March 11, 2011


me+ME: The ME-Association tries to improve the English media


   "If to do were as easy as to teach others what
were good to be done, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces."
   -- Hazlitt quoting, while reviewing Owen's "A NEW View of Society" (aka Why socialism must fail)

I am still busy with Hazlitt's "Political Essays" - see the the TOC - and suppose this may take a while, but then I really like Hazlitt: A real man, with a real mind, and a truly courageous heart, all in ways such as are given only to the rarest of men.

My opening quotation is supplied by him, from a scathing review and satire, from the year 1814(!), of Owen's first proposal of what he later called "socialism", that indeed is followed by an exposition by Hazlitt of the principles of economy that should have saved Marx's piles and carbuncles, since Hazlitt does it much better, and without any bullshit or obscurities or ambiguities either: A precursor to Ricardo, to Marx - in 1814 still 4 years to be born - and indeed even to Sraffa (*).

But this is just in passing, as I wanted here and now to copy an item I was sent by mail, that shows an initiative of the (British) ME-Association, conforming to my title of today, that seeks to improve the journalistic reporting about ME in the British media, that indeed has been mostly if not uniformly bad.

Here it is, followed by a brief explanatory comment by me - and it should be noted first that the SMC mentioned below seems to have a large influence on the British media's reporting on matters of science:

PACE trial aftermath: ME Association writes to the Science Media Centre

by tonybritton on March 10, 2011
The following email has been sent today to Fiona Fox (Director) and Helen Jamison (Senior Press Officer) at the Science Media Centre.

Dear Ms Fox and Ms Jamison

The ME Association has a number of concerns about the way in which the Science Media Centre is dealing with the subject of ME/CFS and presenting it to the media.

There is a wide spectrum of medical opinion as to what causes this condition and how it should be managed. However, this is not being reflected in the views of the ‘medical experts’ you choose to go to when an ME/CFS research paper appears.

The most recent example is the SMC press release - – covering publication of the PACE trial results in The Lancet on 17 February. All of the SMC ‘medical experts’ who provided quotes for the media were strongly in support of the PACE trial results – with nobody pointing out any of the flaws or criticisms of this study.

The patient community, as well as a section of medical opinion, regards the design and outcome of the PACE trial with great scepticism. And in relation to the results for CBT, GET and pacing in the trial, these are not consistent with a large amount of patient evidence that has been published over the past few years.

The MEA is also very concerned about the way in which the results have been over-simplified in the media – in particular the inappropriate and potentially harmful advice concerning exercise that some newspapers provided. The worst example is the headline in The Independent newspaper: ‘Got ME? Just get out and exercise, say scientists’ and if you look at the comments following the various press stories you will see that there has been a very negative public reaction to the way in which the press has presented the results of this research.

The MEA is currently assessing patient opinion on the PACE trial results (>> monthly survey on the home page: and over 90% of people with ME/CFS who have responded so far (n currently = 462) are stating that the results are going to make the situation regarding management worse rather than better.

We are only aware of one ME/CFS charity that has shown any support for this trial (ie AYME) with the remainder concluding that the PACE trial results are flawed, the benefits for CBT and GET exaggerated, and the negative results for pacing are at serious odds with patient evidence – as pointed out in the MEA response to The Lancet.

The SMC may not agree with these dissenting views but we believe it is unacceptable to in effect censor other opinions as far as the media is concerned.

We would therefore be grateful if a meeting could be arranged to discuss how the SMC currently covers ME/CFS and whether the SMC is prepared to widen the range of ‘medical expert’ opinion when covering ME/CFS research in the future.

Yours sincerely
Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser
The ME Association

All of the above seems fair enough to me, and can be mostly read and understood as stated, without more context, provided one knows a little about ME/CFS and how it has been -mostly if not exclusively - reported the last decades in the British media, which can be summarized thus:

As supplied by professors Wessely, White and Sharpe, as if it has been settled and decided that ME/CFS is all in the mind - and I must have been deluding myself for over three decades that I have muscle agues, even while I fell in after three months in the first year of my studies, as did my then wife, with the same disease, and even while I got a brilliant MA in psychology, eventually, and later found out that there are millions like me and her:

Professors Wessely, White and Sharpe have settled, definitively, as far as the British SMC is concerned, it would seem, that what medical science has not yet explained cannot, therefore, exist, for which evident reason it must all be in the mind or soul or body/mind, and not in the body that biomedical science studies, so that, therefore, whoever suffers from any partially or wholly unknown human disease does not suffer from a disease, in England,  but is mental, mad, bonkers, wacko, and also - "aye, here's the rub!" - not fit to get dole or have such help other ill people get (until the NHS has been reformed so as to pay off bankmanagers, rather than help ill people, a process which will soon be effectuated, to the great benefit of all, who work in banks).

But there is more to it, that interests me a little because of my marxist and communist background (you'll see more about if you read my footnote), and my experience with my "marxist" and "communist" contemporaries, who were nearly all, unlike me, in fact sons and daughters of petits bourgeois who pretended to be revolutionaries, because that was in the seventies and eighties the best way for the hordes of untalented that then were admitted to universities, in the hallowed name of democratization and equality and equivalence of all, to get academic tenure in sociology, psychology, philosophy, literature and similar "academic studies".

