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David Tuller: Trial by Error: The School Absence Study, Revisited


Senior Member

Trial By Error: The School Absence Study, Revisited
2 JANUARY 2018
By David Tuller, DrPH

This post is about a serious issue–ethical approval for research studies involving children. It is also about how powerful institutions, like leading medical journals, respond to concerns. But the story is really too long and complicated. I recommend it only for those following things pretty closely or who for whatever reason like this kind of granular, somewhat obsessive analysis.

Elsewhere, Tom Chivers at BuzzFeed has written a terrific piece on the cult-like Lightning Process, its founder Phil Parker, and Professor Esther Crawley’s SMILE trial—the story was posted over the weekend. Chivers captures the woo-woo-ness of the Lightning Process with lots of details about what it entails, from the perspective of patients who have undergone it.

The piece doesn’t delve into SMILE’s methodological flaws (outlined in this Virology Blog post). But Chivers includes key observations from Jonathan Edwards, Charles Shepherd, Peter Rowe and others. He also highlights Professor Crawley’s unsupported accusation that I have libeled her and Bristol University’s effort to pressure me by complaining to Berkeley. Definitely worth reading.