Thursday, 30 April 2009

Having another go at the social workers

Sorry. I cannot let this go. I'm like a baby with her blanket, chewing away at the edges of a well-worn article of bedwear.

This is a quote from that of which I speak:
"Rights to inspect children and assess lessons sought by social workers concerned about safety and standards

Social workers are calling on local authorities to increase the monitoring of home-educated children as a government review into the safety and welfare of the controversial practice gets underway.
The National Association of Social Workers in Education (NASWE) has warned that the current lack of scrutiny denies many children an effective education and often leads to them suffering harm."
If it won't make you ill, here is the article

Well, OK. Come and assess us. My family I mean. Assess us. Please. And I'll show you a good time. I'll show you a home full of loving, caring, good fun... A home of constant change; a home which encourages learning and knowing and enjoying learning and knowing.

For one thing, we're 'doing' Shakespeare at the moment. MacBeth or "Shush, the Scottish play, please." We dip in and out of MacBeth's dark moments, and talk about King James I of England who liked witches and Scotland. A good spin-doctor of his time, William S. gave the monarch what he wanted, and had Banquo polish up as white as the driven snow as befitted one of James I's illustrious ancestors. That leads us into geography. Where do those witches hang out then? What is a witch and why were women, usually poor and at the fringe of society, persecuted? (Much like home educators are now). Was it fair? What were the laws? What happened to witches? How many died? How did one get accused of being a witch? Then, it is genealogy. Who was Banquo really? How many generations between James I and his ancestor Banquo? Can we read that bit again?

I'm getting tired typing now, and that's but a pinch of what goes on in a few minutes in our house. I can quite see why educational social workers want to find out how to really give an education, how to really do it effectively so that children gobble it down and feel happy in the gobbling. Social workers need to comprehend it themselves, poor pets, because they've never learned that they shouldn't stop people from going to the bathroom. They shouldn't demand and coerce and push and test and shove and MAKE anyone do anything.

In support of my point, I found this on another blog:

"Understanding the duality of love and freedom is even more important when dealing with children than with adults, for a lack of either love or freedom in childhood echoes throughout the child's later life, in turn causing at least some damage to the next generation. High levels of both love and freedom are needed for a healthy world. Freeing children from coercive schooling is absolutely critical if we are to seriously improve the world.
Coercion works against the creation of a healthy world because coercion is an affront to both love and freedom. This makes it impossible for coercive government generally to ever be a healthy approach to running society."


Freeing children from coercive schooling is absolutely critical if we are to seriously improve the world. I like it so much I've typed it twice and emboldened it twice too. We, dear social workers of education, cannot go on this way. We cannot treat children like flotsam and jetsam in our society, drowning in the waves from our adult coercive power. We have to nourish them with love and lots of interesting things to learn. Things they want to learn. Not things we want them to learn.

Another point jumps out at me. Controversial practice. Home education. Indulge in a controversial practice, moi? Not on your collective nelly. Well, I suppose it is if you compare it to the barren, illiterate mess that is the National Curriculum which leaves children starved of anything substantial to chow down on. Yes, OK, I'm controversial because I respect my kids enough to let them choose to learn what they want to learn. And do you know what? They do learn. Fast, and well and effectively. And they love it. They chomp through everything. They're as curious as month old babies. They rage for facts and scope the research. They ask neat and endless questions. They purloin my books and plumb the depths of tv and videos and CDs and DVDs, and other people's opinions. Y even snacks on newspapers.

Yes, you can understand why social workers are concerned that the current lack of scrutiny denies many children an effective education... It's all those poor kids stuffed into one overflowing classroom, and a harassed adult stuck in the middle trying desperately to lion tame the bored, left-behind, out-in-front morass of youngsters who are coerced by powerful adults into remaining in a probably unsafe building (too baking hot in the summer, freezing in the winter, and possibly permeated with asbestos from its ancient beginnings) for far too long during the day.

Naturally, who could get an education like that?

Who could even stay remotely safe like that? Chewing gum, from some classmate's mouth, sticky with his or her saliva, plastered into your newly-washed hair; head pounding from the noise like several airplanes taking off at once; deafened by the kid next to you bellowing nasty words at the teacher, your comfort and self-hood is blatantly desecrated. Educational social workers are only too right to be concerned.

They have a huge job in front of them.

