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Ivermectin is the new hydroxychloroquine, take 3: Conspiracy theories and grift

As the drip-drip-drip of negative evidence for ivermectin against COVID-19 continues to roll in, conspiracy theorists are doubling down. Why? It’s always about the grift.

After last Friday’s post, I hadn’t planned on writing about ivermectin again for a while. Ivermectin, as you might recall, is the veterinary deworming drug also sometimes used in humans to treat various parasitic worms, that has become the new hydroxychloroquine in that, despite an extreme paucity of clinical evidence, has taken hydroxychloroquine’s place as the new “miracle cure” (or at least highly effective) treatment for COVID-19 that “They” don’t want you to know about (because, of course, it’s off patent and cheap and would thus eliminate the need for COVID-19 vaccines). Although ivermectin is not quite there yet, it’s fast approaching the point in its predecessor’s saga nearly a year ago when I labeled hydroxychloroquine the Black Knight of COVID-19 treatments, in a nod to Monty Python and the Holy Grail‘s Black Knight who hilariously refused to admit defeat no matter how many of his limbs King Arthur lopped off.

The first time I discussed ivermectin, I described how poor the evidence for ivermectin’s efficacy against COVID-19 is; the second time, I started to discuss the conspiracy theories being peddled by the crank physician group Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), the UK ivermectin advocacy group BIRD, evolutionary biologist turned right wing conspiracy theorist Bret Weinstein, and, of course, über-quack Joe Mercola. Since then, however, I’ve become aware of more negative evidence against ivermectin, which I will discuss, as well as some reporting that led me to wonder just what is behind this push for ivermectin, which is arising mostly from right wing sources, the “Intellectual Dark Web,” and other antimask and antivaccine conspiracy sources.

A randomized clinical trial and a meta-analysis of ivermectin

Last Friday, BMC Infectious Disease published a clinical trial of ivermectin by investigators in Argentina to prevent hospitalizations in patients with COVID-19. . The study describes the results of IVERCOR-COVID19, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. It’s a decent-sized randomized controlled study, 501 patients, in which ivermectin was tested for its ability to prevent hospitalization in patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Patients were randomized to either the ivermectin (N = 250) or placebo (N = 251) arms using a staggered dose of the drug, according to the patient’s weight, for two days. The trial was carried out from August 19, 2020 and February 22, 2021 in the province of Corrientes, Argentina by the Ministry of Public Health of the Province of Corrientes in coordination with the Corrientes Institute of Cardiology “Juana F. Cabral”. Patients over 18 years of age residing in the province at the time of diagnosis of COVID-19 by PCR for SARS-CoV-2 within the last 48 hours before enrollment were eligible. Exclusion criteria included current home oxygen use or hospitalization at the time of diagnosis; history of COVID-19 hospitalization; breastfeeding women; known allergy to ivermectin; presence of mal-absorptive syndrome; presence of any other concomitant acute infectious disease; known history of liver disease; need for dialysis; concomitant use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine; or use of ivermectin up to seven days before randomization.

Let’s just say that the results were…disappointing:

In the IVERCORCOVID19 trial, in patients with a positive COVID-19 nasal swab by RT-PCR technique in the last 48 h, ivermectin in a staggered dose according to the patient’s weight for 2 days had no significant effect on preventing hospitalization of patients with COVID-19. No significant differences were observed in secondary outcomes such as the time elapsed from study enrollment to hospitalization in those who required it. Additionally, no significant differences were observed in the use of invasive mechanical ventilatory support, the requirement for dialysis, negative nasal swabs at 3 and 12 days after study enrollment, or in all-cause mortality. Patients who received ivermectin required invasive mechanical ventilatory support earlier. The use of ivermectin was not associated with increased adverse events.

So the best thing you can say about the results of this trial is that ivermectin appears to be safe in that its use wasn’t associated with an increase in adverse events. As far as the primary endpoint, there was no difference in the need for hospitalization between placebo and control groups. (It is here where the double-blinding is critically important, because if the doctor or subject knew which group the subject was in, it might have unconsciously influenced the decision of the doctor whether or not to admit a subject to the hospital for COVID-19 symptoms.) Similarly, there was no significant difference in mortality detected. In fairness, though, the trial was not designed or powered to find a difference in this secondary endpoint. As for the increased need for mechanical ventilatory support in the ivermectin group, given the relatively small number of events, this could easily have been due to random chance because the total number of patients who required mechanical ventilation in the study was small.

Also, in fairness, this study had another problem. Specifically, there was a lower rate of hospitalizations than expected. Moreover in the power calculations, the investigators were—shall we say?—overly optimistic in their assumptions. Basically, they assumed a high rate of efficacy for ivermectin, specifically an odds ratio of 0.3 to 0.5, which would translate into an estimated 50-70% reduction in the rate of hospitalization in the ivermectin group compared to placebo. This means that one must concede that this trial can’t rule out some efficacy for ivermectin less than a 50-70% reduction in hospitalizations. This study is, however, yet another in the drip-drip-drip of negative studies of ivermectin that is becoming very reminiscent of the drip-drip-drip of negative studies for hydroxychloroquine a year ago.

This brings me to a new meta-analysis published last week. I hadn’t been aware of it when I wrote my post. Published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the official journal of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, this meta-analysis was carried out by investigators from the US, Peru, and Brazil.

In brief, the investigators searched for published and preprint randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing ivermectin effects on COVID-19 adult patients were searched through March 22, 2021 using five search engines. The primary outcomes examined were all-cause mortality, length of stay (LOS), and adverse events (AE). Secondary outcomes examined included viral clearance and severe AEs. Risk of bias (RoB) was evaluated using Cochrane RoB 2·0 tool. Inverse variance random effect meta-analyses were performed, with quality of evidence (QoE) evaluated using GRADE methodology.

As with the clinical trial I mentioned, the results were…less than impressive:

Ten RCTs (n=1173) were included. Controls were standard of care [SOC] in five RCTs and placebo in five RCTs. COVID-19 disease severity was mild in 8 RCTs, moderate in one RCT, and mild and moderate in one RCT. IVM did not reduce all-cause mortality vs. controls (RR 0.37, 95%CI 0.12 to 1.13, very low QoE) or LOS vs. controls (MD 0.72 days, 95%CI −0.86 to 2.29, very low QoE). AEs, severe AE and viral clearance were similar between IVM and controls (all outcomes: low QoE). Subgroups by severity of COVID-19 or RoB were mostly consistent with main analyses; all-cause mortality in three RCTs at high RoB was reduced with IVM.

Notice that last sentence. The RCTs with high risk of bias demonstrated significant reductions in all-cause mortality in patients suffering from COVID-19. In any case, contrary to the findings of Lawrie’s meta-analysis, there weren’t really any good high quality trials. I also note that these authors didn’t include one of the studies (Elgazzar 2020) that Meyerowitz-Katz described as having “no information whatsoever on allocation concealment at all, and the two sentences on randomization procedures actually contradict each other, yet it is still rated as ‘low risk of bias’ for both of these fields”. It’s also one of the studies that, when removed from Lawrie’s meta-analysis, resulted in a positive meta-analysis becoming negative. As far as the other, Niaee 2020: this newer meta-analysis rates this study as having a high risk of bias—appropriately so, in my opinion. Lawrie’s inclusion of Elgazzar et al and erroneous rating of Niaee et al just show the principle of “garbage in, garbage out” in meta-analyses. It also shows how, when the overall quality of the studies included is low, even one or two outliers of poor quality can change a negative meta-analysis to a falsely positive one.

