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Quackademic medicine, COVID-19 edition, part 1: Magic amulets

“Quackademic medicine” is a term coined to describe the increasing infiltration of pseudoscience and quackery into medical academia. Unsurprisingly, we’re starting to see quackademic medicine turn its attention to COVID-19. In this case, traditional Chinese medicine is invoked to claim that magic amulets might prevent COVID-19,

The term “quackademic medicine” was coined by Dr. R. W. Donnell in 2008 to describe the increasing infiltration of quackery and pseudoscience into medical academia in the form of what was then called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and has since largely been rebranded as “integrative medicine” or “integrative health.” It’s a term that I like to think I played a large role in popularizing, but, alas, I can’t take credit for coining the term “quackademic medicine,” but it perfectly describes what’s going on in institutions like UC-Irvine (which embraced homeopathy and got a $200 million gift to transform its medical school into a bastion of quackery), the Cleveland Clinic (which has embraced functional medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, while producing at least one antivaccine faculty member), Thomas Jefferson University (which now has a truly quacky department of integrative medicine), UC-SD (which numbers Deepak Chopra as faculty and does bogus research with him), and many more too numerous to list here. Then there’s the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), formerly known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), whose motto seems to be “let’s try some real science for a change!” and whose leadership was recently taken over by a believer in acupuncture who’s published all sorts of dubious research to “prove” a biological mechanism by which it “works.” Now quackademic medicine is taking on COVID-19.

Casting doubt on germ theory

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in March, the flurry of scientific studies, good, bad, mediocre, and pseudoscientific, was enough to make you snowblind. So it should come as no surprise that quackademic medicine would see a huge opportunity for “research” into using various magic to treat or prevent COVID-19. I was only surprised that I hadn’t noticed much quackademic research on COVID-19—yet. Or maybe it was just that I wasn’t paying as much attention as I could. Be that as it may, so it was that I saw this Tweet yesterday:

Whoa. I haven’t even seen the quacks claiming that amulets could prevent COVID-19! Yet, here we find investigators at the University of Pittsburgh publishing a paper like this! This was so bizarre that I almost decided to resurrect Your Friday Dose of Woo for it, but ultimately decided a more conventional dose of Insolence is warranted for this incredible bit of quackademic medicine. I mean, look at the title! It’s just incredible: Can Traditional Chinese Medicine provide insights into controlling the COVID-19 pandemic: Serpentinization-induced lithospheric long-wavelength magnetic anomalies in Proterozoic bedrocks in a weakened geomagnetic field mediate the aberrant transformation of biogenic molecules in COVID-19 via magnetic catalysis. The paper appears in Science of the Total Environment, an Elsevier title.

This article is a masterpiece of quackademic medicine on par with previous papers I’ve discussed about the magical non-Christianity-based faith healing known as reiki and homeopathy to treat breast cancer. Its abstract is a master of what I like to refer to as woo-babble or bio-babble, which is like Star Trek technobabble, only used to try to make it sound as though there is an actual scientific thought going on and to render the ideas within plausible to an audience without a background in science. I normally don’t quote abstracts or huge swaths of text in whole, but I’ll make an exception in this case, because you have to read this to believe it:

Thoracic organs, namely, the lungs and kidneys in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-associated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), exhibit silicate/glass-like (hyaline) and iron oxides-like deposits, which are like serpentinization-induced minerals. The discovery of the chiral-induced spin selectivity effect suggests that a resonant external magnetic field could alter the spin state of electrons in biogenic molecules and result in the magnetic catalysis of aberrant molecules and disease. We propose here that carbon dioxide-rich water-peridotite (a ferromagnesian silicate) interactions generate abnormal lithospheric long-wavelength magnetic anomalies (LWMAs) via serpentinization, during conditions with increased terrestrial water storage and atmospheric carbon dioxide, and a weakened geomagnetic field. Furthermore, we provide evidence supporting a hypothesis, which posits, COVID-19 is a pathologic manifestation of resonant LWMAs-induced magnetic catalysis of iron oxides-silicate-like minerals from biogenic molecules and the coronavirus from endogenous viral elements, with the virus particles capable of replication and transmission to other hosts. We propose that those LWMAs are associated with the production of iron oxides-silicate rock minerals in tectonic plates with Proterozoic cratons. Thus, severe COVID-19 outbreaks are/will predominately occur in Eurasia and the Americas and are governed by the spatiotemporal dynamics of terrestrial water storage and the semiannual oscillation of the weakening geomagnetic magnetic field. We propose that the ferromagnetic-like iron stores in humans are the unifying determinant for COVID-19-induced morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, we propose that Nephrite-Jade amulets (a calcium-ferromagnesian silicate) developed by Neolithic Chinese Medicine to prevent thoracic organ disease, may prevent COVID-19.

Wow! That’s a lot to unpack, isn’t it? I fully understand Kausik’s reaction to it and, as a result almost didn’t read the full article myself. Unfortunately for me (and, maybe, fortunately for you, although you’ll have to decide for yourself), I have a near-infinite tolerance for woo in the service of promoting science-based medicine. So I did read it. I didn’t enjoy it. (In fact, I really did have to force myself to finish it.) I did, however, consider deconstructing it to be my civic duty as a skeptic and promoter of science-based medicine.

I’m going to jump ahead a little bit into the introduction, because it amazed me that in 2020 anyone, even quackademic researchers, could write a paragraph like this, which basically invokes germ theory denial. It’s actually “soft” germ theory denial, in that it doesn’t deny that microbes cause disease but tries to imply that there are factors as important or more important than pathogenic microbes like SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19:

The dominant paradigm for describing virus-associated pandemics, including the SARS-CoV-2-associated COVID-19 pandemic, is the germ theory (a classical theory) (Casanova and Abel, 2013). The germ theory and its derivatives posit that transmissible, replication-competent, exogenous viruses (i.e., SARS-CoV-2) either directly or indirectly (via inflammation) mediate disease in virus-associated epidemics and pandemics (Casanova and Abel, 2013). The germ theory was introduced in the late 19th century and subsequently displaced most Indigenous knowledge systems (Hewlett and Amola, 2003b; Darvill, 2016; Franks, 2016).

Holy other ways of knowing, Batman! These University of Pittsburgh researchers are contrasting an actual scientific theory, the germ theory of medicine, which has 150 years of strong evidence demonstrating how pathogenic microbes can cause disease in healthy hosts to “Indigenous Knowledge Systems”!

I’ve written about the susceptibility of seemingly reasonable scientists to the lure of “ancient knowledge” in the form of indigenous knowledge systems before. The basic narrative usually goes something like this: “Western” biomedical science is a cultural construct whose dominance is due not to its success in diagnosing, treating, and, in some cases, eradicating disease but rather to past imperialism and colonization by European powers. A corollary to the above claim is that attempts by practitioners and proponents of traditional medicine to achieve scientific legitimacy are not because science is better, but because the biomedical model predominates because of the prior subjugation (and, in some cases, the continued oppression) of indigenous peoples. Add to that an appeal to popularity, namely that many millions of people still use traditional medicine as their primary form of health care, and you have an argument that can seem powerful, both to indigenous people using traditional medicines and to some “Western” scientists or physicians. There’s not so much of a direct appeal to this sort of argument in this paper, but there is an undercurrent of the idea that there must be “something” to indigenous ways of knowing, no matter how much handwaving the authors have to do to justify it. Take a gander at this lovely bit of quackademic woo-babble:

Many Neolithic-derived Indigenous Knowledge posits that severe geophysical-geologic perturbations and associated rock minerals play a significant role in human health (Dashtdar et al., 2016; Hewlett and Amola, 2003a; Hewlett and Amola, 2003b; Darvill, 2016; Franks, 2016). Indeed, Neolithic-Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Hemudu and Majiabang-Neolithic Chinese cultures (~7500 to 5300 BP) (Dematte, 2006; Wilson, 1996; He et al., 2018) in the Yangtze River basin, on the Yangtze craton (a Proterozoic craton) in Eastern Eurasia, developed the use of the calcium-ferromagnesian silicate-Nephrite (a metasomatic derivative of serpentinization-induced rock minerals (Harlow and Sorensen, 2005), commonly referred to as jade) as a disease prevention device (amulet) in the mid-Holocene during the Neolithic population collapse (Li et al., 2014; Dematte, 2006; Huang, 1992). Similar Nephrite-Jade-based Neolithic cultures were developed across Western Eurasia (Europe) during the Neolithic population collapse (Gibaja-Bao, 2018; Terradas, 2017; Odriozola et al., 2017; Gauthier and Petrequin, 2017; Odriozola, 2015; D’Amico et al., 2004; Damico et al., 1995; Kostov et al., 2012). It is posited that Jade (including Nephrite) amulets protect the wearer against unseen nefarious forces that cause disease in thoracic organs (Dematte, 2006; Wilson, 1996; Huang, 1992). Indeed, the romantic language word, piedra de ijada (from which the English word Jade is derived) translates to the stone that prevents disease in organs in the side/flank of the body (thoracic organs). Additionally, the English word Nephrite is derived from the Greek word lapis nephriticus, which translates to the stone that cures kidney disease.

