Maddox Prize award to Professor Simon Wessely | Letters page, The Independent on Sunday | 13 January 2013

From Letters Page, The Independent on Sunday, 13 January 2013.

Scientific understanding always depends upon sound evidence. According to Sir Paul Nurse FRS: “The John Maddox Prize is an exciting new initiative to recognise bold scientists who battle to ensure that sense, reason and evidence base play a role in the most contentious debates.” For scientific understanding to prevail, the extensive biomedical evidence base of ME/CFS [myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome] must now be recognised by all researchers in the field.

The idea that ME/CFS is due to a dysfunctional psyche is a hypothesis without an evidence base. The Maddox Prize was thereby awarded to the defender of a hypothesis with no evidence base rather than to someone who was upholding true scientific inquiry. Personal attacks against Professor Sir Simon Wessely do not advance the cause, but it is scientifically legitimate to direct criticism at the hypothesis both he and Professor White continue to espouse.

The Countess of Mar

Professor Malcolm Hooper

Dr William Weir

House of Lords, London SW1