June 18, 2010


ME + me :  The pseudo-science of Wessely and McClure


I am still not well at all and sad, but I like to be right - and Mindy Kitei, first mentioned in Nederlog in ME: Blood Feud has been at it again and considers the issue in what sense the XMRV-'studies' that failed to find XMRV, notably of McClure and Wessely, indeed were replications of the original study in Science that did find XMRV, as McClure and Wessely pretended.

They were not, and this is from CFS Central, by Mindy Kitei:

A friend sent this page from his daughter’s ninth-grade biology textbook, Biology, by Stephen Nowicki, published by McDougal Littell, 2008.  According to Nowicki, to be considered a replication:

"Scientists repeating another person’s experiment must be able to follow the procedures exactly and obtain the same results in order for the experiment to be valid. Valid experiments must have

• a testable hypothesis
• a control group and an experimental group
• defined independent and dependent variables
• all other conditions held constant
• repeated trials"
McClure's study didn't use controls, and the methods she used to test for XMRV were different from Mikovits's methods.  While Bishop included controls, like McClure she used different methods to test for the retrovirus.

Quite so, and as I pointed out in ME: On the postmodern falsifications in Wessely & McClures BMJ-editorial. Indeed, the point I made and that Mindy Kitei makes is basic elementary methodology and basic philosophy of science - and that is the reason for my speaking of "falsifications", for university professors like McClure and Wessely are surely know that much basic elementary methodology.

Therefore, not applying it and not mentioning it was wilfully disingenuous, and therefore amounted to wilfully falsifying the proper scientific procedures and methodology, both in fact and in reporting.

Therefore also their not finding XMRV does not refute nor falsify the findings in the original study in Science that found XMRV, as McClure and Wessely falsely wrote in an editorial of the BMJ - and indeed, it is questionable whether they had any scientific value at all.

As I said, the reason McClue and Wessely wrote this obvious unscientific claptrap nevertheless, is that it must suit their purposes; that they think they can get away with it; and that in fact they write and publish their socalled "science" not for scientific reasons but to serve their own interests - and in Wessely's case, the interests of those he works for or at least has the interests of ver close to his heart, viz. the English state bureaucracy and military and the health insurance-companies.

Please note my careful "or": Whereas I cannot prove payments of Wessely by said institutions (though surely the British military pay their own owned psycho, one would guess) I can infer interests fairly from positions taken, and Wessely must have done the the English state bureaucracy and military, and the health insurance-companies a lot of what they deem good, while he has helped wreck the lives and chances of uncounted many patients with ME, especially in England.

The evidence for the last paragraph is in my ME -Documentation and especially in ME - Resources and is pretty hard to rationally and reasonably gainsay when you've read it.

Finally, an answer to a possible question some may have: Why do professional organizations and universities not interfere?

In part because it is not any of their major concerns; in part because professional organizations and universities are protective of their staff; and for a major part because the media are not prominently treating ME, and if they do, for there has been some good reporting this year about and around ME, both in papers and on TV, it still often is with inadequate knowledge or manipulated by psychiatric pros of the Wessely school, who are quite good at that also.

And that is a reason to mention Mindy Kitei again, apart from the fact that I agree with her point and made it myself independently, is that she is a journalist, who has the merit to know what she writes about.

And the way to make professional organizations and universities do the right thing is to put pressure on them when they don't - which is best done in the media and on the internet, respectively by good journalists and patients' groups.

P.S. Maybe I should also reiterate here that (1) I do not know much of bio-chemistry and can therefore not properly judge the science involved in XMRV (but neither can professor Wessely, who also is no bio-chemist at all, but a mere trickcyclist) and (2) I have no firm belief about the role XMRV plays in ME or indeed in prostate cancer.

The reason for (2) is in (1), but there is more: (3) I have no firm wish for or against XMRV being the cause (or an important part thereof - and my own guess, apart from XMRV, is that genes play a role in causing ME, for this would explain why some get it after e.g. Epstein Barr and more don't).

The reason for (3) is again mostly in (1): I just have no fair idea of what it would mean in practice, for the chances of patients with ME. (Thus, a retrovirus such as XMRV or indeed HIV is not a nice thing to embody, but if one does then one does, and from a partial analogy with HIV, medicines may be relatively rapidly be developed, tested and made available.)

In any case, not having strong beliefs or wishes either way makes it easier to fairly judge. In principle. Also, what I certainly can judge rationally are logical, methodological and statistical issues, and it is for that reason that ME: On the postmodern falsifications in Wessely & McClures BMJ-editorial was easy to write: As Mindy Kitei's quotation shows, the intellectual scientific content of McClure and Wessely's editorial or the British Medical Journal was nil - and other editors of that journal should have noticed, as they should have noticed the manipulative politicking in that supposedly objective supposedly scientific editorial.

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

P.P.S. ME - Resources needs is a Work In Progress that hasn't progressed today.

Maarten Maartensz

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