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9 maart 2010

 

ME: On the postmodern falsifications in Wessely & McClures BMJ-editorial



I am still not at all well, but will today deal with a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal, signed by professors Myra McClure and Simon Wessely, that well illustrates what I wrote yesterday and before on the postmodern, irrational, unscientific, actually media-directed though originally in the BMJ or PLoS published purported scientific research or scientific editiorials concerning ME (which is a disease I - a psychologist and logical philosopher - have now since 32 years).

Below you find the full text as published on line in the BMJ, references and all, with just one addition: Capital letters in square brackets in front of each paragraph that link to my comments following this reproduction of this BMJ-editorial. These comments all end with an underlined "Back" that when clicked leads back to the beginning of the paragraph I comment.

And please note - if you read Dutch and did not read my small methodical essay of ME and Postmodernism of yesterday, you are strongly suggested to do so - that the BMJ is a scientific journal, or at least its editors and publishers claim it is, a claim that I do not deny with respect to other subjects than ME, whereas the text I reproduce and comment on below is mostly in the nature of propaganda and deception, and seems to have been written with the end to propagandize the pseudo-science as regards ME by the Wessely school of psychosomatic psychiatry and to deceive journalists and scientists as to what is really happening in the field of ME - which is basically that REAL scientific biomedical research into the possible organic causes of ME has been succesfully blocked for twenty years now by the pseudo-science and propaganda of the Wessely school of psychosomatic psychiatry.

But judge for yourself - here is the full original text: the capitalized letters in square brackets link to my comments on the paragraphs the capitalized letters start.

Quote:


Published 25 February 2010, doi:10.1136/bmj.c1099
Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1099

Editorials

Chronic fatigue syndrome and human retrovirus XMRV

[A] Three studies now refute the original study reporting the link

[B] In the linked case-control study (doi:10.1136/bmj.c1018), van Kuppeveld and colleagues describe their failure to find evidence of a new human retrovirus in Dutch patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.1 The study is the latest contribution to a controversy that has surrounded two conflicting publications on the retroviral aetiology of this syndrome.2 3

[C] The saga started, not with chronic fatigue syndrome or a virus, but with an enzyme (RNaseL) that plays a pivotal role in antiviral defences when activated by the interferon released in response to infection. Variants of the gene encoding this enzyme have been linked to an increased susceptibility to prostate cancer, and this led to the identification of a new virus in prostate tissue that was related to, but different from, known xenotropic murine leukaemia viruses4; hence the designation xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV). Sequence analyses showed that it is not an endogenous human virus, and the fact that eight clones derived from eight different patients are slightly different from one another confirms it as a new virus that has found its way into a human population.

[D] Abnormalities in the RNaseL gene of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome had been reported in some studies,5 but not in others.6 Nevertheless, this prompted the search for evidence of XMRV in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. The resulting study claimed that 67% of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were XMRV carriers, compared with 3.7% of healthy controls.2

[E] The news was received philosophically by most retrovirologists, who are used to claims of associations between retroviruses and diseases that fail to withstand the test of time. Most researchers into chronic fatigue syndrome were also sceptical, mindful of the problems of defining the syndrome, its imprecise boundaries, and almost certain heterogeneity. It was not that they doubted a viral cause in some patients because this had already been shown,7 8 but the possibility that any single agent or risk factor could account for more than two thirds of cases seemed implausible on the basis of what has already been established.9

[F] But if the research community was underwhelmed, people with the syndrome were not. If true, these findings would have transformed the understanding of the illness and opened up new avenues of treatment. Some saw this as a definitive response not only to those few professionals who, they claim, continue to doubt the reality of the syndrome, but also to the larger number of professionals who believe that, irrespective of causation, rehabilitative treatments can reduce symptoms and disability. It is depressing that the first, untenable, view is too often confused with the second, a perspective that offers hope to patients and is backed by evidence.

