Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Politics Popular culture Skepticism/critical thinking

Brownstone Institute embraces its inner antivaxxer

The Brownstone Institute, a spinoff of AIER and the “spiritual child of the Great Barrington Declaration,” is now embracing its inner antivaxxer by likening vaccine mandates to “othering,” including slavery and Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.

The Great Barrington Declaration was published in October 2020 by three scientists brought together by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), an antimask, anti-“lockdown,” anti-(vaccine) mandate “free market” libertarian “think tank.” AIER is but one of many such astroturf groups that have been sowing doubt about collective public health interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19, but the Great Barrington Declaration was among the most successful efforts by any of them, at least when it comes to influencing the policies of major governments. At the time, I characterized the Declaration as eugenics (or at least eugenics-adjacent), given that, in a time before vaccines against COVID-19, it proposed, in essence, a “let ‘er rip” strategy for the coronavirus, at least to let it rip through the “healthy” population (in order to prevent economic damage) while using “focused protection” to keep those at highest risk of severe disease and death safe. Never mind that, as I pointed out, it’s impossible to keep the vulnerable safe when a deadly virus is spreading unchecked through the rest of the population, and, unsurprisingly, public health experts were very much opposed to this strategy. Such a strategy was thus nothing more than a big “screw you” to those at the highest risk from the pandemic. Last year, AIER begat the “spiritual child” of the Great Barrington Declaration, a new think tank named the Brownstone Institute founded by former AIER Editorial Director Jeffery Tucker, who bragged about being in the “room where it happened” as the Great Barrington Declaration was drafted.

You might recall that AIER and the original trio signatories to the Great Barrington Declaration, Martin Kulldorff of Harvard Medical School, Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University have been enormously influential. It’s been documented how Great Barrington Declaration aficionados had access to the highest levels of government in 2020, meeting with officials in the Trump administration in the US and with Boris Johnson’s government in the UK for example, and how those contacts influenced pandemic policy. More recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed a fringe physician, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, as Florida’s new Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health. Dr. Ladapo, who was also a member of a group of COVID-19 quacks pushing hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin (America’s Frontline Doctors) and an admirer of the Great Barrington Declaration, promptly went about doing his damnedest to dismantle the few remaining public health interventions against the pandemic in Florida.

So, as I said, AIER begat the Brownstone Institute, which, if anything, is even more extreme in its messaging that AIER was. Indeed, as I’ve checked in with the Brownstone Institute every now and then over the last several months, I’ve noted its drift from just being antimask and anti-“lockdown” to rhetoric that is arguably more and more explicitly antivaccine. True, as antivaxxers did for a long time before the pandemic as they pr0tested against school vaccine mandates, Brownstone’s writers usually couch their rhetoric as “anti-mandate”—or, as I like to refer to it, “anti-(vaccine) mandate,” the better to point out that 99% of the time if you scratch an anti-(vaccine) mandate maven you’ll find an antivaxxer)—but a couple of days ago they went beyond that in the form of an article by an Jared McBrady, and assistant professor of history(!) at SUNY Cortland entitled, Othering Unvaccinated Persons.

Before I get into the Brownstone Institute’s latest line about how we’re supposedly “othering” the unvaccinated, I can’t help but bet that regular readers will immediately recognize this particular trope, as will those of us who have been following and trying to counter the antivaccine movement for a long time. Whether McBrady and Brownstone realize it or not, this is an antivaccine talking point that I recall first seeing many years ago and that takes various forms. When it comes to vaccine mandates, above all, antivaxxers hate facing consequences for their choices not to vaccinate themselves or their children. Before the pandemic, they hated that their child couldn’t attend school or go to daycare without being up-to-date on their vaccines or having a valid medical exemption. These days, they hate the idea that they might be excluded from restaurants, air travel (or international travel), concerts, and even their jobs if they are not vaccinated. That we are in the middle of a pandemic that’s killed north of 800,000 in the US alone matters not one whit to them. All that matters to them are their “freedom” and fear of vaccines based on pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. In brief, if antivaxxers face real life consequences for their own choices, they view it as “persecution.”

Traditionally, the first (and most common) form that the charge of “othering” the unvaccinated takes has been the misappropriation of the Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, representing the unvaccinated as the “new Jews.” (And, yes, Brownstone’s new history flack McBrady does go there, among other favorite antivax faux persecution haunts, as you will see.) Indeed, in the more innocent times before the pandemic, antivaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. got caught likening “vaccine-induced” autism to the “Holocaust,” after having tried to shut down a report by an antivaccine blog about him doing the same thing two years earlier. (He even explicitly invoked the death camps, and was forced to “apologize,” although, true to his form, it was a classic “notpology.”) It was not a new trope, as I’ve found evidence of its use as far back as 2001, and, no doubt, its use goes back much further. These days, RFK Jr. has dropped even his shame at having co-opted the Nazi genocide of European Jews for his antivaccine message and in his most recent book referred to the “final solution” and disingenuously refused to acknowledge what he meant or apologize for it.

