Thursday, January 15, 2009

British politician dumps on dyslexia

This is not as shocking as it seems. Dyslexia is undoubtedly overdiagnosed -- particularly when the kid's problem is no more than an inability to cope with the idiotic Leftist teaching methods that have been in vogue for decades now. But there are real cases of dyslexia too

A Labour MP has provoked anger among literacy campaigners by calling dyslexia a "cruel fiction" that can often lead to criminal behaviour. Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Manchester Blackley, wrote in his column for Manchester Confidential magazine: "Dyslexia is a cruel fiction, it is no more real than the 19th-century scientific construction of `the aether' to explain how light travels through a vacuum."

Mr Stringer, 58, also argued that there is a causal link between illiteracy and criminal activity. He wrote: "Children who cannot read or write find secondary school a humiliating and frustrating experience. Their rational response, with dire consequences, is to play truant. Drugs, burglaries, robberies and worse then often follow."

Kate Griggs, founder of the Xtraordinary People dyslexia charity, said that such comments would increase the struggle that dyslexic children have in coping with their learning difficulty. She said: "It amazes me that people can make comments like that when there is so much evidence about dyslexia. It causes great upset and distress. I think comments like this are so unhelpful for the millions of dyslexic children and their parents who are struggling in schools." Ms Griggs conceded, however, that there was a link between dyslexia and young offenders, but said that the focus needed to be on identifying and supporting dyslexic young people, rather than denying that dyslexia was a problem.

She said: "There is so much scientific evidence both from MRI brain imaging and scanning and genetic evidence across the board that quite conclusively says dyslexia does exist. It's a different wring of the brain in children who are dyslexic. They need to be identified and supported."

Mr Stringer's perceived insensitivity has come as a surprise after his lobbying in the Commons to institute an "early intervention" programme in schools to help children with autism and prevent them falling behind. In the same column, Mr Stringer argued: "The reason that so many children fail to read and write is because the wrong teaching methods are used." He accused Ed Balls, the Education Minister, of wasting nearly 80million pounds in disability benefits given to dyslexic children, when government policy should target an overhaul of the way that children are taught to read.

Mr Stringer pointed to the synthetic phonics method of teaching, whereby children were taught to associate letters with their phonetic pronunciation (reading "ee" for "y", for example). He said: "It is time that the dyslexia industry was killed off and we recognised that there are well known methods for teaching everybody to read and write."

Ms Griggs agreed that synthetic phonics was an effective way of teaching children to read, but argued that problems associated with dyslexia went far beyond reading. She said: "One of the big confusions is that dyslexia is all about reading. Some 60 per cent of dyslexic children struggle with maths, yet 20 per cent are mathematically gifted."

Mr Stringer, who was the first MP openly to call for Gordon Brown's resignation as Prime Minister, pointed to countries, such as South Korea and Nicaragua, that do not recognise dyslexia and where near 100 per cent literacy rates had been achieved. He said: "I am not, for one minute, implying that all functionally illiterate people take illegal drugs and engage in criminal activities, but the huge correlation between illiteracy and criminal activity is striking."


Vicks bad for youngsters?

One rare allergic reaction and suddenly we have a general rule!

The popular remedy for snotty kids, Vicks Vaporub, could be bad for young children. Research published by the American College of Chest Physicians has found Vicks may clog a young child's airways by increasing mucus production and slowing its removal. "I recommend never putting Vicks in, or under, the nose of anybody - adult or child," the lead author, Dr Bruce Rubin from the department of pediatrics at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, said He said cough and cold medicines and decongestants were not good for young children. He recommends salt water, warm drinks and chicken soup.

Proctor & Gamble, the maker of Vicks, slammed the study, saying it contradicts previous studies and is based on limited data from tests on ferrets, of unknown relevance to humans. "In the past five years alone in Australia and New Zealand we have had zero respiratory adverse events reported," a spokeswoman for the company said. Dr Rubin began the study after caring for an 18-month-old girl at his local hospital who developed severe respiratory distress after Vaporub was put under her nose.


Ring finger length linked to City stockbrokers' success, claim scientists

Stockbrokers with long ring fingers make far greater profits than their counterparts, claims new research. There are many studies showing significance for long ring-fingers but the effects below seem particularly large

A study of highly pressured London traders, whose jobs requires risk taking and quick responses, found the most successful had long ring fingers in relation to their index fingers. The trait - which is associated with higher exposure to testosterone in the womb - is thought to be linked to attributes such as confidence, risk-taking ability, extra vigilance and quick reactions.

Such qualities could provide traders making snap decisions on high-risk deals with a competitive edge, the research suggests. Not only did traders with long ring fingers make on average six times more money, they survived more years in a cut-throat world which weeded out the weak and unprofitable.

All 44 men taking part in the study, some of whom made upwards of 4 million a year, worked on a City of London trading floor that specialised in "high frequency" business, buying and selling securities worth billions but holding their positions for only minutes or even seconds.

The Cambridge University scientists, led by Dr John Coates, himself a former Wall Street broker, compared the profits of the traders over a period of 20 months with their finger-length. They found that second digit (index finger) to fourth digit (ring finger) ratio predicted a trader's long-term profitability as much as the number of years he remained in the business. Traders with long ring fingers made up to 11 times the earnings of their counterparts. On average they made six times as much, and the legnth of their ring finger was as influential as their experience.

The research mirrored previous studies which link finger ratios with performance in competitive sports such as football, rugby, basketball and skiing. Dr Coates, reporting in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said the findings show that success on the financial markets is influenced by biology as much as mental ability and experience. "We were surprised to find that exposure to hormones in the womb had such a strong influence on future trading performance," he said. "But we should not conclude from this that only people with long ring fingers should be employed in the stockmarket. "That is a bit like only training tennis players who are tall. It may be advantageous for their serve but that would exclude such players as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors,"

Testosterone, a steroid hormone, surges between the 9th and 18th week of gestation in the womb, exerting powerful organising effects on the developing body and brain. According to studies, these effects may include increased confidence, risk-preferences and persistence, as well as heightened vigilance and quickened reaction times.


No comments: