Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Skepticism/critical thinking

Antivaxxers’ efforts to undermine confidence in COVID-19 vaccines continue apace

As more and more COVID-19 vaccines find their way into more and more arms, there are reports of bad things happening to people after vaccination. As I’ve been predicting, antivaxxers are now weaponizing these reports and anecdotes before they have even been investigated in order to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about vaccines. They’re even blaming Hank Aaron’s death on vaccines.

Think of this post as a continuation of a series related to COVID-19 vaccines. You might recall that, right before the New Year, I predicted an impending tsunami of adverse events (AEs) falsely attributed to COVID-19 vaccines that would be spread by the antivaccine movement as the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines found their way into more and more arms around the world and more and more bad things happened to people by coincidence soon after COVID-19 vaccination. I won’t take any credit for the prediction coming true, as anyone who’s followed the antivaccine movement for a while could have predicted it (and did). After all, every pre-pandemic antivaccine trope in the book had already been picked up, dusted off, and recycled for use with COVID-19. Examples abound, including the claim that the COVID-19 vaccine renders females infertile, permanently alters your DNA, causes autoimmune disease, or even kills. The only claim, it seems, not yet made by the antivaccine movement about COVID-19 vaccines is that they cause autism, but give them time – the vaccines are not approved for children yet. I fully expect that when young children start receiving the vaccines, antivaxxers will claim they cause autism just as they have for nearly every other vaccine.

To continue the series, I thought I’d survey how antivaxxers are spinning stories about possible adverse events after vaccination against COVID-19, as more and more vaccines are finding their way into more and more arms. As you might expect, antivaxxers are doing everything they can to use such stories to stoke fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the vaccine. Indeed, reading antivaccine social media and listening to antivaxxers about the vaccine rollout, I’m reminded of Bill Murray in Ghostbusters describing what was coming.

First, a brief update on the case I discussed a week ago.

Doctors, don’t give quotes like this to the press

Last week, I discussed the tragic case of an OB/GYN from Miami who died a little more than two weeks after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and whose story went viral as a result of a Facebook post by his widow Heidi Neckelmann. What made the case of Dr. Gregory Michael so dramatic and unusual was that he developed lesions on his skin three days after vaccination and then went on to have a case of immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) so severe that it actually killed him. He died of a hemorrhagic stroke 16 days after vaccination.

At the time, I conceded that it is possible that Dr. Michael’s death could be related to the vaccine but also, as always, cautioned that it was impossible to tell from one anecdote whether there was an association between the vaccine and Dr. Gregory’s death. Also, given that there were tens of thousands of people in the phase III clinical trials that tested both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, even if the vaccine did cause Dr. Michael’s ITP, we can safely conclude that this is a relatively rare issue, given that no signal that the vaccines might cause ITP was observed in the clinical trials. Obviously, the antivaccine movement was nowhere near as…cautious…as I was in my assessment. Predictably, they immediately leapt on the story as “proof” that the vaccine kills.

There isn’t really any new news since last week other than further reactions of the antivaccine movement. I haven’t been able to find any news of the investigations or whether the FDA or Pfizer have yet concluded if there might have been causation. Unfortunately, not all physicians quoted in the press have been as cautious.

In The New York Times last week:

Dr. Jerry L. Spivak, an expert on blood disorders at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in Dr. Michael’s care, said that based on Ms. Neckelmann’s description, “I think it is a medical certainty that the vaccine was related.”

“This is going to be very rare,” said Dr. Spivak, an emeritus professor of medicine. But he added, “It happened and it could happen again.”

Predictably, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s antivaccine group Children’s Health Defense, was all over it in an article entitled, “Johns Hopkins Scientist: ‘A Medical Certainty’ Pfizer Vaccine Caused Death of Florida Doctor“. They even used it to make this deceptive claim:

Redwood also pointed out that ITP has been reported to occur following exposure to drugs containing polyethylene glycol (PEG), a compound used in both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

If you go to the actual study cited by antivaxxer Lynn Redwood, you’ll find that the drug was peg-interferon-alpha2a, in concert with ribavirin and telaprevir antiviral treatment and that Redwood failed to mention that ITP is a known issue with interferon treatment, with the PEG likely having nothing to do with the case of ITP reported.

My compulsion to mention even the little deceptions of antivaxxers aside, let me just say that I think it was highly irresponsible of Dr. Spivak to hand antivaxxers a veritable gift like a quote by him expressing such certainty. The antivax underground is running with it and likely will continue to do so.

The case of Dr. Michael, as tragic as it was, is only the beginning, though.

Does COVID-19 vaccination kill old people?

Regular readers here and anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I’ve been predicting that, as the vaccines roll out to more and more people, starting with healthcare workers and nursing home residents and the elderly, there will be people who happen to die within a month of getting the vaccine. Sadly, the law of large numbers and the fact that on any given month far more elderly people die than young people make such occurrences inevitable. Look for antivaxxers to spin these coincidences as “definite proof” that the COVID-19 vaccine kills, just the way they’ve done for vaccines and sudden infant death syndrome (which is not caused by vaccines) and for the HPV vaccine and deaths of teenaged girls.

It’s happening now, with a very conscious effort to deny the possibility (likelihood, even, in the case of elderly nursing home patients.) that it is a coincidence that these people died relatively soon after receiving the vaccine. For example, on Twitter antivaccine physician Sherri Tenpenny is all over this story:

However, to discuss this issue I return to RFK Jr.’s antivaccine group to show you an example, hot off the digital “presses” last Friday:

Norway health officials have “adjusted their advice” after reporting that 23 elderly people died shortly after receiving COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Associated Press (AP) and other media outlets.

Some officials told AP they’re “not alarmed” by the deaths and will continue to support the country’s vaccination program, though they will now recommended elderly patients consult their doctors before getting the vaccine.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency has so far assessed only 13 of the 23 reported deaths. All 13 occurred in people 80 or older living in nursing homes, and all were determined to be directly linked to the vaccine, the agency told Norway Today.

The agency didn’t disclose which vaccines were administered to those who died, but according to Bloomberg, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, approved late last year in Norway, and Moderna’s vaccine, approved earlier this month, are the two being administered in the country.

So, basically Norway has reported the deaths of elderly patients after receiving vaccines. Let’s just say that RFK Jr. is…exaggerating…the certainty in the report by Norway’s health authorities. For example, that AP article cited by RFK Jr. reports the investigation this way:

The Norwegian Medicines Agency on Thursday reported a total of 29 people had suffered side effects, 13 of them fatal. All the deaths occurred among patients in nursing homes and all were over the age of 80.

The agency listed fever and nausea as side effects which “may have led to the deaths of some frail patients,” Sigurd Hortemo of the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in the body’s first report of the side effects.

More than 30,000 people have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine in the Scandinavian country since the end of December, according to official figures.

“We are not alarmed by this. It is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients,” Steinar Madsen, medical director with the agency, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

So what we are looking at are the oldest and frailest of patients, patients over the age of 80 whose health was so bad that they lived in nursing homes. Now let’s go to the source, an actual press release from Statens Legemiddelverk, or the Norwegian Medicines Agency, dated last Friday and entitled “Covid-19 vaccination associated with adverse drug reactions in elderly people who are frail“.

So let’s take a look a look at what is arguably the most relevant part of the press release:

The reports suggest that common adverse reactions to mRNA vaccines, such as fever and nausea, may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients, says Sigurd Hortemo, chief physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency.

The large studies on Comirnaty (BioNTec/Pfizer) did not include patients with unstable or acute illness – and included few participants over 85 years of age. In Norway we are now vaccinating the elderly and people in nursing homes with serious underlying diseases, therefore it is expected that deaths close to the time vaccination may occur. In Norway, an average of 400 people die each week in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

All deaths that occur within the first few days of vaccination are carefully assessed. We cannot rule out that adverse reactions to the vaccine occurring within the first days following vaccination (such as fever and nausea) may contribute to more serious course and fatal outcome in patients with severe underlying disease.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency and the National Institute of Public Health jointly assess all reports of suspected adverse reactions. As a result, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has updated the covid-19 vaccination guide with more detailed advice on vaccinating the elderly who are frail.

So, to boil it down, these were frail, elderly residents of nursing homes. These are exactly the sort of patients who, as the medical cliché goes, can’t take a joke, meaning that insults that younger healthier patients would brush off with little effort can lead to the deaths of elderly patients. Basically, because of the careful effort to monitor for any signal of adverse events or harm from the new COVID-19 vaccines, the Norwegian Medicines Agency investigated and had to admit that they couldn’t rule out that the vaccines might have contributed to the deaths of these patients.

That being said, the fundamental problem remains. 400 of these elderly patients die every week in Norway because they are old, frail, and have multiple medical conditions. Layer on top of that a mass vaccination program, and it is a virtual certainty that some of these deaths will occur within close temporal proximity to vaccination, say less than a month—or even less than a week.