Oh, they meant us home educators, didn't they?

In that case, here's my answer to your moaning:

NASWE has nothing to do with it. People who call for regulation of Home Education are talking through their ears. Home education is not funded by government, supported in any way by government or, increasingly, even tolerated by government. This is perhaps because home educators generally do a great job of educating and looking after their youngsters - much better than that of the state schools who are failing many children miserably and who are adept at reducing any child's innate interest in learning to nothing.

If anyone has concerns about any child, they should contact Social Services (this relates to home educated children AND schooled children. There should be no difference made between places where a child is educated). Home educators well know that the majority of home-based children are better socialised, happier, healthier and much more interesting (because they have informed opinions) than the poor downtrodden school pupil who isn't even allowed the basic right to go to the toilet without permission.

As to the 'review,' there have been a number of consultations on home education resulting in guidance for LAs (who are often ignorant of law and ignorant of home-based education). The new review is merely an excuse to squander more tax-payers' money on a group of people who know nothing about home-based education - there isn't a home educator amongst them.
It is a disgrace sadly not untypical of the arrogant stance of this government.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Problematising teenagers

Teenagers are a problem. We read it a lot in the newspapers so it must be right. However, I've never found it so myself and my own two teenagers are wonderful, delightful, morally sound, interesting, pleasant people to know. In fact, I'm privileged to be their mother. I'm thrilled by them, and enjoy learning from them and seeing them change and become more of what they will be and more of what they wish to be.

I bet your teenagers are lovely too.

My nearly seventeen year old, E, says: "There's no place for teenagers in society. I don't want to be treated as a kid because I am not a kid. I don't want to be treated as an adult because I'm not one."

She goes on: "You can't just ignore one perfectly reasonable, perfectly capable group in society. I'm not against old people, but we deserve to have good treatment as well because we're the future. "

E states: "It seems we're just a problem the government is trying to shove under the carpet. No wonder a lot of teens are screwed up; they know they get no respect so they try to find it in other ways, for example, in gangs. But we're not all hoodies taking drugs and grunting all the time. Part of the problem is that society doesn't view teenagers as proper people."

"The poor things are already messed up with the hormonal side of it, why does society have to screw them up too?"

She reflects for a minute then comments: "I can totally sympathise with people who don't like teens. A lot of my peers I wouldn't want to deal with, but it's half that they're a product of schools and a society that doesn't value them."

"Treating teenagers like they're not proper people doesn't help. Making them a problem doesn't help. Making them less than other people doesn't help. Everyone takes notice of little kids - they're so small, and they don't resist what bigger people do to them. They don't resist control. But society doesn't have as much control over teens. Teachers struggle to take control of their classes. You know, teenagers should be a special apprentice group. We're gonna inherit the world. Give us more respect, we're the ones who are going to be pushing you around in wheelchairs."

"The government just love doing things that they want to. Things that they don't want they ignore even if it's right in their faces. They love avoiding giving answers to questions. The dreadful things happening in schools they ignore, but home educators, who aren't trouble at all, they consult about and review to death. The government are in a room full of big elephants but they pick at the fluff on the carpet."

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Social workers want to hunt us down

Quote: "Social workers are calling on local authorities to increase the monitoring of home-educated children as a government review into the safety and welfare of the controversial practice gets underway.
The National Association of Social Workers in Education (NASWE) has warned that the current lack of scrutiny denies many children an effective education and often leads to them suffering harm."

This latest piece of idiocy comes from an article entitled 'Home education review sparks battle over lack of regulation' here:

Pardon me, dearies, but it wasn't home educators who watched Victoria Climbie for month after month in her hell. Victoria was NOT home educated. Eunice Spry took her children out of school, yes, but they had been abused for years by then and plenty social workers trotted in and out of those poor children's lives.

Really, you have to admit that this crucifixion of home educators won't make a tiny bit of difference to the fact that social workers have let down abused children in various counties. You cannot shift blame like this. The fact is that social workers (NASWE is the National Association of Social Workers in Education) are remiss, not home educators. Social workers do not save any of the 450,000 children being bullied in schools not every year, not every month... but every WEEK. They do not equate school=bullying=unsafe environment apparently. And their blindness, their sheep-like adoration of targets and sayings that mean nothing, like Every Child Matters (why SAY it. If it were true, why would you NEED to say it?), costs children their self-assurance and their basic right not to be abused in an institution that we, adults, force them to spend the majority of their lives.

