I wrote repeatedly about dr. Alter before, as I was and am very glad that
a man of his proven stature and intellect has investigated XMRV and
the connection between XMRV and ME/CFS:
There is more - consult the Nederlog
index for 2010, under "Alter" or "XMRV" - and in a moment I will
quote some excellent recent prose by dr. Alter, but first I want to
say something on yesterday's Nederlog
Another good article on ME/CFS in the Wall Street Journal, in
which I defended Amy Dockser Marcus against aspersions by some
patients with ME, mostly on a forum from which I have been excluded
because I am quite honest, very intelligent, and
not willing to silently put up with bullshit,
also not if it is by some anonymous nincompoop or busybody who claims
to have ME. (See yesterday's Nederlog and the links given there.)
First, I have been taken to task - I suppose: in the friendliest
manner - by an English reader who wanted to know why I called Amy
Dockser Marcus "Mrs. Marcus", and remarked that currently
writing "Ms" (..) "is the custom in the US and UK when referring to
women writing in the media", apart from some special context when
marital status matters (or so it seems).
Well... I am Dutch, alas, and I
didn't know about this new habit of calling women "Ms" even if they
are married, though I do know about the - to me - sickening US PC
habit of exchanging all occurences of "he" by "she", which strikes me
as an inane, totalitarian and hypocritical combination of word magic
wishful thinking: As if the facts could be put right by
"rectifying" the words used for them. (*)
Anyway, my own usage came about thus: When confronted
with the string of characters "Amy Dockser Marcus" I am confused
wether she is married to a Mr Dockser or has it as a middle name, in
which case she still might be married, to a Mr Marcus - while the Dutch PC
locution is Mrs. rather than Ms., since
here in Holland it is the
latter terminology that is considered offensive and condescending, rather than the
former, at least in circles of PC feminists and of tiny minds eternally
pre-occupied with showing the proper PC kinds of verbal respect.
Then, as it also happens, I was decades ago
similarly confused, namely by the string "Ruth
Barcan Marcus". The woman thus called did quite interesting work
in logic and tends, or at least tended for several decades, to be
known as "Mrs. Marcus" in logic-land.
And thus it came about, by analogy I suppose, and possibly because I
have had repeated dealings with Dutch PC feminists who offended me by
insisting I offended them by calling women I know to be not married "Ms.",
as is indeed quite correct in - not PC-"rectified" - Dutch grammar,
but very offensive to
academically educated Dutch women with an IQ of 115 or so.
In brief: I meant well and did not intend to give any offense, but
do not know the ins and outs of whatever PC is currently the desirable
PC in the US, and indeed do not like PC (*).
Second, a reason to praise Amy Dockser
Marcus and David Tuller is that, at least for this person with ME for the
thirty-third year, it is somewhat of a pleasing surprise to find that
there now are two journalists, who write for two of the best known
journals in the world, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times,
who repeatedly wrote quite sensible, quite informed well written
articles on ME/CFS.
This is quite important for me and
for ME (as I see these
subjects), since in my own estimate the last two decades much time
and much research money has been lost and misspent because of
the propaganda that psychiatric
pseudoscientists succeeded in convincing naive journalists to publish,
due to the pretensions of these pseudoscientists that they are world
specialists on "CFS", whereas in fact the "science" they published
about it is pseudoscience, and they themselves are
mere psychiatrists, who only have
such standing as they have in Great Britain, and that for political
and bureaucratic rather than scientific reasons, and not because any
of any contribution they made to real science, or because of the qualities of their
minds or morals.
For that is another pleasing surprise of the previous year: While
patients with ME/CFS since decades know they have been lied about and
misrepresented systematically by pseudo-scientists of the moral and
intellectual status of professor
(<- Wikipedia, probably at least partially composed by himself), there
now is professor
Harvey Alter (<- Wikipedia) who is a real virologist, and a
real medical research scientist, and also a medical doctor of
vastly greater deserved status than Wessely has or can reach, in
real science, at least, and who contradicts Wessely's stances in many
ways, albeit without mentioning him, and by implication.
So the situation as I see it, at present, is that some of the best
journals and some of the best scientists are currently supporting the
patients with ME/CFS by supporting that real science is being done,
and gets done, so as to clarify what really are the biomedical causes of ME/CFS and
what really are the dangers of XMRV.
Here then is a some by professor
(<- Wikipedia), from a recent video mentioned on a thread on Phoenix
The above is the link to the thread on PR-F (=
Phoenix Rising Forums, that from tomorrow on will have a new address
if you want to go to the video directly, that the NIH kindly made
available, here is its link - incidentally, with a title that reminds
me of professor Malcolm Hooper's excellent
Magical Medicine (by which professor Hooper meant that - in
my words - pseudoscientists have succeeded in magicking away the real
and serious disease that is ME by propaganda and renaming it to
One should keep in mind, though, that this is
2 hours worth of video, and not all of it is easy to follow. Happily, someone
took the trouble on PR-F to type out some of the most interesting bits
for wider consumption, and here is part of it, remarkably similar also
to my own position in
me+ME: Some speculations around ME and
XMRV - part I, albeit that I did not know then of dr. Alter's
words that follow.
I copy this from the above-mentioned thread on PR-F, but correct
some typos (such as "i" for "I"). The squarely bracketed numbers are
the times in the video where the passages quoted are to be found - and
please note this text is from February 22, 2011, and so merely a month
"If the virus is indeed in the patient, I suggest about a present
antibody, and I think it very important that the Whittemore Peterson
group has consistently found antibody in the patients, and has found
virus that they can culture in these patients; so in their data,
they've done the whole gamut; we've had more trouble finding the
antibody in our patients; we're working with the NCI group; but
despite the fact that the Whittemore Peterson group has been able to
culture it and find antibody, people still don't believe that patients
were infected; so it's just a difficult field.