Finally, this meta-analysis concludes:

In conclusion, in comparison to SOC or placebo, IVM did not reduce all-cause mortality, length of stay, respiratory viral clearance, adverse events and serious adverse events in RCTs of patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. We did not find data about IVM effects on clinical improvement and need for mechanical ventilation. Additional ongoing RCTs should be completed in order to update our analyses. In the meanwhile, IVM is not a viable option to treat COVID-19 patients, and only should be used within clinical trials context.

Before I move on to more of the ivermectin conspiracy theorists and potential reasons for them, I can’t help but repeat what I’ve been saying all along about ivermectin. Combining preclinical studies that show antiviral activity against SARS-C0V-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in vitro (cell culture) but only at much higher concentrations of ivermectin than can be achieved with safe doses in the bloodstream with the equivocal clinical trial results lead to a conclusion that this drug almost certainly does not work to treat COVID-19. This is particularly likely given that the highest quality existing randomized controlled clinical trials of ivermectin are all basically negative.

I note that when I discussed how poor the evidence for hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 was, I routinely received criticism that I “wanted patients to die” and was “hoping” that the drug didn’t work. I’m getting some of the same nonsense now that I’ve finally been prodded to write about ivermectin. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even though, now that there are safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the need for a cheap and effective drug that can treat COVID-19 is not as desperate as it was a year ago, it is still acute given how large swaths of the globe still do not have access to the vaccines. Moreover, now that Oxford University has added ivermectin to the protocol of its massive PRINCIPLE Trial of treatments for COVID-19, it is possible that there might turn out to be a benefit due to ivermectin in treating COVID-19, clearly just not as massive as claimed by advocates and conspiracy theorists. I’d be just fine with that, as I would have been overjoyed if hydroxychloroquine had been shown to be as effective as its advocates had claimed it was. It’s just that, right now, the evidence is trending strongly in favor of the conclusion that ivermectin, like hydroxychloroquine before it, doesn’t work against COVID-19 in humans.

Not that any of that has stopped the conspiracies.

Grift and the disinformation war

As I’ve written before, I’m getting strong echoes from ivermectin advocates of the same sort of astroturf disinformation war that I got from advocates of hydroxychloroquine a year ago, only stronger. Why stronger? To be honest, I don’t know. It could be because many of the same people who promote ivermectin used to promote hydroxychloroquine back in the day last year and have gotten more skilled at spreading their message. It could be because the evidence for ivermectin’s efficacy against COVID-19 is not (yet) as overwhelmingly negative as it was for hydroxychloroquine. Who knows? What I do know is that this is an organized campaign, and reading two articles cemented that impression. One article is by the ever-perceptive Anna Merlan, who argues writing in VICE that the ivermectin advocates’ war has just begun. The other was published in the Houston Press by Jef Rouner, who points out the real dangers in the false COVID remedy promoters like Bret Weinstein.

Both are depressing reads. Merlan’s article is depressing (to me, at least) mainly for its contrast with hydroxychloroquine because, after clinical trials turned resoundingly negative for hydroxychloroquine, the more mainstream promoters of the drug backed off, leaving just the hard core conspiracy theorists still pushing it. (Indeed, not even the FLCCC promotes hydroxychloroquine now.) Yet the promotion of ivermectin continues apace, using a narrative in which proponents of the drug are being “silenced,” much as antivaxxers now claim they are being “silenced.” (Unsurprisingly, many—but, in fairness, not all—ivermectin advocates are also antivaccine.) For example, get a load of the story of Ivory Hecker, a former local TV reporter who was fired and accused her ex-employers of “muzzling her for not letting her cover Bitcoin and hydroxychloroquine.” Now, she’s all-in for ivermectin:

The coverage extended also to ivermectin, Hecker claimed, the anti-parasitic drug that several fringe doctors and less-fringe media personalities are claiming is a miracle preventative and cure for COVID-19. That claim has now led Hecker, post-firing, into the company of a new set of friends: the Front-Line Critical Care COVID-19 Alliance (FLCCC), a group of ivermectin-promoting doctors and their allies. On a weekly conference call, which was free and open to the public, Drs. Pierre Kory and Joseph Varon, two of the FLCCC’s founders, lightly interviewed Hecker and heavily implied that all three of them are under the same oppressive thumb of censorship, being silenced by the forces of media, Big Pharma, and their unnamed co-conspirators. 

“I’ve left two jobs” in medicine, Kory said, shortly after Hecker declared her gratitude that she’s not in jail for her beliefs. “I was attacked and harassed by two different employers and I left.” What was happening to all of them, he said, was a signal of how oppressive the public sphere has become for people who speak out: “In a certain sense, I’d like to believe it’s gotten so absurd that we now have to pay attention and do something and fix it. This can’t go on.”

I’ve discussed Pierre Kory before, of course. He’s one of the founders of FLCCC and has been flogging ivermectin conspiracy theories since last fall at least. But let’s see where the conspiracy theories lead us. Unsurprisingly, it includes claims that, because of government, medical, media, and (of course!) big tech’s “suppression” of discussions of how great ivermectin is for COVID-19, lots and lots of people have died unnecessarily. How many? Well…:

Ivermectin advocates believe themselves to be fighting against the forces of censorship to promote a suppressed cure for COVID-19. (Asked during a question and answer session how many people had been killed by social media censorship against ivermectin, Kory and Varon offered estimates in the six figures.) Despite the fact that the drug’s effectiveness at treating any kind of viral infection is far from clear, their holy war has taken on new vigor over the past several weeks, as prominent members of the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web” have begun advocating for the drug—and have found themselves running afoul of policies meant to prevent platforms being used for the advocacy of unproven medical claims.

Even worse, the conspiracy theories and claims of “suppression” are money-makers:

Their claims of suppression are also making ivermectin’s biggest promoters ever more famous. Kory announced this week that he’ll be following up on his appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, where he preached the gospel of ivermectin to millions, with an appearance on Dr. Drew. But on their weekly Zoom call, Varon and Kory agreed with Hecker, the fired reporter they were interviewing, that something truly sinister was taking place. Kory hinted at a new theory that may begin to take shape in the ivermectin sphere, asserting that something called the “Trusted News Initiative” may be to blame for ivermectin’s lukewarm reputation in the mainstream media. 

“A large part of the major mass media have made a decision that they’ll only allow discussion on what’s determined to be correct and efficacious by the WHO and the NIH,” he said. That decision seemed be linked, he implied, to the Trusted News Initiative, an project begun in 2019 involving a group of news organizations trying to agree on new standards and technologies to combat disinformation, most recently around elections and vaccines, and to provide continuing education resources to help journalists learn how to identify things like manipulated images.

In other words, predictably, the conspiracy theory is…evolving. It’s becoming wider, in order to become a broader conspiracy theory that portrays efforts by journalists and the mass media to combat disinformation and help journalists identify manipulated images and real “fake news” (news that is fake, compared to real news that politicians call “fake news” because it’s a threat) as a threat to whatever the conspiracy theorists believe in.