The stage is thus set. The “investigators” are not really testing a hypothesis. They believe that “geomagnetic field intensity minima” associated with megafauna (including Hominidae) die-offs in North America and Eurasia can also explain COVID-19, and they’re going to construct a narrative to support that. And construct a narrative they do, involving a colony of experimental rats ravaged by a SARS-like disease, geology, population demographics analysis, air pollution, and climate, as well as mask-wearing and social distancing. To construct this narrative, they begin by citing “anomalies” in COVID-19 behavior allegedly not explained by germ theory:

Although the germ theory is the current dominant paradigm and exhibits an explanatory and predictive capacity for many features of the phenomenology of virus-associated epidemics and pandemics, many significant features are unaccounted for in this theory. Many respiratory virus-associated outbreaks (i.e., influenza outbreaks) exhibit a spatiotemporal dynamic that is couple to seasonal dynamics and associated geographic restrictions, despite increased intra-regional and global travel in the 21st century (Paul, 2012; Fisman, 2007; Altizer et al., 2006; Dowell and Ho, 2004; Hirve et al., 2016). Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic mimics a vibrating drumhead-like oscillation across the globe, in contrast to the predicted near-simultaneous severe global outbreaks posited by the germ theory (Chinazzi et al., 2020; Gilbert et al., 2020). Importantly, the phenomenology of the SARS-CoV-2-associated COVID-19 pandemic has contradicted the germ theory-derived prediction that the severity of the outbreaks (based on deaths per million people) would be relatively higher in regions with relatively weak public health systems (i.e., Africa), as compared to regions with relatively strong health systems (i.e., North America and Western Eurasia) (Gilbert et al., 2020). This discordancy cannot be reconciled globally by risk factors (i.e., elderly population) associated with COVID-19-induced mortality, ancestral differences (or the so-called genetic differences), molecular diagnostics capacity, or climate differences (Mbow et al., 2020). Indeed, Mbow M et al., 2020 showed analysis that incorporates age demographics, surveillance of acute health emergencies, and the number of tests per confirm COVID-19 cases do not account for the discordance between the germ theory-derived prediction and the actual outcome in regions with relatively strong health systems and those with weak health systems (Mbow et al., 2020). Furthermore, Japan, which lies outside Western Eurasia, has the highest percentage of the elderly population; however, Japan has not experienced a severe COVID-19 outbreak (Iwasaki and Grubaugh, 2020). Indeed, this anomaly within the germ theory occurred in Japan despite receiving a large percentage of the travelers from the Yangtze River basin (including Wuhan) at the onset of the pandemic and implementing limited social distancing interventions (Chinazzi et al., 2020; Iwasaki and Grubaugh, 2020). This anomaly within the germ theory paradigm for the COVID-19 outbreaks in Japan is currently ascribed to the so-called “unknown Japanese X factor” (Iwasaki and Grubaugh, 2020). Additionally, countries on the South American plate with relatively young populations (i.e., Peru, Ecuador) have experienced severe COVID-19 outbreaks (Accinelli and Leon-Abarca, 2020; Quevedo-Ramirez et al., 2020; Del Brutto et al., 2020). Although regions with weak health systems have a relatively lower molecular diagnostic capacity, syndromic surveillance is employed globally (Daughton et al., 2020; Aghaali et al., 2020; Salamatbakhsh et al., 2020; Smith et al., 2020; Sokhna et al., 2020); thus, deaths due to an emerging, severe acute respiratory disease is captured uniformly across time and different countries, irrespective of national wealth (Mbow et al., 2020). Tropical (warmer) climate per se does not affect the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic (Xie and Zhu, 2020; Ascencio-Vasquez et al., 2019). Although tropical countries on the African, Indian, and Eurasian plates have experienced relatively less severe COVID-19 outbreaks, tropical countries on the South American plate have experienced severe COVID-19 outbreaks (Ascencio-Vasquez et al., 2019). Populations with African ancestry have the highest COVID-19-mortality burden in North America (Price-Haywood et al., 2020; Fouad et al., 2020) and parts of Western Eurasia (Raisi-Estabragh et al., 2020), albeit, Africans have the lowest COVID-19-mortality burden (Mbow et al., 2020); thus creating the African ancestry-COVID-19 paradox.

I know, I know. Perhaps I shouldn’t have so extensively quoted this passage. However, I wanted those of you who might not have access to the journal to be able to experience it in all its pretentious glory. Basically, it boils down to: We don’t understand why the pandemic has hit some developed countries harder than some undeveloped countries with much less developed public health systems and are not sure why the Japanese did so well compared to many other countries in terms of the pandemic. I’m sure epidemiologists are scratching their heads over that paragraph, particularly given that it doesn’t appear to acknowledge that quality of public health infrastructure doesn’t necessarily mean that politically the leadership of a nation will use that infrastructure optimally to slow the pandemic’s spread within its borders. The US is a prime example. Pre-pandemic, the US was rated as one of the best prepared nations for a pandemic, but utter incompetence of this administration, coupled with the politicization of public health interventions such as masking and social distancing, have contributed to our having more deaths due to COVID-19 and more cases of disease than any other nation, including countries with much larger populations. The same dynamic appears to be at play in parts of South America (i.e., Brazil), where populist leaders deny the severity of the pandemic and impede public health interventions to slow its spread in the name of “freedom” and preventing economic collapse.

I also don’t buy the claim that germ theory predicts “near-simultaneous severe global outbreaks.” Travel is not uniform. The virus had to start somewhere. And start somewhere it did, Wuhan, China, in a seafood market, when a novel coronavirus made the jump from animal to human. Even this is called into doubt:

A major unanswered question in the germ theory of virus-associated pandemics, including the SARS-CoV-2-associated COVID-19 pandemic, is the origin of the so-called emerging viruses. The germ theory-derived hypothesis posits that emerging virus-associated pandemics result from a spill-over of viruses from wildlife into humans (the zoonosis hypothesis), with the seasonal-associated dynamics of the so-called spill-over events due to the seasonality of human activities in wildlife habitat. However, the recent discovery of the genetic fragments of many non-retroviruses, including the so-called emerging viruses, in the genomes of humans and many terrestrial animals raises concerns about the validity of that hypothesis (Feschotte and Gilbert, 2012; Theze et al., 2014; Katzourakis and Gifford, 2010). Seasonal dynamics are a manifestation of geophysical dynamics, and those geophysical forces are manifested differently at various locations; thus, suggesting that geophysical forces could mediate the virus-associated pandemics.

Unsurprisingly, none of the references cited really call the current scientific understanding of how SARS-CoV-2 made the jump to humans into question. Feschotte and Gilbert merely describes how more viruses than just endogenous retroviruses can have parts of their genome integrate into the genome of infected cells. Theze et al describes how fragments of viruses can integrate into the genomes of crustaceans, while Katzourakis and Gifford describe evidence for viral elements in animal genomes. In all cases, these papers are describing how fragments of viruses can integrate into animal genomes. None of these papers suggest what the authors imply that they suggest, namely that these endogenous virus fragments might represent a mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 emerged. They certainly don’t cast doubt on germ theory, nor do they support traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), labor though the authors do to imply that TCM has relevance to COVID-19:

Here, using insights from Traditional Chinese Medicine and other Indigenous Knowledge, we evaluate the hypothesis, which posits, SARS-CoV-2-associated COVID-19 outbreaks are mediated by serpentinization-induced resonant long-wavelength magnetic anomalies (LWMAs) in tectonic plates with Proterozoic cratons and weakened geomagnetic field intensity. We proposed that those resonant LWMAs induce the magnetic catalysis of iron oxides-silicate-like minerals (i.e., iron oxides, hyaline) from biogenic molecules and SARS-CoV-2 from endogenous viral elements in the genome, resulting in morbidity and mortality. The resultant SARS-CoV-2 particles are capable of replication within the host and transmission across hosts; however, SARS-CoV-2 infection per se does not induce morbidity or mortality in humans (Wu et al., 2020a; Long et al., 2020). Furthermore, we argue that the macrophage inflammatory response associated with COVID-19-morbidity and mortality is a foreign body-like reaction (Merad and Martin, 2020; Park, 2020; Anderson et al., 2008) to the magnetic catalysis-induced iron oxides-silicate-like minerals. Therefore, neither the SARS-CoV-2 infection nor the inflammatory reaction per se is the principal mediator of severe disease and mortality, which we termed, COVID-19. Indeed, children infected with SARS-CoV-2 have relatively higher viral loads, but reduced morbidity (and mortality) when compared to adults (Heald-Sargent et al., 2020). Furthermore, asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection have a similar viral load (Lee et al., 2020).

Later in the paper, the authors state their “hypothesis” more succinctly:

We hypothesize that COVID-19 pathologies in humans and animals result from the aberrant transformation of tissues (chiral biomolecules), metals, gases, and endogenous viral elements in the human genome via resonant LWMAs-induced magnetic catalysis.

