprise me here? Monkey See- Monkey Do

    The “you make money too” argument is usually used, at least by me, to underscore the point that accusing someone of financial motives is not proof of anything. It’s an effort to get people to self-reflect, to realize the weakness of that argument. Yes, it is itself quite weak, and I hope by turning it around I can make the reader realize that it’s not an argument.

    CAM’s real failings are the complete lack of prior probability, combined with an utterly worthless amount of evidence for efficacy, and in rare cases of substantial waste of resources, evidence of lack of efficacy. It would be nice if people could say “diluting something doesn’t make it stronger” and thence discard homeopathy, but such is not the world.

  69. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    And this differs from the circumstance where, say, an internist refers a patient to an oncologist or a surgeon or a pulmonologist or a physical therapist exactly how?

    The real problem is not the money issue. That is mostly a distraction. The real problem is practitioners recommending and undertaking treatment options for their clients that are not based on a sound empirical foundation.

    All the hand-waving, tu quoque, accusations, bluster and anecdotes in the world don’t change the fact that there simply isn’t a convincing evidence base for Irlen syndrome. The larger ophthalmological community and various regulatory and professional bodies aren’t failing to accept Irlen syndrome out of pique or spite – they just recognize that proponents simply haven’t met a reasonable burden of proof.

    Sadly, rather than undertaking further, and more importantly, better-designed studies, proponents ignore criticisms and dissenting evidence. Not solely because of financial motives, merely out of the misguided belief that they’re genuinely helping.

    1. windriven says:

      “The real problem is not the money issue.”

      No argument from me William. But if we’re going to engage with these folks we need to take their arguments one by one.

      That said, you make an outstanding point that this is a discussion of Irlen.

  70. Michele wilkinson-smith says:

    I have a child who has been given coloured overlays and I don’t really care if it is just a placebo affect that is making her more confident as long as she learns to read . She says that the overlay makes the words freeze instead of dancing. I have no way of measuring whether this is correct but she complains that the black and white print moves a lot and different coloured print only a little without the overlay. Of course it is important that medical experts know whether a syndrome actually exists or not but a placebo affect treatment could still get a six year old interested enough to keep trying and get them through a difficult period with reading

  71. Paul James says:

    I thought I would add my own experiences to this often heated debate. I have two daughters, one whom is bright and at grammar school (privileged school, requiring passing entrance exam) and one who has some difficulty reading and spelling, whom we suspected of being slightly dyslexic (it occurs in my family). Although the bright daughter does well in exams, she does not like reading. We tested them with the Lucid dyslexia test and both scored similar marks, showing little risk. We then tested them with the Lucid ViSS test, the youngest scored low, normal, but the bright daughter scored much higher and complained of a headache after taking the test. We bought some coloured overlays and to our surprise so had started using them and doesn’t want to stop using them.
    The important point here is that there is a quantifiable test; it is not just vague suggestions that text appears to move. The test is fairly simple; find hidden words, with and without a “stressful” background. It maybe that the test is flawed and it may be possible that my daughter may have wanted to be marked as having ViSS, I think it is unlikely, but it is possible. My daughter now wants to be fully screened (at a fair cost) and may have to wear coloured lenses. What should I do?

  72. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Take your doctor to an optometrist and ask for a work-up. Irlen syndrome appears to be believed, at least by some scientific practitioners, to be a grab-bag of a variety of other conditions and she may have one of them.

    The issue of “what worked in my situation” is very different from “what works scientifically”. In your case, the risks are probably minimal – coloured glasses might look dumb, she might become dependent on them psychologically, practitioners are generally corrosive to critical thinking. The certainty is grossly disproportionate to the research base.

    But hey, if it works, meh. The risks are minimal. The biggest is the company the practitioners keep – if you get roped into Irlen syndrome, they might try to sell you chiropractic as well.

  73. As an Electrical Engineer, with experience in electronic warfare (relevance shown later), husband to a wife with Irlen Dyslexia (ID) and father of four children with 2 having ID, I can confidently state that ID is a real world problem. You may give it another name or a mix of other problems however the medical world is unable to provide any other help than “try the ID people”. As for the electronic warfare experience and ID, people scoff at the use of filtering lens to adjust the visible light spectrum due to different neurological processing issue. These same scoffers might want to consider similar methods are used in electronic warfare to adjust signals for ease of digital / analogue processing in much the same way a human brain processes what it sees, therefore, it is entirely possible that non-neurotypical people have light filtering different to typical people and their respective neuro-issues are a symptom of this. Until the medical profession is unable to provide a practical solution, we must continue to use what explanation and resources are available. In conclusion, this article does not help to improve the well being of people suffering these ID symptoms yet it actually attempts to make the situation worse by not offering an explanation of the symptoms and a cure/solution for practical help.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      How do you account for the consistent failure of research to align with your wife and childrens’ experiences? Why do you think 30 years of research has consistently failed to find any support for Irlen’s hypothesis?

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