[G] First and foremost, however, as with any discovery, the data must be unequivocal, and the finding has to be confirmed by others. In January 2010, our own group found no evidence of XMRV in a well characterised cohort of 186 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in the United Kingdom.3 Van Kuppeveld and colleagues’ study adds to this negative evidence. Although the study is small, the patients are well defined and matched in age, sex, and geographical location. The polymerase chain reaction used to amplify XMRV gene sequences has been well controlled and its sensitivity is sufficient to detect low virus copy numbers. XMRV was not detected in this Dutch cohort, a result that comes in the wake of a third study published this month,10 which also failed to identify XMRV in 170 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

[H] There has been much talk of different protocols being used in the four studies. These technical differences are irrelevant provided amplification is controlled by inclusion of a "housekeeping gene"—to show that a known human gene can be amplified under the conditions used—and the sensitivity of the assay is known, as was the case in all three European studies.

[I] Meanwhile, a different strategy is also being considered to reconcile these different findings: that new blood samples should be taken from patients with diagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome and sent to laboratories capable of carrying out the analysis. This is unlikely to be soon.

[J] Three studies have now generated data that are in stark contrast to those of the original study. However, at least two explanations for this are still possible. The first, and more unlikely, explanation is that XMRV infection is geographically confined to the United States. The second is that the virus is infecting an atypical cohort. This may well be so. Although the patients were not well described in the original study, van Kuppeveld and colleagues provide the additional information reported at a conference last year that the patients in question came from an outbreak of chronic fatigue syndrome at Incline village on the northern border of Lake Tahoe in the mid-1980s. Whether or not this was a genuine cluster was never established,11 but an association with viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus and human herpesvirus 6, has already been suggested.12 It is possible that XMRV is implicated in the Lake Tahoe episode but does not play a substantial role in most cases of chronic fatigue syndrome elsewhere.

[K] The results from other US laboratories investigating XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome are eagerly awaited. If the link fails to hold up, it will be another bitter disappointment to affected patients. Nonetheless, the current debate will still bring critical attention to the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome, and XMRV may turn out to be important in the pathogenesis of other diseases.

Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1099

Myra McClure, professor of retrovirology and honorary consultant in genitourinary medicine1, Simon Wessely, professor of psychological medicine2

1 Jefferiss Research Trust Laboratories, Wright-Fleming Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London W2 1PG, 2 Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London SE5 8AF

m.mcclure{at}imperial.ac.uk

Research, doi:10.1136/bmj.c1018

References

  1. Van Kuppeveld FJM, de Jong AS, Lanke KH, Verhaegh GW, Melchers WJG, Swanink CMA, et al. Prevalence of xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in the Netherlands: retrospective analysis of samples from an established cohort. BMJ 2010;340:c1018.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  2. Lombardi VC, Ruscetti FW, Das Gupta J, Pfost MA, Hagen KS, Peterson DL, et al. Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Science 2009;326:585-9.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  3. Erlwein O, Kaye S, McClure MO, Weber J, Willis G, Collier D, et al. Failure to detect the novel retrovirus XMRV in chronic fatigue syndrome. PLoS One 2010;5:e8519.[CrossRef][Medline]
  4. Urisman A, Molinaro RJ, Fisher N, Plummer SJ, Casey G, Klein EA, et al. Identification of a novel gammaretrovirus in prostate tumors of patients homozygous for R462Q RNASEL variant. PLoS Pathog 2006;2:211-25.[Web of Science]
  5. Suhadolnik RJ, Reichenbach NL, Hitzges P, Sobol RW, Peterson DL, Henry B, et al. Upregulation of the 2-5A synthetase/RNase L antiviral pathway associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Clin Infect Dis 1994;18(suppl 1):S96-104.[Web of Science][Medline]
  6. Gow J, Simpson K, Behan P, Chaudhuri A, McKay I, Behan W. Antiviral pathway activation in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and acute infection. Clin Infect Dis 2001;33:2080-1.[CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]
  7. White PD, Thomas JM, Kangro HO, Bruce-Jones WDA, Amess J, Crawford DH, et al. Predictions and associations of fatigue syndromes and mood disorders that occur after infectious mononucleosis. Lancet 2001;358:1946-54.[CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]
  8. Hickie I, Davenport T, Wakefield D, Vollmer-Conna U, Cameron B, Vernon SD, et al. Post-infective and chronic fatigue syndromes precipitated by viral and non-viral pathogens: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2006;333:575-8.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  9. Hempel S, Chambers D, Bagnall A, Forbes C. Risk factors for chronic fatigue syndrome/myaglic encephalomyelitis: a systematic scoping review of multiple predictor studies. Psychol Med 2008;38:915-26.[Web of Science][Medline]
  10. Groom HCT, Boucherit VC, Makinson K, Randal E, Baptista S, Hagan S, et al. Absence of xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus in UK patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Retrovirology 2010 Published online 15 February.
  11. Holmes G, Kaplan J, Stewart J, Hunt B, Pinsky PF, Schonberger LB. A cluster of patients with a chronic mononucleosis-like syndrome: is Epstein-Barr virus the cause? JAMA 1987;257:2297-303.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  12. Buchwald D, Cheney P.Petersen D, Henry B, Wormsley SB, Geiger A, et al. A chronic illness characterized by fatigue, neurologic and immunologic disorders, and active human herpes type 6 infection. Ann Intern Med 1992;116:103-16.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