Holy Béchamp, Batman! No, seriously, this is basically nothing more than Antoine Béchamp’s pleomorphic theory of disease, something I never thought I’d see even in the worst quackademic medicine has to offer. Recall that Béchamp was a contemporary of Louis Pasteur. He, too, had a hypothesis about the origin of infectious disease. Only he came to a different conclusion, namely that the bacteria found in diseased tissue was a manifestation, not the cause, of the disease. In other words, they arise from tissues during disease states. In brief, Béchamp postulated that bacteria arose from structures that he called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzymes. Béchamp postulated microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain. How is this idea that somehow LWMAs plus other things cause SARS-CoV-2 to arise from our cells? Obviously, Pasteur’s germ theory of disease won out because it was supported by massive evidence, and Béchamp’s idea, which wasn’t entirely unreasonable 160 years ago given what was known, faded away, except in the realm of alternative medicine, where germ theory deniers still cite it.

If that’s not germ theory denial, I don’t know what is! To boil all this woo-babble down to its essence, the authors are explicitly arguing that it isn’t SARS-CoV-2 infection that causes morbidity and mortality in humans, but rather the LWMAs in tectonic plates and weakened geomagnetic field intensity that induce the magnetic catalysis of iron oxides and silicate-like minerals from biogenic molecules. Further, they are arguing that somehow this mystical magical field catalyzes the formation of SARS-CoV-2 in cells from endogenous viral elements in the genome, and that the combination of these two processes are what result in morbidity and mortality! This is so completely at odds with what we currently understand about SARS-CoV-2 infection that it boggles the mind. Yes, it is clear that the inflammatory reaction against the coronavirus is a major cause of the lung disease and the damage to other organs seen in COVID-19, but infection with SARS-CoV-2 is clearly the inciting event. There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is somehow generated from endogenous viral elements. If that were the case, then we wouldn’t have so much evidence of person-to-person transmission.

The quackademic experiments

So how did these authors try to “test their hypothesis,” so to speak? First, they looked at a colony of rats at the University of Pittsburgh that just happened to be ravaged by a SARS-like disease around the time the pandemic hit Pittsburgh. This colony consisted of immunodeficient Sprague-Dawley rats carrying mutations in the recombination activating gene 2 (RAG2) and interleukin-2 receptor subunit gamma (IL2Rγ). SRG rats lack mature B cells, T cells, and circulating NK cells. You don’t really need to understand the significance of these specific genes, other than that their lack means that SRG rats are highly immunodeficient, which is why they are primarily used for cancer research because human tumor xenografts engraft in them at high efficiency. The authors also note that the SARS outbreak study was a retrospective study, given that “colony was neither designed to record COVID-19-like disease in the rats or investigate the effect of the geomagnetic field on the rats.” These rats had also been used for humanization studies, in which their marrows were ablated with X-rays and then the rats were transplanted with human stem cells. The authors note that the number of rats that got a COVID-like disease was the same among unirradiated, untransplanted control rats and the “humanized” transplanted rats, but right away you know that this is a highly artificial system whose relevance to human disease is questionable at best.

So what were their observations? The authors report that they recorded a COVID-19-like, severe acute respiratory syndrome disease (in 17 per ~92 rats (~18%), with 76% males and 24% females) in adult laboratory rats (all diseased animals were > 6 months old), which, they note, recapitulates the tendency of COVID-19 in humans to affect males more seriously. They also noted that the disease occurred rapidly, with rats falling ill and dying as rapidly as overnight between the evening and morning checks by lab personnel. They also noted:

Gross, histological, and immunohistochemistry analysis of the major organs in the COVID-19-like diseased rats demonstrate significant blood clotting, hardened tan grey/pale patches, and black-hemorrhagic patches in the lungs and kidneys, along with silicate/glass-like structures, and the presence of SARS-CoV-2-like antigens in the lung and kidney epithelium (Fig. 3, Fig. 4, Fig. 5, Fig. 6), which recapitulates COVID-19 pathology and the associated SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans (Fox et al., 2020; Wichmann et al., 2020; Colling and Kanthi, 2020; Connors and Levy, 2020; Su et al., 2020; Schaefer et al., 2020; Carsana et al., 2020; Best Rocha et al., 2020; Martines et al., 2020). The silicate/glass-like structures in the lungs and kidneys of the COVID-19-like diseased rats mimic the various stages associated with serpentinization-mediated rock-related mineralization (Fig. 7) (Huang et al., 2017). Tissue iron analysis in the lung of a COVID-19-like diseased rat demonstrates the presence of ferric iron (Fe 3+) and iron oxides (golden brown/rust-like) particles coupled with the silicate/glass-like structures and patches with hemorrhagic infiltrates (Fig. 7).

Now here’s the kicker. Most of the rats who fell ill were in one of two rooms in which the colony was housed. (Did it not occur to them that’s how infectious disease would spread, if adequate infection controls prevented the disease from jumping to the second room?) Of course, the authors also included a time period going back to October 2019, which was months before the pandemic hit the US, an obvious red flag to me. In any event, SRG rats succumbed to an acute respiratory disease, after which SARS spike protein-like proteins could be detected, along with iron, which localized in the same places. The authors then go on to hypothesize speculate wildly:

In the proposed hypothesis, ferromagnetic-like/superparamagnetic iron stores (i.e., ferrihydrite) in humans (Linder, 2013) is critical for resonant LWMA-mediated magnetic catalysis in COVID-19 pathologies. Iron stores are low in children and increases with age, with the highest levels in the elderly (Xu et al., 2012; Picca et al., 2019; Ashraf et al., 2018; Fleming et al., 2002; Fleming et al., 2001). Males have significantly higher iron stores compared to females (Ma et al., 2016). Consequently, COVID-19-induced morbidity and mortality risk are directly proportional to age (Grasselli et al., 2020; Team, 2020; Zheng et al., 2020), and male sex is also a significant risk factor for COVID-19-induced morbidity and mortality (Grasselli et al., 2020). Individuals with metabolic syndrome (obesity (Kim et al., 2015; Lecube et al., 2008; Moreno-Navarrete et al., 2017), diabetes (Batchuluun et al., 2014; Simcox and McClain, 2013; Ma et al., 2018), and cardiovascular disease (Milman and Kirchhoff, 1999; Cheng et al., 1999; Lee et al., 2018)) have higher COVID-19-induced morbidity and mortality due to abnormally high iron stores compared to matched-healthy individuals.

Got that? High iron is what makes you susceptible to COVID-19; that is, high iron stores plus whatever anomaly in the geomagnetic field that the authors’ handwaving can invoke:

The total geomagnetic field intensity has been weakening over the past millennium, with the North and South American plates (and the southern tip of the African plate) experiencing the most severe weakening (Fig. 9). On the contrary, the eastern portion of the Eurasian plate-Asia and the Africa plate (excluding the southern tip of Africa) have experienced a relative strengthening of the geomagnetic field intensity (Fig. 9). Additionally, the intensity of the lithospheric component of the geomagnetic field has been increasing in regions with Precambrian cratons, with regions on the North and South American plates with Proterozoic-Precambrian cratons exhibiting the highest increase (Sebera et al., 2019a). Here, we examine the relationship between the lithospheric component of this weakening geomagnetic field and the SARS-CoV-2-associated COVID-19 pandemic. A severe, locally-restricted COVID-19 outbreak was first recorded on the Yangtze craton (in Wuhan and surrounding cities) (Peng et al., 2012) in the eastern portion of the Eurasian plate. The subsequent severe outbreaks spread westerly on the Eurasian plate along the Greater Tethyan Eurasian orogenic belt (the Alpine-Himalayan orogenic belt (Guillot et al., 2015; Giampouras et al., 2019; Zhao et al., 2020; Hirth and Guillot, 2013; Reynard, 2013; Debret et al., 2013)) and subsequently along the Appalachian-Ouachita orogenic belt on the North American plate and to the South American tectonic plate. Severe COVID-19 outbreaks predominately co-localize with the troughs of the lithospheric LWMAs (Idoko et al., 2019) in tectonic plates with Proterozoic cratons, which are basin regions with population centers (Fig. 10). Severe outbreaks spread from the Yangtze River basin (Eastern Eurasia) to basins in Central Eurasia (Iran), Western Eurasia, the eastern portion of the North American plate, and subsequently to the basins on the South American plate (Zumla and Niederman, 2020). The Greater Tethyan Eurasian orogenic belt has active serpentinization of peridotites and significant lithospheric LWMAs (Fig. 10) (Idoko et al., 2019; Guillot et al., 2015; Reynard, 2013; Baykiev et al., 2020). The Appalachian-Ouachita orogenic belt also has active serpentinization of peridotites and significant lithospheric LWMAs (Fig. 10) (Husch, 1990; Menke et al., 2018; Zakharova et al., 2016). The pandemic also spread easterly, albeit less severe outbreaks in basins on the Korean Peninsula, the Island of Japan, and the western portion of the North America plate (Fig. 10). Consistent with this bi-directional (westerly and easterly) spread of COVID-19 outbreaks from the Yangtze craton (Stefanelli et al., 2020), the predominant SARS-CoV-2 strain in the eastern portion of the North American plate during the vernal period of the pandemic is genetically similar to the predominant strain in the western portion of the Eurasian plate, while the predominant coronavirus strain in the western portion of the North American plate is genetically similar to the predominant strain in the eastern portion of the Eurasian plate; even though travel between Eurasia and North America is a fraction of the travel within North America (Brufsky, 2020). Additionally, the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks on the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates during the vernal phase of the pandemic is directly proportional to the intensity of the Proterozoic cratons-associated LWMAs (Fig. 11) (Idoko et al., 2019; Tang et al., 2013b). Tectonic plates with marginal Proterozoic cratons-associated LWMAs (the African, Arabian, Indian, and Australian plates) will experience relatively less severe COVID-19 outbreaks (Fig. 11) (Idoko et al., 2019; Tang et al., 2013b); especially in continental regions farthest away from the collision zones with the Eurasian plate (i.e., Sub-Saharan Africa). Furthermore, the governing hydromagnetic perturbations and the South Atlantic Anomaly that are driving the weakening geomagnetic field intensity are predominately restricted to Eurasia and the Americas (and the southern tip of Africa) (Finlay et al., 2016a).