When NSPCC worker Vijay Patel had to admit on radio that there is no evidence that home educators abuse their children, it sort of gave the game away. Anyone who can listen, anyone who can read, knows the truth. Home educators are not the problem. You can stare at the moon and call it the sun all you like, dear social workers, but it does not make the satellite in the sky the sun.

Quite frankly, if I were a social worker I'd be ashamed. I'd be so ashamed of my union calling innocent people names, and nasty names at that. Mud sticks when it is thrown; however, it also sticks to the fingers of those who throw it.

450,000 children a week are abused. What are you doing about that, NASWE?



Forced marriage?

"A forced marriage is a marriage conducted without the full consent of both parties and where duress (emotional pressure in addition to physical abuse) is a factor. It is an entirely separate issue from arranged marriage, and the two should not be confused. In an arranged or assisted marriage, the families take a role in choosing and introducing the marriage partners, but the marriage is entered into freely by both people, without duress being a factor. In a forced marriage, this consent does not exist."

This bit of blither comes from

Consent. Now that's an interesting concept. That would be the consent that you need to give as a young person aged over twelve to your personal details appearing on a database open to an estimated 300,000 civil servants, would it? Er, actually, to answer my own question, you cannot opt out of ContactPoint so you don't have a right to give consent either.

Consent. That would be the consent that you have to give when you go to school, is it? No, actually. Consent implies that you have a choice available to refuse to attend, but that you choose to go. But, if you decide not to go to school, the police will come and arrest your mother (I wonder why they never arrest your father?) and send her to prison. Of course, politicians believe that children learn best at school, don't they? They have no proof or anything. They just believe that. We home educators know better of course.

Emotional duress seems to me to go hand in hand with force and LACK of consent.

So did you give your consent to paying off debts run up by the government, young folk? Were you even asked for your opinion? Of course not. Yet you'll be the ones to face the sky-high taxation for many years to come.

Consent. It's a pretty concept seldom seen in practice. Another one of the government's buzzwords methinks.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Happy St. George's Day. Happy Shakespeare's birthday.

Tommy Ferris is seven years old. He is serving a sentence imposed upon him by society: he has been incarcerated for three years, and should serve another eleven.

Tommy cannot read or write well, but he knows the system. "You have to ask the guards for permission to go wee or the other. They sometimes won't let you."

The young lad works hard for six and a half hours a day without payment. "We turn in our work. Sometimes another inmate will steal your stuff - what you've worked on - or your coat or your shoes will get nicked... My mate's boots ended up in the shower the other day. He was devastated. They were new and his family can't afford to buy him any more."

"My work went missing yesterday. The gaoler wasn't half mad. She shouted at me, as if it was MY fault. I told her I put it on the pile and then it disappeared. They get mad at you if you make a noise around here. Tell you to stop talking. Punish you if you do whisper to your mate. Then they give you a special nark if you're too quiet. You can't win," Tommy says hopelessly.

Tommy shrugs. "Disrespect. You get disrespected unless you're big and tough and then you beat up on other kids. Or you go along with the strongest gang, and you're one of 'em and you make other kids laugh at someone getting it or you make someone cry because you hurt 'em."

What happens at mealtimes, I ask Tommy as his eyes slide past me, looking for the warden. "They're hell. If you don't eat up, they complain. If you eat too quick, they complain. Some kids nick your best grub." His voice drops. "Some kids throw food at each other. They push each other over in the exercise yard too."

Tommy doesn't want to be caught speaking to me so he slopes off with his friends who terrorise other children. I watch them as they go around picking on frightened children around them. Making other inmates lives hell. More hell than they already have in this prison.

"There's no freedom, that's the worst thing," Tommy told me this morning. "You gotta go where you're told to go. You gotta do what they say you should do. If you're sick, they say you're shammin' and they won't let you go to the doctor. Everyone else makes choices for you. Everyone is trying to survive and get out, but you gotta wonder if you'll make it. If you'll get out alive..."

Tommy is holding a small red-headed boy as two bigger boys loom over him and threaten to punch his lights out. The child is crying; his face is drenched and misery flows from his body.