Then, if you go to the report itself [PDF]:

  • Patients in nursing homes represents a very frail group of elderly, and most of the patients have severe underlying diseases.
  • In Norway we have a “reporting culture” for vaccines ADRs where the normal procedure is to report all suspected adverse reactions for new vaccines. Healthcare professionals have a low threshold for reporting possible adverse reactions, even when the causal relationships appears very unclear.
  • The preferred and most used route of reporting is directly to the health authorities, not via the Marketing Authorisation Holders.
  • The Norwegian ADR registry is a national health registry, obliged to report statistics to the public.
  • At the highest political level the public has been promised full transparency of the reported ADRs of the covid-19 vaccines. The Norwegian Medicines Agency will publish weekly reports.

In other words, the Norwegian Medicines Agency is bending over backwards to be transparent and has a long history of encouraging the reporting of possible adverse events after vaccination even before the pandemic. Nothing new is happening, except that the Agency is adjusting its recommendations for mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations to take these observations into account, in what is an apparent abundance of caution:

It is the attending physician who, after an overall assessment and in consultation with the patient and any relatives, must decide whether the individual patient should be advised to take the vaccine.

Two factors must be included in this assessment. One is what life prospects the patient has, as many in nursing homes have short life prospects. The second is that for some of the most frail elderly, common side effects after vaccination – such as fever, malaise and poor appetite, can trigger a more serious course of the disease.

For the vast majority of people who are elderly and living with frailty, any side effects of the vaccine will more than be offset by a reduced risk of becoming seriously ill from covid-19. For those with the most serious frailty, however, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences. For those who have a very short remaining life, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant. Therefore, for very frail patients (eg equivalent to Clinical Frailty Scale 8 or higher) and terminally ill patients, a careful weighing of benefit versus disadvantage of vaccination is recommended.

Again, we’re talking about the frailest and most fragile of patients here, the patients who “can’t take a joke”. They’re the ones for whom even mild expected side effects can be serious or deadly. In particular, it is useful to note, as Dr. Vincent Iannelli points out, that the Norwegian Medicines Agency has not reported more deaths than expected in the nursing home population since its COVID-19 vaccination campaign began, nor is Norway saying not to vaccinate the elderly. Rather, what it is saying is that the benefits of the vaccine in terms of not getting COVID-19 far outweigh the side effects for the vast majority of people, elderly people included, but that it might be wiser to forgo the vaccine in the cases of the very oldest and sickest patients and the terminally ill for whom even mild symptoms (such as side effects from a vaccine) can trigger a cascade of complications.

Particularly amusing is how antivaxxers are portraying a change in guidance for mRNA COVID-19 vaccination to give the attending physician more leeway and autonomy as something damning. After all, don’t they always champion “physician autonomy” when it comes to antivaccine doctors and their failure to vaccinate their patients? You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d think that it’s almost as though they aren’t operating in good faith. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

The bottom line is that the report of deaths after COVID-19 vaccination in elderly nursing home patients in Norway does not mean that the vaccine caused the deaths, although it is possible that symptoms from the vaccine might have contributed. Out of an abundance of transparency the Norwegian Medicines Agency made these reports public, and out of an abundance of caution it adjusted its recommendations for the vaccination of elderly nursing home patients. From a scientific and public health standpoint, this is a good thing, but no good deed goes unpunishe because, as I predicted that they would, antivaxxers are jumping all over these reports.

RFK Jr. blames the death of Hank Aaron on the COVID-19 vaccine

Last Friday, the news was filled with reports of the death of Hank Aaron, the Atlanta Braves Hall-of-Famer and home run king who dethroned Babe Ruth as the all-time home run king, surpassing his record for career home runs. Aaron was 86, and no cause of death was reported. Given that there had been news stories just a couple of weeks before Aaron’s death in which he was shown receiving the first of the two-shot series of vaccines against COVID-19 as part of an effort to overcome vaccine hesitancy in the African-American community, RFK Jr. naturally published a post implying (all but claiming, actually) that it was the COVID-19 vaccine that caused Aaron’s death:

On learning of Aaron’s death, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman and chief legal counsel for Children’s Health Defense, said: ‘Aaron’s tragic death is part of a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following administration of COVID vaccines.”

“Studies show that self-interested pharmaceutical company researchers, physicians, nursing homes and health officials seldom report vaccine injuries. Instead, they dismiss injuries and deaths as ‘unrelated’ to vaccination,” Kennedy said. “Public health advocates worry that the vast majority of injuries and deaths will go unreported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), the notoriously broken voluntary surveillance system run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).”

One more time, this is another example of antivaxxers confusing correlation with causation. For one thing, it is not at all uncommon for an 86 year old to die of old age or other comorbidities. In this case, Aaron died 18 days after receiving the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, which isn’t exactly what I would call a compelling correlation. Unsurprisingly, RFK Jr. views it as near slam-dunk evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine killed Hank Aaron when it is far more likely to have been coincidence.

I can’t help but contrast Hank Aaron’s death with that of someone roughly the same age. I’m referring to Larry King, who died a day later at age 87:

Larry King, the suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century, died Saturday. He was 87.

King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his production company, Ora Media, tweeted. No cause of death was given, but a spokesperson said Jan. 4 that King had COVID-19, had received supplemental oxygen and had been moved out of intensive care. His son Chance Armstrong also confirmed King’s death, CNN reported.

Granted, Larry King was in much poorer health than Hank Aaron, having suffered famously a number of health issues over the years, but it is quite possible, likely even, that King died as a result of COVID-19. Funny how RFK Jr. doesn’t mention him, even though he was only a year older than Aaron. Basically, COVID-19 is most dangerous to men of King and Aaron’s age, particularly men with comorbidities. Octogenarians strongly benefit from being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Denying coincidence

I’ve explained before how, to evaluate any claims of adverse events after vaccination, you have to understand what the background rate of that health issue is. If the background rate is high, then the likelihood of coincidence, in which that adverse event happens within a short time after vaccination by random chance alone even though it is not related to vaccination, is much higher. As an example, when discussing the issue of whether Bell’s palsy is related to COVID-19 vaccination, I brought up a calculation done on The Logic of Science demonstrating that, by random chance alone with vaccination being unrelated to autism, we would expect parents to notice the first signs of autism in 154 children within 24 hours of vaccination; 1,079 within a week, and 4,623 within 30 days. Careful epidemiology taking the background rate of autism diagnoses into account showed clearly that vaccines do not increase the risk of autism. The same sort of investigations will be required for COVID-19 vaccines to differentiate coincidence from true correlation and possible causation.

None of that stops antivaxxers, though. Again, on RFK Jr.’s website, there’s a post by him entitled “Death by Coincidence?” It is a lawyerly (of course) discussion trying to deny that such coincidence is common or even happens at all. He starts out by discussing the cases I just discussed of deaths among nursing home patients in Norway, scoffing:

These simple declarations — that deaths and injuries following vaccination are unrelated coincidences — are becoming a pattern.

Note the implication of nefarious intent on the part of public health officials, the FDA, physicians, and scientists. To RFK Jr., this is not scientific caution and recognition that coincidence is common when a common event (such as heart attacks in elderly patients) combines with a mass vaccination campaign. The law of large numbers guarantees that there a common event will happen after another common event by random chance alone a lot more frequently than the average person understands. (Another example that I like to use is being killed in a car crash, which is obviously not vaccine-related but shows up as an adverse event in many clinical trials because fatal car crashes are depressingly common.) Naturally, RFK Jr., in his effort to demonize COVID-19 vaccines, cannot accept that coincidence even happens at all—at least not with respect to anything bad happening to a person after vaccination.

That tactic is why RFK Jr. then sarcastically launches into a litany of anecdotes, including repeating the sad story of Dr. Michael’s death before listing reported deaths after COVID-19 vaccination occurring in Israel, Portugal, Switzerland, and Sweden. Of note, all of these patients, save one, a 41-year-old Portuguese nurse, were elderly, and ranged in age from 75-91. (Again, remember my prediction that, as COVID-19 vaccines were administered to millions of people over the age of 65, there would be reports of death simply because the elderly die at a much higher frequency during any given period of time than they young.) If you look at all the links, you’ll also soon see that the elderly people reportedly died of heart attacks, one of the most common causes of death in the elderly. All were already ill, and the 91-year-old Swiss man’s case was apparently publicized by a “coronavirus-skeptic doctor”, while in Israel one of the dead had had previous heart attacks. The 41 year old woman in Portugal was found dead two days after vaccination, and the government reported that an autopsy didn’t find any evidence of a link to the vaccine, although the Portuguese Ministry of Justice refused to divulge the cause of death, citing “secrecy of justice.” I wondered why the Ministry of Justice is involved, rather than the Ministry of Health; so I looked further. It turns out that the father insisted on an investigation because before her death she had been otherwise healthy.

Unsurprisingly, RFK Jr. then accuses the health establishment:

The routine of reflexively dismissing suspicious deaths and injuries as unrelated to vaccination not only calls into doubt the official data tallies on vaccine injuries, it also contrasts markedly with the habit among public health officials of authoritatively attributing every death to COVID-19 so long as the deceased tested positive for COVID within 60 days of death using a PCR test notorious for producing false positives. In fact, the $48 billion COVID vaccine enterprise shares three defining features with every new vaccine introduced since 1986:
  1. Systematic exaggeration of risk from the target disease. (Pharma calls this project “Disease Branding.”)
  2. Systematic exaggeration of vaccine efficacy.
  3. Systematically downplaying vaccine risks.