Essentially, antivaxxers sure do love their persecution complex. Love it! Over the years, in addition to the Holocaust I’ve seen them liken vaccines and vaccine mandates to slavery (even likening pre-pandemic laws on vaccine mandates to the Fugitive Slave Act), rape, segregation and Jim Crow, human trafficking and sex slavery, and child grooming. To further their message as victims, antivaxxers have co-opted holidays (e.g., Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery) and symbols (e.g., the Yellow Star of David used by Nazis to identify Jews in Germany and their conquered territories), as well as claimed that they are the “new civil rights movement.” More recently, in response to criticism of the Great Barrington Declaration, AIER likened COVID-19 “resisters” to abolitionists (again, with “lockdowns” and vaccine mandates being “slavery”).

With that background in mind, McBrady’s Brownstone piece is obviously of a piece with longstanding antivaccine rhetoric. He begins by describing how he teaches budding high school history teachers through mock lessons that illustrate the conditions that can give rise to authoritarianism, referring to a textbook that he uses and then going on:

One passage from the lesson’s textbook concerned me the most: “Totalitarian leaders often create ‘enemies of the state’ to blame for things that go wrong. Frequently these enemies are members of religious or ethnic groups. Often these groups are easily identified and are subjected to campaigns of terror and violence. They may be forced to live in certain areas or are subjected to rules that apply only to them” (pg. 876).

Creating an enemy of the state requires othering: a process of dehumanizing through marginalizing a group of humans as something different, less than, and other. Such othered groups become an easy target to scapegoat, unfairly bearing the blame for a society’s ills.

I bet you can see where this is going in the context of past rhetoric from antivaxxers about vaccine mandates. If McBrady had been smart, he would have restrained himself and stuck to a more general concept of “othering” to decry vaccine mandates, he might have made his parroting of antivaccine rhetoric and persecution complexes less blatantly obvious. However, whether he’s antivaccine or not (I couldn’t find anything to indicate one way or the other his views on vaccines), McBrady can’t help but “go there,” and go there he does:

History is replete with examples of othering. The Ancient Greeks othered based on language, labeling those who did not speak Greek barbarians. In the United States, chattel slavery and segregation were sustained through othering based on skin color. In Nazi Germany, Hitler othered based on religion, casting Jewish people as enemies of the state.

Othering frequently plays on people’s stereotypes and fears. In the United States, for example, black men have been othered as “thugs,” playing on fears about violence and criminality. In another example, public health officials in Nazi-occupied Poland played on the primal human fear of disease. Propaganda posters proclaimed “Jews Are Lice: They Cause Typhus.”

McBrady should know, as an ostensible historian, that to radical antisemites like the Nazis Jews were a race, not just a group of people who follow a particular religion that they didn’t like. Why I emphasize this aspect of Nazi antisemitism that led to their attempt to exterminate European Jewry will become apparent in a moment. In the meantime, let me just quote one of the articles cited by McBrady for Brownstone, specifically this one, which defines “othering” thusly:

We define “othering” as a set of dynamics, processes, and structures that engender marginality and persistent inequality across any of the full range of human differences based on group identities.13 Dimensions of othering include, but are not limited to, religion, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (class), disability, sexual orientation, and skin tone. Although the axes of difference that undergird these expressions of othering vary considerably and are deeply contextual, they contain a similar set of underlying dynamics.

Can you tell the difference between “othering” defined this way and being subject to consequences for refusing to be vaccinated? The difference should be rather obvious. In nearly all cases of true “othering,” those suffering discrimination and persecution cannot leave the “othered” group easily—or at all! “Othering” is generally based on human characteristics that are, if not immutable, not really changeable, such as race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification, and the like. In contrast, being unvaccinated is very, very easy to change. Just get vaccinated! Of course, this whole concept promoted by McBrady is just old antivax rhetoric in a somewhat gussied up form. Instead of portraying the unvaccinated as Jews under Nazi rule directly, McBrady refers to it as “othering.” Then, as Dr. Vinay Prasad did when he falsely argued that public health interventions against COVID-19 could become a slippery slope to Nazi-style fascism, McBrady argues that the unvaccinated are “othered” and that’s a slippery slope to Nazi-style fascism, or at least to horrific persecution, referring to President Joe Biden’s expression of exasperation with antivaxxers when he announced federal vaccine mandates, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s characterization of the hard core antivaccine movement not believing “in science/progress” and “very often misogynistic and racist” (both of which are true), and French President Emmanuel Macron’s wanting to “piss off” the unvaccinated in order to goad them to finally getting vaccinated.