But let’s discuss the grift, because, associated with any conspiracy, there is always grift. Always. Jef Rouner makes this point even more forcefully than Merlan by making a comparison that is so spot-on that I really which that I had thought of it first:

Two months ago, I implored people to get vaccinated against COVID instead of taking horse dewormer, and my email has been a circus train of screwballs ever since. By far, the largest number of messages I get implore me to seek out the work of Bret Weinstein, a “professor in exile” and podcaster. I did just that, and I now believe the world is now in the beginning stages of Andrew Wakefield 2.0. Get a snack because it’s going to take us a while to get there. 

Wakefield was a British doctor. I mean was as in “no longer allowed to be a doctor” for reasons that will soon be abundantly clear. In 1998, he launched the modern anti-vaccination movement by claiming that there was a link between autism in children and the MMR vaccine when he published a study in the prestigious journal Lancet. His work spread like wildfire, leading to multiple measles outbreaks all over the world including Texas. The disease was declared extinct in the United States in 2000, but he managed to bring it back to horrific results like the world’s worst version of Jurassic Park.

By George, I think he’s got it! Weinstein and his fellow dewormer advocates are the modern incarnation of Andrew Wakefield. They promote ivermectin not just because they think it works, but because it is very profitable to their brand to do so.

I’ve written about Andrew Wakefield more times than I can remember, and regular readers will be familiar with his story, including how investigative journalist Brian Deer showed how Wakefield had committed scientific fraud in his Lancet case series; how he then became the patron saint of antivaccine conspiracy theorists, first of the “MMR causes autism” variety, the more generally; how as a result he lost his medical license in the UK or was “struck off,” to use the delightful British term for it; and how he’d done it all for money, a barrister named Richard Barr having paid him to produce evidence to use in lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers for “vaccine-induced autism” even as he had developed a measles-only vaccine that he hoped could compete against the MMR. Unsurprisingly, in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to his antivaccine grifting Wakefield has glommed onto the antimask, anti-“lockdown” movement, apparently seeing a rich source of new marks as he parrots COVID-19 conspiracy theories and antivaccine nonsense adapted to the pandemic. It turns out that his fellow grifters have even co-opted Wakefield’s ideas to argue that COVID-19 vaccines will cause a mass extinction, possibly even of humanity.

Now comes the kicker:

Bret Weinstein is, simply, a right-wing media grifter in the vein of conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro and Canadian professor of psychology Dr. Jordan Peterson. Part of the “intellectual dark web,” (a term his brother Eric coined), Weinstein has risen in prominence over the last year as other members of the IDW have lost relevance. 

Weinstein made his reactionary right wing guru bones after he left his evolutionary biologist teaching gig at Evergreen State College in Washington State. He spoke out against the college’s traditional “day of absence,” where minority students and faculty would absent themselves to show their contribution to the college. A proposed change to the program would have asked white students to stay away instead to attend a program on race issues. Weinstein called this oppression. After a confrontation with protestors, Weinstein and Heather Heying, a fellow biology professor and Weinstein’s wife, sued the college. 

The couple resigned, and Weinstein began his career playing a skeptical maverick who was cast out by political correctness. His DarkHorse podcast is wildly popular, reaching Number 51 on the Podcast Insights chart. Weinstein, like a lot of IDW personalities, positions himself as a centrist intellectual just searching for answers, but it’s a thin veneer that is destroyed by even a cursory listen or look at his Twitter feed.

Here’s where Weinstein latches on to the “big Wakefield energy”:

Weinstein is also a fervent believer in ivermectin (that horse dewormer I mentioned above) as a cure for COVID, which is one of the reason he keeps having social media posts taken down for spreading misinformation. While it’s hard to find specific instances of him being overtly anti-vaccination, his latest output is implicitly such. In addition to insinuating there is a wide conspiracy to suppress ivermectin, he has had Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche on as a guest. This is where the big Wakefield energy comes in.

Here’s where I point out that I was comparing Vanden Bossche to Wakefield back in March. I just wish I’d thought of the term “big Wakefield energy.” I guess “Wakefield grift” will have to do. In any event, Bossche really is a lot like Wakefield, as Rouner points out:

It’s not hard to connect the dots. A seemingly prestigious scientist who is a lot less impressive when looked at with a critical eye begins crying doom about the current state of vaccination. Rather doing publishing research, he takes to Twitter and YouTube to get his message out, the hallmark of all great science. As an alternative, he offers a new path forward using technology that he is personally working on and stands to profit from. I suppose we should be grateful that Vanden Boscche isn’t teaming up with a disgraced quack who thinks his bone marrow cures autism like Wakefield did. At least, not that we know of.

Give it time, Mr. Rouner. Give it time (that is, if it hasn’t happened already).

Rouner concludes by pointing out—correctly—that at its heart this is all a con game. I prefer to refer to it as grift, because that’s what’s happening. Like Wakefield before him, Vanden Bossche is a once somewhat respectable scientists who has become so enamored of his own alternative vaccine strategy for COVID-19 that he’s spread a conspiracy theory about how existing COVID-19 vaccines are a threat to humanity. The result? Profit! Then Weinstein latched onto Vanden Bossche, seeing the potential to buff his conspiracy cred and thereby profit himself.

It’s likely the same reason that Weinstein has also latched on to ivermectin, as Merlan describes:

One prominent ivermectin advocate is Bret Weinstein. A former evolutionary biology professor turned podcast host and passionate promoter of ivermectin, he has appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast with Kory to discuss the drug, which he and wife/co-host Heather Heying have repeatedly claimed on their podcast can prevent or treat COVID-19. Recently, after receiving “strikes” from Youtube, the couple moved their podcast to the fringe platform Odysee and put their claims about the suppression of science at the center of discussion, alongside speculation about whether powerful institutions want the pandemic to continue. Prominent media figures have rallied around them in support, a cast of characters ranging from Ben Shapiro to Matt Taibbi to Bill Maher to Rod Dreher to Bari Weiss to Glenn Greenwald, citing them as victims of either Big Tech censorship or else what Shapiro called the “increasingly censorious Left.”

Because of course any criticism of bad science, pseudoscience, and conspiracy theories coupled with attempts to slow the rapid spread of such disinformation must be “censorship” or “suppression.” This is nothing more than the longstanding tactic by conspiracy theorists and pseudoscientists to cast criticism as “suppression” and tyranny, leading to what Merlan describes thusly:

In reality, two parallel and increasingly divergent conversations are taking place around ivermectin. One involves the routine workings of science. The other, holding that social media platforms are engaged in censorship, suppression of free speech, or even perhaps a sinister conspiracy, has only gotten louder in recent days. That’s been aided by media personalities like Weinstein and Heying and their supporters as well as the FLCCC. Joyce Kamen, the group’s “VP of Public Information,” wrote a deeply conspiratorial blog post on Medium claiming that ivermectin is being suppressed by a vast global cabal, titled “The Bigge$t Lie, Perhaps Ever.” (Kamen, for her part, is not a doctor; according to her LinkedIn page, she studied journalism and worked as a broadcast producer in the 1980s, and now works on communications for nonprofit organizations.) 


Their claims of suppression are also making ivermectin’s biggest promoters ever more famous. Kory announced this week that he’ll be following up on his appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, where he preached the gospel of ivermectin to millions, with an appearance on Dr. Drew. But on their weekly Zoom call, Varon and Kory agreed with Hecker, the fired reporter they were interviewing, that something truly sinister was taking place. Kory hinted at a new theory that may begin to take shape in the ivermectin sphere, asserting that something called the “Trusted News Initiative” may be to blame for ivermectin’s lukewarm reputation in the mainstream media. 

