Posts Tagged ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’

More from Neurasthenia Milkshake on Ben Goldacre, ME, and Bad Science

November 2, 2015

Following my posting of their comments about ME, I got this appreciative comment from Neurasthenia Milkshake, discussing the problems at Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science website, and adding further information on the controversial nature of the findings of the Oxford scientists that, somehow, ME or chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is all ‘in the mind’. Here it is.

Why, thank you for this–what a pleasant surprise to find. This is a big story, though it never has been ,and, fortunately, it only seems to be growing. We may be coming at it from slightly different angles, but I believe firmly that there is an enormous story even beyond PACE, and if all the pieces are put together the right way by good people, it amounts to a medical scandal the likes of which I’m fairly sure nobody has ever seen. But that’s speculation, for another day, hopefully.

A last word on Ben Goldacre–this is a professional who has indeed spent a lot of his time working to expose poor science. It seems therefore a bit curious that he has never really said much about ME, or PACE, or related topics. I suppose it’s to his credit that he never lauded PACE, though it was vigorously defended on his forum.

(The backstory behind why that forum is no longer attached to his website is ugly and most definitely ME/CFS related, but with the relevant info no longer available, not provable. Let’s just say some commenters got out of hand, though in a most vicious manner ,and if I were Goldacre there would have been a time when I would have been concerned with legal action–but the ‘evidence’ has conveniently been lost. I can elaborate further, but only if requested, and specifically with the proviso that I can only describe what I know and saw, but not prove it, and Goldacre himself would almost certainly not have tolerated it, had he been aware, which I would guess he wasn’t.)

One might ask, then, why didn’t he speak up one way or another? Going on the assumption that he is indeed a crusader, I would suggest that he has connections, if not specifically to the PACE researchers (which is actually quite possible), then to their colleagues. It’s more than possible that he was not comfortable speaking up against these people. I’m sure this is not unique to this particular environment, but I have certainly heard tales of treatment of colleagues who do not share their views, and that’s not a pleasant matter, either. It’s especially frustrating, because one would hope that medical science would be devoid of such environments, all the more so when people are suffering horribly, and are treated poorly based on admittedly flawed perceptions of publications like PACE (i.e. that ME is psychological, in spite of the protests of the PACE team that this may not be so).

I apologize again for offering opinion when I would prefer to offer facts. There is a possibility Goldacre has been somewhat negligent if he spotted the flaws identified by Tuller and Coyne–but a large number of other researchers, physicians, and, importantly, journalists, never have, either. Do I point a finger at the PACE team? Yes. I point a finger at Sir SImon Wessely as well, although, with his formidable eloquence, he typically sidesteps efforts to paint him as a malevolent, all-powerful puppet master.

He is affiliated with the Science Media Centre, however. And the history of some of those folks–Revolutionary Communist Party, Living Marxism, Spiked…is something I expect someone will take a good, long look at. Someday.

Last word: you know about the DT–and you’ll know about some of the following from Tuller’s blogs.

Naturally, the NHS is still promoting CBT and GET for ME:

In the US, so is the CDC:

Although earlier this year the US Institute of Medicine issued a report saying the disease is definable by the relapse caused by exertion…

While in Norway, reseachers are actually publishing studies showing success with a chemotherapeutic agent, Rituximab (not that they or anyone else find it easy to secure funding):

So: CBT and GET…or…a cancer/RA drug?

How is this even possible?

I find it extremely encouraging that the Norwegians should be reporting success with drug therapy. It shows the flaws in our corporatist-controlled model of the disease very clearly.

I’m not particularly interested in the specifics of the furore at Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science website. These internet fights and controversies are quite common, and have affected no end of web sites. Given the controversial nature of what went on, and that Neurasthenia Milkshake says they can only describe what they saw, but not prove, it might be best to leave it at that.

I am, however, still very interested in any information that will rebut the psychological model of ME, and any similar disease, which the DWP are trying to fob people off by saying that it’s just psychological. And I completely agree with Neurasthenia Milkshake that there is something wider going on here. My guess is that the psychological origin of this and many other disorders is simply being driven by the insurers, like Unum. It also conforms to the ideology of the transatlantic Right, which includes Blairite Labour, that people taking leave off sick are essentially workshy malingerers, who should ‘pull themselves together’. Or have a ‘short, sharp shock’, and some other nonsense.

As for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, it has its uses as the only successful therapy in for anxiety disorders, including depression and Obsessive-Compuslive Disorder. Even here, its success rate is mixed and it doesn’t work for everyone.

It’s promotion by the Tories as a panacea for nearly every disorder and disease they can ascribe to psychological disorders reminds me of the 19th century fad, Couetism. Monsieur Couet was a French doctor, who believed people could improve their mental health by repeating the phrase ‘Every day, I am getting better and better’. Now, an optimistic attitude definitely has its benefits, but it won’t make one’s mental health automatically improve, and certainly not if there is something seriously wrong.

And I remember it most of all from one of the Pink Panther films, when the Commissionaire, finally released from the mental hospital, goes completely off the rails and becomes a Bond villain after another incident with Clouseau. The last image of him is of him frantically playing the organ, eye twitching manically, before he finally disappears into a puff of smoke, destroyed by his own laser weapon.

If only that would happen to those promoting this nonsense.


Neurasthenia Milkshake on Ben Goldacre and ME Pseudoscience

November 1, 2015

Yesterday I put up Florence’s comments about the government-approved nonsense now being peddled about ME, which conclusively showed that it was drivel. Florence herself also had experience examining the corporate influence on science, which she concluded was corrupting it, just as Stalin’s ideological and personal preferences disastrously corrupted science in the former Soviet Union.

