My letter to organizer of 4th Columbia Psychosomatics Conference

Yesterday I sent an email to Dr. Landa who had previously written to David Tuller about the 4th Columbia Psychosomatics Conference (link to David’s post). Like David, I was unhappy about Dr. Landa’s note so I decided to write her and see if she might respond better to a Columbia colleague. Apparently my faith in collegiality is misplaced – as of this writing I have not had a response. My email to Dr. Landa is reproduced below.

18 October 2018

Dear Dr. Landa:

I am writing to lend support to the protests surrounding Per Fink€™s participating in this weekend€™s Psychosomatic Conference, and to protest your email to my colleague, David Tuller.

Dr. Tuller is a Berkeley faculty and journalist who has been writing about ME/CFS on my blog, He has worked to expose bad research in the field, including the PACE trial. I fully support his work. Another Columbia faculty, Bruce Levin, has co-signed letters on these faulty studies on the blog. For you to write off David€™s recent post is not acceptable. He has valid concerns should be addressed. Perhaps you are too busy to do so, but it€™s not a good reason.

I want to join the voices who are complaining about having Fink participate in the conference. This is simply unacceptable. Having him speak at a Columbia conference is tantamount to validating his views €“ that is exactly how the outside world will perceive this. It€™s why there will be a protest Saturday morning.

You wrote to Dr. Tuller that ME/CFS is not the focus of the conference. It doesn€™t matter: even if there is just one mention of the disease in one talk, it will be a focus because there are so many patients and others who follow work in the field and will take note. And that comment ignores the real problem of Fink, who has had a hand in ME/CFS.

I€™m sure you are aware of Fink€™s poor record in dealing with persistent medical conditions. As just one example, I quote Dr. Tuller: You have decided to invite to your gathering a man involved in what can only be called the *egregious mistreatment [see note at end] of a vulnerable young Danish woman diagnosed with the illness you have just indicated is a serious organic disease. This *mistreatment, conducted with the full authority of the state, was considered justified based on the sorts of claims about functional somatic disorders being presented at Columbia this weekend.

Given this record, it is quite clear that Fink should not be speaking at Columbia. It is your meeting and you can invite who you wish, but we also have the right to protest his presence.

Dr. Tuller has a very large following and merits a better response to his concerns and those of the ME/CFS community. Perhaps Columbia PR has advised you to send Dr. Tuller a form letter. As a Columbia colleague, I€™m asking you to respond to his concerns, and those of the ME/CFS community. Thank you.

Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D.
Higgins ProfessorDepartment of Microbiology & Immunology
Columbia University, New York |
“Tanto sa ciascuno quanto opera”


*In his own letter to Dr Landa, Dr Tuller used a phrase that he later decided was inappropriate, and he removed it from his “Trial By Error” post. I have done the same in quoting his response here.

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