And indeed... thus it did happen:

The greatest liars, the worst rotters, the most succesful impostures made very fine careers, usually starting in the seventies and eighties, with poses and slogans aped from Che Guevara and Rudi Dutschke, and most of these born careerists, these modern Stalinists, these pseudos, these postmodern poseurs, impostures and political charlatans, still are in high position, with excellent incomes, except that, at least in Holland, the last ten years they all have, quite honorably, of course, reinvented themselves as neo-conservatives of some kind, for that is where their interests at present lies: money in the bank, second house in France, universities and education of Holland in ruins...they are well off.

About this, and about the human type that is involved - a human type that found it completely moral and natural to tell me, and indeed scream at me, that it is I who is a fascist and a terrorist for insisting truth and real science exist, and are important to civilization, in the University of Amsterdam - where the nutters, thieves, impostures, and degenerates from the Communist and Labour Parties ruled from 1971 to 1995, enriching themselves, fucking attractive students for course points (as a matter of course: likewise, in the same place, one could get MA-degrees in sociology and political sciences by course points for Revolutionary Student Activities, like squatting and taking part in leftist, animal rights or queer rights demonstrations), and making careers with lies, deceptions, delusions and impostures, that were blown up but not destroyed by Sokal's hoax in 1995, since the same morally corrupt, intellectually dysfunctional persons still have the power in the media and the universities - at least in Holland, about which I know most. See: Scientific Realism versus Postmodernism for backgrounds and explanations.

It seems the same, or at least something quite similar, took place in Great Britain, indeed fuelled by the unholy combination of marxism (real or pseudo does not matter much) and postmodernism, forging the tool and style of propagandistic pseudoscience in the name of moral ideals. I have read some about this development in Great Britain, though not much, and suppose one main reference for those who are interested in the role of the New Left in destruction of the Western universities and  educational systems in the name of "democratization and equality of all", and academic careers and positions for the New Leftists, is here

But I am passing this on without knowing much about it. The reasons I don't know much about it are  mostly that (1) I have an active distaste for postmodern university-educated leftists ever since having been kicked from the university for protesting this breed of fanatical careerists, who I knew to be pseudos and frauds from the start, since I do hail from a genuine communist and marxist working class family, and (2) while I know a lot about the breed, their ways, their poses, their "morality", their methods, their careers and their professorships if they are Dutch, I have not at all followed the corruption of the left in England since the Sixties of the last century, while (3) there also are considerable differences compared to the Dutch situation, for quite a few reasons, having to do with politics, and with the fact that the Dutch universities, unlike the English, were "fully democratized" from 1971-1995, and effectively ruled by headmen and headwomen of the Dutch Labour and Communist Parties, through the "democratized university parliaments" (one person one vote: student, doorman, professor).

In any case... this Science Media Centre aka SMC seems to be the English counterpoint to the Dutch University of Amsterdam: Where the phony lefties, the pseudo revolutionaries, the quasi marxists, the mock-moralizing careerists in the name of socialism, equality, environment, black, queer, feminist and postmodern studies, animal rights etc. etc. have their basis and from which they try to shape society after their own interests, guided by their own delusions - or rather, since they too got older: Their intentional deceptions and propaganda.

And the type is well described by another Hazlitt quote, indeed from his "Political Essays":

The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.

The - more or less - educated leftists I have known, were very much in love with themselves, although they'll deny this as they'll deny anything that conflicts with their selfimages as pretentious moral dogooders, which is what they are, just like Stalin: Corrupt careerists in the name of humanitarian moral ideals, only out for power, income and status for themselves. As honest and moral as Tony Blair, but not as succesful, to put it in terms that may clarify some to British readers.

Anyway... most of this was an aside, motivated by my own history, background, knowledge and circumstances, and I agree it is not a bad idea to try to make the media report more objectively, more honestly, more rationally, more independently, more scientifically and indeed less as the willing executioners and propagandizers of the powers that be.

I agree, though, that's where the interests of any self-serving journalist lies, but then almost anything that's good in the human world must be wrested from the bad and the indifferent. And as the Dutch saying is in cases like this: "Nay you have, yea you may get."


(*) Here my learnedness is considerable but true, and I am the first - to my knowledge -to mention Hazlitt in this context, as such a precursor, though John Maynard Keynes may have known, since his brother Geoffry was a Hazlitt-specialist.

To the matter at hand: Marx's theory of economics is based on a theory of economy that is as old as Aristotle's Ethics, and can also be found in Adam Smith, and that bases economy on supply rather than demand; on production of commodities rather than on their selling for profit.

This was also picked up by Ricardo, and extended and improved some, and then was adopted and restated by Marx, who based the Capital on a version of it. Since Marshall and indeed Keynes much of theoretical economics has been based on demand in markets, and selling for profits, that is closer to how things appear to an entrepreneur or minister of economics, while Marx's economical system was mostly dismissed, and read by very few professional (Western) economists.

It so happens there is something to be said for it - if one does away with part of Marx's assumptions, and recasts it all in terms of matrix algebra (that was created by Cayley at the time Marx was filling endless reams of very elementary mathematics to shore up his theory in the volumes of Capital). The first to bring this out clearly, indeed with the mathematical help of Frank Ramsey, was Piero Sraffa, in "Producing commodities by means of commodities", later worked out by the Japanese mathematical economist Morishima, and indeed applied to good effect to Marx's economical system by Steedman, in "Marx after Sraffa".

There is a fairly elementary exposition of what's involved publish by Pelican in 1986, by Ronald Meek and Ian Bradley, called "Matrices and Society".

P.S. Any needed corrections must be made later.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

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