How can we treat kids this way? I ask myself. What have they done that is so terrible?

There is no answer. There is no reprieve.

The bell rings, and the inmates line up for afternoon class. Tommy is lost in the crowd as he marches with his group into the shapeless formless ugly grey building which will be his life for the next eleven years.

"Good bye, Tommy," I say through the gap in the railings as I lock the gate behind me and walk away from Harris Bowdean Primary School. "And good luck."

(Tommy Ferris and the Harris Bowdean Primary School exist only in my imagination, and now here on this blog entry. There may be people called Tommy Ferris, and schools called the Harris Bowdean Primary School but they are not my person nor my school).

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Stress-free banking

Banks have lost a lot of credibility lately. My mother's bank has lost even more this week.

I administer my mother's account because she is a bit under the weather mentally. She's incapable of managing. In fact, she doesn't leave her house. Mr. Banker has decided not to send the monthly statements from her account which is delightful for me. I need those statements. I need them not only to read them and make sure that various transactions are taking place, but also because I have to fill in a great long time-consuming form from the tax people to tell them, yet again, that no, my mother does not owe them anything this year.

Dead trees. Enormous waste of public money. Yes, it's the government again.

As I said, the bank stopped sending the monthly statements. I rang the helpline which was almost incomprehensible. I put the phone down twice. Husband told me to hang on to the bitter end... I did and got a person. Not one I could understand terribly well. Not one who was sitting in a nice quiet room either. We conversed, and he assured me that I could go to the branch and of course they would have the precious documents residing in the vault of the computer depths.

I went: I saw someone obviously new. She asked for help. Mrs. Helper coaxed four months worth of statements out of the machine. I could hear it grinding in the background as I ground my teeth in the foreground.

"We'll send you August", I was told, "But if you want any further back than that we'll have to charge you £5."

Charming. Lovely. This isn't much, I grant you. That's not the point. The system was showing one statement per year. They were planning to send one statement a year. One a year! Ye Gods! How can you check that all is well only once a year! Besides which it was their fault. We always used to get statements every month.

I rang the helpline again last night. Got another nice young man with a reasonably unusual accent which took time to unravel. No doubt he felt the same way about my accent. I spent a while explaining the situation, and he said, "Sorry, the system doesn't register that you have third party privileges on this person's account."

Arggh. I have at the bank branch. That's not enough apparently. I would be required to get one of the bank staff to come to my mother's house - which would totally wig her out - and have my mother sign form 1939 while I stood by like a toffee apple. I explained the situation again. He went away to consult.

Mr. Helpline2 returned. No, I didn't have to complete form 1939. I just had to go to the branch to get the statements...

At this point, I was ready to blow my lid. So I thanked him for all his help (!) and put the phone down as he was twittering some more rubbish.

I'm getting an appointment with the bank manager as soon as I can.

How come other people make mistakes and YOU have to pay for them?

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Make voluntary a redundant word

I should be in bed. I should be asleep dreaming of the Scottish countryside where I long to be.

Unfortunately, it'll be a while before I calm down enough to drop off.

A question: what does the word 'voluntary' mean to you?

The free dictionary says all this:

"1. Done or undertaken of one's own free will: a voluntary decision to leave the job.
2. Acting or done willingly and without constraint or expectation of reward: a voluntary hostage; voluntary community work.
3. Normally controlled by or subject to individual volition: voluntary muscle contractions.
4. Capable of making choices; having the faculty of will.
5. Supported by contributions or charitable donations rather than by government appropriations: voluntary hospitals.
6. Law
a. Without legal obligation or consideration: a voluntary conveyance of property.
b. Done deliberately; intentional: voluntary manslaughter."

Voluntary. Something you do of your own free will, without expectation of reward, that shows you are capable of making a choice.

The government obviously haven't seen a definition of the word 'voluntary.' They have now decided to co-opt free will, or, at least, our children's free will to make 'voluntary work' into 'compulsory work.'

Headline: PM plans to compel community work

Not only are children compelled to receive an education (usually at school), often to wear a uniform (like prisoners do to diminish individuality), to swallow hour upon hour of ideas that OTHER people think are good for them, to endure acres of homework after school thus making it impossible for them to have their own lives, but also they're going to be forced to do community work.

Isn't that what the law punishes some transgressors with? Community work?

What have our children done to be so punished?