As I said at the beginning, all conspiracy theories are associated with grift. The grift might not be what gets them started, but it is definitely a prominent component of any conspiracy theory as it matures. Moreover, as I pointed out before, science denial is a form of conspiracy theory. It has to be, because believers need an explanation why “mainstream science” and “mainstream media” reject their conspiracy theory. Naturally, it has to be a tyrannical conspiracy to “suppress” their ideas.

Ivermectin as a “cure” (or at least a highly effective treatment) for COVID-19 is basically science denial. It is still possible that science will show ivermectin to be effective against COVID-19, but from my perspective that outcome is looking less and less likely. Thus, not surprisingly, the promotion of ivermectin requires denying the inconvenient science, with all the techniques of denial used by denialists ranging from creationists, to antivaxxers, to cancer quacks, to climate science deniers being marshaled against disconfirming science. Because all science denial includes a conspiracy theory, we should therefore not be surprised that ivermectin advocates have not only embraced conspiracy theories about the “suppression” of their favored COVID-19 cure, but have gone beyond that to go even bigger on the conspiracy mongering to portray any effort to combat disinformation as a grand conspiracy to suppress The Truth about…everything.

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]

123 replies on “Ivermectin is the new hydroxychloroquine, take 3: Conspiracy theories and grift”

” all conspiracy theories are associated with grift..” said Orac

Dis-information is spread by conspiracy theorists to make money any way they can
I just read news ( Business Insider) that Joe Rogan- whom I know little about- is not worth a billion but only 100 millions.

Wouldn’t be excellent if someone ( not me) compiled a list of how much alties,, woo-merchants, anti-vaxxers, brave mavericks, and anti-MSM advocates actually earn from their professional BSing? Amongst those I survey, there seem to be coteries of such people who flit from website to podcast to documentary- Orac mentions a few above. They sell products, books, films, adverts and other crap. Covid seems to have brought them out into the light. These dis-informers appear daily or are mentioned at the sinkholes I survey- an ecosystem of grift and lies. Their followers comment around the web to spread lies further..

I just read news ( Business Insider) that Joe Rogan- whom I know little about- is not worth a billion but only 100 millions.

When I was sheltering in Uptown, my host had him on the TV whenever the show was on. I had to strain to amicably disagree about the meathead — basically, ginning up mild praise wherever I could divine it.
I’m not sure if you have seen this before but it surprised me a lot to see the reach of the wellness industry. Some of the folks involved are Oz, Weil, and Ornish (Wellness Moonshot) and one of the board of advisors is from the Cleveland Clinic Wellness centre. The amount of money (if the stats are accurate) are eye-watering. So much that could be put to such a better use.

They all work on the adage that a fool and their money are soon parted. They just need to find ways of reaching lots of fools.

Exactly what is the “grift” of doctors trying to save lives by treating Covid patients early with generic, repurposed drugs — drugs that make no one any money? Hmmm. Follow the money? What do drug companies have to gain by making sure such repurposed drugs do not succeed? Well, let’s see. Pfizer’s Covid vaccine revenues were $3.5 Billion in the first three (3) months. Moderna has done just as well. “Surging Moderna Stock Mints The Vaccine Maker’s Fifth Billionaire [after their mRNA vaccine hit the market],” Forbes, June 2021. And, “Covid Vaccine Profits Mint 9 New Pharma Billionaires,” CNN, May 2021. Does any reasonable person really think big pharma and the medical establishment are not going to vigorously exert the awesome power at their disposal to demonize and subvert any and all effective, cheap, repurposed drugs, to obliterate them from the competition? Aren’t the evil words for Covid vaccines “softening demand”? And prior to the rollout, the mortal threat to Covid vaccines was “viable alternatives.” Read the FDA requirements for an EUA. Imagine a cheap generic like HCQ or Ivermectin preventing their emergency use authorization, which either drug would have done if allowed into broad usage in the US. (Imagine, too, the countless lives that would have been saved.) The work of these companies and the government agencies captured by them — as well as your disinformation campaign — shows an abject indifference to human life. You, Dr., can try to obfuscate this simple truth with puerile name-calling (grifters, cranks, quacks, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, right-wing extremists), but many smart and reasoned people see right through. You can attempt to conflate the scientific dissenters with those who question the vaccines for political reasons, but we dissenters know better. The scientific dissenters — including Dr. Bret Weinstein, a progressive x-university professor and Dr. Robert Malone, mRNA inventor and vaccine professional — are expressing legitimate, expert concerns and opinions that challenge the overarching, false narrative. Scientific dissent has propelled science forward, not backwards. Scientific dissent is information, not misinformation. Scientific dissent is paramount, because it can help identify problems with a methodology, policy, drug, therapy, health program or even a widespread belief. Dissent as a Checks and Balances for science, ever important today when much of our medical system, regulatory bodies, health organizations and research agendas are under the monetary spell of powerful pharmaceutical companies. Scientific dissent moves science forward, not backward.

OK the article makes sound although tediously long and snarky points. Now PLEASE tell me he did an equal expose on remdesivir. Also I can’t wait to read his refutation of the nonsense claims that coronavirus originated in a wet market selling bats despite all evidence to the contrary. Oh… those articles don’t qualify as respectfulinsolence – if that’s the case then this site is a joke.

Believe it or not, this very issue is addressed from the other side today by the grifters on the Gary Null Show and at Mercola!

According to my (limited) understanding of vaccination in the US, the more to the right one is the less likely they are to vaccinate against COVID-19. For the grifters, the vaccine hesitant and averse are their addressable market. It if therefore no surprise that grifters tune their message to that market and communicate via channels that best reach that market. Far right grifters already using those channels are naturally best positioned to benefit. Their audience has already been trained to respond accordingly.

I’m not sure Bret Weinstein qualifies as a “reactionary right wing guru”, unless his politics shifted 180 degrees after the controversy at Evergreen College, which resulted in he and his professor spouse resigning and getting a half-million dollar settlement from the school. At least, he was portrayed as a progressive in this N.Y. Times op-ed:

In any case, vociferous advocacy for ivermectin at this stage of the game is not a good look.

Yea, there are grifters involved in every conspiracy from JFK to Roswell but it’s amazing how skeptics always have an explanation for every anomaly and never question the mainstream consensus, thus making every believer out to be ignorant fools. Throughout history, real mavericks in science like Galileo or Newton were considered heretics until they were proven right.

Maybe ivermectin really is useless, but one crazy conspiracy theory that was quickly debunked before being generally accepted amongst many now in the mainstream media, scientists, and public is that this virus may have originated in a lab. Why is it so hard for Orac to believe that the Chinese government obfuscation could actually be a legitimate coverup?? Just amazing to me that some don’t think it is completely possible. Has anyone looked at the COVID statistics in mainland China? The curve completely flattened out in early March 2020 and they have had less than 5,000 deaths. Does anyone believe that?

Good article below by the way:

Throughout history, real mavericks in science like Galileo or Newton were considered heretics until they were proven right.

Newton was “considered” a heretic because he denied trinitarianism. Y’know, like JWs and UUs.

There are some interesting possibilities in the WP article, but until they can be confirmed that is all they are, possibilities.

We know there were two variants in the earliest samples from Wuhan, but we can’t tell which one was the earlier variant without some change of other sampled cases. But those genetic variations and cases from outside the Wuhan market make it likely that the virus had been circulating for some time prior to that incident.

