In the past two weeks, The Guardian UK and Psychology Today US have published articles portraying the myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) community as an angry, misguided mob using social media to denigrate scientific research.
Both articles focus on the criticism that Dr. Michael Sharpe, one of the key authors of the PACE trial and the Oxford disease criteria, has received from the patient community for his work researching ME. The article laments how activist ME patients are using social media to stall the progress of research simply because they are unhappy with research results. Both articles portray Dr. Sharpe – and science – as a victim of these unwarranted attacks at the hands of the online ME community.
The Guardian UK article headline reads, “ME and the perils of internet activism,” with the subhead: “Research into the chronic illness, which affects 250,000 people in the UK, may be stalling because of online criticism and abuse.” The headline for Psychology Today article reads “The Dark Side of Social Media Activism in Science: Scientists are targeted when results do not align with activist views.”
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