Why make them do community work? (By the way, AFTER school as part of their 'Citizenship classes)

Brown said:
"It is my ambition to create a Britain in which there is a clear expectation that all young people will undertake some service to their community, and where community service will become a normal part of growing up in Britain."

It is Mr. Brown's ambition. Oh, fine. That's all right then.

My eldest (E) has been deliberating about doing voluntary work for some time. She wants to. She probably will do it when she decides what she will suit and what will suit her best. I told her about the compulsory community work that Mr. Brown would have her do, if she were still in school.

She said disbelievingly: "Does he even know what the word 'voluntary' means?"

Another quote from the article: "Mr Brown said the work would also be linked to a "clear system of accreditation" so that young people would be able mark their achievements gained through volunteering."

I mentioned all of this to my younger daughter (Y). She said with an airy wave of the hand: "That'll be a piece of paper meaning nothing, then."

Service to their community? How many young carers are there in this country? Do you think they know about service? I think they do. Many of them are the sole carers for disabled parents. Many of them struggle to meet everyone's needs, and are genuine heroes of this sorry society.

It's odd, isn't it, that home educators have been accused of leading their children into domestic servitude by this government. Oh, sorry. The detractors of home educators have said home education 'could' be a cover for, among other unsavoury things, domestic servitude.

Now the government wants to press school-age children (up to 19) into community service. So we're supposed to rescue home educating domestic slaves to send them to (or back to) school where they will be compelled to enter - er - community slavery.

A touch of irony there somewhere.

The article about Mr. Brown and his National Youth Service can be found here:

Friday, 10 April 2009



No, it isn't a win on the lottery.

It's the total of some Members of Parliament's expenses for the year 2007-2008 as revealed by a local paper.

Can you guess how many MPs? Eighteen? Twenty? Fourteen?

I'll put you out of your misery.

Three. Three MPs. They travelled up and down the country - some parts of the world you could buy a country for that amount of dosh - and they maintained offices. Then there were general expenses, and, of course, staff salaries and office running costs.

As a thrifty householder I have to ask....

Have these people heard of Skype? Of emails? Teleconferencing? Interactive television? Telephone calls? Letters on plain paper sent by second class post?

Can't they use the spare room as an office, and specify times when people can ring them?

Shouldn't they reply to your letters by email - the method I employ to contact them - not on fancy very expensive paper (alas, poor trees).

£449,332 spent by three people in a year.

The average nurse's salary is £25,000; a newly-qualified nurse's (if they get a job that is) is around £21,000, and you can get a health care assistant - the one who cleans up the mess, feeds the patient and takes him to the toilet - for just over £15,000.

I know who I'd rather give tax money to.

How about you?

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Where's the evidence?

'The idea is to try and give all the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.' Dr. Richard Feynman, quoted in Bad Science.

So we cherry-pick information. We tell people all the good things about what we do in order to overcome their prejudices and sway them to our side of the argument.

I see that every day now that we are home educators. I see home edders saying that their children are happier and healthier being home educated. I hear that children enjoy being home educated. The other side says, well, it's hard to hear what they say because they don't reply in a meaningful way. They won't engage in any useful 'dialogue.'

Is home educating happiness a delusion? There's quite a lot of evidence. There's a group of home educated children going to university, for example, after making the choice to go there, and some are starting up quite perky little businesses.

There's something else. Home educators actually mention the words 'happier or happy' when talking about their kids. People who begin home educating come on to various lists to say, with a tone of disbelief in their emails, 'I've got my child back. My little boy sings about the house now... When I think back to a few months ago...'

The local authorities might brush this kind of evidence aside, but, for certain, no one can learn if he or she is terrified. If a child is waiting every day to be bullied, or to be told that their work isn't good enough, or that he or she didn't try hard enough how can he or she take in anything else? What's the point of doing anything when whatever you do isn't respected or recognised? Constant rejection, constant failure breeds helplessness.

In the Psychology labs, many of my friends used lab rats. The student experimenters shocked the little fellas when they tried to do something and watched them lie paralysed on the floor, terrified to move. Those poor little creatures were in a terrible state - the rats, mostly - but sometimes the Psych students were cut up about it too. (Incidentally, before you call the RSPCA to complain, this was years ago when Psychologists couldn't experiment on humans and had to experiment on something. I argued against picking on animals myself, even when I was really shy and not the argufying kind).