The lab leak hypothesis is no more likely now than it was a year and a half ago. The closest virus we know was at the lab is too disparate to be a direct predecessor.

The reasoning is that we haven’t identified the animal origin for the zoonotic spread, maybe the virus was released from a lab. That was technically possible but unlikely before and it remains so. We got lucky with the first SARS and MERS is almost ubiquitous in camels, but those cases are unusual. We still haven’t located the animal source for Ebola or HIV, for instance.

China is an independent country, a tightly controlled society, and reluctant to admit fault. But that is not evidence to support a lab leak. The best route to an answer is to follow up on the round 1 study done by WHO with rounds 2, 3, etc.

You do realize that it wasn’t other scientists who “suppressed” Galileo, but rather the Catholic Church, right?

Again with cover-up. Lab leak does not imply Chinese govt knowkedge of said leak. It could easily have been an accident that no one was aware of. SARS-2 is overdispersed. Most infection chains die out quickly. It’s well known that it can fly under the radar for a while before erupting in a big outbreak. There is a large element of (bad) luck involved in the start of an outbreak.

Ivermectine constantlly tested in clinical trials. So it is hardly suppressed. Problem is that results vanish in rigprious trials.
There is a generic drug that is actually accepted for COVID, dexamethasone. Interesting thing is that Big Pharma could not suppress it.

real mavericks in science like Galileo….

Ah yes, the court astrologer to the Medici.

Galileo was a brilliant scientist but most of what people “know” of him today is total myth.

Always with Galileo. How about Laplace’s reply to Napoleon regarding no mention of God in Laplace’s Celestial Mechanics. “I had no need of that hypothesis.”

And better, Laplace’s reply to Lagrange regarding the same. “This hypothesis, Sir, explains in fact everything, but does not permit to predict anything. As a scholar, I must provide you with works permitting predictions.”

“And better, Laplace’s reply to Lagrange regarding the same….”

To which i assume Lagrange’s retort was “A how, how how how…”

Newton was considered a heretic for his theological views, not his science. Galileo was considered a heretic because his conclusions contradicted those of Aristotle and Ptolemy, whose ideas were still highly influential in the church.

Maybe ivermectin really is useless

The manufacturer is on public record confirming that it is not an effective treatment for COVID-19. I’d trust them to know.

but one crazy conspiracy theory that was quickly debunked before being generally accepted amongst many now in the mainstream media, scientists, and public is that this virus may have originated in a lab.

Wrong. That is still considered a crazy conspiracy theory. The theory that has gained some acceptance is that the virus may have escaped from a lab, after being brought there from outside.

Isn’t it just so amazing that some respond to the evidence presented and analyze it? I mean WTF? Why would they do that? Everyone knows YTB is the source of all truth!

The rest of your post shows so much ignorance. I’m floored that what you think are the starting conditions. Amazed you don’t even bother to understand what the problem state is.

There is plenty of action to deduce what is real and what is not. Science has been integral in understanding how the universe operates. We kind of know more about how the human mind operates, thanks to BF Skinner and some other folks.

Your starting argument is wrong so there is no reason to pursue that line.

Are you a softball?

It’s the Intellectual Dark Web stuff that has him reactionary right adjacent.

The Catholic Church forced him to abjure his beliefs but there were plenty of renowned scientists like Tycho Brahe who still subscribed to the geocentric notion.

There are also countless historical conspiracies in math and science when grift benefited the wealthy businessmen instead of true geniuses who originally made the extraordinary discoveries (i.e., Edison vs. Tesla).

Again with the denialism. Maybe a lab leak doesn’t imply government knowledge, but intentional obfuscation surely is troubling even if it was an accident in order to prevent this from occurring again, especially when GOF research (or whatever Fauci wants to call it) is involved.

I also can’t provide concrete evidence that extraterrestrials exist, but when taking into account the vastness of the universe and the resiliency of extremophiles, I absolutely believe there are intelligent forms of life out there. Some are probably smarter than the commenters on this blog. ??

That’s why parsimony is important. von Neumann famously quipped

With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.

Why does this even matter? He’s not right wing, he is a progressive that is concerned about the censorship of a viable treatment to covid19.

Censorship was once a right wing thing by the way.

@Jesse Orac is not censoring ivermectin (he has no power to do that) he just says that there is no good quality evedence to support its use. Can youn spot the difference ?

Weinstein’s gone full “IDW” and parrots all the standard IDW talking points. He might have been “progressive” before, but remember what led him to resign from his university position. (Hint; It wasn’t a “progressive” stand that he was taking.)

My take on Bret Weinstein is that while he professes to be left wing, his words and actions are more libertarian than anything else. I suspect this is another case where extremes of politics meet around the back and become indistinguishable from each other for all practical purposes.

I would guess that it is Weinstein’s championing of completely free speech that has made him the darling of the far right. He also seems to subscribe to the “there is no such thing as bad publicity” school of thought.

Talking about completely free speech, Jason Miller’s platform Gettr appears to be going as one might expect (if a few minutes thought were used).

Allowing right-wingers to emerge as champions of free speech is, to use a sports metaphor, an own goal by progressives.

I’ve come to realize that right-wingers’ understanding of free speech hasn’t advanced much past nine year olds who say it violates their free speech rights to not let them swear.

The Argentine study was underpowered–obviously. The authors said that the design was based on 10% hospitalizations (of a low-risk cohort). We know that covid hospitalizations run 1-2% of cases. How did you miss that? Didn’t an expectation of 10% hospitalizations of a low-risk cohort seem a little high to you? If the patient age had been a median of 80 y.o., that 250 per arm would have been acceptable. But a median age of 40 y.o.???

Low value RCTs still are worthless as ever.

Irrelevant. I’m not defending FLCCC. High quality studies have weight. In your article you relied on a study which has zero weight. Don’t be like the fools who pretend that RECOVERY’s or SOLIDARITY’S study of HCQ have any weight. You don’t give covid antivirals nine days after symptom onset occurs. The aim of antivirals should be to avoid hospitalization by treating high risk patients early, just like the CDC said about the flu in January 2020.

Ooh, burn. No, wait. I’m sure you and Gerg would get along famously, so long as you don’t mind his insistence on your being brain-damaged. Your blog seems as though it would benefit from a bit more traffic in any event.

Anyway, your “ROFL” is, indeed, painfully stupid. It’s too bad, though, that you missed this item, which would have given you a better opportunity to bark up the wrong squirrel. HTH. HAND.

Dr. Kory responded to at least some of your scientific criticisms in this recent debate:

His opponent in the debate didn’t seem all that knowledgeable, but from what I’ve seen I think he would be much more credible than you in a public discussion, having spent much more time studying the issue and simply knowing a lot more. And for you to insinuate “grift” as a motivation for his work (and the work of some others mentioned who I also think have a great deal of integrity), which I believe you have done, is, in my opinion, defamatory and should be actionable. If I were your web hosting company I would deplatform you, at least until you present what I feel is credible evidence you are correct.

The freedom of speech issue is important and needs to be properly addressed, imo. I personally have no problem with private entities having a right to censor whatever they want on their websites. That’s reasonable freedom of commerce/property, imo, and as long as government officials aren’t involved in the censorship of reasonable free speech I have no problem with it from a legal standpoint, however greedy, foolish and/or counterproductive it may be. People who feel their speech is being censored for no good reason by a private platform can find or create a more tolerant one. And I don’t believe private sites should be responsible for what people post on them – unless notified by the government of specific content which the government has deemed unreasonable and potentially harmful.

