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Dr David Tuller: The Science Media Centre and UK’s Coverage of New NICE Draft


Senior Member

Trial By Error: The Science Media Centre and UK’s Coverage of New NICE Draft
20 NOVEMBER 2020

By David Tuller, DrPH

As Trump’s legal team continues to spout nonsense rather than acknowledge that the orange balloon lost the election, core members of the UK’s biopsychosocial ideological brigades are also engaged in embarrassing denialism. Last week, a draft of new ME/CFS clinical guidelines issued by a key British health agency advised against graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavior therapy—the two interventions long recommended as paths to recovery. Several of the experts most associated with these rejected approaches promptly launched an unconvincing counter-attack, courtesy of the UK’s Science Media Centre–a purportedly neutral purveyer of scientific information to journalists and the public.

The NICE news received major coverage in the UK, including in The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph and BMJ.com. (In the US, the only mainstream news organization that appeared to note the development was STAT, which ran a piece I co-wrote with Northwestern University law professor Steve Lubet.) Journalists at The Times, in particular, demonstrated again last week that they take ME/CFS seriously and have not been bamboozled by the SMC’s long-running propaganda campaign promoting the GET/CBT treatment paradigm. The Times article was short but to the point, and it bore the following attention-grabbing headline: “Stop prescribing exercise for ME sufferers, doctors told.”