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Open letter to TEDxBristol regarding Esther Crawley's presentation on 2 November 2017

Discussion in 'Open Letters and Replies' started by Carly Maryhew, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. Carly Maryhew

    Carly Maryhew Established Member

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    15 December 2017


    To whom it may concern at TEDxBristol:

    As an ME patient, it was with great interest that I watched Professor Esther Crawley's TEDxBristol talk "Disrupting Your View of ME" on 2 November 2017. Unfortunately, the contents of that talk did not seem to comply with the standards of TEDx, as described in the TEDx Content Guidelines.[1] While that might be sufficient to result in the video merely being displayed with a warning regarding the contents, there are other portions of Professor Crawley's presentation which are highly offensive for reasons which may not be readily apparent, discussed below. Accordingly, I request that the entire video not be posted by TEDxBristol, either on its own site or on YouTube.

    "Guideline 4: Only Good Science"

    The most obvious concern is that in much of Professor Crawley's TEDx talk she is referring to her recently published trial, Specialist Medical Intervention and Lightning Evaluation,[2] abbreviated as SMILE. The "Lightning" in the name of the trial refers to the Lightning Process (LP),[3] a specific form of neuro-linguistic processing (NLP)[4] which was developed and commercialized by Phil Parker.

    "Claims made using scientific language should:

    Be testable experimentally.

    Be based on theories that are also considered credible by experts in the field.

    Claims made using scientific language should not:

    Be so obscure or mysterious as to be untestable

    Be based on experiments that can not be reproduced by others

    Be considered ridiculous by credible scientists in the field."

    Contrary to TEDx guidelines, her claims of success based on the SMILE trial are not testable experimentally due to a failure of her paper to describe the process used by the Lightning Process. This information is also not commonly available online, except via patient accounts, due to Phil Parker requiring that customers not discuss it.[5] LP and the NLP methodology which it is based on are both widely considered debunked pseudoscience by the mainstream medical community.[6]

    "Claims made using scientific language should:

    Be backed up by experiments that have generated enough data to convince other experts of its legitimacy.

    Show clear respect for the scientific method and scientific thinking generally.

    Claims made using scientific language should not:

    Be based on data that do not convincingly corroborate the experimenter’s theoretical claims."

    There has been no evidence to establish the legitimacy of LP or NLP for any disorder, and Phil Parker has been specifically forbidden to promote LP as a cure for ME/CFS.[7] Other studies conducted into NLP have shown it to be ineffective for other disorders.[8] Indeed, despite Professor Crawley's claims of success, the methodological flaws in her work mean that her own study has failed to demonstrate effectiveness, due to relying solely on subjective outcomes combined with a lack of blinding or adequate control group.

    Such subjective outcome measurements are especially problematic when the treatment itself demands that the customers proclaim it is effective to make it work, as happens in the case of LP,[9] and may be compounded when the subjects are children who may be especially vulnerable to such pressures. As a demonstration of the pressures placed upon children by LP to be accountable for curing themselves, children have been known to attempt suicide when LP fails to work.[10]

    "Claims made using scientific language should:

    Not fly in the face of the broad existing body of scientific knowledge."

    It should be obvious that it flies in the face of reason (and a large body of biomedical research) to claim that any disease or other condition can be successfully treated by teaching children to say "STOP" and make a ritualistic movement.[11] Various patient accounts indicate that they are told symptoms will go away if they stop "doing" their illness, by suppressing negative thoughts to enable them to "grow new neural pathways."[12]

    Professor Crawley's Accusations

    Although I could not find a TEDx guideline regarding making untrue statements on the stage, presumably that is because it is a problem which is so obvious that it shouldn't need a guideline. Yet it did happen during Professor Crawley's TEDxBristol talk, much the same as it happened in other recent talks she has given to medical personnel in various venues.[13] At approximately 9:05-9:40 during her TEDxBristol talk, a slide is displayed with a threat written in the style of a stereotypical ransom note. Professor Crawley says "This is an email that I got a few years ago. It was used on the front cover of the Sunday Times, to discuss the research environment for chronic fatigue syndrome. I still laugh at the idea that someone was going to cut my balls off (laughter from audience). Does make you wonder."

    However, this note was not emailed (at least not as a threat) to her. It was an artistic compilation made by an employee of the Sunday Times to sensationalize unsubstantiated threats which another controversial researcher claimed he had received via phone calls.[14] In that article, there is no claim that she received such a threat, though she did claim to receive an email calling her an evil bastard.[15] A recent correspondence from Bristol University, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the ME children's charity Tymes Trust, indicated that they had "received no official reports of harassment of University staff by a third party" from 2010-2017.[16]

    It is possible that threats were received by Professor Crawley, albeit not reported, and any such harassment and threats would be universally condemned by the ME/CFS community. But any such harassment categorically did not consist of the letter which Professor Crawley displayed during her TEDx talk, and it is grossly inappropriate for it to have been used in that context, especially with joking that someone meant to cut off her balls, when she knew very well that such threats had never been addressed to her. I cannot claim to know what would motivate someone to misrepresent such a vile threat, but these accusations typically surface when a controversial researcher is facing criticism from patients, doctors, researchers, and other academics due to making absurd claims based on research using shockingly poor methodology,[17] such as was used in the SMILE trial to generate positive results for a therapy which is indisputable pseudoscience.[18]

    Similarly, opponents of their work are frequently compared to climate denialists, animal rights activists, and anti-vaxxers,[19] in an attempt to discredit us. The claims which Professor Crawley made in her TEDx talk regarding "a few people and a few organizations" trying to stop their research into ME/CFS is only partly accurate. Patients and patient organizations are indeed trying to stop them from performing unethical and shoddy research which diverts valuable funds from serious researchers who use rigorous methodology to test clear hypotheses. But these are a large majority of ME/CFS patients and nearly every patient organisation,[20] joined by ME/CFS experts, biomedical ME/CFS researchers, and academics based in universities around the world.[21] Our opposition to their research practices and influence does not take the form of threats or harassment, but rather consists of parliamentary questions, Freedom of Information Act requests, petitions, blogs, social media commentary, letters published in scientific journals, and published scientific articles.[22]

    Accordingly, I hope that you can understand why patients and their supporters find Professor Crawley's talk to be so upsetting. Not only is she promoting blatant pseudoscience and making false accusations against the patients who oppose her work, she goes so far as to brazenly suggest that she should be our voice. As at ME/CFS patient, my response is that we must be allowed to speak for ourselves, and that those of us who are too ill to speak should be spoken for by our caregivers and other loved ones.[23] All Professor Crawley needs to do is to stop attempting to silence us.

    Additionally, I believe that children with ME/CFS can speak for themselves and be heard when they want to, and even they recognise the SMILE trial's LP nonsense for what it is. In the words of 10 year old patient Shannon Tiday: "They say 'raise your hand out and say stop?' Don't you think I tried that? What is wrong with these people? Well people's people, you can't stop them. And that's not our fault, so don't think it's our fault!"[24]

    I would very much appreciate TEDxBristol's assistance in this by denying Professor Crawley a platform for dangerous pseudoscience and baseless accusations against the ME/CFS patient community.


    Thank you,


    -Carly Maryhew
     

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    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
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  2. Carly Maryhew

    Carly Maryhew Established Member

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    Sources:
    [1] http://storage.ted.com/tedx/manuals/tedx_content_guidelines.pdf
    [2] http://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2017/09/20/archdischild-2017-313375
    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lightning_Process
    [4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming
    [5]https://web.archive.org/web/20121021103153/http://www.bristol.ac.uk/ccah/research/childrencomplexhealthneeds/chronic-fatigue/smilestudydocuments/lipcassfrmv2july10.pdf
    Code:
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/true-stories-about-lightning-process/julie-whitham-written-26-nov-2017/260751191121264/
    [6] http://www.skepdic.com/lightningprocess.html
    https://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/mentserv.html
    http://skepdic.com/neurolin.html
    https://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.nl/2006/11/nlp-trainings-shameful-fraudulent-cult.html
    [7] https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/phil-parker-group-ltd-a12-210374.html
    [8] https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/ppb.2010.41.issue-2/v10059-010-0008-0/v10059-010-0008-0.xml
    http://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/0022-0167.34.1.103
    [9] https://hubpages.com/health/The-Lightning-Process-Didnt-Work-For-me
    http://www.sayer.abel.co.uk/MESNORFOLK/LP.html
    [10] https://www.nrk.no/livsstil/forsokte-selvmord-etter-me-kurs-1.7891470
    http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=131385
    [11] https://hubpages.com/health/The-Lightning-Process-Didnt-Work-For-me
    [12] http://forums.prohealth.com/forums/index.php?threads/try-the-lightning-process-for-free.192713/
    Code:
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/true-stories-about-lightning-process/julie-whitham-written-26-nov-2017/260751191121264/
    [13]
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/yoyehudi/status/923182118250995712
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/jenbrea/status/926121625434578944
    [14]
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/AndyH___/status/923256917379682304
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/jenbrea/status/926120437523783682
    https://www.s4me.info/index.php?thr...rupting-your-view-of-me.286/page-5#post-10687
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/johnthejack/status/926085355933175809
    [15] http://pw.me.uk/EC/20130505_Sunday_Times.pdf - paywalled original at
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/...sted-that-me-was-a-mental-illness-t250dr25xg5
    [16] http://www.tymestrust.org/pdfs/noharassmentbristol.pdf
    [17] http://www.virology.ws/2017/05/08/t...he-board-of-the-cfsme-research-collaborative/
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/CoyneoftheRealm/status/850712331646627840
    http://forums.phoenixrising.me/inde...are-a-conflict-of-interest.52479/#post-868474
    [18] http://www.virology.ws/2017/12/13/trial-by-error-the-crawley-chronicles-resumed/
    https://www.coyneoftherealm.com/blo...children-with-cfs-results-too-good-to-be-true
    http://www.meaction.net/2017/09/20/...py-as-treatment-for-chronic-fatigue-syndrome/
    https://mindthebrain.blog/2017/09/1...-of-quack-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-treatment/
    [19] http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/e...-psychologys-special-issue-on-the-pace-trial/
    https://geneticliteracyproject.org/...ncy-distinguishing-healthy-debate-harassment/
    http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/w...researchers-experiencing-harrassment-2013.pdf
    [20] http://www.meassociation.org.uk/stu...ss-is-unethical-says-joint-charity-statement/
    https://www.change.org/p/opposing-mega-a-vote-of-no-confidence-in-mega-research-for-me-cfs
    https://jcoynester.wordpress.com/20...etics-alliance-project-concerns-and-response/
    Code:
    https://www.facebook.com/tymestrust/posts/1855069661444834
    https://opposingmega.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/irish-m-e-trust-is-opposing-mega/
    https://www.actionforme.org.uk/news/smile-trial-results-published-action-for-me-comment/
    http://www.investinme.org/Article-501 Childrens Study.shtml
    Code:
    https://www.facebook.com/MEadvocacy.org/posts/1788812174708413
    https://spoonseeker.com/2016/09/29/mega-petition/
    https://meagenda.wordpress.com/2010...-prof-robin-gill-church-times-lp-pilot-study/
    http://www.mwcatalogue.esy.es/2016/comment-on-mega-study.pdf
    https://opposingmega.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/dr-nigel-speight-signs-opposing-mega/
    Code:
    https://www.facebook.com/Hope4MEFibro/posts/1187299754662176
    [21] http://www.virology.ws/2017/03/23/an-open-letter-to-psychological-medicine-again/
    [22] https://my.meaction.net/petitions/pace-trial-needs-review-now http://informationrights.decisions.tribunals.gov.uk//DBFiles/Decision/i1854/Queen%20Mary%20University%20of%20London%20EA-2015-0269%20(12-8-16).PDF
    https://www.change.org/p/petition-t...fit-for-purpose-and-needs-a-complete-revision
    http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/hpqa/22/9
    Code:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo5hdL7zXxQ
    [23]
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/jenbrea/status/926121625434578944
    [24] https://www.piratefm.co.uk/news/latest-news/2391151/watch-schoolgirls-illness-message-goes-viral/
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
    Woolie, MeSci, zzz and 41 others like this.
  3. TiredSam

    TiredSam Moderator Staff Member

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    That must have been a lot of work. Nice job :thumbup:
     
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  4. Carly Maryhew

    Carly Maryhew Established Member

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  5. arewenearlythereyet

    arewenearlythereyet Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Well put :)

    I hope you get a considered response
     
  6. Trish

    Trish Committee Member

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    Brilliant letter. Well done. Thank you. I hope you get a reply.
     
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  7. Simone

    Simone Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Fantastic letter, @Carly Maryhew! Thank you for using your precious energy to write it!
     
    TigerLilea, Joh, Louie41 and 20 others like this.
  8. EzzieD

    EzzieD Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Excellent letter, really highlights the issues that needed to be raised re Crawley's lack of credibility such as her poor understanding of science and her misleading claims of 'harassment'. Hope you get a reasoned reply.
     
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  9. Joan

    Joan Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Well done Carly. Excellent letter. I have tweeted them about it
     
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  10. Trish

    Trish Committee Member

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    I've just tweeted Bristol Uni and Bristol Uni Students' union with links to this letter, my letter to the VC, and David Tuller's latest piece on SMILE.
     
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  11. Adam pwme

    Adam pwme Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    This is superb!
     
  12. It's M.E. Linda

    It's M.E. Linda Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Great letter Carly. I think we would all be interested in any response you get.
    I will retweet above posts.
     
  13. Allele

    Allele Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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  14. James

    James Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Epic letter deserving of an epic reply @ Carly Mayhew
     
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  15. Sasha

    Sasha Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Well done, @Carly Maryhew! I hope it gets a reply.

    What's missing from this whole BPS fiasco is a failure to engage with serious criticism. I hope TEDx will engage properly with your complaint.
     
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  16. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Great letter, clearly and, though forceful, objectively argued.
     
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  17. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Brilliant letter. And I've only just twigged you are @Carly Maryhew who co-authored the preliminary reanalysis of the PACE trial. Brilliant to see you here :).
     
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  18. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

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    The letter is getting a lot of love in Facebook-land as well
    Code:
    https://www.facebook.com/sci4me/posts/499923017060779
     
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  19. Ruth

    Ruth Established Member

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  20. Ruth

    Ruth Established Member

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    Fantastic letter. Thank you for that mammoth effort. It will be hard to ignore such clear breaches of TEDX s own standards.
     
    Joh, Louie41, Jan and 16 others like this.

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