In 2006, scientists announced a provocative finding: a retrovirus called XMRV, closely related to a known virus from mice, was associated with cases of prostate cancer. But other labs, using different sets of patients, found no evidence of a viral infection. Before the controversy could be sorted out, another research group published a 2009 paper containing an even more intriguing claim. XMRV, it said, was associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a disorder that some had claimed was purely psychosomatic.
Reaction came quickly. The CFS community, viewing a viral cause as a validation of their malady, embraced the finding. One author of the XMRV/CFS paper, Judy Mikovits, landed a position as research director of a private foundation dedicated to CFS. A company associated with the foundation started offering tests for infections.
It's no surprise that patients who frequently had their disorder treated with dismissiveness would respond positively to indications that it had a concrete, biological cause. But demonizing scientists who don't support something that appeals to you is never going to end well, especially when all indications are that the scientists are being careful and thorough. Unfortunately, we're now seeing more of this sort of behavior in areas as diverse as climate change, vaccine safety, and animal research.