While one can question how far it is wise to go in criticizing the unvaccinated, who are not a monolith, it’s fairly clear in context that Trudeau was referring to the tiny minority of hardcore antivaxxers who drive vaccine hesitancy and that Macron was talking about making life more inconvenient for the unvaccinated to goad them into getting vaccinated:

So, he said, “we have to tell them: from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”

Macron added: “When my freedoms threaten those of others, I become someone irresponsible. Someone irresponsible is not a citizen.”

I also can’t help but note that McBrady failed to quote Macron’s further statements that he was “not going to jail [the unvaccinated], or forcibly vaccinate them.” (Of course, antivaxxers view any negative societal consequence whatsoever of not being vaccinated as “forced vaccination,” having long referred to mere school vaccine mandates as such, even though we’ve had such mandates for over 100 years.) Again, it’s very easy for the “othered” to cease to be so by just getting vaccinated.

None of this stops McBrady from further “going there” for Brownstone:

My hope is that this will all amount to nothing more than ignored political rhetoric – empty bluster these politicians hope will score a few popularity points with their electoral base. My fear is that it will not. Either way, this dangerous othering language must be recognized and condemned.

Historians study causality: contexts, conditions, events and their outcomes. We have examined the conditions that yielded chattel slavery, the gulag, the Holocaust, Jim Crow, Rwanda. This is not an attempt to equate current pandemic policies with these past tragedies.  

Rather, this is a warning call. We have seen these conditions before, and we have seen where they lead. Turn back now – that way leads to darkness.

Rwanda? I don’t call antivaxxers having invoked Rwanda before? Oh wait, I had! I had just forgotten this gem from the grande dame of the antivaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher, published in 2008 and entitled Promoting Vaccination, Fear, Hate & Discrimination:

The discrimination begins, always, with the majority in a society pointing the finger at a minority for somehow endangering the public health and welfare. Individuals in the minority group are singled out as different – ethnically, biologically, spiritually, morally – from the majority. The human impulse to fear, judge, marginalize or eliminate those different from the rest has left a blood soaked trail winding throughout the entire history of man from the Great Inquisition to the Holocaust; from the killing fields of Cambodia to Rwanda, Serbia and Tibet; while the persecution of those with leprosy, TB, AIDS, mental illness, and handicaps continues in every society.

Obviously, McBrady has hit the same high points that antivaxxers have been hitting for years and years to liken the unvaccinated to various persecuted groups from history, but if he wants to keep up with his appropriation of old antivaccine rhetoric, he really does need to up his game and add the Inquisition, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the killings in Serbia and Tibet to his repertoire of examples from history. Perhaps in a future Brownstone Institute contribution, he will remedy that oversight and add the genocidal campaign by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Maybe he could even start quoting Elie Wiesel, as Loe Fisher did those many years ago:

The doctors in charge at the CDC and AAP have refused, for more than a quarter century, to acknowledge the existence of a growing number of vaccine injured children and so they have refused to identify and screen out children biologically vulnerable to vaccine-induced brain and immune system dysfunction. One-size-fits-all vaccine policies and state laws have become a de facto selection of the genetically vulnerable for sacrifice. It is a very small step from that kind of societal thinking to the prisons, concentration camps and killing fields that stand as chilling testimony to the human impulse to dehumanize others in order to control, exploit or eliminate them.

Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel has said “When you take an idea or a concept and turn it into an abstraction, that opens the way to take human beings and turn them, also, into abstractions.”

Individuals harmed by vaccines are not abstractions. They are human beings who deserve to be spared a lifetime of suffering rather than being thrown under the bus to prop up forced mass vaccination policies that fail to acknowledge biodiversity within the family of man.

Come on, Prof. McBrady, you can do it! You can go even further into classic antivaccine rhetoric and repurpose a passage like Loe Fisher’s to mandated COVID-19 vaccine mandates, masking, and “lockdowns” to your comparison of vaccine mandates that don’t let the unvaccinated go to a restaurant or concert as “othering”! I know you can! If you can’t, I’m sure that the Brownstone Institute will find someone who can.

Oh, wait…

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]

98 replies on “Brownstone Institute embraces its inner antivaxxer”

The hypocrisy is galling. Where were these people during the deep othering of our brothers and sisters, the drunk drivers, and the many measures and harsh language directed at them?

Or our brothers and sisters the tax evaders?