This is a case of what I like to call “reverse projection”, a favored tactic of cranks in which they accuse scientists refuting their misinformation of the opposite deceptions in which they engage. Indeed, the tactics of the antivaccine movement are exactly the opposite exaggerations RFK is accusing provaccine advocates of:

  1. Systematic downplaying and outright denial of risk from infectious diseases vaccinated against.
  2. Systematic downplaying and outright denial of vaccine efficacy.
  3. Systematic exaggeration of vaccine risks (and making false claims of risks from vaccination that have not been proven or have even been disproven, such as claims that COVID-19 vaccines “reprogram your DNA” or cause female infertility).

Meanwhile, RFK Jr. claims conspiracy to hide deaths:

We don’t know the true risk of death from the vaccine since regulators have rendered virtually every death invisible by attributing them all to coincidence.


But researchers are unlikely to see all of the safety signals if a badly designed surveillance system allows local health officials and company employees the discretion to dismiss any serious injury as unrelated.

This will be the tactic of antivaxxers going forward: Blame every death or bad thing that happens after vaccination against COVID-19 on the vaccine, whether that bad thing was likely to have been caused by the vaccine or not, and then dismiss the careful, rational, scientific statements of caution or, in obvious cases, statements about the low likelihood that the death or adverse event was related to the vaccine, as a “cover-up,” while mocking any claim that the bad thing might have happened by coincidence. This is both an unintentional and intentional tactic. It’s unintentional in that antivaxxers do have the mindset of denying coincidence when it comes to anything bad happening after a vaccine. If something bad happens after vaccination, to them it is always the vaccine’s fault. Always. It’s intentional in that lawyers like RFK Jr. know that humans are pattern-seeking animals and that they are very quick to believe that a bad thing that happens after vaccination must have been due to the vaccination. The post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy is hardwired into our brains and takes an effort (and skepticism) to overcome. Antivaxxers take advantage of the fact that most humans think coincidence is very uncommon when it comes to bad things happening after vaccination. It isn’t. It’s common, which is what makes the epidemiology of determining whether a given vaccine increases the risk of a given adverse event or whether the adverse event seen after vaccination is due to coincidence, much more difficult.

I expect to see a lot more of this coming from antivaxxers this year, as millions upon millions of people receive the vaccine. In reality, given the millions of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines already administered all over the world, the number of serious adverse events reported has thus far been quite small. You wouldn’t know it, though, from the story that RFK Jr. and his fellow antivaxxers are selling.

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]

153 replies on “Antivaxxers’ efforts to undermine confidence in COVID-19 vaccines continue apace”

I opine that were you to distribute a stick of gum to as many people who received the vaccine you would have a higher death toll in the 48 hours afterwards. That said I had the Oxford jab and I was pretty feverish the day after so I can well understand how it might be enough to push someone who was very frail over the edge. The point of course is that CV would push infinitely more over the edge.

For antivaxxers everything bad that happens after the vaccination, is the fault of the vaccination, but everything bad that happens when people get the disease, is just a coincidence (or the effect of not taking care of ones health) and has nothing to to with the disease. In this way they downplay the disease.

One of the weirdest things I see is people protesting against masking, lockdowns and other things to prevent the spread of the virus, while at the same time they protest against vaccines, which might be the only way to get rid of those undesired things, to prevent the spread of the virus.

We have a curfew now in The Netherlands, and protesters(?) against it, have wrecked havoc in several cities. They destroyed a testlocation and tried to break the windows of a hospital. It was even in the news in Germany. I have to say, this really makes me proud (not).

OTOH, it kind of makes me feel a bit less ashamed of the US because it’s not just us doing these things. Instead, it makes me feel a bit ashamed of humans in general.

But, we are a ‘beacon’ and have browbeaten the rest of the world with our shining example:

We must always consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us. Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, State, and local, must be as a city upon a hill—constructed and inhabited by men aware of their grave trust and their great responsibilities.

— some old, deaded white guy

And what if 13 people died the week after receiving the vaccine while 13 people died the week before? According to the Antivax Law of Temporal Responsibility, does that mean the vaccine killed all 26 of them?

Texas sharpshooters, every one.

They have tried to blame my dyslexia on vaccines. I usually asked what they think caused my dad’s dyslexia, and my grandfather’s. They never respond to that question.

@Renate – It was in the news here too–Bloomberg I think. Thanks for filling out the picture a bit–I was wondering where these people stand on masks and other prevention and vaccines. Looks like a certain mindset exists all over the world.

Just so you know, the anti-vaccine activists are also blaming Larry King’s death on vaccines, even if RFK Jr., specifically, isn’t. Their theory is that Mr. King recovered from Covid-19 and then got the vaccine and died.

That’s a particularly dumb conspiracy theory, as the current recommendation is that people who have recovered from COVID-19 don’t need the vaccine for at least several months, because they should have immunity to the disease for at least that long.

@ has

“Eh, that you see is that you get”

Unfortunately, it’s the virus itself which is reported saying “I’ll be back”.

“40 watt range”

That used to irritate the hell out of me. I’m enjoying a bit of Arnie mayhem and then he asks for something with the power of a crap lightbulb.

Have you had some traumatic experience with 40 W bulbs? You want crap, try the three-ways — expensive with a short life expectancy.


Larry King was in the hospitdiesince December with COVID-19 already when he died. He died from COVID-19.

Mr King never received a COVID-19 vaccine and everyone knows this already. Or anyone who gets the real news, instead of rumors like you.


I have no “anti-vaccine colleagues” as you well know.

Just constantly repeating that statement will never validate it or make it true in this universe.


Try the national news outlets and avoid the fake news sites like Newsmax and FOX. Even the Associated Press news site will give you the news.

Larry King went into the hohospitain December because he had COVID-19, he died there from COVID-19.

Aelxa- do you really think that Dorit Reiss or any other reader of this forum ( including myself0 is not aware of the references you provide, and many others , from which to obtain news and in fact utilizes them , for better or worse? I thought you were going to provide some sources truly surprising. I am disappointed.

re coincidences
Lantian et al 2017:
conspiracy believers are more likely to over-estimate the co-occurrence of events
they also are more likely to attribute intention where none exists

they also are more likely to attribute intention where none exists

Alternately, the universe really does hate them that much. I can’t say that I blame it.

I can’t find it, but one article on Norway noted the need to reconsider the risk/benefit ratio in a population with only a few weeks to live. But, you know, if they die in a few weeks, it MUST be the vaccine, right?


I guess if they had pre-existing conditions, so it must not have been the vaccine right?

That is the same line COVID-19 deniers use to say only six people ever died of COVID-19, since the six were the only ones without pre-existing conditions.

Those older people with pre-existing conditions may have easily lived a few more years. Pre-existing conditions does not mean you are in God’s waiting room waiting to croak any day now.

People in nursing homes may need help with daily activities but it does not mean they may die die any second now.

My mother lived until four days before her 92nd birthday. Shoot, I have been living with pre-existing condition for 64 years already.

Dr. I thought that might be the case as well, but if you read his additional comments and then go deeper in his other posts from last year…….. I but I will leave it to you and others to decide………

“In order to attack me for pointing out the role of racism in technology”
“I mean, the entire data science world is very well aware of how bias influences data and it’s a big subfield to try and figure out how to erase that bias from the data.”

this is the same Eric Loomis who defended the killing of a Trump supporter
” I see nothing wrong with it, at least from a moral perspective.”

Try reading his blog if you think he was being sarcastic.

@ Charles Bronski

Well, well, well… skimmed over his blog. He’s obviously a leftie loon, at least to my taste. But he does, in the abstract, have a point: new neural network technology do factor in bias during their training. So, yes, racist bias will likely be factored in, though not quite how we might imagine it to be. The same issue arises when you launch neural networks on medical records. You also factor in bias.

And honestly, I do not think they’ll manage very well to stomp out bias from such algorithms. Or eventually, after a few disasters, the algorithms will reveal biases not only in themselves but also in the medical practice itself that they’re trying to pattern-match and predict. Too early to know IMO. Discussions might end up being quite tense when deciding who’s right or wrong… the neural network? or the medical practice data is being fed as a source?

We’ll see… we’ll see…

His University did a Pontius Pilate on him and disavowed his remarks as not representative of the university .

@ Charles Bronski

Which merely means that the university does not endorse his statements. Not that he’s fired. Nor that he doesn’t have the right to hold his statements. Nor that he shouldn’t. Nor that they are wrong.

Did you check, aside the political spin he puts on his statements, that his work doesn’t stand up to scrutiny? Or not?

Orac, if I may offer a little constructive criticism, for the sake of keeping things interesting, I don’t think a follow-up post on antivaxxers attempting to undermine faith in Covid vaccination was necessary. Orac, it’s obvious I play a vital role in keeping this blog interesting, so I am considering in the future you might want to run your posts by me first. Had you approached me, I would’ve suggested the one by SR of ICAN and Del celebrating their victory of getting the CDC to remove it’s statement that vaccines do not cause autism was much more interesting.

