Prof Sharpe Fact-Checks Comment on Blog About How George Monbiot Is Causing Long COVID

By David Tuller, DrPH

*April is crowdfunding month at Berkeley. I conduct this project as a senior fellow in public health and journalism at the university’s Center for Global Public Health. If you would like to support the project with a donation to Berkeley (tax-deductible for US taxpayers), here’s the place:

In a surprising development, Professor Michael Sharpe has left a comment on a blog I posted yesterday. The blog was about Professor Sharpe’s apparent belief that Guardian columnist George Monbiot and Long COVID support groups, among others, are causing the wave of prolonged symptoms being reported by many thousands of people after confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19.

Most of all, I want to thank Professor Sharpe for reading Virology Blog! His comment wasn’t even directly about the blog itself. He was actually correcting a misstatement made by a previous commenter. I’m impressed! When it comes to Virology Blog, at least, Professor Sharpe really gets in deep and whacks through the weeds. Even I don’t always make it through the comments–some can be quite long!!–so I am gratified that someone of his stature is fact-checking them. An honor, Professor!

I hope Professor Sharpe chooses to comment again in future. His contributions and observations are always welcome—especially during Berkeley’s crowdfunding period. (Have I mentioned yet that April is a crowdfunding month for campus projects?)

Professor Sharpe has intervened previously in Berkeley’s crowdfunding campaigns. Three years ago, he tweeted about how my existence created a burden that he and other researchers had to bear. To demonstrate the weight of the burden I represented, he retweeted a link to that year’s campaign. Many people responded by thanking Professor Sharpe for reminding them to donate. Total funds rose dramatically over the next couple of days.

Two years ago, Professor Sharpe starred as a heroic scientist battling unhinged and possible dangerous harassers in a Reuters article that portrayed me as an ME/CFS Pied Piper of sorts, raking in untold sums from gullible patients around the world. The Reuters article ran that year in March—right before the April crowdfunding campaign. Multiple donors mentioned the Reuters article as a factor in their decision to donate to Berkeley in support of my work.

When I first saw Professor Sharpe’s name among the commenters earlier today, I thought it must be a joke. I mean, someone recently donated to Berkeley’s crowdfunding campaign with the name Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was not, in fact, that Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Have I mentioned yet that April is a crowdfunding month for campus projects?)

However, when I checked into it, this Michael Sharpe’s e-mail was from Oxford University—so I figured it was indeed that Michael Sharpe. Here’s what he wrote: “I do believe the word ‘hysterical’ is Dr Tuller.“

Weird. I didn’t understand. What was he trying to say? Was he accusing me of being the hysterical one? As I scanned the comments preceding his, it became clear what had happened. This paragraph in my post was the source of the problem:

“Here’s what seems to be Professor Sharpe’s basic point: We wouldn’t be hearing from all these anxiety-ridden, depressed, hysterical and deluded people (mostly women) if they weren’t being convinced that there’s a thing called Long COVID by patient disinformation and fearmongers like George Monbiot.” (Italics in the original.)

One commenter misread what I wrote and seemed to impute the word “hysterical” to Professor Sharpe. After that, Professor Sharpe himself weighed in. So it seems that, in response to what he read in the comments, he was correcting the record: ‘hysterical’ was a word I, David Tuller, used, not one he used in his presentation.

In other words, here’s what he meant to write: “I do believe the word ‘hysterical’ is Dr Tuller’s.” He left off the apostrophe and the ‘s.’  Got it! We’ve all done that. I’m sure I’ve done worse!

Ok, then. No disagreement from me. I used “hysterical” in a passage that I presented as how I interpreted Professor Sharpe’s point. I didn’t suggest or indicate “hysterical” was his word. Any misunderstanding on the commenter’s part was unintentional, and Professor Sharpe did not suggest otherwise. As I gather, he was just making sure everyone knew what was what.

I’m glad Professor Sharpe clarified that point. I am also perplexed, tickled and touched that he felt such a compelling need to correct an insignificant comment under a post of mine on Virology Blog. But hey, why not?

Maybe now Professor Sharpe can also finally clarify why 13% of the PACE sample was already “within normal range” or “recovered” on the key outcome measure of physical function at baseline, and why that statistical anomaly was not disclosed in the trial reports. Does Professor Sharpe understand that failure to disclose such a salient fact seems to meet standard definitions of research misconduct? .

