Bristol University Research Scandal - Esther Crawley

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#1
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#1
I thought people could be interested in the problems with a researcher at Bristol University.

There's a wide range of problems with Esther Crawley's work.

She decuded to use children as the participants in the SMILE trial, the first trial of Phil Parker's quacky 'Lightning Process ". While she has still failed to publish results from this trial (although the trial registration state the recruitment end date as being 31/03/2013) she is now recruiting for MAGENTA. Both of these trials were nonblinded with subjective self-report questionnaires for their primary outcomes (although originally SMILE had been intended to use objectively verified school attendance), meaning that results could never be reliable.

Prof Coyne blogged on these here: http://blogs.plos.org/mindthebrain/2...be-considered/

Crawley failed to seek appropriate ethical approval for some of her research on children: http://www.virology.ws/2017/08/28/tr...absence-study/

Crawley has been a key promoter of the PACE trial, a seriously flawed piece of research which recently led to a special issue being published by the Journal of Health Psychology: http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/hpqa/22/9

Over a hundred academics and patient groups have called for the retraction of a paper which used spun and inaccurate statistics to claim the PACE showed a recovery rate of 22% for the researcher's prefered treatments: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/o...-syndrome.html

Crawley made even more exaggerateed and indefensible claims, publishing a paper which stated that PACE "indicated a recovery rate of 30-40% one year after treatment." http://www.centreforwelfarereform.or...ial/00296.html

Are any of Bristol's students aware of these problems? Any way of raising concern about these matters to try to stop them from getting worse?
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#2
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#2
The SMILE trial results came out, and once again what would have been null results have been spun into excitingly postive headlines.

David Tuller has written two explanations of the problems with the trial and the way it was promoted:

http://www.virology.ws/2017/12/13/tr...icles-resumed/
http://www.virology.ws/2017/12/18/tr...-media-centre/

James Coyne has also had two guest comments on his blog:

https://mindthebrain.blog/2017/10/02...s-smile-trial/
https://mindthebrain.blog/2017/10/05...od-to-be-true/

Is conducting a study to assess the efficacy of a healing process created by someone who claimed to have developed an “ability to step into other people’s bodies over the years to assist them in their healing with amazing results” then it might be best to be cautious and rigorous in ones approach. Instead, Crawley seems to have used her usual low standards for her research.
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#3
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#3
There's a new piece on SMILE in Buzzfeed, although it fails to go into the details explained above:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomchivers/...prX#.bfaqk6l1b

Perhaps the most enlightening quote is from one of Prof Crawley's supporters:

Dorothy Bishop, a professor of developmental neuropsychology at the University of Oxford, told BuzzFeed News she was also concerned about the “wisdom of running a trial [into something] that doesn’t seem to have much scientific basis and is commercial, because if you find a result you end up giving huge kudos to something that may not deserve it”.
“I don’t want to come down like a ton of bricks on Esther Crawley because I think she’s doing her best,” she said, but she was concerned about a “a mega-placebo effect”.
Does it matter whether she is 'doing her best' or whether she is producing credible research? For the patients whose lives may be affected by her findings, or for the students whose education and careers depend upon he competence, is it really just the thought that counts?

There is also a serious concern that no-one at Bristol University really understands Crawely's research or why it is being criticised. A number of senior Bristol Professors are on the peripherary of all this, but their public comments seem to indicate that they have little understanding of the real issues, and instead are being guided by faith in Crawley, and prejudices against her critics. Instead of encouraging open debate, Bristol appear to be trying to apply pressure behind the scenes to get critics shut up. They also seem unwillng to comment upon their own tactics:

Edwards, a former colleague of Crawley’s, told BuzzFeed News the letter “raises serious concerns about the probity of the University of Bristol”. Bristol said it didn’t feel it was appropriate to comment on this.
This is not how science is supposed to work, and is not a good advertisement for Bristol Uni.
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#4
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#4
Here's another new article with lots of critical stuff about PACE and the way CFS has been treated in the Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/lo...ml#commentsDiv

Meanwhile Nature has an article on the required 'reboot' for CFS researcher:
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-017-08965-0

It mentions criticism of PACE, but doesn't go into any detail on it.
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#5
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#5
A couple of open-letters from US academics raising concern about serious problems with Crawley's work:

http://www.virology.ws/2018/01/30/tr...-in-childhood/

http://www.virology.ws/2018/02/19/tr...r-to-bmj-open/

Also, it seems that in order to make problems with one of Crawley's studies seem less serious than they are, a journal editor submitted a misleading summary of the issue to the Committee on Publication Ethics: http://www.virology.ws/2018/01/02/tr...udy-revisited/

Also, MP for Gaslgow North West and member of Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, Carol Monaghan, has secured a Westminster Hall debate on the problems surrounding the PACE trial. Esther Crawley described this international embarassment as a "great, great trial". I hope that she does not instil such low standards in her students. http://www.carol.monaghan.scot/2018/02/07/pace-trial/
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#6
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
#6
Hansard transcript of the PACE trial debate now available. Includes this contribution from Monaghan: "I think that when the full details of the trial become known, it will be considered one of the biggest medical scandals of the 21st century."
https://hansard.parliament.uk/common...alPeopleWithME
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