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Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Posts Tagged ‘SAD’

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Posted by apgaylard on February 14, 2008

I’m beginning to think that complaining to the BBC might just be more than a slightly disturbing hobby: it may even get some results.  First, BBC Radio 4’s Questions, Questions programme actually ran a correction piece after the dowsing debacle (I must make it very clear that my whinge was only one of many).

Now I’ve just had some reassurance that there may be some action in the offing resulting from the Editorial Complaints Unit’s (ECU) recent damming indictment of BBC One’s Breakfast News’ endorsement of a bonkers colour ‘therapy’ for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Here’s the relevant part of a letter I received today from the head of the ECU:

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False Light

Posted by apgaylard on January 30, 2008

In late October last year I complained to the BBC about a ridiculous advertorial piece that it ran on a pseudoscientific treatment for SAD, or ‘the winter blues’ as the BBC called it.

This puff-piece ran as part of BBC One’s Breakfast News programme; rather conspicuous billing.

The therapy, Lightwave Stimulation (LWS), is obvious nonsense with absolutely no proper evidence of effectiveness in any condition; let alone SAD.  Nonetheless a small private clinic, the Sound Learning Centre, will still happily charge you £60 per hour for it.

The piece featured an interview with its Director, Pauline Allen; a person with no medical qualifications.

The Deputy Editor for ‘Weekend Breakfast’ made an entirely unsatisfactory response, so I complained to the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU).  I’ve just received their judgement; it makes interesting reading.

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Posted in Lightwave Stimulation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Dim As a Toc H Lamp

Posted by apgaylard on December 6, 2007

 My Dad used to puzzle me with an expression he used to imply stupidity: “…as dim as a Toc H lamp…”  I think this anachranism is a particularly apt description of BBC Information’s response to my complaints about a spectacularly daft piece on a spurious ‘treatment’ for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

If you look at the piece you should soon see that this is nothing more than transparent quackery.

If you wish, you can follow the saga of my attempts to pin down any evidence of effectiveness in SAD for the ‘treatment’, Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) Therapy.

The short summary is: there is no evidence.

The only assertions of effectiveness are to be found in a dubious book written by proponents of various forms of ‘light medicine’.

So what have the BBC had to say? ( [ ] indicate where names have been removed, emphasis is mine)

“… We are sorry if you were unhappy with any part of the report and felt it was an advertisement for the light simulation box.  The BBC takes allegations of advertising very seriously and therefore I have contacted [the] Deputy Editor for Week-End Breakfast with your complaint.

[She] felt it was important to highlight that Richard Westcott did express the scepticism of some scientists over both the condition and this particular treatment of SAD.  She therefore does not believe it is fair to say the coverage amounted to an advertisement.

Although the discussion which followed Richard’s report did discuss light stimulation boxes, other treatments for the condition were talked about.

Please be assured that your comments have been registered and thank you again for taking the time to contact the BBC. …”

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Fading Evidence

Posted by apgaylard on November 15, 2007

 I’ve been continuing to pursue the evidence base for Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) Therapy  (a.k.a Downing Technique, Lumatron therapy, Ocular light therapy, Photron therapy) as a treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) . 

It’s the therapy that a BBC ‘news’ item called “… the answer …” for “… many… ” SAD sufferers.

Now it turns out that the ‘expert’ who appeared on the BBC, Pauline Allen of the Sound Learning Centre, has no medical qualifications.  She does, however, run a private clinic that will sell LWS therapy to SAD sufferers for £60 an hour.

Given this level of confidence you might expect that there is some proper evidence to support these assertions?  Well, try as I might, I cannot find any.  If you can find some be sure to let me know!

My own trawl of the internet turned up just two papers from the Australian Journal of Holistic Nursing.  One was an un-refereed retrospective on colour therapies; the other a single case study.  They were both by the same author.  Not a trial between them.

So I thought that I’d ask the Sound Learning Centre what research evidence was available.  They sent me their Client Information Pack.  The only references it contained were for light therapies generally.  They were to just two books.

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Light on Evidence

Posted by apgaylard on November 3, 2007

 I recently wrote about the BBC’s rash promotional video news item about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) therapy.  It is clear from what the advocates of this approach have put into the public domain that this is a speculative, pseudoscientific, treatment.

I’ve decided to dig a little deeper into the evidence base for LWS.  This post is just a quick progress report.

First, money: the Sound Learning Centre (irony levels rising!) charge £ 400 for a child (20 sessions) and £ 500 for an adult (25 sessions).  Not massively expensive, but at £60 per hour a significant cost.

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Posted in Colour Therapy, Lightwave Stimulation, Logical Fallacies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Light on Evidence

See The Light

Posted by apgaylard on October 27, 2007

Yesterday the BBC, in what used to pass for a news programme, ran a piece entitled “Worries over ‘winter blues’“.  Aside from trivialising a very real and distressing condition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it was nothing more than a sales pitch for a dubious “medical” treatment.

The sales pitch was provided by Pauline Allen of the Sound Learning Centre.  This seems to be a private clinic of sorts working out of a converted terraced villa in London.  Pauline Allen is its principal.  The information provided on their website on her “qualifications” is illuminating.  She has no medical qualifications.  Everything mentioned is training in specific therapies, not a recognised qualification among them.  Some of the therapies are also definitely nonsense (Brain Gym, for one). There are also lots of mentions of the trainers by names, invoking their special authority.  This information does not by itself mean that their SAD therapy is useless.  But there are sufficient signs to put a sensible person on guard.

Now to the therapy: it is called “Lightwave Stimulation” (LWS).  It also goes by other names: Downing Technique, Lumatron therapy, Ocular light therapy, Photron therapy.

This was introduced by the journalist, Richard Westcott.  He said, of SAD sufferers: “… For many this is the answer, test what light you are missing and give a colour top-up (dim red light shown) the extra light triggers the hormones that can make you happy …”

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Posted in Lightwave Stimulation, Pseudoscience | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »