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Twitter activity of Professor Blanchflower

Discussion in 'General Advocacy Discussions' started by Obermann, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Obermann

    Obermann Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think that many of us have noticed the presence of Professor Danny Blanchflower on Twitter. He is an old friend of Professor Peter D White and has been aggressively defending the PACE trial. He uses abusive language—for example calls patients with ME/CFS “whiners”—and quickly blocks people who asks uncomfortable questions or make good replies.

    There is another person, James David Chapman, who acts on Twitter. He is a patient and former ME advocate, but seems to have been hurt badly in the debate and now says that he tries to stop abusive behavior. Although I think there is some merit to his claim that the debate can sometimes be overheated and that there are too many ad hominems, he has a strange way of advancing his cause. He writes numerous tweets where he unilaterally blames ME/CFS patients and advocates for the hostile tone and represents all BPS researchers as victims. If he is challenged, he refuses to engage in debate. He doesn’t block opponents; he just writes aggressive tweets where he says he wants no further contact. Ironically, the tone in these tweets can be perceived as abusive.

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    Blanchflower and Chapman have now started to interact. That means that they have created a protected arena on Twitter where they can perpetuate negative stereotypes of ME/CFS patients and advocates, but no one can challenge them because they are either blocked by Blanchflower or rejected by Chapman.

    What is the best strategy to deal with this? Ignore them? Tweet about Blanchflower, even though you are blocked? Should you respect Chapman’s requests that you don’t reply to his comments, or should you simply ignore him and reply anyway?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  2. Dr Carrot

    Dr Carrot Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Probably ignore them. At most it’s going to be Chapman, Blanchflower and David Jameson all sharing their stupid theories together, and while they’re all very irritating I don’t see what we as a community lose by just ignoring them.

    I think I asked Chapman to show me evidence of all the abuse he’s talking about once and he promptly blocked me, so. Not really a productive set of people to debate with, in my opinion.
     
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  3. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    It is unfortunate when people decide that they are leaders, when no-one wishes to follow them. Such is life.

    There may be some views which should not go unchallenged but for the most part they can probably be left talking to each other.
     
  4. Peter

    Peter Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Ignore them totally.

    Let them just speak together in they’re echo chamber.
     
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  5. EzzieD

    EzzieD Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Blanchflower blocked me just for 'Liking' some of the replies to his troll tweet comparing his broken ankle to ME (if you missed that, he declared that because physiotherapy cured his broken ankle, then GET should cure ME, and any ME sufferer who disagrees is a 'whiner') - I didn't even post to him! He has continued to troll ME sufferers (despite being blocked, I can see him via Firefox's Private Window feature), now with the help of Mr Chapman as noted above. Blanchflower is apparently some noted economist, with over 60,000 followers on Twitter and a blue checkmark next to his name so must be a fairly prominent figure, so it is hard to understand why someone of that stature would suddenly decide to make a jackass of himself both in front of all his followers and everyone else in the world on a very popular public forum, by ongoing vitriolic trolling of sufferers of a serious disease.

    It would be best if he just stayed in his own personal echo chamber, but he is carrying out this appalling behaviour in front of a worldwide public audience and blocking anyone reasonable. Best ignored at this point, but it does leave a bad taste.
     
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  6. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

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    My personal vote is to ignore them as well. Given that us patients have limited energy, using it to engage with people like these is just a waste of that resource.

    My recommendation is that if anybody finds themselves fired up by their comments and wanting to take action, make that action a positive advocacy one. Share a link to an accurate article, the donation link for the researchers/patient org of your choice or even to the forum, write to your political representative, or get involved in editing MEpedia are all examples straight off the top of my head and represent a few of the possible actions that can be done relatively easily, plus there's a chance that you'll then have a feeling of accomplishment, rather than a feeling of banging your head against a Twitter troll.
     
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  7. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    He was quite vocal at the other place. Didn't know what he was on about most of the time; I think people eventually just ignored him and he stopped posting.
    I agree with @Andy. Leave them alone to talk their gibberish; find something more useful to spend your precious energy on.
     
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  8. Sasha

    Sasha Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    If that's the kind of thing he says, he's likely only to be followed by people who like that kind of thing, and they're unlikely to be either persuadable or worth persuading.

    I agree with @Andy - don't waste your anger-energy by pouring it down that pit - do something likely to have a payoff!
     
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  9. SallyC

    SallyC Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Perfectly sums up how I feel about it.
     
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  10. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Completely ignore (never feed trolls, let them starve) but keep tabs on, would be my thinking.
     
  11. JemPD

    JemPD Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Precisely.
    Sounds like a kind of baiting, trolling etc. My take on that is not to engage, not to give them the attention they so obviously crave. It's like when perpetrators bait their victims in court trying to get a reaction out of them that they can use to illustrate the victim is 'unstable' or whatever.

    It hurts, & its infuriating, especially when the things they say are not only nasty but flat out factually inaccurate.... but engaging only draws attention to it, gives them more of a platform to spout their cr*p.

    What could be done, is someone with plenty of energy, an extremely thick skin & long fuse (& the self control to resist responding!), plus some legal knowledge, to monitor their threads for anything illegal/in breach of twitter policy, so it could be reported. And to take screen shots of their particularly egregious remarks to document what they've been doing for future reference.

