St Cross Special Ethics Seminar with Michael Sharpe

Thursday, June 1, 2017
Event type: 

Date: Thursday 1 June, 17:30 – 19:00

Venue:  The Lecture Theatre, St Cross College, St Giles, Oxford

Title: Science, Politics and the Internet: Challenges for Research into Contested Illness

Abstract: Some areas of scholarship are politicised.  That is, organised groups of people have developed strong views for or against certain fields of research and certain findings arising from these. 

Whilst we may generally regard openness, interconnectedness and the patient voice the internet offers as a good thing, it also present a major challenge for researchers in ‘contested fields’.  The use of such co-ordinated pressure group action against science was prominently seen in the field of climate change research but is now emerging in other areas. 

Chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME for short) is one of these.  The particular issue is the role of psychiatric or psychological approaches in the treatment of such patients.  Protest against this form of enquiry has been present for decades.  However, the increasing use of social media and blogs have co-ordinated and expanded the protest to an international one.  It also provides the tool for the coordinated harassment of researchers by email, the issuing of repeated and co-ordinated freedom of information requests and the publication of comment on numerous blogs.

The implications of these internet-enabled protests for the future of science will be explored.

Speaker:  Michael Sharpe is Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Oxford, consultant psychiatrist and Fellow of St Cross College. After initially studying Experimental Psychology in Oxford he trained in Medicine and then in Psychiatry in London, Cambridge and Oxford.  His research has focussed on how best to integrate psychiatric and medical care for people with chronic medical illnesses, especially cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome.  Professor Sharpe was the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists “Psychiatric Academic of the Year” in 2009 and ‘Psychiatrist of the year’ in 2014.  He received the Don R Lipsett award for achievement in integrated care from the American Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine in 2015 and the Alison Creed award from the European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine (EAPM) in 2016.

Booking: INTERNAL.  This event is open to members of Oxford University only.  Email to reserve a place.