PS: I would’ve loved to contribute at SR but for the fifth time I was banned their and without a reason given. To your credit Orac, on the three occasions that I was banned here (or was it four?), a reason was always given.

I just found 5 documents stating vaccines do not cause autism on the CDC website. As usual, you are FOS just like RFK and his cult.

I’d offer to adopt a shelter cat if you’d nuke it from orbit, but the Chewy order is already on its way.


I trust that by “it” you mean Greg and not your new friend.

As for “it”; invite “it” over to dinner, show “it” the bathroom, and invite people from all over the globe* to hack the shit out of it (the ‘bathroom’, not “it”) when “it” goes in:

Surely, some sick and twisted do-gooder tweakers can get those RPMs way up there, you know, just for shits and gurgles.

{filed under: nobody in the history of ever asked for this monstrosity. Then again, a cat box that can run Skyrim just might be more engaging than magazines for kitty during his down time}

*plausible deniability

“…it’s obvious I play a vital role in keeping this blog interesting”

Sounds like what in Conan Doyle’s day was termed “brain fever”. Delirium is relatively common in Covid-19 cases, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research And Policy*. You should think about getting tested.

*”Delirium….involves confusion, impaired consciousness, disorientation, lack of attention, agitation, and other cognitive problems”

There was a case where a man got COVID and was convinced he won the election, so it’s certainly possible it could cause Greg’s symptoms.


Could that person possibly be Patient Zero……yes, yes, yes!!!

Unfortunately he survived. Despite the ill wishes of most of the population.

for the fifth time I was banned their and without a reason given

Illiteracy is reason enough.

Given that Greg proclaimed that reading books was weird and not an acceptable thing for an adult to do (he was mad his daughters’ piano teacher’s husband would rather read a book than talk to Greg, which, like, duh, so would anyone?), I do wonder how he manages to post here.
Text-to-voice software?

he was mad his daughters’ piano teacher’s husband would rather read a book than talk to Greg

That nearly shorted out my lower GI tract.

“he was mad his daughters’ piano teacher’s husband would rather read a book than talk to Greg”


The biggest increase in life expectancy is because of our sanitation practices and not thru vaccines, which are important, but did not increase life expectancy like clean water, improved sewer, cleaner air, better diets and the abundance of a variety of foods . Vaccines were not in wide use until the 1940’s, the next biggest increase was in the life style changes in the 1970’s and anti cigarette campaigns and physical fitness/weight loss publicity.

This is just an observation and not a judgement of vax or novax

Please explain how clean water, sanitation and diet vanquished or vastly reduced the incidence of polio, Hib meningitis, rubella and its accompanying scourge of birth defects, and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

“This is just an observation and not a judgement of vax or novax”

Curious then that you’re using a standard ploy favored by antivaxers.

Please explain how clean water, sanitation and diet vanquished or vastly reduced the incidence of polio, Hib meningitis, rubella and its accompanying scourge of birth defects, and other vaccine-preventable diseases. – Sophie should also explain why these diseases declined so markedly in incidence at different times.

In 1900 the life expectancy of a us born person was 48 years, in 1950 that number went up to 67 years (a 19 year gain) (50 year time frame).

Wide spread use of vaccines didn’t come into play until the late 1948 to early 1952.

From 1950 until 2000 (the next 50 year time frame) the life expectancy went from 67 years to 76 years a gain of 9 years with modern medicine (vaccines, cancer detection etc)

I made no comment on vaccines and just pointed out that the biggest factor in increasing life expectancy is a stead supply of good food, fruits and vegetables (thru modern refrigeration) and cooked on electric or natural gas stoves and not coal or wood fire pits, the increase access to clean/sanitized drinking water, modern sewage systems and personal hygiene.

Vaccines have played a part in the increase of life expectancy but the major of gains has been the advances in food preparation/handling, food storage,clean water and hygiene.

As to the spread of polio it most often occurs through contact with the stool from an infected person. Rubella is spread thru a cough or sneeze or from a expectant mother to unborn child both. and vaccines do prevent the spread.

Attacking a straw man there Soph. Anti-vaxxers often point to death rates lowering due to improved care and living standards. They use this to state that vaccines don’t work. Conveniently ignoring the decline in incidence of disease X after the vaccine is introduced. A decline in X means a decline in long term side effects of the disease and a decline in the number of people who end up in hospital due to X.

You can live a long time hooked to a ventilator while paralysed.

@ Sophie Amsden

“I made no comment on vaccines and just pointed out that the biggest factor in increasing life expectancy is a stead supply of good food, fruits and vegetables (thru modern refrigeration) and cooked on electric or natural gas stoves and not coal or wood fire pits, the increase access to clean/sanitized drinking water, modern sewage systems and personal hygiene.”

Nope. Hygiene and medical care for children as well as modern sewage systems are indeed huge factors. But spinning that on “good food, fruits and vegetables”? Nah… doesn’t cut it. That’s a non-sequitur playing on the legitimate claim that good food is a good idea. But it really is a non-sequitur you’re playing here.

And you know it.

Sophie also seems unaware that polio became an especially virulent menace in the mid-20th century precisely because of better sanitation.

The widespread use of modern sewage disposal systems meant that a common fecal-oral route of spread to infants and very young children was largely shut off. Kids increasingly contracted polio at later ages, when it was much more likely to cause paralysis and death.

Parents living in fear of their children being permanently paralyzed by polio (or for that matter suffering any serious vaccine-preventable disease that can cause dangerous and in many cases permanent complications) are not impressed by arguments that focus only on declining death rates thanks to improvements in critical care.

As has been alluded to previously, it’s wonderful that access to a ventilator has saved many lives. It’s far better to prevent people from having to go on a ventilator in the first place.

I made no comment on vaccines

“Vaccines were not in wide use until the 1940’s, the next biggest increase was in the life style changes in the 1970’s and anti cigarette campaigns and physical fitness/weight loss publicity.”

Yes, Jack LaLanne, the Lebensreform, and Lilias Folan saved the world.

Wide spread use of vaccines didn’t come into play until the late 1948 to early 1952.

Apart from smallpox, BCG, typhoid fever, yellow fever, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis.
I’d regard the vaccination of whole armies as “widespread”, unless one ignores the minor historical footnote of World War II.

DB-Is it possible to calculate (ball-park figures would be acceptable) numerically the influence of environmental and personal lifestyle changes compared with the effects of all vaccination programs through time, on LIFE EXPECTANCY of humans? No sensible person will doubt the benefits to human health and reduced suffering, of the various vaccination programs, but quantitively, as I asked, which has had the greater impact ?


And every word I wrote was true, so all you could dig up from your lame bag of trash was that.

Ha, ha, ha, ha! So pitiful.

Meanwhile in Western Australia……

Their lockdown is over and they are back to no masks and businesses open as usual.

If only the US had had their act together, but then we had tRump and his concern for the Stock Market instead.

So, did vaccines really save us? I am in agreement with Sophie Amsden that they didn’t, but what can I say — I am just an unrepentant, ‘child-hating’ antivaxxer. I will add this though: Covid might just provide some real illustrative lessons on this matter.

Watching John Hopkins’ Worldometer Covid cases, it appears that Covid worldwide cases are starting to significantly trend downwards. Bob G’s optimism that people are starting to warm-up to the vaccine aside, the trend is occurring while the world remains overwhelming unvaccinated. So, could natural immunity put an end to Covid and with everyone shrugging, ‘I’ll be darn, we might not really need vaccines after all’? Maybe — and that’s why you should be very afraid pro-vaxxers. Be very afraid!

PS: Interestingly, despite the trend with lower cases, countries such as England and Israel that are leading the rollout are still seeing disproportionate amount of cases. Also, I asked somewhere else when Fauci would fess up to Joe that we might not want to vaccinate the US too quickly, and I recently read that Joe is suggesting we might just have to ride things out. I guess Fauci has!

@ Greg

“So, did vaccines really save us? I am in agreement with Sophie Amsden that they didn’t…”

And you obviously are as infallible as the Pope.

Did vaccines contribute to the betterment of public health? On top of the other improvements we mentioned such as sanitation? Yes? Or no?

“I am just an unrepentant, ‘child-hating’ antivaxxer.”

My take on it is that you’re a propagator of bullshit, which impedes humanity from having decent conversations to sort out its problems. Much more serious than child-hater. Much worse than being merely sadistic. I am sadistic, and I see nothing wrong with it. I do however see something wrong with shoving shit in the minds of others. Brainwashing is wrong.

“Covid might just provide some real illustrative lessons on this matter.”

Oh! Really? Which lessons?

“Watching John Hopkins’ Worldometer Covid cases, it appears that Covid worldwide cases are starting to significantly trend downwards.”

And China has recently been putting 19 million people under lockdown. With food shortages. For 1800 official cases?

“So, could natural immunity put an end to Covid and with everyone shrugging, ‘I’ll be darn, we might not really need vaccines after all’?”

Show me the link to your Worldometer stats. Until then, you’re, as usual, bullshitting people around.

Looking at the worldometer coronavirus page, I do see there’s a drop, but the daily new case rate is still over a half a million people per day. And don’t forget that in the past few weeks, a lot of places have gone back into lockdown in response to a record-breaking peak.

