Trial By Error: A Crowdfunding Wrap-Up

By David Tuller, DrPH

This wrap-up is almost two weeks late, but things keep cropping up! It goes without saying that I am extremely gratified by the support for my April crowdfunding on Berkeley’s in-house platform. The university received 1025 donations totally $103,283 for “Trial By Error.” Of those donations, the most–384–came from the UK. That was more than twice as many as the 184 donations from the US. Next came Norway and Sweden, with 107 and 104 donations, respectively, followed by Australia with 68 and–a tie!–both Canada and the Netherlands with 30.

The funds go directly to the Center for Global Public Health–my home unit at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health–to support my academic position as Senior Fellow in Public Health and Journalism for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2019. After Berkeley takes a 5% gift fee and a 2.5% credit card fee (except from the few donations made in the form of paper checks), the Center will receive about $95,000. That amount will cover my salary at between 55% and 60% time, plus health insurance and other state employment benefits, with several thousand left over to help with travel expenses. (I will provide a more exact accounting after the start of the fiscal year.)

From Berkeley’s perspective, I am doing what academics are expected to do–bringing in money. Funding is funding, whether it comes in one big chunk from a single source or in lots of smaller pieces. When I started “Trial By Error,” it was an unfunded side project I pursued while I spent most of my work time on my main Berkeley job responsibilities. These days, this project is my main Berkeley job responsibility.

From the start, my Berkeley colleagues have urged me on. They recognized immediately that PACE was a methodological and ethical disaster. The 2011 Lancet paper has been used in Berkeley epidemiology seminars in recent years as an excellent pedagogical tool–a case study of terrible research. Half a dozen Berkeley faculty have signed one or more of Virology Blog’s open letters. Most importantly, the university itself has supported my right, as a Berkeley academic and journalist, to investigate this body of research and express my strong opinions about the deficiencies I have found. In today’s world, having that freedom is a luxury. I do not take it lightly.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Jackie Goold 14 May 2019, 12:57 pm

    Thank you for your hard work David and thanks to to your colleagues and your University for recognising it’s importance and supporting your freedom to investigate and inform.

  • Craig Morris 14 May 2019, 12:57 pm

    This is such wonderful news. Things in the UK and much of Europe are still so medieval when it comes to ME that the light your shining in dark places is desperately needed.

  • Jo Bruce 14 May 2019, 12:57 pm

    You get the donations because your work is invaluable. You do for us, that which we cannot do for ourselves. We will be forever in your debt.

  • Jen 14 May 2019, 2:17 pm

    Looking forward to reading your progress this year, so grateful your valuable and valued work was rewarded by financial support.

  • Richard Vallee 14 May 2019, 2:57 pm

    Happy to have contributed to this important work. The full impact will take years to unfold but your work will be critical to ending the human rights disaster surrounding this horrible disease.

    The truth always wins in the end.

  • Ian McIlroy 14 May 2019, 8:10 pm

    So many owe you so much David. Thank you for continuing on with the work and for what you have already done to highlight the issues and challenge those snake oil salesmen who have done so much harm to ME sufferers and who have held up progress in finding answers to this rotten illness for so many years. I look forward to following your work this year, as you continue working on our behalf. And the fact that your work has been funded by the ME community, the sufferers themselves, well I don’t think that there can be any better endorsement for what you are doing.

  • Couch Turnip 15 May 2019, 2:33 am

    Well worth every penny/cent etc. I’m so glad that David has stuck with this project. Apart from being a gifted journalist with a particularly pleasing way with words, he also has integrity and a dogged determination to get to and expose the truth, (a pretty rare combination I reckon).

  • Linn 15 May 2019, 6:46 pm

    I am so grateful you will be with us one more year. I believe 2019-2020 will be even more important.

    Since MUS also called MUPS in Scandinavia, is starting to be implemented in several countries. A “re-branding” of ME/CFS in MUS (MUPS) will be devastating. This illness has been robbed of quality research for decades. I fear MUS will be a new way to keep ME/CFS patients quiet.

    Also I have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart; for not giving up when met with so much resistance and ridicule. I am also so grateful for Berkeley and colleagues recognizing the severity of the situation. You all give us hope and strength to keep on fighting.

  • Paul Watton 18 May 2019, 6:38 am

    We, the ME patient community, are very fortunate that you have chosen to dedicate your considerable intellect and writing talent in order to pursue scientific honesty and transparency on our behalf.
    It’s a shameful indictment of the lack of meaningful scientific integrity here in the U.K., that it’s even necessary for you to have to do this, but you do a great job.
    Thank you.

  • Nancy Blake 18 May 2019, 8:26 pm

    This is such good news…..not only that you have the scope to carry on your work, but also that you have so much support from your institution as a whole and from individuals who seem able to appreciate the importance of your work and the scientific integrity..and determination…with which you are doing it. Take good care of yourself, and thank you so much. (& maybe employ someone to taste your food in certain academic environments in the UK! )

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