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Simon Wessely wins prize for "Standing Up For Science."

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by urbantravels, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. Merry

    Merry Senior Member

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    Thanks, Bob, for the explanation. Yeah, going that FOI route would be hard work. On reflection, I emailed Ellen Goudsmit not because I need evidence but because I bristled at her letter that to me seemed to be trying to shut down noisy activism. She posted this letter in the quasi-public space of co-cure (anyone can subscribe) but warned that what she wrote wasn't to be reposted. I believe her letter was a warning to the leadership of whatever ME charity (can't remember which) had called for evidence of abuse that Simon Wessely claims he has suffered in the pursuit of scientific truth.
    Bob likes this.
  2. Firestormm

    Firestormm Senior Member

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    I don't recommend pursuing any demand for proof or evidence of the harassment, death-threats or otherwise. It would prove counter-productive and damaging. Said it before. Have said it again.

    Wessely has not been silent about his award and has been engaging with his critics. Here his replies (have bolded those relating to publishing names etc. of those harassing him):

    All comments appear on the following blog: http://noodlemaz.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/john-maddox-prize-2012/

    Firestormm has included additional spacing to help him read this all again in the morning when he hopes to be more compus mentus :)
  3. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Thanks Firestormm, I loved some of Wessely's comments there, I have saved that for later analysis. Some of the claims made in the post are perfect examples of the things I am demonstrating in my analysis. Oh my, fallacy after fallacy. Its pursuasive political rhetoric, much as politicians use, its not logic. Bye, Alex
    Bob likes this.
  4. Firestormm

    Firestormm Senior Member

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    I have been editing Alex. So please be sure to read in full old chap. Not sure of the fallacies to which you refer.
  5. Bob

    Bob

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    I don't know anything about Ellen Goudsmit, myself, Merry.
    It is reasonable to quote small sections of people's text, but maybe polite not to if that's what they request.
    Merry likes this.
  6. Bob

    Bob

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    How bizarre that he's posted on a blog, and engaged directly with the patient community! That's surely a first, isn't it?

    I will never defend Simon Wessely, but I do think it's absolutely essential for everyone in our community to always quote him correctly (by finding the original source of the quote) when we criticise him, otherwise it makes the criticisms meaningless, and it backfires on us when he shows people in authority how we 'twist his words' in order to attack him. It supports his case.

    I had always suspected that that quote might be taken out of context.
  7. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Ugh.

    I'm sure that I sometimes make mistakes, or get my notes mixed up or confused about something so don't want to just condemn one person... but these sorts of misleading manipulations of quotes are really harmful. If you are going to condemn someone for saying something, try and make sure that you've tracked down the context for the quote first.

    It makes it so easy for Wessely to make it seem as if all patient ire about his work is the result of ignorance when people go on posting those sorts of quotes as if they reflect his views. I've not noticed anyone posting that sort of thing around here over the last couple of years, so I thought that word had spread that some of those quotes are dodgy and not to be used, but maybe we're just a bit sheltered here. The fact that we have access to a lot of CFS papers probably leaves us better able to check them out too.

    I don't think these problems would have ever occurred if people had access to the papers in the first place. Lack of open access meant that for a long time patients could not read what was being said about them, but knew that it was leading to them being treated poorly by many doctors. Often BPS CFS papers, while bad, are not as bad as the treatment that they led to patients receiving once BPS ideas had filtered down to the front-line.
  8. Bob