Unquote.

Comments

[A] Let's start with noting that real medical and biochemical scientists and patients reject the name "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" for their illness, since this seems to be a name expressly designed to trivialize, deny and pooh-pooh their real illness.

Next, the main content and purpose of the whole editorial, that seems to have been written with the purpose to be mailed to the daily papers and other media, and not with the purpose of furthering real science, but rather with the purpose of blocking and defaming any real biomedical reasearch into ME, is this first sentence:

Three studies now refute the original study reporting the link

This turns around the quantifier "Three" and the term "refute", both of which intentionally falsify or misrepresent what is going on.

First, there simply is NO REFUTATION of "the original study": To say or write so shows gross scientific incompetence or - of course - the desire to deceive.

All that has happened is that there was an "original study", in the highly reputable scientific journal "Science", based on much careful peer-reviewed scientific research, that established the existence of XMRV and argued a link to prostate cancer and to ME.

This link may really exist or not and it may really be causal or not (in that people with ME and other diseases may have a weakened defense against this retrovirus), but the sort of studies professors McClure and Wessely refer to simply are not of the kind that "refute" the findings in "Science".

At best, they do not support it, and they may be taken as evidence that contradicts or weakens the notion that XMRV and ME or XMRV and prostate cancer are somehow causally related (or indeed statistically correlated).

Second, the "Three" studies that are falsely claimed to "refute" these findings (1) are published in much less reputable scientific journals (2) after much less careful research (3) are in part not even peer-reviewed, while (4) have been co-written by parties and persons that belong to or are associated with the Wessely school of psychosomatic psychiatry and (5) as usual these persons give no hint of the fact that this is so.

Third, a fundamental problem with the "Three" studies that are falsely claimed to "refute" these findings is methodological: These "Three" studies are based on so called patients with ME that have been selected on the basis of OTHER criteria than the patients in the original study.

To say - in a purportedly "scientific" medical journal like the BMJ - that these "Three" studies "refute" the original studies is to investigate sacks of oranges that are claimed "scientifically" to be pears on the ground that they are fruits, so as to conclude triumphantly "in scientific" conclusion that these oranges are not pears.

For this is essentially what has happened: Whereas the original study came from a carefully researched sample of patients with severe ME according to the Fukuda and Canadian criteria for ME, the "Three" studies that are falsely claimed to "refute" these findings are based on the Oxford criteria, that in part logically exclude the Canada criteria.