And what is reasonable free speech, which government should not be allowed to censor under any circumstances? In my opinion it has everything to do with whether opinion is being expressed as fact. I have no problem with someone saying “In my opinion eating broccoli twice a day will protect you from Covid” – if they really believe it – but stating it as a fact should give the government a right to censor, imo, if it can prove it is only opinion (or trickery) and can cause harm if untrue and believed. And if the government does implement censorship, then the person censored should have a right to sue for damages and win, imo, if they can prove that what was censored was true. We should have an inalienable right, imo, to question any so-called fact, to express any honest opinion – if stated as an opinion. If you listen to Dr. Kory, I believe he is careful to phrase his statements in that way (there may be some exceptions) and that makes him a voice of reason to me. Dr. Gorski does the same, to a large extent – and I am thankful for his raising the questions he does – but I think he goes overboard in positing a conspiracy to see conspiracies, if I understand him correctly, and in implying things about various people – again, if I understand him correctly – which he really doesn’t know.

In any case I think these principles about speech and censorship, or some reasonable adjustment to them, need to be clearly defined in the law in order for public communication to be productive and not generating endless conflict.

I generally don’t watch YouTube videos (with rare exceptions), as they are a very inefficient use of my time and insufficiently information dense. Perhaps Dr. Kory wrote down his responses somewhere.

For all we know, Dr. Kory may be very good at televised debates.

He wouldn’t be the first person to make a career in pseudoscience by being a good showman.

That’s not the way scientific validity is measured, though.

Note, by the way, the implied legal threat, which, as you wrote recently, is not unusual from the pseudo-science side, either.

This from the very top of Kory’s FLCCC front page:
“We thank you for your continued support.
Your donations and kind contributions are invaluable to continue our mission.

Your donations go directly to academic support of allied physicians from around the world – to research and develop lifesaving protocols for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in all stages of illness, and to help disseminate the results of their findings to doctors and patients everywhere. Thank you for your consideration. All contributions help. Donate Now.”

And if you really think the cash goes to “academic support of allied physicians from around the world” or any other worthy cause, I’ve got a bridge to unload.

We should have an inalienable right, imo, to question any so-called fact, to express any honest opinion – if stated as an opinion.

That’s not the way it works. Your thinking that Orac’s post is defamatory is similarly misguided.

It’s a bit ironic to blather on and on about ‘conspiracy theories’ whilst writing articles that theorize about ‘grifters’ and ‘right wingers’ conspiring to grift…

Ah, but there’s a difference. The grift is not used to argue against the grifter’s claims, eg ivermectin claims are challenged on their own merits not because the person making them may be running a con, that part is irrelevant to the claim. It’s fun to posit a grift and point out patterns of behavior, though.

That last part is important. That is where conspiracy theorists fail. They assume intention and assume a conspiracy exists which they then use as evidence for fheir claims about said conspiracy. This is clearly irrational and unscientific, but there it is.

From the article: “It is still possible that science will show ivermectin to be effective against COVID-19, …”

All the snark and bravado but in the end he writes this little gem.
Wonder whether he is hedging because in reality he doesn’t know anything or maybe he got legal advice.

Hilarious, as I don’t see cranks admitting that it is possible that ivermectin might not work. Indeed, quite the opposite!?


“cranks” ?
You mean the doctors that actually treat patients and see positive results instead or
blogging and living off of young people’s debt?

No, I mean cranks, given that these doctors have never published convincing evidence from randomized clinical trials in the peer-reviewed literature that their “protocol” works.

Dave, you and Jon Schultz above appear to have a lot of trust in the legal system and by extension lawyers with your talk of “legal advice” and his use of “defamatory” and “actionable”. Strange that you both find the law as an institution an arbiter of truth. But then QAnon fever dreams are fantasies of trials of Hillary, Fauci, etc. Careful you don’t get your wish and have your monkey spanked in another show trial.

@Arthur Dent

Didn’t realize you follow QAnon. It’s your prerogative.

As far as law and all that…I assume that if we find that author of this blog was spreading misinformation which caused people injury I assume he would (and should) lose his license/job. I would certainly contribute money to such legal case.

Same goes for bureaucrats like Fauci. He did fund gain of function research after all.

As far as law and all that…I assume that if we [sic] find that author of this blog was spreading misinformation which caused people injury I assume he would (and should) lose his license/job.

That’s because you’re a dumbfυck, Dave. After all, Kory still has his license.

And McCullough, of course. Did you even follow the Wakefraud saga?

Protip: Enter “medical board” into the search box.

@Scientism Dave Government is more complicated than you know. Fauci does not decide who gets NIH grants. (Imagine how much work is involved here.) They are based on peer review, and there is lots of committees making the decision, as always.

Skeptics like Orac are obsessed with calling out quacks and cranks engaged in scientific denialism to promote alternative medicine in the name of grift because he thinks he has them all figured out. But when pharmaceutical giants do conspire to suppress discomforting science on a much larger scale, suffering virtually no consequences for ruining millions of lives, that’s just business I guess.

“Whataboutism” of the sort you just demonstrated is a propaganda technique frequently used by the former Soviet Union.

Lol, maybe I am a former KGB asset trolling your blog on behalf of the Kremlin.

A healthy dose of skepticism backed by science is necessary because of all the misinformation out there. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the general public to be at least somewhat wary of the medical establishment today following a devastating opioid epidemic in which J&J played an enormous role in genetically modifying poppy plants in Australia to make them super potent. How about that for “whataboutism.”

How about that for “whataboutism.”

In terms of your choice for trying to aimlessly change the subject, Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers would have been more apt.

Nick. What makes you think that the potency of poppies makes any difference to the strength of the pills that a doctor prescribes?

So Nick, I was wrong to judge you disingenuous so quickly. You do have a valid point that corporations and govts engage in cons as well. But here’s the thing, you may have zero reason to trust Pfizer, Moderna, the CDC, the FDA, the WHO, etc, however, to posit, as Bret Weinstein, et al do that there’s something “They” are not telling us about the safety of the vaccines implies a huge conspiracy that is not backed by observation. And again, parsimony; a much simpler explanation is that Weinstein and his ilk are just way out of their depth and throwing anything at the wall to see if something sticks. You don’t need a grift or conspiracy to explain their actions. Of course, you could turn this around and claim there’s sheer stupidity going on with institutions. I’d buy that over conspiracy. Also, stupidity is far scarier than a grift.

Number Wang – I encourage you to watch the HBO documentary, “The Crime of The Century,” for a thorough response to your question.

It might have helped if you had put your evasion after the question, rather than in a randomly chosen location.

( Squirrelelite, Arno, ChrisP and Arthur are perceptive as usual.)

The Lab Leak hypothesis is a better story for contrarians trying to get attention on the net: if you oppose standard news or research, you will be endeared to edgy and altie sources such as woo, anti-vax and politically diverse so-called investigative sites. Whenever there is an important announcement about Covid, the people I survey immediately come up with reasons to doubt its veracity: usually, there is a plot to deceive the public by distorting information, harming people or someone becoming filthy rich;; if a person is shown to be instrumental in addressing the pandemic, they will be reviled and attacked ( Dr Fauci,/ I’m surprised that alties haven’t yet focused upon Dr K. Corbett who helped develop the mRNA vaccine and is a young Black woman) when generally, they are admired as shown in polling by MSM.