Anyway, I have seen learned helplessness myself. Heck, I've even experienced it. You're damned if you do something and you're damned if you don't. So you lie paralysed.

We have lots of those terrified children on the floor in schools. They're the quiet ones who usually do their work because they're too scared not to. You can't always tell that they are deeply unhappy unless you look into their eyes.

But who has time or energy for looking into the eyes of a child in school?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Scared to touch

As a student of Psychology, I became aware that it was important - if not vital - to touch people. I mean people who want to be touched. And there are a lot of people who want to be touched. Elderly people with no partners are the least likely to be touched in our society.

Children were the most likely. I say were because the wells of that love and affection are being systematically poisoned.

I'll tell you a little anecdote (I love anecdotes) to illustrate what I'm saying... We used to have a neighbour across the street who was a single mum to one child, a little girl. I didn't really know them, but I saw the child, S, playing outside on hot summer days. I knew her vaguely. She knew me vaguely. One day, I was walking past where the child started to run down the street. She fell.

Her mother wasn't around. But I was mother-shaped so I got the sobbing child in my arms. It was an instinctive response from both of us. Sobbing little girl and me, mother of little girl around the same age, so my arms went out as S was already diving into them.

She sobbed. I soothed and cuddled, and checked for rent knees and injured elbows. The crying gradually died away. I realised that S was ready to fly off again, and didn't need my mothering anymore. The child gave me a weak and watery smile. I smiled back, and we went our separate ways.

That was about ten years ago. The child was around six.

I wouldn't do it now. I'd be scared to let my instinct let me reach out to comfort a child in need of care. I would ache to hold a distressed baby, but I would let my arms drop to my sides.

I have lost something. A belief that I can comfort and love and give like that, and someone can benefit from that love and comfort and giving.

It's the next damaged child's loss. It diminishes me also.

The world has been deprived; our humanity is depleted.

Society cannot long retain its human core whilst the dogs of corruption gnaw at its vital organs.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Thinking about reviews

This is my first ever blog. Be gentle with me. Please.

I've been thinking about this and that, and this and that is probably what you'll find in Three Degrees of Freedom. When I first got the idea to call my blog by that title, I remembered it had something to do with statistics. I even looked it up. But have forgotten it now so it'll have to wait for another time.

At the moment, what I am concerned about is home education. Mainly because my family home educates. It has been, for us, a lovely oasis in a desert of schooling. Even more precious because one of my children was bullied to the point where her zest for learning and acquiring knowledge was seriously compromised. She told me the other day that she thought "If I had stayed in school, I wouldn't be here now."

As a home educator and a freelance writer, I am privileged to be able to hunt down and capture facts, figures, sayings and musings about autonomous learning. That is, learning directed by the student him or herself. Learning that the person wants to undertake.

I think a lot, and I read when I can. For many years, I've educated myself. I've had to. I wanted a good rounded education and there wasn't one on offer until I arrived at University. At one time, I read science fiction and learned about a lot about science and something about how to write. Now I read about lots of things including politics, but I wouldn't say I know all about that subject; it is so subjective, isn't it?

Bad Science author Ben Goldacre says that we always make the most of scientific studies agreeing with our point of view and minimise those studies that don't. I understand this well because I studied Psychology many years ago, and remain fascinated by the whole area. So people who agree with me are in; woe betide anyone who doesn't. Yet I am a rational person (I think) - eager to learn and grow - avid to plant new seeds from which will appear a mass of interesting thoughts and suppositions.

So, Mr. Goldacre, what you are saying in effect, is that we listen to someone who bolsters our position, and we ignore dissenting voices.

I suspect that this is what is happening in the current climate of questioning the rights of the average person. I believe that anyone can home educate. The government, apparently, does not.

How can we ever hope to change our minds; to learn and grow then? Can we ever seek to really understand someone else's viewpoint? Or do we just dig deeper and deeper holes from which to aim pot shots at each other?

An interesting conundrum. I'll have to research the idea, but I'll discard anything that seeks to change my mind about the position I've already taken. Although I suspect that Mr. Goldacre hasn't taken into account the idea of an epiphany.

Epiphany - the sudden realisation or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something (definition from Wikipedia).

Three Degrees of Freedom