Thursday, 8 November 2012

John Maddox Award...& a gorgeous novel

This is, sadly, not an early April Fool, but Professor Simon Wessely has been named as one of the recipients of the inaugural John Maddox award - for those individuals 'standing up for science and showing courage in the face of acute hostility'. I am sure the other recipient, Chinese writer Fang Shi-min, is indeed an inspiring and courageous scientist, but  in the case of Simon it is a dangerous absurdity to reward him - it only perpetuates the  damage and nonsense of conflating ME with 'chronic fatigue syndrome'. Oh, and I am not a terrorist, to anybody in the Simon camp reading this - I am a writer who has had a virally-triggered neuroimmune illness since 1982 which has, in many ways, ruined my life. Simon Wessely and his friends have offered me nothing except a disturbing, distorted narrative of my illness (I am not depressed, except when Simon gets ill-deserved prizes!). 

I honestly don't know how those who remain severely ill with ME cope with his 'bravado', and I can only think there is currently a shortage of brave scientists and acute hostility, for Simon to have bagged this. It's an act of appalling scientific ignorance to give him this prize, the continued blinkered back patting is frankly terrifying, I could weep.

*Has been pointed out to me that Simon is on the advisory council of Sense about Science, who are joint initiators of the award with Nature. So that may explain a little... there actually is no other explanation. He's just giving himself a wee prize. Worrying, though,  to see the so called 'scientific' community, blithely tweeting in celebration of Simon's achievement. Their blinkers remain stuck on with Superglue. This is a gross insult to everyone with my illness.

** One of the judges, Professor Colin Blakemore - also on the advisory council - said earlier this week in the Times: If scientists are silent, loony ideas will win. Why reward the loony ideas, then? I am compelled to ask.
And something far more important, I have discovered a gorgeous novel 'Cracking India' by Bapsi Sidhwa (originally published as Ice Candy Man) - it's about Partition from the point of view of a young Parsee girl in Lahore, who happens to have polio. She is witty as hell. I am only 50 pages in, but I love it.


Alison said...

I got an email about this on election day from a neuroscientist friend who read it in Nature, saw it had to do with CFS, and sent it my way. I tried the best I could to write back and tell her how much this upset me.

I just read your discussion in comments with Wesseley. Am frustrated, confused, disillusioned. Also very impressed with you. You are quite a champion for ME. Keep it up (when we have to)

I just hope the day will come soon enough when there will be enough science to finally convince people beyond a doubt just who wrong and self serving Simon Wesseley's work really is.

nmj said...

Am so happy Obama won!

Am also disillusioned and angry and hurt by the crap surrounding this illness. It never stops. And is so very, very sapping having to write about it, but must try to educate, and show them the other narrative, the patient's narrative...

Take care, my dear. I am up so late, 20 minsafter midnight, will become a pumpkin, must sleep.