In fact, most of the sites I survey instruct followers to disregard MSM, Wikipedia, sceptics and most of what is taught at universities**: it’s all a big plot to fool the naive public but their followers are astute enough to recognise the Truth***. Most of them are selling something- their sites have stores filled with: products, films, books, seminars, subscriptions, memberships, “charities” and adverts which mark them as grifters. They earn money off of mis-infornation and suspect products.. Many of them earn great amounts of money ( see business sites/ rational wiki ) and live in estates ( easy to find photos on the net)

In contrast, Orac does not make any money off of his writing: maintaining a site actually costs him. He tries to filter complex research and present it in a manner accessible to most readers
Unlike them, he has a real job.. jobs, actually..

** lots of hate towards universities these days
*** while they would call people like me “elitist” because of my education and background, wouldn’t the label better fit those who claim that they are the only ones who can see reality and are the “5%” who are healthy, moral and decent ( PRN) or protectors of children ( RFK jr)? They are quite special and the first wave of the paradigm shift .

I just finished TWiV 762, which has a good discussion of the Lab Leak hypothesis. It requires multiple people to be lying and has no evidence to support it. Whereas zoonotic spillovers happen frequently. We spotted the covets quickly, but it took 14 years to locate which cave the virus originated from.

China apparently has refused to allow Phase 2 of the WHO research. So it will take a lot of quiet, careful diplomacy to get them to allow western participation in any further research.

Fortunately they have been continuing to research bat viruses and have located at least two parts of SARS-COV-2 that we hadn’t seen in the wild before.

Two different calculations date a last common ancestor to early November or possibly October. Getting both the A and B variants going at almost the same time requires a LOT os assumptions about how a possible lab leak actually happened.

I agree. Misinformation is a big problem that is only getting worse. I am glad I discovered this blog to counter the insanity surrounding this pandemic because there is lots of very useful information here.

I work have worked for the FDA for almost 20 years now, so I have witnessed the bureaucratic ineptitude of government first hand, especially in regard to dietary supplements. Maybe that is why I am increasingly cynical these days.

Since we are speculating about motivations here, I found the following article about famotidine and Covid interesting. Robert Malone features prominently and apparently thinks that due credit wasn’t given him. The article does not mention him as the inventor of mRNA vaccines. When did he start calling himself that?

Hi Arthur. I went back through Malone’s Twitter timeline last week when his “I am TOO the inventor of mRNA vaccines!!!!!!!” hissy fit got tiresome. IIRC, he started claiming inventor status in January or February. 2021 I didn’t screencap the tweet.

Liz, interesting! Both Weinsteins have been going on and on for a while about how scientific greatness has been denied/stolen from them.

In related news….

Del @ high wire talk** announces today that donations to highwire/ ICAN will be used to set a new website that includes news and social media ( since he’s been kicked off of the standards) coming soon. In addition, Judy Mikovits discusses the crimes of Fauci in respect to hiv and Covid. They suggest a tribunal “like Nuremberg” where he will be
“walked out in handcuffs” and Pharma/ government will come “tumbling down”.

Del is a great example of all we are discussing : grift, anti-MSM, science denialism, anti-vax, unsurpassed BS artistry, stupidity ( that almost done him in)

** I find that I can tolerate about 15 minutes of Del so I skim carefully.

I should have known that something more pathetic was coming down the pike when I received a notification on a 2013 tweet insulting Dullman: Sure enough, here it is.

I have a story I want to tell.

The morning yapper spent his time thrashing the university of alabama epidemiologist over delta variant worries and mask suggestions.

A good many year back, a bunch of army men came here and made a base. They then bought everything up, made some nice modular housing, eateries, and german style pubs. But, none on the base because that would be sketch. It was all in the town. They then imported a lot of germans.

A system of propaganda had to be set up because those dentists, scientists, and rocket engineers had kinda a bad reputation with the most of the rest of the world. But it was hunky, dory here.

As a child, I wondered how I could tune in from hick’s driveway in Kentucky and have better music than in my home ‘metropolis’. The whole place has been trying to keep it 1953 all along.

It turned out not to be very hard {and I think that was why that was relocated here in the first place} to plant co-working ideology everywhere as most here where sympathetic to start with.

For a year and a half, it has been anti-mask, anti-distance,… I think this is why the 770 Vnn radio market has the lowest vaccine uptake in the entire country (20%). The whole populace came to the arena to get vaxxed. Just not anybody local.

The filter is going back on. This place is just too Trumpy and retarded.

Science-based medicine advocates including Elisabeth Bik are actually doing something about improving research integrity, and it’s standard practice to use quality evidence to change or overturn existing protocols in health care.

Quackery promoters and their conspiracy-spouting fans have no such inclinations.

And who are the people who go after her with legal actions?
Someone like HCQ-promoter Didier Raoult.

New research finds that scientist have issues with “integrity” and lie, who would have believe that.
So SBM has issues with truth and integrity

At least your boneheaded syllogism is presented plainly.

Science was aware of human frailty far sooner that you were Clint. I’m glad that you accept the possibility of questionable analysis and bias in Ivermectin studies though.

Oh good. Now we can forget about expertise and let any old numbskull make up something and sell it without any oversight.

Right, Clint? That was the argument you were making, wasn’t it?

Hey Orac,

I think you’re possibly being a touch unfair to Weinstein on one point. He was advocating for people to wear masks back when the gov authorities were saying that masks weren’t effective etc… and is pro vaccine. Whilst I’m not quite down with the whole IDW circle jerk, I think it’s important to represent them accurately. I know your spiel is crankiness, but it underlies the weight of your words when it veers into a mischaracterization of their views.

The taint of the right wing is on him for sure, but I think that comes from the sense of being aggrieved over past issues… it tends to bring out the ‘justice seeking conservative’ in everyone when you feel wronged. I’d love for your insights on the whole ‘lab mice having longer telomeres’ thing that he uncovered,with%20more%20modest%20chromosome%20caps.

and if you feel that this could have been the root cause of his distrust in the scientific community/industry?

It seems somewhat the ‘cool kid’ thing to do with the censorship and misinformation about these people, but in my view placing them under the Wakefield banner is a touch extreme. Weinstein’s wikipedia article makes claims about him with sources that flat out contradict what is being claimed. And whilst I’m still waiting for my turn to get the jab (I’m in Germany and it’s been a pain in the ass to get an appointment here as a foreigner), I’m glad that there’s people actively discussing these issues with the goal of beating this illness. I agree with one of the previous commenters that even though a lab leak seems likely, it’s more likely due to human error than any malfeasance or conspiracy. But back to Weinstein, I think that if you haven’t actually heard their podcast (listen on double speed), to write as though you understand their thoughts from the occasional twitter post (being the toilet wall for humanity) doesn’t show that there’s some nuance to their thoughts on the matter. And that it’s not quite the black and white scientific malpractice of the standard quack that I routinely enjoy your takedowns of.

I hope you all who read this are safe and well in these crazy times, and I wish you all the best and hope for your thoughtful replies.


Weinstein might have been reasonable…once. No longer. Now he’s spreading pro-ivermectin and antivaccine conspiracy theories. Let’s just put it this way. Anyone who promotes Geert Vanden Bossche, the man who predicts that mass vaccination against COVID-19 will result in mass death, is not pro vaccine.