    Bob

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    Interesting:
    Be we can't work out what it all actually means, unless we study the research papers that he has referenced.
    It all sounds good, but does it stand up to scrutiny?
  9. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi Firestormm, yes, I went to the source, I will also be making use of SWs repository of his own papers. Unlike many I do not start with a presumption this is all a conspiracy or deliberate spin. I am uninterested in motivations because they are nearly always impossible to prove. My methodology is about other things than motivations. Bye, Alex
    allyb likes this.
  10. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    And there's more misplaced certainty over CFS vs neuroimmune illness vs ME and whatever any of that really means. Did Wessely just respond to the weakest comments? Were most that poor.
  11. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Ellen Goudsmit is a highly respected psychologist, I think, who is on our side. She has semi-retired I think, which is why many in the current ME advocacy movement do not know who she is. I used to follow her writing many years ago, though I didnt always agree with her.
  12. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Something else about misquoting SW: there is sometimes a presumption its deliberate or malicious. In some cases this may be true, but I also think in some cases this is due to our limited memory span ... we simply don't recall most of what we read, and can't hold enough of the context in our minds to properly engage with the material. In writing a simple post very few take the level of care needed to write, for example, an academic paper. If such errors occur then I do not blame the people who make them. However, I equally have to acknowledge that it is damaging to advocacy. Consequence and blame are two different things. In part that is how I will be analyzing SW and others in this field. I want to determine processes and consequences, not assign blame. Blame is something else entirely, and more legal/moral than scientific.
    Bob likes this.
  13. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Some of the misquoting is clearly malicious imo. The example Wessely replied to was very unlikely to have originated in an honest mistake, even if the person posting it failed to realise this. We all make mistakes, and with a topic like CFS where different people can use words to mean different things, and people often start with very different assumptions, honest mistakes and confusion will occur, but I don't think that means that we should ignore good evidence of people being deliberately misleading. I think that the evidence is pretty clear that there was dishonest intent in the way that the PACE results were spun, and the same is true for the way some quotes from Wessely etc have been taken out of context.
  14. Bob

    Bob

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    My emphasis.
  15. Bob

    Bob

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    Alex was suggesting that many people see a quote, and fail to do their research to make sure it is accurate. As Alex says, we can't really blame people for that.
    The original act of taking a quote out of context may or may not have been malicious (we don't know - it could have just been a misunderstanding due to a foggy brain), but then every time the quote was used, after it had been taken out of context, it could have been used honestly, if ignorantly.

    Not that I'm happy about it. I find it really frustrating when people propagate misleading information.
  16. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I've got to admit... I did misread Alex's post somewhat. Fortunately, as it's a post about people misreading things/typing carelessly on a forum, he also provided me with the perfect excuse!
    alex3619 and Bob like this.
  17. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    I'd personally be careful about emailing Ellen G. My feeling is that she may be partly be referring to the abuse she received and the court case on that.

    My comment is not intended as a slight against Ellen. Just that people need to be aware that she has been through some abuse and took police action against someone who was involved with ME politics.

    Ellen has ME herself
  18. Bob

    Bob

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    My memory is so bad, that I can't actually remember any of Wessely's actual quotes or research, so I had a look at a paper he co-authored with Michael Sharpe in 2005.
    I managed to get access to just a very short section of the book that it was published in:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Somatoform-Disorders-Experience-Psychiatry-ebook/dp/B000QCS6FS

    Somatoform Disorders.
    (WPA Series in Evidence & Experience in Psychiatry)
    Volume 9
    2005
    Editors: Mario Maj, Hagop S. Akiskal, Juan E. Mezzich and Ahmed Okasha
    ISBN: 978-0-470-01612-1
    http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470016124.html


    The authors take a rather ambiguous position in much of the text that I read, as follows:

    But then suddenly, their approach becomes even more extreme than I had previously given them credit for:
    Here they seem to be explicitly and clearly equating (exactly) CFS, with an anxiety/somatoform disorder.
    They say that the two different labels (anxiety/CFS) can be given for exactly the same symptoms.
    I think that makes their position clear.


    I'd like to read the whole paper.
  19. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    Without analyzing all the details of his comments, I have to say that Wessely is right to say that it is important to establish the full context of quotes. Accuracy is important, however in general, sometimes it is difficult to establish such context if the author is being ambiguous.

    Just for the record, he stated that "all" his research is available for free on his website so we can access it and see what has really been said; but in reality, about half the links do not work, and when I leeched the PDF files off the website, there was less than 100 out of 207 listed references.

    Edit: He later clarifies:
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  20. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Yes Bob, I noticed that too. Its a usefull comment to keep around.

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