But that's the issue that we have to address, and if the patient is
infected, the next issue is, is it a primary infection that causes the
disease, or is it a secondary infection, due to, whatever, amino
deficiency, [indiscernible] infection, or something else.
So how are you going to resolve this?
Well, the heart and lung institute and the NIAED are conducting
separate studies now to assess whether these findings are reproducible
and are they specific; and sensitivity is in there as well. But mostly
it is to see, are they reproducible and are they specific for this
So when we suggested exchanging samples between the labs that have
divergent findings; we tried to do that, it wasn't sufficient, it
wasn't sufficient samples, the answers were not as clear as one would
But I think the most important thing is what is being done now,
particularly in a study that the NIAED is sponsoring.
Dr Ian Lipkin at Columbia is heading up this study, and the idea is to
take classic cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; people that meet the
Canadian Criteria, that had an acute onset of disease and then went
into the debilitating long term effects; cases that everybody would
agree are Chronic Fatigue, to the best that you can agree on that.
To take those patients, and they are from different places around the
country; so they are geographically diverse; take large volumes of
their samples; send them to Dr Lipkin's lab, where they will be
separated, and come overnight, and separated into various components,
mostly plasma and whole blood, but maybe some PBMC's, and then coded,
and the same sample will be coded in triplicate.
And then panels will be developed, and sent to the labs - who have
claimed to find the virus, and those that have claimed not to have
found the virus; and those labs will use their own assays, and then
see how they break the code. And the results will be published, so
whatever comes out, positive or negative, the results will be
published, and the codes will be broken at the coordinating centre.
So what are the possible outcomes of that?
Well, if this cannot be found in these pedigree patients, in the labs
who previously reported finding it, then i think that the original
findings will have to be considered unconfirmed and contamination will
be suspected, but all these samples will be tested for mouse DNA by
the best techniques; both the techniques that Dr Lo talked about.
But if Dr Lo - he is under a lot of pressure - if he doesn't do well
on the panels, then we have to say something was awry originally.
However, if he does do well, if the panels show that he can
consistently detect coded samples from CFS patients, and not from
controls, or different ratios on patient controls, then the published
findings will have been confirmed.
And that confirmation will not establish causality, it will just
confirm the association, and rule out the contamination issue.
And the causality is going to be difficult, it's always difficult, if
you don't have an animal model, it's always difficult to prove
causality; it may have to be proved by controlled clinical trials
using antiretroviral agents.
And Dr Mikovits has already shown that known antiretroviral agents,
the whole XMRV agent is sensitive to two, but not all of the HIV
So that's where it's going; this should resolve; this data should be
available in the next six months and I think it's the best way to go
about it. Up until that time, you can believe what you believe."
Indeed - and this is the right way to find out
how things really are, and I am very glad this is done,
whatever the outcome will be.
And this leads me to a last clarifying remark, also
related to what I wrote yesterday - a Nederlog that was downloaded a
lot - and earlier, e.g. in On a new
There are some patients who are thoroughly convinced
that the cause of ME/CFS is XMRV, or as they now seem to want to call
They may well be right, and they certainly are right
in insisting that the WPI and also dr. Alter, dr. Lo and others are
doing important work honestly and rationally and deserve a lot of
Indeed, this is so regardless whether XMRV or HGRV is
the or a cause of ME/CFS, simply because it is in everybody's
interests to establish as soon as possible with some rational
certainty or high probability (1) what dangers are involved with XMRV
and (2) how its presence or absence in blood or tissue can be
My own position about XMRV (or HGRV) as the or a cause
for ME/CFS is - it turns out from the above quotation - quite similar
to dr. Alter's: (a) it very well may be a or the cause, or a
contributing factor, but it is too early to say so with any moral
certainty, and (b) it urgently requires clarification by real
biomedical research into the real facts, rather than by
propaganda manufactured by
pseudoscientists with a personal interest in its not being found to be
the cause of ME/CFS, and (c) - possibly speaking more for myself -
while facts are facts, I am myself not very happy with the thought
that millions of people may carry a dangerous human retrovirus, even
if that would explain the disease I have for over 32 years now: I'd
rather have it were something less dangerous, and easier to put right,
but indeed I am aware that's
Therefore, I prefer not to commit myself on XMRV as
the cause of ME/CFS, but I strongly support that it is properly
investigated, by real biomedical scientists, as is happening now, in
the end thanks to the efforts made in and by the Whittemore Peterson
(*) I am quite aware that
"rectifying the language" may be proposed with good intentions,
as it was indeed by Confucius and by analytical philosophers - but
then what these proposed was a factually more correct language, much
rather than a language to conforms to a political or religious
And that's what I had in mind, and the fundamental
reference is here
The site linked to in the last link is Russian, and
contains most of Orwell's work in good html editions, and also has a
lot of information about him.
Here is a small part from the linked essay, to whet
Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and
perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing
that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary
one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern
English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the
swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the
wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to
men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the
conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities
exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity,
but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must
invariably be taken into account.
This is a parody, but not a very gross one.
As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not
consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and
inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists
in gumming together long strips of words which have already been
set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable
by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it
Also, it sounds just like professors Wessely and White, as you
may find by closereading their prose...
P.S. Corrections have to be made later.