This is one of the most amazing instances of confusing correlation with causation coupled without showing even convincing correlation that I’ve ever seen! From this, the authors conclude that severe COVID-19 outbreaks are/will be restricted to tectonic plates with LWMAs in Proterozoic cratons. (A craton is a large stable block of the earth’s crust forming the nucleus of a continent, consisting of Earth’s two topmost layers, the crust and the uppermost mantle.) They even do the sort of analysis that antivaxxers do when they want to relate vaccine uptake or policies of nations to autism rates, resulting in this hilarious figure:

Quackademic research in action

See? There’s a linear regression! That means it has to be science! Of course, there’s no reason to assume that any relation, if one even were to exist, would be linear. Moreover, the authors don’t even try to control for confounders in any serious way, although they do go on to produce a whole lot more figures like the one above to try to show that the COVID-19 outbreak correlates with fluctuations in the magnetic fields in the various continents that they examine. Quackademia at its finest!

This all leads the authors to question whether current public health interventions are appropriate:

The current public health understanding and response to the SARS-CoV-2-associated COVID-19 pandemic is based on the germ theory (El-Sadr and Justman, 2020; Holmdahl and Buckee, 2020). Currently, it is presumed that the COVID-19 pandemic began with a zoonotic transmission of a SARS-CoV-2-like virus from animal(s) to human(s) in the Yangtze River basin (Wuhan, Hubei, China) on the Proterozoic-Yangtze craton in late 2019 and that severe COVID-19 outbreaks are due to person-to-person transmission (Ozma et al., 2020; Li et al., 2020a). Therefore, stay-at-home restrictions, social distancing (>6 ft apart), and the use of facemasks are employed to control the pandemic (Ozma et al., 2020; Li et al., 2020a). Furthermore, the global epidemic curve of SARS-CoV-2-associated COVID-19 outbreaks, with the maximum in the equinoctial period and the minimum in the solstitial period, is currently ascribed to those public health interventions. However, the germ theory and associated models have been incapable of making accurate long-term predictions about the spatiotemporal dynamics of COVID-19 outbreaks (Holmdahl and Buckee, 2020). Furthermore, those germ theory-derived models cannot explain the differential severity of the COVID-19 pandemic within countries and continental regions or across tectonic plates without using ad-hoc immunizing hypotheses that cannot be falsified (Holmdahl and Buckee, 2020).

“Cannot be falsified”? I lost another irony meter at that passage. They fried that sucker to a molten, quivering mass of gooey plastic and sparking wires!

Later, based on their “results,” the authors speculate:

Like current responses to natural disasters, the nowcasting and forecasting of COVID-19-LWMAs using those empirical data could enable better mitigation strategies. Additionally, the development of personal protective equipment/devices, such as Nephrite-Jade amulets (Harlow and Sorensen, 2005), which may readily interact with and abrogate serpentinization-induced LWMAs, may provide a means of shielding humans and preventing COVID-19.


Future experiments and analysis in support of this hypothesis will determine 1) the genomic sequence of the polynucleotide molecules producing the SARS-CoV-2-like antigens in the laboratory rats using next-generation sequencing technology, 2) the ability of Nephrite-Jade amulets to prevent lethal COVID-19-like disease and associated SARS-CoV-2-like infection in laboratory rats in our colony during the equinoctial period, 3) the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genomes and antigens in the blood and tissues of vaping-associated severe acute respiratory syndrome patients in North America and collected in 2019 prior to the recorded COVID-19 pandemic using validated diagnostic assays, 4) the lithospheric magnetic field-spherical harmonics associated with the spatiotemporal dynamics of severe COVID-19 outbreaks using magnetometry satellites data along with gravimetry satellites data (i.e. Swarm and GRACE-FO satellites) and epidemiological data (i.e., Our World in Data), and 5) the ability of an artificial magnetic field to generate of iron oxides-silicate-like minerals and SARS-CoV-2 via altering the spin state of electrons in biogenic molecules from humans (and other animals).

In other words, the authors published this dreck even though they hadn’t already sequenced the SARS-CoV-2-like antigens in the rats, but they’re confident enough in their confluence of woo that they think it’s worth testing whether Nephrite-Jade magic amulets can prevent lethal COVID-19-like disease in their SRG rats while continuing to try to torture data to confess a “correlation” between magnetic fields and death rates due to COVID-19 during the pandemic.

The authors respond to criticism

Unsurprisingly, the reaction to this “study” has not been kind, so much so that Retraction Watch took note. The response of the authors to the criticism was—shall we say?—not encouraging. Retraction Watch contacted Moses Turkle Bility, a Pitt faculty member who is listed as corresponding author of the paper, and he was not very…receptive…to constructive criticism:

I kindly suggest you read the article and examine the evidence provided. I also suggest you read the history of science and how zealots have consistently attempted to block and ridicule novel ideas that challenge the predominant paradigm from individuals that are deem not intelligent enough. I not surprised that this article has elicited angry responses. Clearly the idea that a black scientist can provide a paradigm shifting idea offends a lot of individuals. I’ll be very candid with you; my skin color has no bearing on my intelligence.

If you have legitimate concerns about the article and wish to discuss, I’ll address; however, I will not tolerate racism or intellectual intolerance targeted at me.

Nobody said anything about Bility being black. Certainly, I had no idea who he was, much less his race, until I saw the Retraction Watch article. I’ll let that pass, though, given how frequently racism does enter attacks on minority sciences. Racism aside, Bility is very quick to invoke the Galileo gambit in implying that he’s being “persecuted” for science that’s too novel and radical for the existing paradigm to accept. He also can’t help but claim that any criticism of his ideas must be due to the critics being too ignorant, stupid, or blinded by “dogma” to understand his brilliance, as evidenced by his response to Ivan Oransky’s request for evidence that “Nephrite-Jade amulets, a calcium-ferromagnesian silicate, may prevent COVID-19,” and whether promoting non-evidence-based interventions during a pandemic was a good idea”:

Dear Dr. Oransky, please read and understand the article in its entirety, before you make a hasty decision. If I may speculate, you neither understand quantum physics nor spin chemistry; you are making a hasting decision based on your knowledge of the classical theories that dominate the biological sciences. Also, certainly you being a white male offers you the privilege to think that you have the right to determine who can propose ideas that challenges a dominant paradigm. Other cultures are not primitive, and people of color and indigenous people are not intellectually inferior. Before you jump to conclusions about this article, I suggest you understand quantum physics, and spin chemistry, and how it differs from classical theories, and then read my article.

These are, of course, specious examples. Quantum physics and spin chemistry developed from the failure of classical physics to explain certain phenomena. They built on classical physics; they didn’t invalidate it. The rest of Bility’s rant is nothing more than an appeal to other ways of knowing. No one said that other cultures are primitive or that people of color are intellectually inferior. What is being said is that this article, Bility’s article, is very bad science. What I am saying is that his risible hypothesis is based on denial of a well established existing scientific theory, the germ theory of disease. As I’ve said before, you can certainly challenge an existing scientific theory, but you’d better have the goods if you’re going to convince anyone. Bility’s paper is far from “the goods.” It’s basically warmed over Béchamp with a whole lot of handwaving about magnetic fields added as the “external” forces that result in the formation of microbes under Béchamp’s pleomorphic theory of disease. Again, even I never thought I’d see that in quackademic medicine.

A better question is how a quackademic paper this bad got published in a respectable journal. In that, Retraction Watch was not encouraging. The editor of the journal passed the buck to the editor who handled it, who said that the manuscript “went through our standard reviewing process. It was reviewed by two expert reviewers and only after several revisions with the agreement of the reviewers it was accepted.” I don’t know what’s worse, that the manuscript wasn’t accepted or that the reviewers required multiple revisions of something so obviously pseudoscientific and unsalvageable that it should just have been rejected outright with a hearty laugh or facepalm.

