Trial By Error: The BPS Brigades Score Another Own Goal

David Tuller


By David Tuller, DrPH.


Not long ago, Sir Simon scored an own goal by enticing a childhood buddy to enter the PACE debate. That buddy, attorney and social commentator Mike Godwin, soon pronounced the trial—which Sir Simon had called “a thing of beauty”–to be “so profoundly flawed that it cannot be trusted.” Sir Simon tweeted out a brave front in the face of his friend’s rejection of PACE, reaffirming his own belief that the trial was well-conducted. Whatever. Godwin agreed to sign the open letter to Lancet editor Richard Horton.

Now Professor Michael Sharpe has done something similar. He recently tweeted out Guardian essay by Keith Kahn-Harris, a sociologist and author of a new book about denialism in science. Professor Sharpe has often framed criticism of PACE’s methodological and ethical lapses as a form of scientific denialism, akin to climate-change skepticism. Perhaps he believed that Dr Kahn-Harris’ Guardian essay somehow proved his point.

In any event, I read on the Science For ME forum that Dr Kahn-Harris had written an earlier Guardian essay about his own experience of having ME, triggered in his case by a college bout of glandular fever (called mononucleosis in the US). In that 2008 essay he questioned the hegemony of the psychiatric model and suggested its grip on the field was weakening. Of course, The Lancet‘s publication of the first PACE results three years later served to bolster the credibility of that approach, at least temporarily.


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