Nowhere near enough people have contracted it naturally to be preventing spread. We’ve got a long ways to go before we achieve herd immunity. It’s far more likely that the resumed lockdowns are responsible for the current drop. We haven’t been below 500,000 new cases per day globally since October — I think you’re celebrating rather prematurely.

While vaccines are being rolled out and populations being vaccinated….those same vaccines are being outdated by mutating strains of COVID-19. Thus requiring “booster” vaccines to be developed.

It is a great year for vaccine makers, in fact looks like it will be a “forever” good things for them. Since they are now saying it looks like we will need a yearly COVID-19 shot, just like the flu.

Meanwhile in Western Australia, which has had ZERO cases of COVID-19 and life was running normally without masks or business closures……one case of COVID-19 developed in a guard at a quarantine hotel, where visitors have to stay for two weeks before entering the province’s population.

The entire province was immediately put into lockdown for five days to stop any spread of COVID-19 and to track down where he had gone before coming down with symptoms.

It is amazing what can be done to stop a disease if you REALLY want to stop it.

Think where we would be today if our government had instituted the same procedures as Western Australia, at the very beginning. It may have required people coming to the US to quarantine for two weeks in a strictly observed facility…..but it would have saved 450,000 lives plus our economy.

The costs of the facilities would have been alot cheaper than these multiple Trillion Dollar rescue packages, and “free” vaccinations. Which we and our kids and grandchildren, etc will be paying for forever and ever.

While vaccines are being rolled out and populations being vaccinated….those same vaccines are being outdated by mutating strains of COVID-19.

I haven’t checked whether Mojo Nixon has properly apologized to Michael J. Fox, but you’ve got exactly no Elvis in you, Alexandra.

Considering the large numbers of deaths here in Los Angeles these past several weeks, the anti-vaccine propaganda does not seem to be having much effect on the long lines of cars (and long lines of people) trying to get the shot. And those who did get the shot and are interviewed on the local tv news are always bubbling over with gratitude and relief. There has been a substantial fraction of fire fighters who refused the offer, but we’re not hearing a lot about them or about other refusers. Mostly, there is little effect on the total community immunization because there is more demand than supply.

I also notice that there is a lot of discussion (and gossip) about the availability of the vaccine and where some people have managed to get it. The safety officer where I work told me about how he found out (the Next Door internet site) that you could get the shot at a particular Ralphs Pharmacy, and he got it. I’m not hearing any discussion about the dangers of vaccines, just a small amount of discussion about how to convince people who are a bit concerned about safety.

At the current level of 420,000 dead (surely an underestimate and bound to rise over the next weeks), people are going to be lining up for the shots even if they have some residual concerns over safety. As the vaccinated fraction rises to a hundred million Americans, and assuming the number of cases falls accordingly, it is going to be hard for the anti-vaccine people to be as scary as they might be at this point — and since the disease is not only scary but is in the headlines every single day, they are playing a losing hand for the moment.

And of course it’s useful to have this site available with the counterarguments to the liars and fanatics. Much appreciated.

Things will get even more interesting if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved, as this could be the supply for that extra hundred million doses (only one required). We will get to hear about adenovirus and DNA and all that. There will be lots of arguments about the dangers of filling yourself full of toxic viruses but little discussion about what a gutless virus actually is.

I wonder if people ever realize that when they swallow a lettuce leaf or a bite of a hamburger that they are ingesting lots of DNA.

BOB G-also that vegans cannot escape the ingestion of animal remains since many of the the nutrients from decomposed bodies of many soil animals are absorbed into the structure of plant materials which they consume.


You misunderstand vegans. They do not wish to be the direct cause of another living animals dead, hence they avoid all foods clothing , etc that is made directly from animals. They fully understand that everything alive is recycled from another life. Heck we all have recycled star matter in us, too.

Personally, I enjoy an excellent steak, medium rare please.

@ Sophie Amsden

You write: “Wide spread use of vaccines didn’t come into play until the late 1948 to early 1952.” WRONG.

What about smallpox? Prior to widespread vaccination in U.S. beginning in 1800s epidemics would kill about 30% and blind many others. During the 20th Century smallpox killed about 200 million people in Third World prior to WHO vaccine campaign to end. The US earlier had ended smallpox with MASS VACCINATIONS. Now, no more smallpox deaths, even in Third World with inadequate nutrition, unclean water, etc. And diphtheria killed over 15,000 children yearly in U.S. prior to vaccine. And even the Statista figure shows a significant drop in life-expectancy in U.S. following 1918 flu pandemic.

Clean water protects us against waterborne infections, except polio, which ended with a vaccine. Safe foods protect us against foodborne infections. And adequate nutrition allows our immune systems to function well; but anyone who understands immunology knows that even the healthiest immune system takes 10 to 14 days for B-cells and T-cells to recognize a new microbe, rev up, and, hopefully defeat it. Unfortunately, some microbes do so much damage, even killing us, before this can happen and others simply don’t succumb, overwhelm even a revved up immune system.

In addition, you focus only on deaths/life-expectancy. In the late 1980s I met a man who had spent 35 years in an iron lung. I’ve know people who lost their hearing or sight from measles, and I could go on.

The fact is that life-expectancy and despite what antivaccinationists claim, reduction in disabilities, are due to a number of factors and vaccines have played a significant role. Even today we don’t have a good treatment for smallpox. If some terrorist group somehow got hold of it or a related pox, e.g., monkey pox, should mutate, we could see literally 10s of millions of Americans die. Fortunately, I’ve had the smallpox vaccine three times. Once as an infant, again in 1968 when I went to Europe for the summer, and again in 1975 when I worked for U.S. Navy in Western Pacific. Though protection wears off, possibility that three shots conferred some minimal residual immunity.

Speaking of vaccine hesitancy, I’m utterly baffled why people down here in Florida have some sort of hangup about shingles vaccination. My late father “heard it was bad” but couldn’t explain why or how.

There is one neat thing about Florida, although this year might be getting a little late in the season:

One may get flogged by an iguana falling out of a tree in a cold spell and that ain’t nuthin’ of an experience to sneeze* at.

The National Weather Service in Miami issued a “falling iguanas” alert on Tuesday

What *terror that elicits now.


The shingles vaccine causes some very bad died-effects, SEVERE pain, fatigue, muscle aches etc………

I have had shingles since my teens, over 40 years now with at least yearly outbreaks, sometimes twice a year or more.

As long as you take the shingles medication, like Zovirax, as soon as symptoms start, then it goes right away. Shingles is not a horrible disease, it is merely the chicken pox virus that has been hiding out in your nerve cells multiplying. If you feel a itchy spot on your skin that starts to feel like it is burning, then get to your doctor ASAP and get some shingles medication.

In my case my doctor has now put me a daily Zovirax prevention medication, since I am older and she wants to keep the virus level suppressed down.

re ” good food, fruits and vegetables”

Funny, amongst the alt med folk/ anti-vaxxers I survey, modern food is notoriously detrimental to general health and well being:
in the past 100 years, there has been increasing adulteration of crops, depletion of soils, use of dangerous pesticides, pollution of water, artificial ingredients as well as GMOs, microwave technology, the growth of fast foods, factory farmed meats, Big Farm industry, sugar/ corn/ gluten based foods and packaged worthless products.

HOWEVER, people then ( according to them) ate real foods, grown locally and produced by small scale farms; mothers created slow foods at home rather than driving kids to fast food places, microwaving frozen meals or – god forbid- serving pizza!. This lifestyle, being attuned to the earth and nature, produced more intelligent and moral citizens who were not addicted to mainstream media and the internet rather than observing traditional values. Then, in the 1960s-70s, IT ALL CHANGED!.

I swear I didn’t make that up but I hear this crap on a regular basis: anti-vaxxers have a variant of this theme that focuses upon organic foods and less vaccines/.

A corollary to that is the insistence that fruits and vegetables (available in ever-greater variety and often at lower cost in today’s supermarkets) are way lower in nutrients, forcing people to down handfuls of supplement pills daily to get their vitamins/anti-oxidants.

Along with such claims generally being grossly exaggerated, in many cases we have available foods fortified with essential nutrients or even (gasp! the horror!) genetically engineered to contain them, unlike the less-nutritious foods of yesteryear.

There’s also the stark reality that in the Good Old Days crops were sprayed with insecticides and herbicides far more toxic than anything allowed now (my favorite example comes from a book aimed at Victory Garden enthusiasts in the 1940s, which advised getting rid of pesky pests with arsenic).

The Health Danger tells me rollie pollies (an isopod) is good for cleaning up arsenic-careless gardeners.

” they are an important tool for cleaning up soil contaminated with pollutants like lead, cadmium and arsenic.”

There was an Agatha Christie story where one of the key plot points was that the victim had been poisoned with concentrated nicotine, which was used as an insecticide in the greenhouse attached to the property.

Gardeners (especially in the South) who read the Health Derangers’ advice probably did a round of head-smacking.

Pillbugs are often voracious eaters of ornamental plant foliage and can wipe out seedlings overnight.

