Anyone who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome knows that it is no joke and is massively physically debilitating. In the early days of its identification people also had to fight off the stigma of it being seen as a psychological, rather than physiological, disease. This is rarely the case today, but though I knew of the early debate, I knew nothing about the extraordinary actions of CFS militants until I read this article today.
One researcher told the Observer that a woman protester who had turned up at one of his lectures was found to be carrying a knife. Another scientist had to abandon a collaboration with American doctors after being told she risked being shot, while another was punched in the street. All said they had received death threats and vitriolic abuse.The reason? They were investigating psychological factors as part of the syndrome. Remarkably, none of the researchers believe that the causes are purely psychological, they think that there are external factors such as a virus infection as well. Yet this has not stopped the intimidation.
Many of the extremists' claims are bizarre, said Professor Simon Wessely, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. "They say I am in league with pharmaceutical companies in order to suppress data that shows a link between viruses and the syndrome. But why on earth would drug companies do that? If they could link the condition to a virus they would be well on the way to developing lucrative treatments and vaccines. It is crazy."So here we have conspiracy theory, deep mistrust of properly conducted scientific research, and ... well, who knows what else? It is the same sort of obsessive behaviour and half-digested pseudo-knowledge that fuels the 9/11 Truthers, the climate change deniers and many others who ignore established fact in favour of the fictions that feed their imaginations. Research into CFS though? That's a new one on me.