Godzilla facepalm

Quackademic medicine is, of course, a highly pernicious force in academic medicine. Unfortunately, with this woo-filled nonsense, quackademia has entered the age of COVID-19 with a thud.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

127 replies on “Quackademic medicine, COVID-19 edition, part 1: Magic amulets”

Anyone else reading those excerpts having flashbacks to undergrad and desperately trying to figure out how to use the most words possible to say as little as possible because you need just one more page to meet the term paper requirements?

A different language might have drastically shortened the blather. After all, “piedra de ijada” translates into English as all of “the stone that prevents disease in organs in the side/flank of the body.”

O. M. G. !

Who in the world could the “reviewers” have been? Really, someone needs to be held accountable.

OTOH, will any of this be taken seriously by anyone but the already brain dead?

This is one of those journals where the author gets to nominate suitable reviewers.

The next time I play five-a-side football I want to nominate my mate Alan to be the referee. He’ll do a perfect job for a hundred quid.

As noted elsewhere, Bility has a research program and publication history that looks at least superficially quite respectable (his declared field of interest is macrophage activation in infectious diseases).

You have to wonder how he got so badly off the rails with this paper. It’s the kind of thing you’d associate with Emeritus Syndrome, wherein researchers who’ve had a decent career descend into bizarre theories in their later years (emeritus chemistry prof Boyd Haley being a prime example). Bility however is way too young to be afflicted with the disorder.

Maybe it’s a hitherto undescribed affliction – pre-Nobel disease?

Thank you, Orac. We needed something this hilarious in these unsettling times: a global pandemic intensifying, a nerve wracking election, an incursion of anti-vax trolls here….
This the first time I’ve heard tectonic plates being incorporated into a woo-fraught theory. Because his premise might be derived from classical Ayurvedic gemstone therapy ( which includes stones like jade), I might have expected chakras or astrological signs to have been included as well, but NO, tectonic plates it is.
-btw- there are all sorts of Chinese woo/ magic about wearing jade or buying ornaments made of it.

This the first time I’ve heard tectonic plates being incorporated into a woo-fraught theory.

You need to read more of Persinger’s work!

@ Clyde:

I knew a little about his helmet but NOT the tectonic plates and “luminosities”,

I’m surprised that earthing or grounding is not a part of both of these woos’ portfolios. You can connect with the subtle energies of Gaia or suchlike.


I hope your home’s electrical systrlem is grounded to Gala, or it may burn down. So if you do not believe in grounding, feel free to pull the rods out of the ground, real soon.

In fact, in Space the astronauts have to be grounded as they develop an electrical charge that can damage electronics……..

The space station has a grounding system to that is connected to the whole thing, and keeps arcing problems to a minimum….

Grounding, it is a natural thing we all need to do. Or you get zapped.

Hokey smoke, Bullwinkle!
Orac said, “… as a result almost didn’t read the full article myself. Unfortunately for me (and, maybe, fortunately for you, although you’ll have to decide for yourself), I have a near-infinite tolerance for woo in the service of promoting science-based medicine. So I did read it. I didn’t enjoy it. (In fact, I really did have to force myself to finish it.)”

And just how many glasses of single malt did it take to read that pile of irrational codswallop?
(BTW – The moronic author of this “study” has obviously never used NMR spectroscopy or he’d know that the magnetic fields required to “flip” an electron’s spin state is so large that they do not allow any extraneous metal on the operator – watches, etc. The very low magnetic field of the earth is capable of virtually nothing except deviating the path of ionized space radiation particles after traveling through it for 10s of kms.)
The only thing to do with this “study” is to laugh hysterically at the author, the “University of Pittsburgh, Elsevier, and the NIH**.
** In the case of the NIH we should probably complain loudly and repeatedly to our sentors and congressmen about this irrational bronze-age voodoo being financed.

“…how many glasses of single malt did it take to read that pile of irrational codswallop?”

How many glasses of single malt did it take to write that pile of irrational codswallop?

And just how many glasses of single malt did it take to read that pile of irrational codswallop?

Short of enough single malt scotch to render me unconscious, there isn’t enough, and that would have made me unable to read the paper. So I did it stone cold sober. Sad but true.

Christ! I needed a stiff Mcallan just to get through Oracs response, let alone read that tripe. Respect to the perspex fairy lights.

That’s.. impressive. Just slogging through the technobabble made my head pound .

Stating the obvious but, you’re a better man than I – I couldn’t even finish the parts you’d quoted!

In the case of the NIH we should probably complain loudly and repeatedly to our sentors and congressmen about this irrational bronze-age voodoo being financed.

Crap. I had noticed that and intended to mention that. I was even going to go and look up what what specific Institute at the NIH funded the study, but I bet I know…

Thoracic organs, namely, the lungs and kidneys

I’m sorry to say I stopped reading right here (OK, I did manage to restart).

I was kept on a infinite loop trying to figure out if kidneys can indeed be considered “thoracic”, and if so, why other organs in our abdomen, like the spleen and liver, didn’t make the cut.

Why he’d choose to ignore the thymus, which has a role in the immune system and really is a thoracic organ, is curious.

I got kicked out of premed for not learning shit, and even I did a headdesk at that.

What’s next, an imbalance of biles?


A better question is why the heart is not mentioned, but then lots of structures are located in the thoracic area, which is the area within the ribcage, in non-Western Medicine. Including the liver and spleen.

While in Western Medicine everything under the diaphragm is in the Abdomen.

non-Western Medicine

FTFY, o babbling fool. There’s no “western” vs “non-western”, just evidence-based medicine and beliefs that are wrong.


Oh, you clueless hack, ….

Since you do not know jack about non-Western Medicine, here is a book on it for you to read…….

Most of Alternative Medicine was developed inside the Western Hemisphere countries, such as Homeopathy, Chiropractic, Herbalism, Massage Therapy, etc.

Do not confuse Alternative Medicine with Non-Western Medicine.

“A better question is why the heart is not mentioned”

Actually the Heart was mentioned. See figure 3: They examined lung, heart and kidneys in all the rats and found “Gross damage to the heart was recorded in a single animal”

So they didn’t actually test the amulets on the rats? (That’s probably OK, the rats were probably really over dealing with these researchers.)

So they didn’t actually test anything, decided that because a structure is “like” a crystal that it has magnetic properties, and thus, amulets work and iron is bad?
Uh, what? I mean, if any of that were true then could you cure people of COVID by putting them in an MRI?

These people need to be gently re-directed back to doing reasonable science. That or someone needs to let the physics department have a go at them.

It’s possible the amulet on the rat would be small enough that quantum entanglement effects due to dark matter/fermion interactions in the 9th dimension of Figgleworth’s transphotonic superstring matix would negate ay protection. Duh.

But then you just have to reverse the polarity!
(For once that almost makes sense in context.)

I mean, if any of that were true then could you cure people of COVID by putting them in an MRI?

You may be on to something here. Call the US White House and ask to speak to D. Trump.

I’m trying to imagine tiny, antique-looking jade amulets with leather ties fastened around the little creatures’ necks.
Perhaps a larger, human-sized version might sell at etsy.

Fire Mountain Gems has nephrite jade round donut focal. $27 if you buy 100 or more. Silk cords are $2.50 per 6 yard card. Should be able to sell them for at least $50 + shipping if I can exploit the “amulet against Covid-19” angle. If I use fake jade, the profits are even larger.

All profits donated to science education.

Nobody cares about mice/sniveling little git-faced rats. @Real heartless scientists would use a rivet gun. #warpspeed

Nobody cares about mice/sniveling little git-faced rats.

Speak for yourself. As a Ratatouille fan, I’m busy building a rat-washing machine for using them as aides in my cuisine.

Also, we scientists are pragmatic, but we can also be kind of heart at the same time.
Why, i have this social experiment on human children going on (it involves mazes and cheese), and I let the little mites get out of their vats for the Halloween.
The children from the control group stayed in their vats, of course.

(credit: joke from Foglio’s Girl Genius comics)

This paper by Bility et al is a whopping POS. Anybody who is anyone knows that Disney’s Sophia the First has the only truly disease-preventing amulet (S2:E4, I believe)

I’m also very disappointed they didn’t employ a flat-earth model in that cute color schematic. It would have been the giardiatic brown frosting on their crap cake.

It is probably hard to tell giardia from rotavirus based on smell alone but I think I might know someone who* is up to the task.

But, visually, I should think that the frosting would be brown+(a slight tinge of pink) as I was taught never to consume the pink-tinted snow cover.

If flat-earth had depth as depicted in the drawing.. Uhh, cube-earth??

Also, as per the paper (just in case it’s right), eat more powdered ceramic magnets. Got it.

if someone blurts that it should be *whom I’m going to… nothing at all.

if someone blurts that it should be *whom

No, you’re fine, “who” is correct in this case.


Now are you really going to give Narad, our esteemed English instructor nothing to do? We all need to throw him a bone Here and There.

Since you’re a Monty Python fan, cue the scene in “Holy Grail” where the villagers are trying to figure out how to determine “how do you know she’s a witch?”