Predicting that ” mass vaccination against COVID-19 will result in mass death” puts him in the rarefied company of Mike Adams, Gary Null/ Richard Gale and Age of Autism today. The last two maintain that since only 1% ( or 5%) of all adverse events are reported to VAERS,, the number of deaths is really 100 ( or 20) times more. So 7000 becomes 700,000 ( or 140,000). Also, VAERS is being eliminated because of all of the deaths reported! Adams predicts a mass death wave in two years of the vaccinated. CHD similar care mongering.

And then, they wonder why social media is shutting their accounts down!

So guilt by association? Have you ever met a communist, good sir?

In other news….
The ( woo) empire strikes back?

It seems that the legal eagles at PRN are preparing a series of suits against Wikipedia and its editors for its bio of their CEO, CFO and CDO ( chief dissembling organiser), Gary Null, who outlined their plans in an hour long rant today ( I assume which will be saved for posterity at their website)- Sceptics call him an “aids denialist” when, after all, he actually cured aids and brought many victims back to vibrant health- no one died!- which is proven in a film made by independent journalists ( see website) AND he’s not a racist, he helps Black people! All the time!
Tellingly, the chief loon mentions that due to Wikipedia’s “lies” he is no longer being asked to give lectures or appear at altie conventions.
No mention of Orac or other SBM writers so far. Although it’s possible that I ‘know” an editor or two, I’m not one.

I predict that these suits will rapidly vanish into thin air but serve for recruiting new customers ( health freedom, anti-vaxxers, contrarians etc) or to solidify his profile amongst backsliders.

To be more accurate, they are quick to threaten to sue. That way they get the maximum benefit from their marks and without the expense and risk of following through. The marks lap it up and never care that the threatened suits are rarely filed and are often summarily dismissed when they are filed.

He’s already filed at least one. I know one Wikipedia editor who’s received notice. I promised not to blog about it for a few days.

The last time Null sent me a legal threat, I had my lawyer send a nastygram in response. Null never answered. If he sends me another one, I’ll do the same thing. If he sues me, I will not back down. Given how incompetent his lawyer is, I might even be able to countersue for court costs. I just wish Michigan had a decent anti-SLAPP suit law. It doesn’t.

Interestingly, today’s rant is available at prn BUT it is labeled as something totally different! To keep it secret, I suppose, to surprise his enemies! Hilarious .He noted that he knows about Lao Tzu’s Art of War!

@Denice Walter (Sorry I can’t work out how to reply inline)

If you’re referring to Weinstein he corrected that and withdrew when the source was shown to be falsified. I hope you’ll have the same response.

It was within the first few minutes of either the latest, or second last podcast.


@Denice Walter (Sorry I can’t work out how to reply inline)

Despite the big red “reply button”?

If you’re referring to Weinstein he corrected that [sic] and withdrew when the source was shown to be falsified. I hope you’ll have the same response.

Why on earth would you surmise that when it’s crystal clear to whom Denice was referring?

**Him* refers to Geert VB mentioned by Orac who is like the others who predict mass death from COVID vaccines..

Not sure if that worked- him refers to Geert not Weinstein.

I vaguely recall reading about some studies as to why a book or record becomes a mega-hit as opposed to thousands of books and records of similar similar quality and style. One record company gave college students access to music from groups in development in exchange for reviews on a message board to see why people liked one band or another.

The answer seems to be it’s nothing. The different message boards all picked up different songs and voted them up. What seems to happen is that randomly a few more influencers than usual like something, and once it hits a critical mass everyone who likes that sort of song/book hears about it and it becomes a best seller.

I’m a big supporter of a critical approach, but I’ve seen a lot of opposition to new ideas over the last thirty years age like milk. Time will tell if this is another of them. Digging into the recent papers, there’s low doubt now of HCQ’s efficacy, as well as for other treatments. I was surprised, for instance, to see melatonin was part of Trump’s covid treatment, but sure enough it has a long history as an antiviral. I seem to remember a paper from 2015(?) about IVM as a potent antiviral against HIV, Dengue and Zika, as well as viral respiratory illness, so this is one I’m very interested in. This dataset is interesting too:

Well, the main one I was thinking of was, preprint admittedly, but there are a couple of others recently, I think Chinese. Truth be told, I never looked into HCQ much, but I’m not sure why is seen as irrelevant. Over the years my respect has grown towards data mined from the coalseam.

There seems to be a little bit of a ‘hall of mirrors’ approach at this site, where the agreed narrative is all that can be seen, and I don’t think that view can be sustained in the face of a growing body of evidence. I find the accusations of grift laughable in this case.

I don’t have the time, unfortunately, to go into IVM in more depth today (I am moving overseas in a few days), but there’s plenty now available on its mechanisms of action. I suspect the disparaging language used here, e.g. referring to a drug (which won its discoverer a Nobel prize in 2015) as an animal anthelminthic when its widespread use in human populations against serious diseases to the tune of billions of doses resulting in hugely positive changes to public health gives me some hint of the response I might receive.

Very quickly, the big issue is the efficacy of antivirals, and in this area I’ve been surprised by what I’ve found over the last year or so. For example, as well as Zn and vit D3, I was surprised to hear Trump was treated with melatonin. A little research revealed it’s a known and potent antiviral. Who knew? I remember too the resistance to the use of budesonide for covid, even to the extent of it being called ‘snake oil’, which flew in the face of the common sense you’d expect to be displayed by any 6-year-old armed with a puffer.

I’ll leave you all with the following little list of links on IVM’s emerging role as an antiviral. I trust some of them will be new to the readership. It’s early days for this one. Its co-discoverer believed it had potential as an antiviral in 2014 (see first link) and the evidence is growing. I seriously question the rationality of dismissing it.

Quaerere veritatem, folks. Oh, if anyone’s interested, one of the things that led me to consider ivermectin was the recommendation of Dr Thomas Borody, MB, BS, BSc(Med), MD, PhD, DSc, FRACP,FACP,FACG, AGAF, a man vastly more qualified than I.

@Dennis Only one of papers you mention is a clinical trial, wich has 12 participants. You raelly should do better.
Check double blind trials, for starters. Many of them are negative, why is that ?

I seem to remember a paper from 2015(?) about IVM as a potent antiviral against HIV, Dengue and Zika

With these search terms, you have exactly four items to choose from, with David Jans being the common denominator. I am rather unsurprised that he is a comrade in arms with Kylie Wagstaff.

This dataset is interesting too:

Also known as Do try to keep up.

That’s nice. Hamsters. It’s a long way from that to proving it’s a miracle cure for COVID-19 in humans. The vast majority of drugs that show promise in rodent models don’t go on to do so in human clinical trials.

“Maybe ivermectin really is useless”
dewormer – far from useless.

“one crazy conspiracy theory that was quickly debunked before being generally accepted amongst many now in the mainstream media, scientists, and public is that this virus may have originated in a lab. ”
1. a lab leak is a socio-political event – rather than reproducible physics, etc.
2. the lab leak “theory” is not generally accepted.

“COVID statistics in mainland China? The curve completely flattened out in early March 2020 and they have had less than 5,000 deaths. Does anyone believe that?”
Authoritarians can be brutally effective. In early 2020, I read tha they used true lockdowns in Wuhan.

The fundamental problem with you people is you’re sociopaths. Angry, hostile, sociopaths. Who gives a crap indeed? Not ya’ll, clearly. Why do you waste your breath?

If only I had six weeks to perhaps find a reply, I wouldn’t suggest that you just go back to TrialSiteNews.

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