In the article I mentioned Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science as an example of a book on spurious doctrines passed off a science. In response I received the comment below from Neurasthenia Milkshake. They liked the article, but wanted to point out that there is evidence that Goldacre himself supports the kind of rubbish the government is now trying to foist on the rest of us about the disease. They also gave further links to sites disproving the ‘all in the mind’ theory of the origin of the disease.

Here’s their comment.

Thank you for covering this. There is one issue I want to raise–Ben Goldacre, who to my knowledge has never said much about PACE, or ME/CFS for that matter. However, there has been speculation that he studied, apprenticed, or otherwise worked with, in some capacity, Simon Wessely, who in recent years has accumulated numerous honors. Obviously one can not damn Goldacre on that basis; but that there may well be a connection there is worth taking into consideration. Wessely has authored papers with members of the PACE team, has published extensively on CFS, especially CBT as a treatment modality, and praised PACE for its scientific rigor. Although Goldacre pretty much severed ties to the forum that was attached to his Bad Science website, that forum hosted vigorous debates on CFS and PACE. It almost seems odd that Goldacre would not have ever commented on PACE, but to my knowledge, again, he has not. He is not viewed with admiration amongst many ME patients due to the purported (though not necessarily substantiated) connection with Wessely, who is viewed by quite a few as a villainous figure.

Here are links to an extremely detailed deconstruction of PACE:

Installment 1:

Installment 2:

Installment 3:

Coverage in Science:

James Coyne weighs in:

PACE Trial authors respond to David Tuller:

David Tuller responds to PACE Trial authors:

I have to say, I included Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science simply because it was one of the most recent and popular treatments of the subject, having been reviewed in the Groaniad amongst other newspapers, I believe. I really wasn’t aware of his own possible bias in this issue. I’m very happy, however, to put up Neurasthenia Milkshake’s comments on this, along with their further information on the pseudoscientific nature of the theory that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is purely psychological in origin.

The idea that it is somehow all in the mind, and that CBT can cure, is pure corporate bullsh*t and should be discarded as such, along with the scientific hacks that repeat it.

George Berger on Gordon Waddell and the Origins of the Work Capability Test

February 9, 2015

A few weeks ago I blogged about a piece on Mike’s site, Vox Political, by Mo Stewart describing Unum’s role in formulating the fitness for work test. This is the prize piece of pseudoscience used by the DWP and Atos to deny people welfare benefits on the grounds that, no matter how ill or disabled they are, they are still somehow ‘fit for work’. In the most extreme cases, this has resulted in terminally ill people having their disability benefit removed and blandly informed that they will have to be reassessed. Just in case, you understand, that they get better.

One of the commenters on the piece was George Berger, who kindly informed me of his piece on the DPAC website tracing the origins of the fitness for work test in the bizarre theories of Gordon Waddell. Mr Berger commented:

It seems that the historical source is Waddell’s work on back pain and non-organic signs. That was imaginatively extended to “invisible illnesses.” The back pain work was heavily criticised by medical people in his specialism, yet he seems to have been protected by Aylward and maybe others. I did not know about the purely medical critique when I wrote this.

As you can see from the link, it’s entitled Gordon Waddell’s Biophysical Attack on Disabled People.

Gordon Waddell was a highly respected orthopaedic surgeon, who drew on George Engels’ holistic theories of the origin of disease. Engels believed that for patients to be made better, the healer should address all aspects of their condition, including its social and psychological components. Waddell, however, perverted this into the current government policy that sees patients as essentially malingerers. In his papers ‘Nonorganic Physical Signs in Low-Back Pain’ (Spine, volume 5, number 7, 117-125); and ‘A New Clinical Model for the Treatment of Low-Back Pain’ (Spine, volume12 number 7, 632-644), published in 1980 and 1987, Waddell stated that there were symptoms in lower back pain that had no physical cause. He believed these were entirely psychological in origin. These non-organic symptoms in turn produced depression, a feeling that treatment hadn’t worked, and encouraged the patient to adopt a ‘sick role’. Mr Berger quotes from Waddell’s 1998 book, The Back Pain Revolution, ‘that illness behaviour quite often ‘focuses on money and implies malingering,’ and that it ‘may depend more on… psychologic events than on the underlying physical problem’ (1998: 216, 227).’

George Berger states that Waddell’s scientific methodology is simply wrong, and that it was strongly influenced by Skinner’s Behaviourism, which in turn has been categorically demolished by none other than that great American radical, Noam Chomsky, amongst others.

Despite its falsity, it has been seized upon by New Labour and Tory governments determined to cut the welfare bill. Waddell’s ideas on pain and malingering were taken up by Atos at a conference in 2004. Another doctor, Christopher Bass, used his biopsychosocial theories to explain chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic low-back pain, repetitive strain injury and non-cardiac chest pain, as all essentially psychological malingering. Waddell’s ideas were taken up by UnumProvident, the American insurance fraudster, whose head, John LoCascio, attended a conference at Oxford on malingering and illness deception. The corporation then set up the UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University. Finally, in 2006 Waddell and A. Kim Burton wrote that ‘Work is generally good for health and well-being’, a line now repeated ad nauseam by the cretins now stuffing the DWP under Esther McVile and Iain ‘Tosser’ Duncan Smith.

There’s far more over in George Berger’s original article, and it’s definitely worth reading for anyone interested in a very scholarly destruction of this pernicious piece of pseudoscience.