    But who on earth would want to do that, even if such a person existed? I certainly wouldn't be robust enough for that even if i were physically well enough to do it. But if anyone was prepared for that horrid job it should be just 1 or 2 people so everyone else can protect themselves from the distress of having to read it when you cant do anything to change it.

    All things considered I think advocates' energy is better spent elsewhere (considering the size of the advocacy task around the whole ME issue, & the lack of able bodies/minds to complete it).

    And i cant help thinking that if 'they' ie the 'other side', can keep 'our' energies tied up on nonsense like this, the less effective we can be where it matters.
    We need to pick our battles.
     
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  12. Diluted-biscuit

    Diluted-biscuit Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I agree with others. You deal with people like this by ignoring them, they want a reaction.
     
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  13. Amw66

    Amw66 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I can' t help but think that this is a calculated distraction, the question is, from what ?
     
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  14. EzzieD

    EzzieD Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Something I noticed, and I think others have too, is that whenever there is either a Parliamentary debate on ME or a major news article favourable to ME sufferers, someone suddenly turns up on social media spewing hatred at ME sufferers. Blanchflower's trolling appeared soon after the recent House of Commons debate. Maybe coincidence, maybe not?
     
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  15. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I remember having a few exchanges with him there - he really didn't seem to value debate, or take being criticised at all well, so I worry that my responses may have helped drive him to his current campaign to undermine the work of all advocates that don't condemn every rude tweet that some random person sends. It was as if he found it personally hurtful that people didn't want to spend their time doing what he thought they should, and he wasn't really interested in understanding why it was reasonable for other people to have other priorities.

    I remember that Chapman said ME Action should out out a statement re Coyne, which they did: https://www.meaction.net/2016/03/09...s-on-abusive-attacks-within-the-me-community/

    He then seemed to instantly want them to put out another statement about someone else making rude tweets. It's as if he doesn't understand that there are millions of people who have been badly treated, and spending time investigating and condemning every possible example of bad behaviour is not feasible.

    I also thought that him arguing that Tuller tearing PACE up justified the SMC's media campaign against us was pretty ridiculous.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the SMC did try to use some patient to try to harm advocacy efforts to raise standards for ME/CFS research. There's a bit of a reoccurring theme through history to have authority figures respond to the unwashed's calls for justice by promoting someone from that group to present those working for change as dangerous extremists.

    Part of the problem with the sense everyone should constantly be calling out every possible 'abuse' is that all sorts of things can be considered abusive/harassment. I wouldn't view any of Chapman's behaviour like that, but I can also see that some of the people he targeted would have found it unpleasant. I remember arguing on PR that while I thought his tweeting was within bounds thought he was being incessant towards a few people. Though I didn't agree with what he was doing, pestering people with a hundred tweets could still be a legitimate form of campaigning imo, thought likely ineffective.

    It bugs me that there's been such a problem with many debates in society, outside of ME/CFS too, for substantive discussions to rapidly be overtaken by mutual accusations of either side being abusive/bullying/harassing. This seems really common on social media where almost any debate seems to rapidly descend from being about the issue to being about which side has more unpleasantly behaving people associated with it.

    So much of people's judgement about what is 'abusive' are founded upon factual assumptions about the way things are: eg if PACE was a solid piece of research with well justified changes to protocol defined outcomes, then you'd be more likely to view all the criticism the researchers have received as 'abusive' (and certainly the more angry comments). But if you jump to assuming that the criticism is abusive and so fail to properly investigate the specifics of the criticisms made then you've just created a little fantasy world for yourself. Equally, if you think that an advocate failing to condemn other peoples angry tweets is tantamount to an endorsement of abuse, then sending hundreds of tweets challenging them on this can seem a reasonable thing to do. When the 'abuse' debate comes before there's been time for factual debate then things can get back to front.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  16. dave30th

    dave30th Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I didn't see this particular criticism. When did he say that?
     
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  17. Suffolkres

    Suffolkres Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Blanchflower served as a Research Officer at the Institute for Employment Research at University of Warwick from 1984 to 1986, when he became a Lecturer at the Department of Economics at the University of Surrey, a post he held until 1989 when he moved to the United States.
    So he has had likely tentative associations with DWP and those who prowl around them.....

    I'd tell him to stick to ecomonics if I were him, rather than dabble in the pond or in unfamiliar territories like Disability/Occupational medicine and the research surrounding long term sickness and "work is good for you" Freud crap and mantra.....Employment Research I was told by an insider, 'massaged' the research outcome and findings under the Labour Administration (Alan Johnson no less) ...... leading to the contract with UNUM Atos et al....
     
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  18. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I remember someone drawing my attention to it ages back around when I'd had some discussion with Chapman on PR, but I think it was an old tweet and he went on to delete all his old tweets. Maybe I shouldn't mention it now it has gone.
     
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  19. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

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    It was criticism from a patient, Chapman, who doesn't seem to represent the opinion of many, if any, other patients (not just about your work but about most advocacy efforts in general). In my opinion he's not somebody that there is any need to be concerned with, his thinking on many things always came across to me as very confused - he used to post on PR and was a person whose posts I would just skip.
     
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  20. Sean

    Sean Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Expertise in one area doesn't make one an expert in other areas.

    Blanchflower isn't the first expert to make a damn fool of himself in this way, and he won't be the last.
     
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