Idk, Dangerous Bacon. I’m particularly fond of them and have from time to time encouraged their existence here by placing food waste under various containers. My experience with them (at least, with tomatoes and lamb’s ears) is that they stick to the dead tissue and ‘other’ beasties’ activities (such as slugs) get the blame put on them.

If they do indeed wipe out ornamentals then I should probably start skulking around the neighborhood in the dead of night dumping 1 lb boxes of them behind people’s heat pumps.


I think the point is you would not want to eat anything grown in arsenic, lead, or cadmium pollution soil.

Let the rollie-pollies eat the plants instead.

There was an Agatha Christie story where one of the key plot points was that the victim had been poisoned with concentrated nicotine….

Securing the vape juice was high on my list for preparing to adopt a cat.

Reading that I can’t help but notice how incredibly misogynistic the whole thing is.

Not Denice!

But the idea that all food should be grown and cooked at home. To actually do that (and you pretty much can’t, you have to buy in at least some crops), it needs to be your full time job, because it is hugely time consuming. It also requires a lot of very physical labor, so if you can’t, say, stand in front of the stove for 8 hours canning up all those tomatoes, well, to heck with you. So there’s no time to hold down a paying job. And economic realities being what they are, in a standard nuclear family, who is going to stop working? The person paid less (almost always the woman).

It’s all tedious and gross and promoted by people who haven’t the faintest idea of the labor involved.

@ JustaTech:

Not only was the past idyllic, it is a living template for the future! People can return to those halcyon days by leaving modern life behind **. Escape the cities which are corrupt and contaminated for the pristine countryside where you can become an organic farmer, live off the land and off the grid or be a craftsperson making your own clothes and furniture and bartering them for food!
People can find their true calling as homemakers, farmers and wood workers. You can protect your children from the unholy influences of high tech, Big Business and corporate education by homeschooling them in traditional values of honesty, purity, wisdom and morality…

Two of the worst loons I survey actually preach pretty much that although Adams’ includes guns. In fact, this very weekend, listeners can tune in to an hours long seminar about how to proceed ( PRN for a modest price) which includes plans for life off the grid and the best places to inhabit
given by a guy who alternates between his two landscaped estates

** ever watch 1890s House BBC or PBS?.
My mother told stories about how her mother, who also ran a shop, cooked starch for her husband’s and sons’ shirts! c. 1930?.


Are you kidding?????

My parents had a commercial laundry and my Mom and us kids did all the cooking and canning of food. Canning days were about two weeks out of the year if you added them all together. Us kids washed, helped peel and cut, etc.

The problem is you have no idea how to organize a household to do this stuff. And it was all done in addition to the work in the business.

Time was not wasted watching TV all evening or on a computer as nowadays. It was do what was needed first, then you could have a hour of TV at night, if things were finished.

Even my Dad cooked, when Mom was busy pressing shirts and suits, etc. Us kids all worked in the business, too. I could run a commercial laundry even today, but so could everyone in the family. We all pitched in to make things run smoothly.

School was the break from working. I loved school.


My Mom cooked starch for the special customers that wanted starched collars and cuffs on their shirts in the 1960s and 1970s still. They paid extra $$$ for that special service.


I have friends right now in 2021who are selling their valubles to pay their monthly bills, you do not have to “return to the land” to now be growing food in your living room and bartering to get by.

One neighbor went every weekend to the flea marketbyo sell stuff so he could buy gasoline and food.

Make fun all you want but people where I live were already turning their lawns into small gardens to grow food in 2020. You can grow alot in a small 10×10 foot garden. I dug up ornamental bushes to put in two garden plots.

@Denice: I love those shows!
I also really like the Tudor Farm/Victorian Farm/Edwardian Farm/ War Time Farm (WWII), which has an historian and two archeologists doing a year’s worth of agricultural work (I’m sure they have a lot of off-camera help). They’re much more prepared for the time-trip, but the historian’s response to plumbed-in water (in a manor house, not their farm house) in Edwardian farm is both very funny (she’s so excited!) and also reminds you how late people didn’t have even cold water plumbing and had to spend an absurd amount of time just getting the water to do the washing up.

Alexa, I think the disconnect you’re missing is that the people in question think that we should each be raising all our own food. How big was your garden? An acre? Did you raise wheat or corn or rye or barley for your bread?

Or did you have a garden appropriate for people who were running a business and raising children?

And all of that hard work just reinforces my point about this not being available to people with disabilities.

I hope your parents got to enjoy a fruitful retirement after all that hard work.

@ JustaTech

“And all of that hard work just reinforces my point about this not being available to people with disabilities.”


Though, honestly, there is value living not off the grid but in the countryside. I would not mind it if huge conurbations got progressively depleted in favor of smaller towns. Paris is a nightmare, for instance. Anything that weans people off huge conurbations has, in the end, my support. City life is fun as a youth, but it doesn’t make much sense to stack people up in buildings for their whole life.


Yes, us ancient folks who were born in the 1950s and earlier do not know what we are talking about according to you.

Unfortunately you are so very wrong…….

In the 1960s one of the biggest advertisers was Green Giant foods on TV, advertising frozen vegetables. Most vegetables were locally grown, and the freezer portion of our refrigerator was about one square foot big, two trays of ice cubes was all that fit, or a 1/2 gallon carton of ice cream, that was it. In winter we ate canned vegetables, there were no fresh, and frozen was way expensive.

People even grew some of their food if they had space. We had room for two trees, one Granny Smith apple tree and one Bartlett pear tree. And a blackberry bush and one raspberry bush. We used no pesticides, and the fruit grew all on their own with no chemicals. We could eat the fruit without washingbor peeling it.

Did you know those government pesticide tests involve both washing and peeling the fruit and vegetables first before they do the testING order yo get that stuff to pass low enough?

Frozen dinners were advertised in the late 1960s on TV. My Dad bought one once for me, it was gross. And frozen meals are still gross, you just do not realize it because you have never eaten real food.

Even today’s restaurants use frozen and processed foods to make the meals they serve.

I had a restaurant in the 1980s, and we made food for scratch. And the meals were expensive, but we had no problems making money and had to turn people away at the door, we had only 30 tables. If you wanted to know you would get a table, you made a reservation, honey.

Store-bought cakes and cookies taste of nasty chemicals, but you are used to those chemicals so a cake or cookie without them does not taste right to you.

Pizza we had about twice a year when Dad could afford to take us to the Italian restaurant five miles away. And it was excellent pizza, not that frozen crap or the junk from Pizza Hut.

Yup, we had our Polio and Small Pox vaccinations, and then we caught all the rest of the childhood diseases that they now vaccinate for. Both Measles and German Measles, chicken pox , etc….. and none of us died in our town and no one went blind or lost their hearing.

The problem is, you think we lived in an age where tons of people died or were damaged by the mild diseases that are vaccinated for today. Four million people would catch Chicken Pox a year, and about fifty people would die,….. that is an EXTREMELY low deathrate that does not require mass vaccinations.

And about 55% of those who died were adults who had not gotten chicken pox as a kid. There was a reason parents took their kids to visit other kids who had the chicken pox….kids rarely had serious results from catching chicken pox. It was much safer to get the disease as a kid, you did not want to get it as an adult.

There is getting vaccinated for serious diseases, and then there is going nuts over every disease in the book.

Notice that simply wearing masks and washing hands has made the Flu a non-topic in the past year? Vaccines are not always the answer. When I was a kid the Flu was a rarity, we wore masks when someone was sick, plain cloth masks. I only caught the Flu for the first time in 1972, when I was in my third year of university and living in the dorms for the first time.

So learn the real history instead of the hysterical stuff claimed today by people who were not alive then.

They like to claim all sorts of things like people went deaf, a result that was avoided by simply making a tiny hole in the eardrum… not a pleasant thing to have done but it worked. And today they now put in tiny ear tubes instead. I got one a few months ago at age 66, due to my allergies closing up my Eustachian tube.

What is going to be funny is when you are my age, what will you tell the younger generation at that time.

And frozen meals are still gross, you just do not realize it because you have never eaten real food.

I dunno, this Ling-Ling Shoyu ramen treats me pretty well, but I add extra veg (including the inauthentic broccoli). You certainly must not have had frozen White Castles (gotta bring your own pickles). And, yes, in my 50+ years, I have “eaten real food” — the 61st Street farmer’s market in Hyde Park generously doubled SNAP benefits. I was practically a frugivore at times.

Bugger off, Alexandra.

^ Right:

In the 1960s one of the biggest advertisers was Green Giant foods on TV, advertising frozen vegetables. Most vegetables were locally grown

I don’t know what sort of backwater shack you came from (nor can I imagine a freezer of that size — apartments in Chicago tend to still have long-disused portals for ice delivery, which are larger than that), but no, urban gardening was not the norm. Suburban gardening was not the norm. Outhouses were not the norm.

And frozen vegetables are often better than fresh. “Seasons,” I think they call them.


I think Consumer Reports did a good analysis on that a while back before they switched to being anti-GMO/pro-Organic.

Micronutrients start to degrade as soon as the vegetables or fruit are harvested, so the best way to preserve them is to flash freeze them. Canning also degrades them, so fresh is usually better than canned, as well as having better texture.

I grew up helping my mother’s parents run a huge garden raising everything from corn and radishes to raspberries. I got to help pull the weeds, pick the produce and help my grandmother can the excess. Fresh corn is great! Fortunately there is a farm east of here that trucks it in several days a week in the summer.

My other grandfather worked a dairy farm until he got old and changes in food safety regulations made it cheaper just to switch to raising a few beef cattle. My other grandmother taught me how to slaughter a chicken. I definitely remember that experience.

But family farming is a lot of work. The Amish still make a go of it. But my cousin living on that farm works a day job in town and raises cattle like his dad before him.

Perhaps Aelxa should look into the history of this school.

It’s not too far from this sad location.

@ Aelxa – Thank you for writing this up. The amount of stupid from Deni¢e was almost comical. Folks on here like to discount the importance of good nutrition. I suspect many eat a lot of non-food/fake food and are overweight/undernourished. Notice how they like to talk in extremes? Misogyny? Victim consciousness is all the rage right now. Give me a break!

You are what you eat. The Covids is particularly fond of fatties and folks with diabetes. They have lots of glucose in circulation to feed the ‘Rona.

Have you seen this?


Go suck an egg, since I was writing to Denice and not you. She obviously has no idea what real food is.


Again, I was not writing to you and 1950s refrigerators were the topic……not the original “iceboxes” that were zinc-lined wooden boxes that you literally put ice into to keep food cool. And they did not freeze or keep frozen anything at all.

I grew up in the Garden State, sucker.

In a town where a home cost $100,000 in the 1960s. Just west of us were horse farms and fruit orchards and dairy farms. And a huge Country Club with a golf course that covered over 100 acres.

What you can imagine and what was real is two different things.

There was no fresh vegetables in Winter, except Florida oranges and they were very expensive in the 1960s. A tiny two ounce glass of orange juice in a restaurant cost big time.

Aelx you are correct, but the majority of posters here insist on remaining ignorant

Sawdust, mouse poop, maggots, rodent hair, foreign matter (cigarette butts), human pee, it gets a whole lot worse.

So to the others, just keep eating those processed foods and while your eating your fast food try not to think about the teen age kids cooking your meal and that only about 50% -60% people DON’T wash their hands after going to the bathroom.


We were trying to figure out how to deal with the cytokine storm that was killing people, back in the beginning of 2020. It had been an almost daily topic on Medscape and Healio.

Obesity was very rarely seen back in the 1950s, I do not even know one kid in our elementary school who was even overweight back then. I thought my Dad was fat….and he wore an XL shirt and was six feet tall. He was definitely not fat by today’s definition.

But now in the US almost 50% of Americans are considered Obese.

Here are US statistics on Obesity from 1960 to 2014…….

Every year it gets worse, yet people think processed foods are great and so convenient, because who has time to cook. They need to work instead to imagine they are getting ahead. The only thing they are doing is digging a bigger hole for themselves healthwise.

Food manufacturers have it down to an exact science, on how to make food addictive. Like Lays potato chips said, you can not eat just one…..

They are insidious and do not care if they are destroying people’s health and lives….. as long as they make a fortune off people’s misery, they are as happy as clams. And the government lets this go on, because they collect lots of taxes on the sales.

It will go on until someone treats food corporations like they treated tobacco companies, with a big stick and regulation.


Only you would link your own article as proof.

Here is a Science Direct paper on how lifestyle changes can improve the immune system and it’s response to disease like COVID-19……

Psychological factors appear to have a weighted effect on contracting COVID-19……..

To deliberately downplay lifestyle and food changes is not helpful, and while lifestyle changes can not prevent disease, they improve one’s ability to resist disease and help decrease the morbidity of disease.

Nor can vaccines prevent disease 100%, as you well know. In fact, lifestyle changes can IMPROVE response to vaccines for COVID-19…….

So people who are going to get a COVID-19 vaccination should take advantage of the lifestyle changes the above article recommends to improve their immune response to the vaccine.

Micronutrients start to degrade as soon as the vegetables or fruit are harvested, so the best way to preserve them is to flash freeze them.

Ditto fish. I’d never buy “fresh” unless it was mamesh local,* which basically means the Great Lakes or, weirdly, in Florida, the blanket “redfish.” Smoked trout is terrific, just by the by.

*Sorry, Whole Paycheck.

Alexandra, you don’t get to choose who replies to your idiocy, so the whining is apropos of nothing.

So to the others, just keep eating those processed foods

I will readily admit that there’s nothing like homemade corned-beef hash, but there’s this concept called ‘satisfice’.

Mary Kitchen, meet Vital Farms.

^ And would just love to watching you hand-make pierogi. No pictures of the SCOBY in your toilet tank, please.

@ Sophie Amsden

“So to the others, just keep eating those processed foods”

Acknowledging that processed food is an economic boon to many people doesn’t mean I eat processed food. In fact, being French, I do very much value good food, and am of the opinion that restaurants should be popular, cheap, without overly processed food, and be decently subsidized so that there is an incentive to make people meet again in the open much more frequently (nothing to do with the pandemic in this argument, just general considerations). Professional cooks are more efficient that at-home mommies, and it’s a no-brainer that it would make more economic sense for people to benefit from the added efficiency of a professional cook. If people eat processed food in front of their TV, it’s a loss for society.

But all this argument has nothing to do with health. Merely with a sense of community, and economic efficiency. I believe we all have to gain by subsidizing people to go to cheap and popular restaurants with, say, a voucher system.

Back in the days, Le Tonneau de Diogène, or Diogenes’ Barrel, was such a cheap and very popular place. Nowadays, with 9€ for a meal, it’s still decently cheap. But such places, subsidized even for very poor people, should be the norm in a decently run society. To allow people to break out of their bubble. To allow rich and poor to meet, talk, have fun, get to know each other. To break down elitism where it does not make sense.

That’s what food is for. Nothing to do with health…

But, it’s the perfect place to store the Mother Scum. It’s not like people are leaving a trump upstream because the bowl itself is so nasty. Wait…

Professional cooks are more efficient that at-home mommies

Yup, but not inexpensive. The chef I was living with prepped everything for sous vide for weekly customers.

The part with private jets and eviscerating birds on hunting trips (“Why, yes, I’m a good shot. I’m a retired Marine.“) is something else.

@ Narad

“Yup, but not inexpensive.”

That’s what I call a market inefficiency. The neoliberal in me hates these…


Oh yeah, I love me some shredded wood in my grated parmesan cheese. I have to laugh at people who buy foods with wood pulp in them as an “ingredient”.

Cellulose, that is what they call wood pulp on the ingredients list. When Kraft added it to their grated cheese, I stopped buy Kraft products. And you find it in bread, etc…..wherever they can is they can make more money while giving you less food. Unless you are a termite of course, then cellulose is the perfect food for you.

The government has always allowed do much rat droppings, rodent hair and roach parts in foods. They even allow them to sell you meat from animals with Cancer, they just have to cut out the tumors first. And those parts go into pet food instead, yummmmm!

How about allowing toxic dried sewerage to be sold as “organic fertilizer”???? You buy the stuff thinking you will grow nice organic food in your garden, instead you are poisoning yourself with heavy metals and god-knows what else.


The government has always allowed [s]o much rat droppings, rodent hair and roach parts in foods.

Do you know why that is? It’s because it’s literally impossible to not have rat droppings, rodent fur and insect parts in food. No matter how good your processes are, some amount of these contaminants will get in. Government realises this, and sets a minimum level that’s way below the harmful level. There’s nothing untoward about this at all.

They even allow them to sell you meat from animals with Cancer, they just have to cut out the tumors first.

Ok, Aelxa, I’ll bite: what do you want the slaughterhouse to do when they found that that ox has a tumor on one kidney?
You seem to imply they should throw away the whole carcass.
Be explicit as to why they should do it.

Bonus question. Do you think your local freelance freerange farmer/butcher will also throw away the whole carcass of an animal with some Cancer in one place?
I doubt it, the poor guy would go bankrupt if he did that. Raising meat is expensive.

Funny, when I was a kid, my parents encouraged me to resect the spoiled parts of an apple, and just try to eat the non-touched parts.

Oh, speaking of apples, you know, these spots, on the apple’s skin? Especially the apples coming directly from the orchard?
Fruitfly’s poop. Well, if you are lucky. Fruitflies may not be the only flies flying around in your orchard.

Next, I’ll entertain you with this time I found live parasitic worms in the fish fillets I was about to cook. Spoiler: I cooked the fillets anyway.


They should throw away the entire kidney, and check the carcass for any more tumors at least, what else do you think?

Instead they cut the tumor out and sell the rest of the kidney to people. Yuck and gross big time.

Personally, they should mark the entire carcass for destruction, and not for pet food.

Which is why I buy meat from a local herd just a county over. I know what those cows eat and how healthy they look. And they are slaughtered right there at the farm. The place is a family-run business and they eat their own product. They even raise the organic corn the cows eat, and the meats is so tasty. The crap they sell in stores is just nasty compared to the beef I get.

Ok here are two news stories that have not aged well.

“Top disease official: Risk of coronavirus in USA is ‘minuscule’; skip mask and wash hands”

Now he tells us to wear TWO masks!!!!!

“Get a grippe, America. The flu is a much bigger threat than coronavirus, for now.”

A lot of democracy died in that darkness.

On February 17, we had a total of 12 cases in the U.S.

If we could get down to only 12 new cases per day nationwide, we could probably dispense with mask requirements.

It’s amazing how much we’ve learned in the last year!

It’s amazing how some people don’t experience the passage of time. Do you think scott wears his puffy coat in summer, just because he needed it in winter? Or does he wear a bathing suit in a snow storm because that’s what was comfy during a heatwave?

Conclusion: public health officials have learned a lot about effective control measures since the pandemic began.

On the other hand, germ theory deniers and their antivax allies keep spreading misinformation while burrowing ever deeper into nonsensical conspiracy theories.

“public health officials have learned a lot about effective control measures since the pandemic began.”

I don’t think it should be swept away that they LIED, and Fauchi* admitted to it and apologized for it, because there where no masks to be had early on; they were trying to reserve them for front-line workers.

*I’m not even faulting him for this

@ Scott Allen

Both articles you link to are from February, prior to major outbreak of COVID-19. Fauci changed and has been consistent since then. By the way, Bob Woodward taped an interview with Trump in late February where Trump admitted the virus was dangerous; but didn’t want to upset people.

Yep, keep on showing your intellectual dishonesty. How about critiquing use of antibiotics for stomach ulcers since until early 1980s we were taught they were due to stress and diet? So, if you develop an ulcer, please, don’t take antibiotics, just do yoga and eat bland foods!

@ scott allen

“Fauci changed and has been consistent since then.” — Joel Harrison

You, scott allen, seem to expect science to be akin to divination.

“The art of crystal gazing is in the clearing of the inner eye.” — Sybill Trelawney

Luckily, Fauci desperately cleaves to books and science, and not crystal balls.

Fauci was just “following the science”, it was just bad science but he was following the science, none the less. Fauci again repeated the “no masks” in March.

So for a couple of months Fauci and a whole lot of “follow the science” people were telling US citizens that covid was no big deal (there are videos of doctors, epidemiologist etc. on all the major networks who repeated this over and over again).
Then these same people did a 180 around April -June and wanted us all to quarantine in our basements (figuratively speaking).

and poster to the this site wonder why people aren’t listening/following the science, the people are not sure which science to follow.

to f98.6

The books and science can change and it is not “settled”

@scott allen

Also, asymptomatic spread was not widely recognized then. Never mind, as he pointed out, there was a shortage of masks.

Also, listening to the EIB ‘golden microphone’, “talent on loan from Gaud”, the last couple days they keep playing that clip from January where he says “it’s not something for americans to worry about right now…” But they cut off the part where he says “it needs to be watched and that may change in the future”, or words to that effect.

Funny thing, that; Back then, Limbaugh was all high and mighty over how Fouchi agreed with him!

So, Scott; Do you also worship at the words of Todd Herman and Ken Mathews now that El’ Rushbo is tapping out? Because, if so, you are a fucktarded tool and are being used to your last, cheap, plastic pocket-saw potential and duely chucked into the trash by duped-feeling peoples just greatful to get you out of their garage.

Hats off to scott for recognizing the self-correcting nature of science, while emphasizing how Covid denialists and other pseudoscience promoters doggedly refuse to face facts.

Attaboy, scott.

@ scott allen

“The books and science can change and it is not “settled””

I’m waiting for them to revert back to the claim that the Sun orbits the Earth. Just to be proven wrong… And do not give me some kind of “holy” book as a counter-example…

You, scott allen, seem to expect science to be akin to divination.

I suspect that “hemmorhoids” would be closer to his level of ideation.

Some of us may be interested in this Fact Check about the Fauci video.

I was more upset that Dr Fauci did not recommend wearing masks in March because countries like Spain and Italy were starting large scale lockdowns, and U.S. organizations like the NBA and NCAA were suspending basketball games.

The WHO formally acknowledged droplet and aerosol transmission in late March.

But mainly this is a lot of whining about water under the bridge by someone is resisting current advice and probably would have resisted it in March as well.

The books and science can change and it is not “settled”

Funny. People who keep saying that don’t go to the logical conclusion.
They are fast to say “I don’t wanna listen to you, science may change”.

And then come along a scientist who did change his mind, because science changed – “he is a big liar, he changed that he used to say”

Could these people be dishonest?

I’m pretty sure he’s full of shit all along. Works and plays well with others is not in his stars. Never has been.

I’m just curious about spotts’ cowardice on this matter. “Tenth man,” indeed.

Scott Allen

If you remember there was such a shortage of masks at hospitals they said not to wear masks in order to have masks for the hospital workers that needed them.

Plus trump was coming down on maskwearing and told Fauci to discourage mask wearing by the public. Of course Fauci changed his tune fast as the Pandemic went wild.

I was trying to get people to sew fabric mask for my local hospital so they could reserve the commercial mask for patient care. And got chewed out on- line for “spreading lies and terrorizing people” for asking sewers to sew those masks.

By the way, do you know you can wash and reuse those commercial masks at home for like forever, they are almost indestructible and will last hundreds of years in a landfill?

I don’t know what is happening. It doesn’t do all the pages all the time. Just, some get ‘stuck’ for me. Forever. Until I spout crap*. I see on “Home” that people are commenting but going to them takes me backwards.

Everything has basically gone to hell with this crappy machine I’m relegated to since I dropped a keyboard into my good one six years advanced in age. There is no bus bandwidth. Fuck a x265 HEVC video, this thing chokes on 720p. Dell sux.

Perhaps, it is some CF LSO?


This download is no longer available. This could be due to the program being discontinued, having a security issue or for some other reason.

*on that note; it sure makes a hell of a dildo:

F6810- without disagreeing with the social value of eating together in whatever environment, you cannot honestly believe- can you- that food and it’s consumption has nothing to do with health. An enlightened and intelligent person such as you display as a commenter must have some knowledge of the nutritional content and value of food in the physiology of living animals ( humans included)? The history and textbooks are full of information. Billions have lived or died in direct relation to the available food.
And for those who believe a healthy lifestyle may prevent viral infection just consider the healthy lifestyle of say Pacific Islanders living on fruits and fish and other ‘natural’ ‘organic’ food, with lots of exercise, who had no resistance to the viruses they were exposed to by European adventurers, exploiters and explorers and died in great numbers due to the illness caused by these viruses.

@ Leonard Sugarma

“F6810- without disagreeing with the social value of eating together in whatever environment, you cannot honestly believe- can you- that food and it’s consumption has nothing to do with health.”

Well, no, I do not. Though I do not believe you could really target a diet to a given health issue. Except in some specific cases. But overall, I do believe that food is more of a social activity. Whenever I hear someone talking out loud over a meal about health benefits or danger of a given type of food, I just roll my eyes over. Because 1. I have a very troubled relation with the notion of health itself, but that’s personal… 2. I do not think people are doing themselves a favor by being neurotic in this way 3. and, yeah… social value.

No point in poisoning oneself with tasty food. But no point overthinking the issue either.

But I guess it’s the no butter, no oil, everything boiled, vegetables everywhere of my childhood that kind of gets in my way of a decent appreciation of the health benefits of food. I do not believe that such a low fat no carcinogens diet is worth the benefit of making one’s male kid weigh barely 50 kgs at age 16 with ribs sticking out for the idealized long term benefit of reducing cancer risk. To me, that childhood experience was utterly bonkers.

I know all that was out of good intentions, but seriously… I never kind of expected to adopt as an adult the eating habits I was drilled into as a child. I’m not a rabbit.

F68.10-I understand your issue s with dietary advice and such like. Nevertheless some foods must be preferred to others as more suitable for maintaining good health especially with such a wide choice being available in developed countries. And the scientific research has been ongoing for many decades and more to establish some guidelines for advice on the matter. Of course this has been conflicting , changeable and often uncertain in the detail. In my view evolutionary human development with it’s wide variety of possible food consumption in different environments offers the best general guide without it ever possible to revert completely to those far off days! A varied diet of mainly fresh rather than ‘technological’ food. It should be simple BUT….

alexa- vegans have various motives for their non consumption of animal products including a growing environmental argument. How would eating eggs, or a proportion of honey from the hive, possibly cheese, be in any way harming animals. These products are taboo to the few vegans i have associated with in my longish life. As omnivores we are not unique as a species in exploiting other animals for food. I imagine it’s quite painful for a short time while the carnivore kills the herbivore. I blame God for such cruelty.

“I blame God for such cruelty.”

If we weren’t meant to eat meat then why did God make animals so tasty? Why, it is to test you, my boy; the same way you shouldn’t eat smart vegetables while naked {once they are out of the wheelchair it’s just really hard to put them back in}.

“Marvelous Marvin Hagler passed away in his New Hampshire home aged 66”

“Earlier on Saturday, former professional boxer Thomas Hearns said Hagler was in ‘ICU fighting the after effects of the vaccine’ ”

The DailyFail:

Yeah, no. “You are all good to go; now go home and finish dying.”

They didn’t even bother to say “blood clots” or anything at all. Just “natural causes.”

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