“This new learning amazes me … explain again how sheep’s bladders can predict earthquakes.”

“And start somewhere it did, Wuhan, China, in a seafood market, when a novel coronavirus made the jump from animal to human.”

I thought retrospective investigation found previously infected people far away that were never associated with the market. Also, I thought the sequence was bat–>pangolin–>people. I understand that the Chinese eat weird shit but did not realize that sea-bat and sea-pangolin were on the menu or even that such exotic meats were available at that wal-mart of a fish market.

I think the place should be more classified as a ‘super spreader’ event and not the origin.

There could have, in fact, been some sea-people that made their way into the market and got, ‘umm’, eatin. Over, and over. They just don’t stop, legs all the way up. Momma! I would not know, I don’t do that sort of thing (in real life) because daddy is a deacon.

I thought the sequence was bat–>pangolin–>people

The pangolin–>people bit (assuming it was a pangolin, that’s not settled for now, AFAIK) may have happened a few months before the virus becoming the latest trend in the seafood market (where it would have then been mostly people–>people).

I read it in a fascinating article about how a virus needs some time after jumping species to adapt to its new host and start spreading around.
I have to backtrack my internet history a bit to find it again. It was pointed to me and other readers on another blog, when we were inexpertly trashing around about virus pathogenicity.

Fascinating article, as I said. I learned of an hypothesis from some epidemiologists, about OC43, the human common cold coronavirus. That one may have started very SARS-Cov2-like, and may have been the virus really behind a deadly “flu” epidemics around 1890. Then it became a nicer virus. If true, that would allows some optimism regarding the current corona. But it’s far from a given trend, with pathogenic viruses.
Impossible to prove, of course. No sample left from that period. We could try digging up relatives of the Queen of England, who died from it, but it’s just too gauche.


Why got to England? Just go to Alaska and dig up a corpse in the Permafrost before it all melts. You can get all the samples you want, still fairly fresh and viable.

And no import fees or inspections.

“to adapt to its new host and start spreading around.”

I am but a simple troll, but that is where it all falls down for me. If it is not initially spreadable ppl–>ppl then..and..(?)..profit.

I mean, if it is not spreadable to start with then how does it ever get there?

personification aside, how does ‘it’ know that ‘it’ is doing better? Surely there is no inter-office communications or that gets into Pathcoin’s philisophical aliveness or not proposition.

Élan vital is back on the menu, boys!

@ Tim

if it is not spreadable to start with then how does it ever get there?

Oh, the issue is not going in as much. Like Hotel California, the main issue is about checking out.
There are actually plenty of parasites (e.g. liver flukes) which regularly end up in us but never managed to learn a way out. Even less a way to properly multiply.

Picture that as an American Idol contest. To be accepted as a contestant, there is some minimal work to do, but that’s only the start. Only those with true talent and willing to do some hard work will have a chance at being invited by a new host.

Thx, Athaic.

If so, emerging viruses probably pass through a “silent period” immediately after a host shift, in which the virus barely scrapes by, teetering on the brink of extinction until it acquires the mutations needed for an epidemic to bloom.

{I’m guessing that my original conundrum is solved by not being veiwed as ‘all or nothing’ — that there is a range of transmissibility}

There is a lot to unpack in TFA; in particular, I might trip over a clue in that linked paper from it. That is not going to be easy reading for me so, for now, I think I’ll watch Ratatouille. I’ve never seen it — just that it was Disney/PIXAR and thought “guhh” — but just perhaps an 8.0 out of 30,000 reviews is more than just padding by cast and crew.

The virus adaptation to a new host can even be done in a lab.
Or more like monitored in a lab. The searchers just keep harvesting and then injecting again the viruses from and into mice. IOW, given a hand to good old Mother Nature to speed-up the process, but otherwise letting things progress naturally.
About 15 passages were needed, and at the same time seem enough to select a properly-adapted strain. That’s fast.
This is the paper from a Chinese team; a French team completed a similar experiment recently (according to an interview in Le Monde from yesterday Monday).

idk, Orac. I went to pick up some pay back late december/early january, can’t remember exactly. But I remember complaining about some anomalous symptoms which might have been fatigue and cough without phlem.

I’m what you might call a ‘caretaker’ there. Fences, branches, animal feed and stuff… They or rather now he is elderly and we always kept 12 feet when I was feeling snotty.

I think I already had the shit the first of the year. And I never ate out some bint in a fish market in China. #originstories


No one knows and they think it did not start at the wet market, because well after the epidemic started in Wuhan testing of animals at the market was negative for the SARS- CoV-2 virus. Like it did not take one animal infecting one person to start the whole thing?……

And then there was the fact that WIV in Wuhan was playing around with the SARS virus well before SARS-CoV-2 popped up in Wuhan……

And the thought was that they had the virus and accidently released it. It did not help that WIV had the genome on hand very fast to identify it, and registered the sequence, too.

So we will never know, but theories will spread forever.

The original SARS Cov2 isolation paper is here:
Zhu N, Zhang D, Wang W, Li X, Yang B, Song J, Zhao X, Huang B, Shi W, Lu R, Niu P, Zhan F, Ma X, Wang D, Xu W, Wu G, Gao GF, Tan W; China Novel Coronavirus Investigating and Research Team. A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China, 2019. N Engl J Med. 2020 Feb 20;382(8):727-733. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2001017. Epub 2020 Jan 24. PMID: 31978945; PMCID: PMC7092803
Go to author affiliations WIV was not involved.

I think the whole thing is an experiment is sociology. I think the paper was deliberately produced to attract an abundance of criticism and the “you can’t criticize me because I’m black and you are white and privileged” responses precooked – all essentially a survey to see what fraction of critics can be made to back off for fear of being labeled racist.
In the alternative, the author’s responses are a thoroughly repugnant ploy that undermines real issues and concern with racism and other prejudices in science. It is akin to antivaxxers and their use of holocaust-related symbols.

Perhaps formatting in the original made is less noxious, but having full details of sources embedded in the text instead of using numbered footnotes sure made me want to quite reading very quickly. It does help make it look like the body of the text of the paper is very much greater than it really is.

I think the paper was deliberately produced to attract an abundance of criticism and the “you can’t criticize me because I’m black and you are white and privileged” responses precooked

Nigger, please. Nobody knew he was a darky until pointed out. Dude is just off the rails; don’t lay it on race-baiting.

My bad. HE pointed it out. You might have a very good point. PC Babies might have to revise their latest sound recording in light of this new revelation.

@Terrie: Racism, sexism, you name it; Tim does all the bigotries. Not sure why our gracious host hasn’t bounced his disgusting ass.

You lay it on ’em, you spicy pop tart. Would you like to have a meetup after tomorrow’s Trump rally?? I’m rather randy about the prospects of having my salad tossed by a like-minded individual such as yourself. I’m not expensive either; just don’t expect some sensitive-to-girly-crap reciprocity.

You understand, you know my type; about the most I can muster after finishing is to holler “MAGA!” and ask if you have money for a cab or if you want to sleep on the porch with Billy Bob, my raccoon {and totally not my creepy uncle}.


Obama scored an F in biosecurity in 2010, a relic of the Bush era lapse in securing antibiotics and vaccines for the national stockpile. They put in a LOT of work to remedy it but Ebola revealed weaknesses in their approach that they had to rework their plans for and Obama appeal for funds to replenish the stockpile was blocked by Republicans and budget austerity. Indeed, the China portion of the biosurveillance was cancelled in 2019 due to sequestration from the Republican congress much earlier.

It’s much more fairer to say that the US isn’t and wasn’t prepared for a pandemic but brilliant leadership by Obama masked the problem.


Because he was a Democrat, and all Dems must be stiffly opposed, or they might make things better for those who are not the 1%.


Well, we know who is a trumpfer, that be you!

Trumpf eliminated in 2018 the National Security Office of Global Health Security and BioDefense that was instituted by Obama in 2010, and in 2019 the National Vaccine Program Office that was instituted by Clinton.

The CDC had to leave China in 2019 because the Republicans, after Obama left office, refused to fund the CDC adequately. To say it is “due to sequestration from the Republican Congress much earlier” is a lie, though they gave Obama enough trouble as it was. This was due to Republican “DRAINING THE SWAMP” craze , with the swamp apparently being the national heath organizations and things like Food Stamps, etc.

The blame rest squarely on the shoulders of the Republicans and Trumpf….though it rests more on his fat greedy stomach and bubble butt.

Have you seen the video of Trumpf playing tennis? His shorts are so tight they look spray painted on and they were transparent, so we now know he wears Jockey briefs, and not boxers.

Trumpf is a ass, his remarks on why he cut the offices…..”I don’t like people hanging around. If we need them, we can get them back quickly”……

Yeah right, has anyone seen those two offices re-opened yet?

Nope. So put the blame where it truly belongs on the fat-assed dude in the WH.


He did NOT point out all the offices Trumpf eliminated that were formed to deal with a possible pandemic and vaccines.

” the US isn’t and wasn’t prepared for a pandemic but brilliant leadership by Obama masked the problem.”

Everything he wrote blames Obama for this, saying Obama is the source of the Republicans not doing whatever.

Not a single word as to Trumpf’s actions that eliminated those offices.

Each president has worked to make things better, the Vaccine Office under Clinton and the National Security Office of Global Health Security and Biodefense (NSOGHSB)in 2010, after Ebola made it to the US..

It was the NSOGHSB that dealt with the last Ebola outbreak, and helped keep it from spreading again. When it came to dealing with a global pandemic to protect the US from disease, that was the office that specifically had the accumulated know-how to do it right.

In fact, Trumpf was told at his meetings when the White House and national concerns were to be turned over to him, that a Pandemic was expected and these were the offices made to deal with the coming Pandemic.

Of course, they thought it was going to be some sort of flu pandemic. But it was scheduled to arrive during Trumpf’s administration, because these things come on a fairly expected timeline.

“He did NOT point out all the offices Trumpf eliminated that were formed to deal with a possible pandemic and vaccines.”

Fair enough. He’s obviously a Trumpfer after all.

“I think the whole thing is an experiment (in) sociology”

On further thought, is there any remote chance Bility deliberately perpetrated a colossal gag to embarrass the publisher and self-righteous critics?

It’d be an all-time classic.

^^ This. He’s capitalizing on that memeable name to troll everybody, at behest of his abolishionist activist, hilarious, acid-dropping 60’s hippy mom. Moses Turkle Bility, LoL If I worked at walmart and he was buying beer, I’d ask for a second I.D. I don’t care if he looks 80. I’m playing the role of a walmart control freak.


Actually “Bility” is a real surname…..

Apparently there are 120 people living in the US with that name, however most people in the World with that name live in Liberia, the country founded by freed slaves from the US.

So momma was not a hippie, though “Mo” Bility does sound like they meant him to go places. But perhaps not the places he has wound up going to.

I can’t find the Tweet now, but someone on Twitter said that Bility’s ResearchGate profile shows that he’s published woo like this before.

On Amazon you’ll find that Bility has unified, well, pretty much the entire history’s worth of physics theories, in two books:

“Equilibrium Theory: The unification of general relativity and quantum physics” and “Equilibrium Theory: Unification of Newtonian Physics and General Relativity using the wave equation”.

With abilities like that how can mere mortals criticize his work?

Oh. Never mind. But, I’m going to feel really, really silly if he’s not unwell but on to something I was to dense to understand. Randy Marsh is a geologist; he might know some of those earthwords. And, besides waisting public monies, no harm. Right? I mean, people are already sticking jade-based things up inside and the only ‘harm’ done seems to be embarrassment when they sometimes fall out and roll across the courthouse floor.

Dessicated pineal glands ur us.onion {Don’t tell anyone else; especially not about the DMT dilution and ‘injection’ part or the dead, unclaimed cadaver part, or the tissue rejection part, or any other baseless or totally relevant lawyer crap you may already hold now or may come up with after perceived dissatisfaction with the product or just in/on general principle.} It’s totally worth it, man.


I guess we can conclude that Bility was not trolling the research establishment.

According to his profile under a slightly different name at researchgate, he’s cranked out a number of papers in harmony with the current effluvium, including one titled “Stonehenge as a state-of-the-art Neolithic European public health complex: A hormesis device for preventing lithospheric magnetic field-induced emerging skeletal tissue-associated diseases and megadeath during severe weakening in the geomagnetic field strength”.

His current affiliation on that page is described as “Independent Research Program”, and his title as Philosopher/Professor/Military Officer.


I tried reading Bility’s output, including the Researchgate material but it’s just painful. I’m certainly willing to concede that I don’t know enough about earth science to be 100% certain that it’s nonsense, but I know enough about mental illness to suspect underlying schizophrenia.

From what I’ve seen of psychosis up close and personal, attributing all criticisms to racist attacks sounds like just the sort of intractable defense a delusional mind would construct. All one’s deepest insecurities and fears, spilling out in the open; an unfiltered torrent. There’s absolutely no self-awareness at all, just a ravenous need to construct explanations for the otherwise unexplainable.

Tragic if true but, see David Icke.

I know enough about mental illness to suspect underlying schizophrenia.

Yah. You know that it’s not too hard to find the DSM criteria, right? I mean, after a few decades spending time with a single person I know, I have a very, very finely tuned sensor for certain episodes. This armchair psychiatry is simply mushroom growth media.

Jesus, you couldn’t even diagnose Jerry the real schizophrenic* whom I often used to hang out with (along with a small cast of other morning guys — one worked nights and would supply some MGD) in the park while he had his coffee, before I had to move a couple of times.

Just. Don’t.

*His voices were mostly friendly and, I think, liked watching TV.


I have an MD, in which I did the usual basic lectures and clinical expedience in psychiatry. I did a rotating internship that included psychiatric training, then did family practice and emergency coverage for 5 years before doing my pathology residency. I encountered plenty of patients with major psychoses, including schizophrenia. I made a number of provisional diagnoses of schizophrenia, which were later confirmed by psychiatrists to whom I had made referrals. That’s why I felt confident in SUSPECTING, not diagnosing schizophrenia.

Take a pill.

I have an MD, in which I did the usual basic lectures and clinical expedience [sic] in psychiatry.

Well, you’re right up the psychiatric ladder with my podiatrist and colorectal surgeon, then. My mistake.

I have an MD

And I have 30 years of severe clinical depression instead of a medical degree. Potayto, pohtato.

Let us check:
a) Low magnetic field of earth is linked to extinctions. Low magnetic field is not a problem, but incoming cosmic rays.
b) In North America, Laurentian shield is proterozoic, in Europe Baltic shield.
c) Serpentinization happens in olivine rocks. These are found everywhere, rock age is not relevant but mantle magma source.
d) Magnetic catalysis and superparamagnetism not anyway related.
e) SARS CoV2 is not retrovirus, even less one integrated in human genome.

It’s really a shame that the news media has ignored the National Center for Integrative and Complementary Health’s potentially game-changing role in overcoming Covid-19.

Director Helene Langevin headed up a webinar this past week (which I sadly missed) detailing NCCIH’s plans for research that focuses on the whole person, not just the body parts and stray bits of tissue that Orac and other non-holistic scientists are obsessed with.

Next year we will be treated to the rolling out of NCCIH’s 2021-26 Strategic Plan. John Weeks is very enthusiastic.

And damn it, no one has told me how much jade I need……will one jade ring with skin contact suffice?

Or do I need to line my house in Jade? (Note to self… lottery soon.)

Does Bility have an “in” on discount jade, and how big a discount can he give me?

If I may speculate, you neither understand quantum physics nor spin chemistry; you are making a hasting decision….

If he had used “festinating” instead of “hasting,” I could almost forgive the faulty parallelism that precedes it.

You know, we wouldn’t be having people making and buying idiotic products like this if there was an alternative. Of course magic amulets are nonsense but when the market demands protective amulets and the only ones on offer are, supposedly, magical then that’s what they’ll buy. Instead of critiquing and ridiculing the suppliers of this garbage the smart people should bang their heads together and come up with what we really need: a science based amulet. Fill it all the scientific goodness that can fit into a shiny bit of jade and distribute it to the masses. When the next pandemic hits us hard the amulets can respond appropriately by doing useful stuff like telling us to stay home and wear masks, or whatever it is that science based amulets do. Until then all we have to rely on is magic amulets and so we do.

So far everything I have read says anxiety and stress impairs the immune system and makes it easier to become ill, including increasing cytokines……

And rituals, including using ritual objects, can reduce anxiety…..

So if you really believe in a jade amulet, or any other amulet, then it would reduce your anxiety and stress, and improve your immune system. Thus making it less likely you would become ill.

Nothing in the “ritual” paper says anything about immune system parameters or susceptibility to disease. And there’s no mention of nephrite and jade amulets or effectiveness against Covid-19.

A connect-the-dots failure.

It might have been a more convincing argument if you’d performed a ritual* before posting it. 😀

*such as standing on one leg and chanting “Vaccines bad! Science corrupt!! Pharma shill!!! Woo-woo-woo!!!!


I guess you unable to follow logic….

Anxiety increases stress levels….increased stress levels depress the immune system…depressed immune system increases chance of catching a virus….virus makes you ill.

The paper said “religious rituals” helped to decrease anxiety. The first paper was about stress and disease.

And jade amulets and other jade objects have had religious significance in many cultures…..

To each culture it’s own, you could hold a paper on how all vaccines are perfect and thus unimpeachable to reduce your stress levels if you want.

I’ll wear my facemask and face shield, and keep my 75% alcohol handy.

If you believe in Science instead of a religion, that reduces stress effectively, too……..

So whatever you believe in, go for it, it helps. If a jade amulet, or a pill from the pharmacy….the more you believe, the better it helps you.

Now, where did I leave that copy of Darwin’s “The Descent of Man”? I have some praying to do……while wearing that jade bracelet I bought back in the 1990s. They must be somewhere around here, likely they are hanging in the same storage box………

And I bet cause is vaccines, because vaccines cause everything, expect immunity against disease. Actually, vaccines cause immunity against disease and not much else.
Do you know that any infectious disease cause release of those ILs ? And if a disease is prevented by immune memory based defense, much less cytokines are released.