Professor Sharpe—please feel free to comment!

Oh, and have I mentioned that April is a crowdfunding month for Berkeley campus projects?


11 responses to “Prof Sharpe Fact-Checks Comment on Blog About How George Monbiot Is Causing Long COVID”

  1. Max Banfield Avatar
    Max Banfield

    Professor Sharpe also needs to clarify the fact that the Pacing method is just a renaming of my method of treating chronic fatigue which I developed between 1975 & 82 to treat my own chronic fatigue, and that it is unethical for healthy, wealthy & educated people to steal from a sick & disabled person who had to do his own research because the old methods were ridiculous & dangerous & useless bullshit that nearly killed me.
    Max Banfield, Banfield Research, Modbury, South Australia.

  2. Max Banfield Avatar
    Max Banfield

    Regarding my recent comment: The link to my 1982 research paper appears to have been deleted from the base of my article in the online version of The British Medical Journal. It has been there in the past?
    Anyone who read it or found out about my methods decades earlier could have easily copied it, given it a label, and fraudulently claimed to be the developer.
    Max Banfield, Banfield Research, Modbury, South Australia

  3. UkMum Avatar

    Thank you Professor Sharpe for the reminder to donate. Discovering this blog helped me keep my son safe from these people. Keep up the good work Mr. Tuller.

  4. CT Avatar

    Thanks for the explanation, I wondered what was going on. It’s true that the use of the word ‘hysterical’ was “Dr Tuller’s” in this case, but it seems that Professor Sharpe hasn’t minded employing it in the past along with the word ‘hysteria’, as in this 2008 paper - So, to my mind, the commenter’s first post –
    “….Professor Sharpe’s use of the word “hysterical” is inherently sexist in the first place, having its root in the Greek word for a womb “hystera”. It’s a word that is never applied to men”
    – is still valid, and her second post just needs the ‘here’ removed, with her permission, if that’s possible? Would Professor Sharpe be content with that? Or does he perhaps regret his previous paper?

  5. CT Avatar

    If we’re discussing sexism in relation to the BPS model then we shouldn’t forget this 2005 paper – – by Stone, Carson and Sharpe, where, in the section on past medical history, medics are advised that previous surgery such as laparoscopy, appendicectomy and hysterectomy at a young age might suggest previous attempts by doctors to treat functional symptoms, and therefore indicate that the patient’s presenting symptoms may be functional too. How prejudiced is that? A woman gets her womb removed, possibly unnecessarily by some dinosaur of a gynaecologist, and she’s now under suspicion of having functional symptoms?

    I was advised to have a hysterectomy at a young age (in connection with an indisputable biomedical condition) by a prat in a dickie bow tie who, when I asked what the alternatives might be, told me that there were plenty of patients waiting outside in his waiting room who valued his opinion and if I didn’t like or accept it I knew what to do. Or something like that. I suspect that was typical of the sexism in medicine at that time (early 90s). I walked out and didn’t return, instead purchasing Vicki Hufnagel’s book “No more hysterectomies” the same day. Two decades later, after being treated by an excellent, non-sexist surgeon and declining hysterectomy for a considerable time, I left the decision whether or not to have my ageing womb removed up to the gynaecologist who was performing surgery on me. (Unfortunately the excellent one had retired by then). However, nobody bothered to tell me that he’d chosen to remove it for some considerable time after the surgery, despite me repeatedly asking the staff. Apparently these small details aren’t that important. So I was furious a few years later when a doctor insinuated that I’d had the hysterectomy for no good reason, that I’d somehow put pressure on my doctors to perform it. Where could they possibly have got that idea from, I wondered?

  6. Trudie Cooler Avatar
    Trudie Cooler

    Thanks David for explaining. I was terribly confused, but then I’m often confused by Prof Sharpe’s ramblings on Twitter because they make little sense. The grammar, use of English and punctuation are often questionable, so much so I have wondered if there’s a junior typing up his tweets for him?

    Then I’m reminded of the quality of his research and various presentations I’ve watched on you tube and yes, yes it’s definitely Sharpe.

    Must thank him again for the timely reminder of your fabulous fundraiser. He really is rather good at PR for you.

    Thank you David for your wonderful work.