But as I said... the purpose of this whole "Editorial" of the "BMJ" is - so far as I can see, for this is not science but propaganda - to be sent to the media to bamboozle journalists and trick them into publishing in the media that

Three studies now refute the original study reporting the link

Well: They do not, and professors McClure and Wessely are easily intelligent enough to know this, for which reason they must consciously lie or misrepresent.   Back.


[B] The basic problems with that Dutch study - apart from the competence of Dutch scientists, that very well may not be great at all if the Dutch 2008 Parliamentary Report on the decades of long decline of the Dutch universities and schools is even half true - are two.

First, it issues from the Dutch collaborators and implementors of Wessely school of psychosomatic psychiatry, which is to say, from persons and institutions that have an axe to grind.

Second, and more seriously, the patients they selected have not been selected with the proper criterions, and this seems to have been done on purpose (although that may be difficult to prove).

Also, in this paragraph the term "syndrome" (also in the title) is repeated, with refers to the fact that, whether called "ME" or "CFS" or "ME/CFS", it is true that the patients who satisfy any set of criterions for such diagnosis, are diagnosed by a set of symptoms that may well be called a syndrome, without their being a known proven cause for the disease.

And this strongly suggests the possibilities that (1) there may be patients with different diseases that satisfy the same or similar sets of symptoms and (2) samples from patients with ME (as I prefer to write), especially when selected by different sets of criterions to determine whether they have ME, may well be sampled from different groups.   Back.


[C] One may suppose that for e.g. professor Simon Wessely ME is a "saga", but for patients with ME it tends to be a tragedy, especially since professor Simon Wessely personal saga and fame are based on the thesis that such patients are, in his own words, "the undeserving sick", who are not really ill and do not really deserve the help nor the biomedical research ill people do reserve.

Also, in propagandistic pieces of pseudo-science as the present one, professor Wessely generally does not lay out his own theory on the causes of ME, that surely are either pure genius or total quackery:

Professor Wessely believes himself to have discovered (or so he implies), all in explicit and complete contradiction with the World Health Organization's rulings on ME, that with the approximate 17 million people with ME nothing is really wrong except that they have "a dysfunctional  belief system" that makes them falsely believe they are ill when they feel ill; falsely believe they are in pain when they feel pain; and falsely believe they are too exhausted to work when they feel too exhausted to work.

All of this, in these 17 million people, and in the tens of thousands of medical doctors, medical specialists and medical biochemists who claim that most of these are really and seriously ill, according to professor Wessely, constitutes proof positive of their dysfunctional belief systems, mental issues, and the urgent need to be subject to massive doses of Cognitive Behavourial Therapy (CBT) and Graduated Exercise Therapy (GET), all to be given by members from his own psychosomatic school of pseudo-scientific psychiatry, so as to cure them from their delusions and/or malingering.   Back.


[D] Here professors McClure and Wessely again overstate their case, weak as it is:

The resulting study claimed that 67% of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were XMRV carriers, compared with 3.7% of healthy controls.

NO: This was not so much "claimed" as that it was found and then reported, in a very reputable scientific journal also, after having been carefully peer-reviewed.

But OK...if this is the way to do science: It is true that the friends and coworkers of professor Wessely, in part directed by him, then quickly claimed that they have done what they claim to be scientific research in which they claim to have found that the blood of patients that they claim have ME/CFS does not contain XMRV - if what they claim is claimed correctly.   Back.


[E] The claim by professors McClure and Wessely that

The news was received philosophically by most retrovirologists, who are used to claims of associations between retroviruses and diseases that fail to withstand the test of time

is again written with a propagandistic purpose, it seems, and so as to confuse and obfuscate what is at issue:

The term "philosophically" as applied to "retrovirologists" and their attitudes is at best vaguely grandiose, but probably meant to suggest "skeptical" by innuendo, whereas the term "most" is not based on any research, and again simply innuendo.

And the whole quoted sentence is wishful thinking on the part of McClure and Wessely, that again seems inserted to manipulate mood rather than to write objective science, for there such gratuitous statements have no place.

Professors McClure and Wessely continue the above thus, thereby showing a somewhat surprising lack of rational cogency:

Most researchers into chronic fatigue syndrome were also sceptical, mindful of the problems of defining the syndrome, its imprecise boundaries, and almost certain heterogeneity.

As stated, this is mostly innuendo that unpacks the innuendo in the previous sentence, but pray... if there are these "problems of defining the syndrome, its imprecise boundaries, and almost certain heterogeneity" then clearly and logically the propagandistic and false claim with which they opened this awfully irrational BMJ-editorial viz.

Three studies now refute the original study reporting the link

must be very probably either false or not based on proper evidence.

The rest of this paragraph may pass, although they sound as if psychiatrist Wessely can read the minds of "Most researchers into chronic fatigue syndrome", but perhaps he really does believe so. In fact, I think he and his co-author knowingly lie or misrepresent, and lead up to their next paragraph, that again consists of innuendo and mood rather than science.   Back.


[F] First, that

the research community was underwhelmed

is again Wesselyan misrepresentation or wishful thinking, with little or no evidence, except for the claimed "research community" he himself heads.

Second, the terms and tenses "was", "were", "would have" and "saw" do not so much refer to any facts as to how professors Wessely and McClure would like the established facts and ongoing theorizing about XMRV and its possible relations to ME to be seen and reported in the media.

Third, the phrase

the larger number of professionals who believe that, irrespective of causation, rehabilitative treatments can reduce symptoms and disability

is an intentional misrepresentation: There is no evidence whatsoever about which proportions of capable medical and/or biochemical scientists believe precisely what about XMRV and its possible relations to ME, whereas there are at least a large "number of professionals" who believe that the "rehabilitative treatments" that are used especially in Great Brittain by the psychosomatich psychiatric school of Wesselyan pseudo-science do NOT "reduce symptoms and disability" but in fact cause them or make them worse, and may very well kill people, because they are forced to exhaust themselves while they are too ill to do so.

And to write and suggest that this Wesselyan documented cruel maltreatment of British patients with ME (see ....) offers

a perspective that offers hope to patients and is backed by evidence

is simply a lie about British patients, many of whom fear and despise professor Wessely and his medical and psychotherapeutical underlings, because they are well aware what happened to Kate Gilderdale, Sophia Mirza and others: Their lives were destroyed under the aegis of the pseudo-science of the psychosomatic school of Wessely and co.   Back.


[G] As to the opening statements of this paragraph:

First and foremost, however, as with any discovery, the data must be unequivocal, and the finding has to be confirmed by others. In January 2010, our own group found no evidence of XMRV in a well characterised cohort of 186 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in the United Kingdom.

The first statement is nominally true, if rather sanctimonious - for its authors know or should know that in the case of ME the data are not "unequivocal", and that they are confounded and confused precisely because professor Simon Wessely and his co-workers have been busy for more than 20 years to confound and confuse them e.g. by using and proposing criterions to identify patients with ME that differ from those that qualified scientists do, and that differ from such as the World Health Organization supports, just as the conclusions about ME of the psychosomatic pseudoscientific psychiatric professor Wessely are since decades in contradiction with the rulings of the World Health Organization, surely a body of medical experts of far higher qualifications than those of professor Wessely (who seems to have published much, but very little or nothing that somebody not of his school of thinking can take rationally serious).

The following is grossely misleading, though its first sentence is nominally true, or would be if the second is:

Van Kuppeveld and colleagues’ study adds to this negative evidence. Although the study is small, the patients are well defined and matched in age, sex, and geographical location.

That the study is "small" weakens its impact, once again underlining there is and has so far not been any refutation of the original study.

Furthermore, the patients are not "well defined", but seemed to have in fact consisted of the frozen blood of several tens of Dutchmen that around 1990 (!) were somehow by someone on the basis of some criterions that are not like the criterions of the original study claimed to be "patients with ME".

Finally, the rest of the quoted statement is mere say so without any evidence. That is: The probability is that the patients used by Van Kuppeveld may not have had ME according to the criterions used in the original study that McClure and Wessely falsely claim to have been refuted, and besides there are quite a few problems with the methods Van Kuppeveld used that McClure and Wessely don't deign to discuss, probably because it undermines the conclusions they propagandize.

The rest of this paragraph I pass, except with remarking that personally I have never had anything but an open mind about XMRV and its relation to ME, if any: I do not know what is the cause of ME nor whether XMRV is a plausible candidate as its cause; but I do know that the sort of writings I have read of professor Wessely about ME are not rational science, and the same applies to this socalled "Editorial of the BMJ".   Back.


[H] The next paragraph starts as follows:

There has been much talk of different protocols being used in the four studies. These technical differences are irrelevant provided amplification is controlled by inclusion of a "housekeeping gene"

Here I only have the say so of McClure and Wessely. I much doubt they are right, and much doubt they write the truth as they know it, and I do know the matter is not at all settled and is and should be under discussion.

In any case, the major problem I see (and I am not a biochemist, and can't confidently pronounce on biochemical research, although I note that professor Wessely also is not a biochemist and does, and is not taken seriously and in fact refuted in many of his claims by real medical scientists like professor Malcolm Hooper) is that the criterions used to select patients to test their blood for the presence of XMRV do differ considerably, and besides that the methods McClure and Wessely claim to have used have been criticized by people with more biochemical knowledge and status than I have or indeed than at least Wessely has.   Back.


[I] The next paragraph is particularly false, although it seems to be fair enough:

Meanwhile, a different strategy is also being considered to reconcile these different findings: that new blood samples should be taken from patients with diagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome and sent to laboratories capable of carrying out the analysis.

In fact, what should have happened but Wessely and co. refused to do is that from the beginning, after the original XMRV-study was published, proper care should have been given to assure that follow-up research was indeed based on the same kinds of patients, selected with the same criterions, and that their blood was to be investigated by the same sort of procedures.

Wessely and co. made precisely that impossible by quickly generating two purported "scientific studies", published in a minor journal, without proper reviews, that contradicted the original findings - on the basis of different criterions for selecting patients and on the basis of different procedures of assay.

And the third so-called "study", by Van Kuppeveld etc. is just more of the same, and by a group of supposed scientists working under the aegis of the Dutch Wessely, professor Van der Meer, who like Wessely has been writing and saying and implying for decades that patients with ME are not really ill and are mentally deluded if not malingering, and should "therefore" not get the help patients with other illnesses do get, except massive doses of CGT and GET, to cure them from their madness and to force these "undeserving sick" to do some physical work, if not by free will then by force (such as sectioning or withdrawal of their dole money).   Back.


[J] The next paragraph starts again with a statement that reads as if it is written for the BBC-news:

Three studies have now generated data that are in stark contrast to those of the original study.

The reason they have done so may very well be - as argued above - that these three studies have been intentionally set up to generate precisely that manner of "data".

In any case: They do not contradict the data found in the original study, if only because both the groups of patients used and the methods of assay used differ from those used in the original groups and methods, and so far as I can see to such an extent that the results of these "three studies" - all by co-workers of Wessely, all with a similar interest in maintaining his sort of pseudo-science - are not rationally comparable to the results of the original study.

The learned authors continue

However, at least two explanations for this are still possible. The first, and more unlikely, explanation is that XMRV infection is geographically confined to the United States.

Next to these "two explanations" there are quite a few more rational explanations, of which I just gave one:

The so-callled "research" by Wessely, in this case and in many other cases where ME is involved (and other subjects also), is methodically, rationally and scientifically flawed, quite possibly on purpose, because Wessely speaks, writes and acts for political or economical parties that have strong interests to save on money paid out to help ill people.

The one reason that professors McClure and Wessely give does indeed also seem unlikely to me, especially since some people with XMRV have been found in England and Germany. And this at the same time suggests another, more probable explanation the authors should have mentioned: That the finding of this very recently found XMRV-virus may be considerably more difficult than is allowed for by Wessely and his co-workers, and by the authors of the so-called "three studies", including McClure and Wessely.

Next, I come to a particularly neat piece of spindoctoring, namely the other possible explanation McClure and Wessely deign to mention:

The second is that the virus is infecting an atypical cohort. This may well be so.

This is remotely possible, for which reason again McClure's and Wessely's claim that the original study has been "refuted" is simply false, but it is far more possible and probable that there is the involvement of "an atypical cohort" or two or three, for it seems that "atypical cohorts" are precisely what the authors of the "three studies" seem to have used, intentionally so it would seem (if they are not grossly incompetent, that is), namely such as were selected by other criterions than were used in the original study and assayed also by other methods than were used in the original study.

Next, the text of the learned authors in the middle of this paragraph is ambiguous - and indeed the Lake Tahoe material has been, it would seem, intentionally defiled by American co-workers of Wessely's school. This has been treated elsewhere, and I skip it, other than noting the language is ambiguous.

Then there is this piece of stunning impertinence:

an association with viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus and human herpesvirus 6, has already been suggested

where the reference shows this was "already" so in... 1987, since which date professor Wessely has been busy denying this, namely with insisting ME is all in the mind, that those who claim it has an organic cause have a "dysfunctional belief system", and by slandering patients with ME and the doctors and scientists who support them, by denigrating their human dignity, and bgy lying about the seriousness of their many complaints, and by trying to block any research and funding of genuine biomedical research into the possible cause or causes of ME.

The final sentence of the paragraph

It is possible that XMRV is implicated in the Lake Tahoe episode but does not play a substantial role in most cases of chronic fatigue syndrome elsewhere.

suggests that the earlier mentioned ambiguity should be resolved in the sense that the original study used blood from patients of the Lake Tahoe outbreak, and seems to have been written with an eye on the eventuality that the finding in the original study remain standing.

Here then the eventual reply by professors McClure and Wessely is already sketched out: If so, they will argue that one can have something like ME due to XMRV, but this then is limited only to those patients from the Lake Tahoe outbreak - a bit like saying: copper conducts electricity, except when Wessely and co. investigate it, for then it only conducts cant. As proven in "three studies"!   Back.


[K] The final paragraph starts thus:

The results from other US laboratories investigating XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome are eagerly awaited. If the link fails to hold up, it will be another bitter disappointment to affected patients.

The first sentence is mere astro-turf, but true as far as it goes. The second statement is very vague, since "affected patients" is not quantified (with terms like "many", "most", "all" etc.) for which reason it says very little.

Speaking for myself, it will not be "another bitter disappointment" if it were shown that XMRV is not the or a cause of ME, and so far I have not believed it is, but only that the original study uncovered an interesting possibility for finding out more about ME.

What is true is that some patients will be quite disappointed, but part of the reason for this disappointment is precisely due to the doings, sayings and writings of professor Wessely about "the underservedly sick" with ME, since he has been telling the world and medical doctors for more than two decades now that patients with ME are deluded, mad, malingering, neurotic and neurasthenic, apparently for no better reason that this serves his career and his financial and other interests, that may well include the intentional harming, slandering, offending, denigrating or hurting ill people, since he has been doing so with such remarkable success for such a long time, while really having no good rational evidence whatsoever except his own hardly sane sayings and writings about ill persons, and his academic titles in the so called science of psychiatry.

The final sentence

Nonetheless, the current debate will still bring critical attention to the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome, and XMRV may turn out to be important in the pathogenesis of other diseases.

is again a slick and sly attempt to falsify matters: Since there is no such thing as "chronic fatigue syndrome" outside the somewhat cloudy and fraudulent minds of professor Wessely and his co-workers, who dreamt up the term so as to deny that ME is a real disease, which is what the World Health Organization holds since 1969 to this day, the only plausible cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is fraudulence of perversion in those setting up and defending the term; and since none of the "three studies", so called, by Wessely and his co-workers have in any way refuted that XMRV is or may be causally related to ME their conclusing phrase is what I prefer to call, if you pardon my French, phony sanctimonious lying.   Back.


Conclusion

I conclude that the BMJ has allowed the publication of a dishonest piece of pseudo-scientific propaganda, misdirection and misrepresentation - and my main question must be to its editors:

WHY do the editors of the BMJ allow that a position about ME, its cause and its treatment, that is since decades in flat contradiction with (1) the rulings of the World Health Organization and with (2) many findings of highly reputable medical and biochemical scientists, of higher reputations and abilities than professor Simon Wessely, is being furthered in the BMJ and by professor Simon Wessely, especially since the theories of Wessely about ME (caused by a "dysfunctional belief system" etc. according to his in my opinion somewhat deluded mind - if he is not a complete fraud, that is) are clearly unscientific and irrational (or at best only "scientific" and "rational" according to a small segment of mostly British or American psychiatrists with little or no real bio-medical competence or education), and - MUCH more damningly - because the medical and social practices based on those rather insane or sadistic theories have harmed tens of thousands of people in Great Britain enormously, and must have driven many people to suicide, as in the case of Kate Gilderdale, while persons like Sophia Mirza and others were cruelly and grossly maltreated on the basis of professor Wessely's halfbaked claims, opinions and hang-ups?

Isn't it true that if professor Wessely and his few but powerful psychiatric co-workers are mistaken or simply lying about ME the health, the human rights, indeed the lives of many tens of thousands of British citizens have been destroyed over the past two decades?

Since when is it moral or indeed legal to proceed in such a way? Since when may persons be refused medical, social or financial help, while all the evidence is that they have been ill and in pain since years, only because a handful of psychiatrists - surely hardly a reputable science, surely a "science" that for the past hundred years has been shown to have been patched together mostly from delusions or ill-based guesses - says that tens of thousands who say they are ill and in pain are not ill and in pain? Since when have morality, decency and rationality left the thinking and practising of British medical doctors, or at least that group that follows up or covers for Wessely and his co-workers?

Since when is it moral and legal to deny ill people help; to slander their human integrity and dignity; to lie about their mental health and their physical health; and to make it impossible for biomedical researchers to get funding for research into the causes of ME?

And why does the BMJ, at long last, not dedicate a whole issue to the rational discussion, by reputable scientists, of professor Malcolm Hooper's "“Magical Medicine, how to make a disease disappear”", that seems to be a point by point and argument by argument refutation of professor Wessely's writings, and is surely written by someone with more knowledge of biochemistry than the mere psychiatrist Wessely?

And finally, why do British doctors and biochemists and biomedical scientists who oppose Wessely's opinions and stances about ME not get the right to publish extensively in the BMJ or to write editorials in it about the pseudo-science of Wessely and his co-workers?

Since when - at least since the Middle Ages - is it rational and moral that hundreds of thousands, nay: millions of persons, are denied help, denied funding, denied medicines, and denied biomedical research into their condition simply because a few persons with a degree in a pseudo-science like psychiatry claim they are malingering or have "dysfunctional belief systems" or are claimed to be psycho-somatizing, on the ground that whatever illness present day medical science has not discovered "therefore" does not exist and so "must" be "psychological"?!

Since such abuse of psychiatry on a social scale is hitherto, outside Great Britain, the US and The Netherlands only known from the Soviet Union?


P.S. For the moment, the above must do - if corrections are needed, I have to wait till later to insert them, no doubt because my "dysfunctional beliefs" are causing me pain and exhaustion since decades, even though I got an M.Sc. in psychology with the best possible marks in the same period.

Maarten Maartensz

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