@ rs

a science based amulet

Aren’t those called smartphone? They already can do everything you hope a science based amulet will do.
Although your science based amulet sounds a bit like Navi. Or the MS Office assistant Paperclip.

A smartphone could be bit heavy to put around one’s neck, but there are many existing cultural traditions of wearing amulets in a belt pouch.

@ Tim writes,” Would you like to have a meetup after tomorrow’s Trump rally??”

Only if you wear your home made HEPA filter mask. I’ll bring the MD 2020. What’s your flava’?

It’s broken. Well, not broken but diminished. It turns out that sweat, face oils, or something conspire to make the window seal material turn stiff/non pliable. I’ve tried soaking in alcohol and then in vinegar (I’m assuming acetone would eat the stuff up never mind the cyanoacrylate ‘welds’). Nothing works. When the facepiece gets too much like that (it still seals but one must be conscious of head movements and downward looking positions because it also gets slick so that with the one hat strap it tends to pivot off the chin), I’ve been just swapping out to previous ones. ..afk… Just tried phosphoric acid. Didn’t do shit; the stuff is just somehow unrecoverably degraded.

I’ve been procrastinating cutting another one but I guess I must because I intend to vote tomorrow. We don’t have ‘early’ voting here and the promised ‘curbside’ vote from your car got struck down by, you guessed it, republitards. Getting an absentee is like pulling teeth and requires a notary signature. The gov allowed ‘in person absentee’ and I read the proceedure for that but for an adjoining county so I go to vote and my county didn’t offer that (only half here do, as it turns out).

I’ve only voted one other time in my life and my vote this time is not going to amount to jack shit as far as the electoral bit goes — I just wanted to be one of the 30 million ‘illegals’ that cast a ballot for when Trump declares “I won by 99%; it would have been 100% except for all the voter fraud.”

Virus wise, I should be fine. The only real anxiety is all the Y’all-Qaeda running around in this county that will veiw an overdone mask like mine as a gesture for Trump to fuck aaaall the way off and not take kindly to that.

I like beer.


You know the Republicans are running scared when they think they are losing Texas. Screwing up the mail was not enough, I have not seen an electric bill since January 2029, so COVID-19 free voting possibilities must be eliminated.

How is the weather down there in redneck, gun-toting territory?


You should show three nice trumpfers this website……..

Trump has gone on 283 ( some other places say 284) trips to his golf resorts.

The total bill to the American Public…..

$142,000,000 (approximately)

Yup, that is $142 MILLION.

And this is the man who said when he was prez, he would never have time to golf.

The vote went peaceful. I was not shot. In fact, beyond the occasional snickering, most comments were “that’s radical” and “I like your mask” and “steam punk!”

However, they did not have the lanes of our rat maze separated (I don’t know why the line was not outside, it was nice out) and, sure enough, there is a guy coughing and wheezing IN A BANDANNA (with paisleys) approaching with no way to get more than 2-3 feet apart. Instead of looking away, I target fixated. I trust the filter but did not have on goggles; only regular eye glasses and the hat so I’m now very anxious for awhile.

Nobody around here cares if The Chosen what did Israel* cheats at golf or how much taxpayer money he slays.

*imagine fawning over the guy that they hope fucked it all up so badly that Jesus needs to come back.

Stop the flu shot campaign. Covid resistance depends on T cell immunity.

All those antibody tests are not even looking at the right factor. Explains why long-haulers are having negative antibody tests less than 3 months after initial infection. Receiving the influenza vaccine mutes t-cell response for at least a year. It’s not a “twin-demic”; you may have to choose to roll the dice on one to survive the other.

So you repeat. Your second link is about T cell response to flu virus HA antigen. T cell response to COVID 19 antigens is totally another matter. COVID is not flu, they are entire different things.
Is annual flu shot good thing is another matter. One can measure vaccine efficiency, too, and one indeed does.
Second thing that you should cite the original paper. Medical journalism always simplifies.

@ Aarno,

"T cell response to COVID 19 antigens is totally another matter"

How do you know? Have we evolved to launch covid-19 specific t-cells in the last 9 months somehow?

Playing with fire to suppress t-cells during a pandemic.

Have we evolved to launch covid-19 specific t-cells

Well, technically, each clonal line of T-cells, like each clonal line of B-cells, are antigen-specific.
So, yes, we evolved to produce covid19-specific T-cells (but just, not yesterday).

Not sure it’s what you meant, bur frankly, at this point…

That’s not what that Virology blog says, at all. It says that the paper described there was not well done and missed an important, and frankly basic, concept in immunology: “original antigenic sin”.

It doesn’t “mute” your T cell response. And there is no reason to think, based on that paper, that it has any impact on the T cell response to any other antigen or pathogen. That’s not how this works.

Janeway’s Immunobiology is an excellent textbook for learning all about how T cells work. I highly recommend it.

Okay, so T-cell response is “suppressed” in recipients of the flu vaccine IF they also received the flu vaccine the year prior. Do we want “suppressed” t-cell response during a pandemic, with a virus that we can better resist with t-cells?

To cite unnameable source:
Original antigenic sin, also known as antigenic imprinting or the Hoskins effect, refers to the propensity of the body’s immune system to preferentially utilize immunological memory based on a previous infection when a second slightly different version of that foreign pathogen (e.g. a virus or bacterium) is encountered. This leaves the immune system “trapped” by the first response it has made to each antigen, and unable to mount potentially more effective responses during subsequent infections. Antibodies or T-cells induced during infections with the first variant of the pathogen are subject to a form of original antigenic sin, termed repertoire freeze.
T cell suppression is not involved, instead immune system mounts inefficient response based on immunological memory. high mutability of flu virus being the fundamental problem.

Update: Bility et al’s paper on jade amulets and Covid-19 has undergone ”temporary removal” from the Elsevier journal that published it, and according to the following article it’s slated to be retracted.

It seems that Bility requested the retraction (in the face of an ”online mob” denigrating his work for racist reasons), but he intends to resubmit it, only without references to jade amulets or TCM.

The article doesn’t mention whether the resubmitted article will include any image used in a previous Bility paper; a commenter on PubPeer has noted that the original article did so.

“Figure 7B of this paper is identical to the figure 6 of another not peer reviewed paper called: “Are rises in the Lithosphere-Magnetic Field in the United States, interacting with vaping aerosols-iron in lungs, the tipping point for the outbreak of vaping-associated acute lung injury?” (10.13140/RG.2.2.11046.68163) from 2019.”

“In the paper from 2019 the figure is described as: “Magnetite-granitoids formation in sudden/rapid acute-severe lung injury during the period of the vaping-lung disease outbreak in humans”, but in the 2020 it’s described as: “ferromagnetic-like iron and serpentinization-like mineralization in the lung of COVID-19-like diseased laboratory rat in the absence of experimental induction”.”

“Are rises in the Lithosphere-Magnetic Field in the United States, interacting with vaping aerosols-iron in lungs, the tipping point for the outbreak of vaping-associated acute lung injury?”
in sudden/rapid acute-severe lung injury during the period of the vaping-lung disease outbreak in humans”

While I’m a little bit concerned about what becomes of the ‘kanthal’ { Ni, Cr, and Fe (I think)}heating wire as the resistance goes way up*, there is no mystery about vaping and lung injury here. It was caused by tocopherol-acetate which unscrupulous shops and dealers were using as a cutting agent in THC cartridges (about same viscosity and color). This induces lipoid pneumonia.

*at least half ejected coil material is outwards and downwards and can be found in the heater coil housing, in the threads, and on the battery contact. A good portion seems to remain on the coil as an oxide.

A welder probably gets orders of magnitude more of such matierials, I’m guessing.

Dr Bruce Lipton PhD
( Stem Cell Biologist )

The micro RNAs bind to Chromosomes and Alter the Read out of The Genes.
The micro RNAs molecules ( mRNA ) which are in the Food We Eat
are Picked up by our Digestive System
( mRNAs Are Not broken down but Remain intact )
are Transferred to our Own Cells and Regulate our Own Genetics.
We Alter our own genetic Read out
by The Food we Eat.
???? ?? ??? ?? ??????.
The mRNA does not Break down even if you heat it or Freeze it.
The Food We Eat has a Profound
INFLUENCE on our Biology , Health and Genetics

Actually mRNA is very fragile. Moderna mRNA vaccine is stored at -70 centigrade. You would notice that mRNA is translated to proteins. If it stayed around, lots of useless proteins would be made

Who knows how many casualties have piled up thanks to skeptics questioning Bility’s paper? The authors’ letter requesting retraction (courtesy of Retraction Watch) suggests you may have a lot to answer for.

“The earlier version (of the paper) might pose a serious health risk based on the increasing negative feedback since its e-publication ahead of print.”

Orac et al tampered with the Earth’s force fields, rendering jade amulets useless, or worse?


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