Alzheimer’s Society and certainty

In a recent post I asked ten questions of Alzheimer Scotland. I was worried that they were in a bit of a muddle. So far Alzheimer Scotland has not answered my questions. The elders of Scotland may not have such choice.

In this post I will ask questions of a sister “campaign”, that of the Alzheimer’s Society.

The Alzheimer’s Society has huge influence and like our Prime Minister, in his “Dementia Challenge”, they adopt “fighting talk

Fighting Talk:

To play this short film please click here or on the image above.

Like Alzheimer Scotland, the Alzheimer’s Society have an  “early diagnosis campaign”

I am a specialist in dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society talk of the “right” to have “certainty” as part of their “early diagnosis campaign”.

A colleague of mine, an old age psychiatrist, has recently retired. This colleague was also Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Welfare Commission. He said, a year or two before he retired:

Donny Lyons1

He continued:

Donny Lyons2

This colleague called me “Bayesian Peter”. He did so as we both appreciated the science behind the parabolic pattern of cognition as we age.

This is bold talk by the Alzheimer Society. As if we have complete mastery over “certainty”

I advocate for a timely diagnosis. I am a doctor who follows evidence. I do not “deny” anybody a diagnosis but I will not pretend to have mastery over “certainty” particularly when it comes to “early diagnosis”.

Glasgow-DeclarationI have recently written to Jeremy Hughes CEO of Alzheimer’s Society as I had thought that I had personally witnessed him sign the “Glasgow Declaration” that enshrines timely diagnosis. I was there the day the declaration was signed. It is quite possible that I may be muddled about this my “memory”.


“Toxic uncertainty”: was a phrase used recently by a leading UK academic to support “early diagnosis”.

I am of the view that Drs Wilson & Jungner would never have used the word “toxic”. I am also of the view that the criteria that they left behind for the world (WHO) are anything but “out of date”. Wilson & Jungner offer a practical, ethical and scientific guide to help us through uncertainty.

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