Science Media Centre

From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history

The Science Media Centre (or SMC) is an organisation formed in 2000 to encourage more accurate reporting of science in the media. When notable scientific papers are published, the Science Media Centre will often publish a page of "expert opinion" which journalists will then commonly re-purpose in their published work. The Science Media Centre has published a number of expert opinions on ME/CFS.[1] It is a controversial organisation that has received significant criticism.

Controversy[edit | edit source]

"Militant" patient[edit | edit source]

The Science Media Centre has played a role in placing articles with the angle that a small group of "abusive" ME patients are driving researchers, namely psychiatrists studying cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy, from the field. This story has been repeated in the UK media for nearly a decade, chiefly via reporting by Kate Kelland (Reuters), Tom Feilden (BBC), and Rod Liddle (Sunday Times).

The SMC claims to have been the source of Feilden's original 2011 reporting on threats and harassment to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome researchers. Feilden won an award from the UK Press Gazette for this reporting, and was nominated by the SMC.[2][3] Prof. Simon Wessely of Kings College London, a colleague of PACE trial co-author and Oxford University professor, Michael Sharpe, was the source and subject Feilden's story, and is on the SMC board of trustees.[4] Kelland is featured in the Science Media Centre's promotional materials.[5][6]

Month Day Year Author Headline Publication
March 19 2019 Kate Kelland "Online activists are silencing us, scientists say" Reuters
March 18 2019 Tom Feilden BBC Radio 4 Today
March 17 2019 Rod Liddle "Always fatigued — yet they never tire of claiming their malady really is a virus" The Sunday Times
October 17 2018 Kate Kelland "Science journal to withdraw chronic fatigue review amid patient activist complaints" Reuters
November 7 2015 Rod Liddle "The ME lobby is just a symptom of our stupidity about mental illness" The Spectator
July 29 2011 Tom Feilden "'Torrent of abuse' hindering ME research" BBC Radio 4 Today
July 27 2011 Rod Liddle "Shoot the medical messenger – see if that'll cure you" The Sunday Times

Other criticism[edit | edit source]

The Science Media Centre has been criticized for being a "lobby group".[7]

Patients with ME/CFS have criticised the Science Media Centre for focusing its output on psychological and psychiatric expert opinions on ME/CFS and the fact that they house the disease within their Mental Health section.[8][9]

It has also been criticised for bias toward corporate interests.[10]

Fiona Fox, director of the SMC, has debated a critic about the value of the SMC.[11]

Professor James Coyne has criticized the Science Media Centre for what he sees as lobbying against open-data in science.[12]

Professor Malcolm Hooper has criticized the Science Media Centre coverage of the disease.[13]

It was found upon investigation that the Science Media Centre were behind the media publicity blitz in 2011 of allegations of harassment of researchers by patients during the year when the PACE trial results were published and criticised. [14][15]

In August 2017, David Tuller criticized the Science Media Centre's published "expert opinions" in relation to criticism of the PACE trial.[16]

A blog criticising and questioning Fiona Fox was published by John Peters in response to her 'Inconvenient Truths' blogpost [17].

Notable people[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Search results for (cfs/me)
  2. "Review of the first three years of the mental health research function at the Science Media Centre" (PDF).
  3. Topple, Steve (March 18, 2019). "The media is waging a coordinated war against chronically ill and disabled people". Mr Topple. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  4. "governance | Science Media Centre". Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  5. "a short film about the SMC | Science Media Centre". Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  6. "Views from the front line | Essays on the Science Media Center" (PDF). October 2010.
  7. McKie, Robin (June 2, 2002). "Lobby group 'led GM thriller critics'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  8. Voices from the Shadows. "Reflections on "Voices from the Shadows"". Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  9. Williams, Margaret. "The Media and ME". Invest in ME Research. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  10. SciDev.Net. "UK's Science Media Centre lambasted for pushing corporate science". SciDev.Net. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  11. "Science media centers & the press, part 1". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  12. Coyne, James C. (January 31, 2016). "Further insights into war against data sharing: Science Media Centre's letter writing campaign to UK Parliament". Quick Thoughts. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  13. The Role of the Science Media Centre and the Insurance Industry in ME/CFS: the facts behind the fiction
  14. Science Media Centre (March 2013). "Supporting experts targeted by extremists" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 18, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  15. Science Media Centre (October 2011). "Threats of Persecution | SMC Anniversary Brochure" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 6, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  16. Tuller, David (August 2, 2017). "Trial by Error: The Science Media Centre's Desperate Efforts to Defend PACE". Virology blog. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  17. Peters, John (October 20, 2017). "A Response to Fiona Fox". johnthejack. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  18. "staff | Science Media Centre". Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  19. "governance | Science Media Centre". Retrieved October 15, 2018.