  7. Simon Weasley Avatar
    Simon Weasley


    It’s been thirty years posing as a shrink in the muggle world, and I still haven’t been found out. Don’t know the first thing about psychiatry or medicine, but the muggle medical authorities don’t seem to either, so… Thought I was gonna be found out for sure when Joanne started writing those books about my family a few years back. I guess that white hair dye really worked after all… Touching up those ginger roots every weekend is a nightmare, though. Oh well… I’m rambling. It’s been a long day at the office.

    Off to the Burrow!

  8. Lady Shambles Avatar
    Lady Shambles

    “Weird. I didn’t understand. What was he trying to say? Was he accusing me of being the hysterical one? ”

    Well ‘Lady Shambles’ also got the wrong end of the stick but as a moderator on a Facebook page intimated yesterday, it’s hard to make sense of an illiterate comment when it’s supposed to come from an Oxford professor.
    I see the same mod had already posted the link to the ‘Hysteria’ paper which CT has added above. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea for Sharpe to object so publicly to the use of the word ‘hysteria’ … it only drives people to google that word and his name .. ’nuff said.

  9. M. Knapp Avatar
    M. Knapp

    “We wouldn’t be hearing from all these anxiety-ridden, depressed, hysterical and deluded people (mostly women) if they weren’t being convinced that there’s a thing called Long COVID by patient disinformation and fearmongers like George Monbiot.” I LOVE this reasoning. It’s sort of how nutty parents believe that kids would never discover sex if you just didn’t mention it to them. So, according to this reasoning, people with symptoms of Long Covid such as (according to Google) — Muscle pain or headache, Fast or pounding heartbeat, Loss of smell or taste, Memory, concentration or sleep problems.
    Rash or hair loss. — following a Covid infection, they would never realize they had these symptoms or complain about them or try to put a name to this group of symptoms if no one mentioned Long Covid. Or, for that matter (Playing Devil’s Advocate and following the offered reasoning to its obvious conclusion) IF THERE WAS a huge group of people suddenly suffering from anxiety, depression, delusion and hysteria ( I love that archaic language. Hysteria is not really a specific condition in modern medicine. That’s quite an exercise in hyperbole, one might even call it hysterical), that these people would not talk about this scary disorienting attack of mental health disorders following a COVID infection, try to describe what’s happening to them, or try to put a word to it, or ask for help. In arguments like this, people who put off patients as “hysterical” never address the obvious question — WHY is a large group of people SUDDENLY anxious, depressed, hysterical and delusional following a COVID infection?!!! If you are a friggin’ doctor, then you have not eliminated your problem with these patients and their symptoms, you have only discovered another set of symptoms to resolve. As the doctor, it is STILL your job to explain this sudden outbreak of mental health disorders linked to a viral infection, and then TREAT AND CURE the affected individuals. So, what has caused this huge outbreak of mental health disorder and how do we cure it? Don’t even try to suggest that the creation of one new word in the dictionary that did it. If that’s the case, then there wouldn’t be anyone sane left alive. We come up with new words every day. So, is COVID, instead of causing rashes and hair loss, really causing delusion, anxiety, hysteria, etc? In fact, is it causing mass hysteria, where all these delusional people believe have simulataneous similar delusions (a bit hard to swallow, that one)? If so, it would STILL be a medical problem. And, it would be easy to determine. Do these supposedly hysterical people have hair loss? Rashes? Do they have a sense of smell? We don’t have to debate these things on a blog. A real scientist can just check. And, BTW — ironically, anxiety and depression ARE ACTUALLY observed in patients after a bout with COVID, so they are in fact symptoms of Long Covid, so in arguing that Long Covid patients are just anxious and depressed, one is actually ACKNOWLEDGING that patients ARE suffering specific medical symptoms after a bout with COVID, so in fact, one is acknowledging Long Covid, just debating which are the primary symptoms of it.

  10. jimells Avatar

    The Wessely & Sharpe Clown Car does offer a bit of entertainment now and then. I wonder how many psychobabblers can fit in those tiny cars.

    Perhaps Professor Sharpe can get a million pound grant to study the question.

  11. lucie webb Avatar
    lucie webb

    reply to Simon Weasley: How’s the Alzheimers coming along? isn’t your wife’s name Clare?
    reply to Jane: But what if your problem is an inability to gain weight? i.e. malabsorption?