Peter Hitchens’ Mail On Sunday column reads: “I doubt there has ever been a society so easily fooled by pseudo-science and quackery as ours is.
Millions of healthy people take happy pills that do them obvious harm, and are increasingly correlated with inexplicable suicide and worse.
Legions of healthy children are drugged into numbness because they fidget during boring lessons, and countless people are persuaded that they or their children suffer from a supposed disease called ‘dyslexia’, even though there is no evidence at all that it exists.
A few weeks ago I rejoiced at the first major cracks in this great towering dam of lies. Dr Richard Saul brought out his courageous and overdue book, ADHD Does Not Exist.
I also urge everyone to read James Davies’s book Cracked, on the inflated claims of psychiatry since it sold its soul to the pill-makers.
Now comes The Dyslexia Debate, published yesterday, a rigorous study of this alleged ailment by two distinguished academics – Professor Julian Elliott of Durham University, and Professor Elena Grigorenko of Yale University.
Their book makes several points. There is no clear definition of what ‘dyslexia’ is. There is no objective diagnosis of it. Nobody can agree on how many people suffer from it. The widespread belief that it is linked with high intelligence does not stand up to analysis.
And, as Parliament’s Select Committee on Science and Technology said in 2009: ‘There is no convincing evidence that if a child with dyslexia is not labelled as dyslexic, but receives full support for his or her reading difficulty, that the child will do any worse than a child who is labelled dyslexic and then receives special help.’
This is because both are given exactly the same treatment. But as the book’s authors say: ‘Being labelled dyslexic can be perceived as desirable for many reasons.’ These include extra resources and extra time in exams. And then there’s the hope that it will ‘reduce the shame and embarrassment that are often the consequence of literacy difficulties. It may help exculpate the child, parents and teachers from any perceived sense of responsibility’.
I think that last point is the decisive one and the reason for the beetroot-faced fury that greets any critic of ‘dyslexia’ (and will probably greet this book and article). If it’s really a disease, it’s nobody’s fault. But it is somebody’s fault. For the book also describes the furious resistance, among teachers, to proven methods of teaching children to read. Such methods have been advocated by experts since Rudolf Flesch wrote his devastating book Why Johnny Can’t Read almost 60 years ago.
There may well be a small number of children who have physical problems that stop them learning to read. The invention of ‘dyslexia’ does nothing to help them. It means they are uselessly lumped in with millions of others who have simply been badly taught.
It also does nothing for that great majority of poor readers. They are robbed of one of life’s great pleasures and essential skills.
What they need, what we all need, is proper old-fashioned teaching, and who cares if the silly teachers think it is ‘authoritarian’? That’s what teaching is.
The sign of an honest butcher
I wondered when the Soppy Lobby would get round to trying to ban butchers’ shops displaying the recognisable carcases of dead animals. The first attempt, in the Suffolk town of Sudbury, has failed. But it won’t be the last. How sad.
Now that most meat is sold ready packaged in supermarkets, many children grow up with no idea where it comes from. Proper butchers are rarer and rarer. My own view is that you shouldn’t eat meat if you don’t know what it is and how it came to be on your plate.
The spread of cheap, unrecognisable hypermarket meat has helped to create hideous meat factories, where animals are imprisoned and tortured in unspeakable conditions before being cruelly massacred. I’d rather eat lentils than support such methods.
Proper butchers know the names of the farms that supply them, and can tell you where the animals were humanely slaughtered. It’s the hidden cruelty we should object to, not the honesty of the remaining butchers.
Here’s the real IRA scandal
What a lot of twaddle we have heard about the dropping of the case against the alleged Hyde Park bomber, John Downey.
On page 56 of the judge’s ruling, point 32 states ‘even if convicted of all the offences he [Downey] would, in consequence of the 1998 Act, serve no more than two years in prison’. So, even if a jury had found him guilty of that ghastly crime, two footling years would have been his lot.
The 1998 Act was part of Britain’s grovelling surrender to the Provisional IRA, made under fierce American pressure.
I said at the time that this was a total and unmitigated defeat, but I have been told over and over again by pious persons that it is the price of ‘peace’.
Well, we have not got peace. We have been utterly humiliated by a criminal gang, at the behest of our supposed allies in the ‘War on Terror’.
And what do you think will happen if we ever dare prosecute another IRA man, let alone put him in jail? They haven’t gone away, you know.
How’s the ‘liberation’ of Ukraine going for you? Gullibly welcomed by 99.9 per cent of the British media, it doesn’t look quite so simple now, does it?
Beginning to have doubts about Britain taking sides? You should. Apart from all the worrying developments in Crimea, which are no surprise to any informed person, it comes to something when that old class warrior, Dennis Skinner MP, speaks for Britain.
But his brief outburst was the most telling thing anybody in Parliament has said about this. He asked William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign Meddling: ‘Have I got it right, or not, that a Tory Foreign Secretary has come to the House to take money out of the pockets of people in Britain – flood-ravaged and austerity-riddled Britain – to hand it over to the EU fanatics in Ukraine?’ Yes, he has got it right.
More from Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham and advocate of free heroin for abusers. I suggested his job was to enforce the law. He retorted: ‘When you say that my job is to enforce the law, between 18 and 22 per cent of my work is law enforcement and crime-fighting. Fifty per cent of my work is concern for safety. That’s what I’m in, so when you accuse me of being a social worker, I’m proud to be a social worker as well as a tough law enforcer.’
What odd figures, and what a strange sort of pride. And I think the people of Durham should be the judges of whether he is a ‘tough law enforcer’.” (http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2014/03/dyslexia-is-not-a-disease-it-is-an-excuse-for-bad-teachers.html) See also this discussion about Russia – (http://www.lauraingraham.com/pg/jsp/charts/streamingAudioMaster.jsp?dispid=302&headerDest=L3BnL2pzcC9tZWRpYS9mbGFzaHdlbGNvbWUuanNwP3BpZD0xNzU5NQ==) and the following about Ukraine – (http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2014/03/any-questions-on-mob-rule-.html)