Hillary J. Johnson 19 July 2006 I applaud Science, and Jocelyn Kaiser, for refusing to take the Center for Disease Control's latest foray into elucidating chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) at face value. In doing so, you distinguished your journal from most newspapers and wire services who covered the agency's press conference on the subject. I am the author of Osler's Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic (Crown 1996), which first broke the story of the agency's fiscal malfeasance regarding CFS and launched two federal investigations of the agency, both of which fully corroborated my own investigative reporting on the subject. The Atlanta agency's history with this disease has been much more destructive than the misuse of millions of dollars of Congressionally-earmarked money and the CDC?s subsequent lies to Congress, however. Things started to go terribly wrong when two inexperienced epidemiologists from CDC went to Lake Tahoe in 1987, two years after an outbreak of an unusual disease occurred there. With the publication of their first paper on the subject in 1988, which suggested that what they had newly named "chronic fatigue syndrome" was probably mass hysteria, the agency in effect declared war on those who suffer from this disease. Soon after, the CDC compounded the damage by issuing a wildly off-base "research definition" that defined the illness according to degrees of "fatigue." Fatigue, as the agency labels the profound exhaustion approaching paralysis that is characteristic of CFS, is only one symptom among many in this multi-system disease. In doing so, the agency set serious medical investigation back by years. Still, in the successive two decades more than 2,000 peer-reviewed articles have been published in the medical literature documenting evidence for the biological basis for this disease, according to Harvard CFS expert Anthony Komaroff. The self-serving CDC, desperately trying to bolster its tarnished reputation in this field, conveniently turned this fact on its head by claiming its new gene study was the first evidence. Traditionally, and in this latest research, CDC avoids studying patients who actually have been diagnosed by clinicians with CFS on the absurd theory that these patients probably don't have the disease. The logic is reflective of the agency's powerful belief that only its epidemiologists know what the disease is or how to define it. In this case, they avoided looking to clinicians for patients but instead sought out study subjects in a random digit-dialing effort, identifying "patients" by their degree of fatigue. But, as clinical CFS specialists will tell you, fatigue alone is hardly a legitimate marker for CFS. Very likely, the patients included in this study either don't have CFS, or they have some extremely mild form of CFS, if such a thing even exists. Even excluding the scientific failures exhibited by CDC in its highly controversial research definition, there are other reasons to disregard this latest study. Simple logic dictates that people who have avoided seeking medical help for their condition are unlikely to suffer from a a severe disease like CFS, one that has been shown in peer reviewed studies, again and again, to rival end-stage AIDS and severe congestive heart failure in its degree of morbidity. The likelihood that the CDC was even studying bona fide CFS sufferers is slim to none. As they used to say in the computer industry, GIGO? garbage in, garbage out. Expect more of the same from the CDC where this disease is concerned.