Science in ME/
Margaret Williams 15th August 2008
Mental health researchers
at The Institute of Psychiatry (
The anorexia group will be
compared with healthy controls and also with people who have “
The project was announced
in 2007 just before the publication of the
Recruitment for this “research” will run until the end of 2008 and the project will be completed in 2009.
The study literature
states: “The comparison with
So there we have it in
black and white: according to
researchers at the IoP (the home of stalwart
The background to the project states: “Anorexia nervosa and chronic fatigue syndrome are classical psychosomatic disorders where response to social threat is expressed somatically (e.g. Hatcher & House, 2003; Kato et al 2006; Schmidt et al 1997). Other similarities between these disorders include strong female preponderance and overlapping personality characteristics, such as being introverted and avoidant. Aberrant emotional processing is a strong candidate as a maintaining factor for these disorders (Schmidt & Treasure 2006)”.
Is it by chance alone that
this “research” coincides with the publication of the
It is surely remarkable that the
beliefs of the
A possible explanation has been put forward by Professor Bruce Charlton, Editor-in-Chief of Medical Hypotheses; Emeritus Professor of Public Policy at the University of California and Reader in Evolutionary Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle (UK).
Charlton is well-known for his campaign to breathe new life into academic medicine in order to capture issues that matter to patients and which would make a difference to their lives.
In a compelling Editorial (Zombie
science: A sinister consequence of evaluating scientific theories purely on the
basis of enlightened self-interest.
“In the real world it looks like most scientists are quite willing to pursue wrong ideas – so long as they are rewarded for doing so with a better chance of achieving more grants, publications and status”.
“This is ‘enlightened self-interest’ a powerful factor in scientific evaluation because the primary criterion of the ‘validity’ of a theory is whether or not acting upon it will benefit the career of the scientist; ‘enlightened’ because the canny career scientist will be looking ahead a few years in order to prefer that theory which offers the best prospect of netting the next grant, tenure, promotion or prestigious job opportunity”.
“When a new theory is launched, it is unlikely to win converts unless (they) are rewarded with a greater chance of generous research funding, the opportunity to publish in prestigious journals and the hope of increased status exemplified by admiration and respect from other scientists”.
“Theories may become popular or even dominant purely because of their association with immediate incentives and despite their scientific weaknesses”.
“Even the most conclusive ‘hatchet jobs’ done on phoney theories will fail to kill, or even weaken, them when the phoney theories are backed up with sufficient economic muscle in the form of funding. Scientists will gravitate to where the money is so long as the funding stream is sufficiently deep and sustained”.
“Classical theory has it that a bogus hypothesis will be rejected when it fails to predict ‘reality’, but (this) can be deferred almost indefinitely by the elaboration of secondary hypotheses which then require further testing (and generates more work for the bogus believers)”.
“That the first theory is phoney, and always was phoney, is regarded as simplistic, crass (and) a sign of lack of sophistication”.
“And anyway, there are massive ‘sunk costs’ associated with the phoney theory, including the reputations of numerous scientists who are now successful and powerful on the back of the phoney theory, and who now control the peer-review process (including the allocation of grants, publications and jobs)”.
“False theories can therefore prove very long-lived”.
“The zombification of science (occurs) when science based on phoney theories is serving a useful but non-scientific purpose (so it is) kept going by continuous transfusions of cash from those whose interests it serves”.
“For example, if a branch of pseudo-science based on a phoney theory is valuable for political reasons (e.g. to justify government policies) then real science expires and ‘zombie science’ evolves”.
“(This) can be explained away by yet further phoney theoretical elaborations, especially when there is monopolistic control of information”.
“In a nutshell, zombie science is supported because it is useful propaganda (and) is deployed in arenas such as political rhetoric, public administration, management, public relations, marketing and the mass media generally. Indeed, zombie science often comes across in the mass media as being more plausible than real science”.
“Personal careerist benefits seem easily able to overwhelm the benefits of trying to establish the ‘real world’ of truth”.
“In current science, there seems to be a greater possibility that large scale change may be fashion rather than progress, and such change may be serving propagandist goals rather than advancing scientific understanding”.
“Modern science may have a lumbering pace, and its vast bulk means that once it has begun to move in a particular direction, trying to deflect its path is like stopping a charging rhinoceros”.
“Perhaps funders co-operate, co-ordinate and collude, and therefore should be regarded as a cartel”.
To halt this raging rhinoceros, Charlton says: “Individual ambition should ensure a sufficient supply of debunkers to keep the gardens of science weeded of bogus theories, and to banish the zombies of science to the graveyards where they belong”.
For how much longer must these desperate people be sacrificed on the defiled altar of zombie science?
More Zombiefication of ME/CFS?
Margaret Williams 17tb August 2008