I’ve never really understood why bare feet were more dangerous to others than shod feet. I have since heard that the rule was actually to keep out poor folks who couldn’t afford shoes. Could you explain the health consequences of not wearing shoes in restaurants? Are they more likely to spread some diseases? Do germs stick to bare feet better than shoes?

Or the “othering” of the away fans in pubs frequented by the home team fans before football matches in England. The “othering” of people who put Spice Girls songs on the jukebox, the “othering” of people wearing a Mets cap in the Bronx, the”othering” of people who think “Friends” was a comedy…

There’s probably no hygienic difference between a shod or a barefoot person entering a restaurant. Couple of possible points – if a barefoot person stepped on something and injured themselves, they could file a lawsuit against the restaurant. Much less likely with shoes on.
Also, aesthetics.

Actually, for hygienic purposes, customers should arrive in shoes and take them off at the door. In Canada, this is the law.

Not really.

@Beth: not wearing shoes is a fabulous way to get a whole host of really terrible parasites, including hookworm which was endemic to the American South until the early/mid 20th century and was the cause of a lot of suffering and lost work.

I have no idea if that’s where that sign exists in food establishments, but yes you can get some really nasty diseases through bare feet.

Ted Cruz tried othering the January 6 patriots, but Tucker Carlson condemned that dangerous language and the Senator turned back from the path of darkness. /s

Hospitals juking bed numbers…as usual, the devil us in the details. Covid hasnt ever been a credible threat to reasonably healthy people. The first wave hit the elderly and unwell, which is a big reservoir in thevworld. Now its severity is lessened, as one would expect. Still only killing the most unwell…just like every year. The world hasnt seen so few covid deaths since rhis began 2 years ago. The vaccines provided some limited protection to the most vulnerable, but are superfluous to the healthy since they won’t end up in a hospital in the first place. However these vaccines have zero long term safety data, so since covid isnt an actual emergency for healthy people, taking the vaccine provides more risk than benefit. Its that simple. Besides, are we really expected to believe that the civilized world is going to crumble unless we take that risk, because “hospitals are tired”? Please spare me the histrionics. These vaccines provide no real benefit to health people, norvare they effective for or even designed for the current strains of covid. Go ahead if you want to make that choice, lets hope it doesn’t result in you occupying a hospital bed in the future.

All-cause mortality for people age 25-64 is up by 40% last year according to life insurance companies but do go on about how it’s only the elderly dying and how people you think are unhealthy aren’t worthy of life.

And let’s not even talk about Long Covid, we wouldn’t want to complicate matters.

Or about things like hospitals shutting down transplants because they don’t have room to do surgeries because they’re too busy caring for covid patients, or …

Nice narrative you’ve got going there.

FALSE: “Hospitals juking bed numbers”
FALSE: “Covid hasnt ever been a credible threat to reasonably healthy people”.
FALSE: “Still only killing the most unwell”
FALSE: “The world hasnt seen so few covid deaths since rhis began 2 years ago”.
FALSE: “The vaccines provided some limited protection to the most vulnerable”
FALSE: “The vaccines are superfluous to the healthy since.
FALSE: “The healthy won’t end up in a hospital in the first place.
FALSE: “These vaccines have zero long term safety data”
FALSE: “Taking the vaccine provides more risk than benefit”
FALSE: “These vaccines provide no real benefit to health people”
FALSE: “The vaccines are not effective for the current strains of covid”

You haven’t got an argument, you’ve got a pack of lies to hide your fear.

Right. The healthy don’t end up in hospital? Tell that to my wife, who ended up in Kett’rin’ General for ten days on oxygen. When I sent a text every morning, I never knew if I’d get one back.

Take your half-baked opinions and shove them up your arse.

Are you calling my aunt the ER doctor a liar? Are you?
Are you calling my friend the ICU nurse a liar? Are you?

Why do you feel the need to say these things that are so obviously untrue?

Oh, look, another fan of eugenics, happy to do away with those he views as “surplus.”

You might try to tell that to a 58 year old Dutch economist, who was in favour of a Dutch version of the Great Barrington Declaration. Well, alas, you can’t tell him, because he died from covid-19. He also thought the vaccine would be only needed to protect the most vunerable, which he considered himself not.
And no I don’t think he deserved to die, even if he might had it coming.

What is a “healthy person?” You probably mean a person who has none of the known risk factors.

Depression? Overweight ? Hypertension? How many people don’t even know they have hypertension? Former smoker? Good luck with that, oh person who cared about their health enough to kick the habit.

My guess is that some of these (schizophrenia, just BEING black), have more to do with the ability to get medical care than actual health.

But the really important part is that a person with no risk factors is by definition less likely to die. A risk factor is not a definition of “unhealthy.” At least in the future stop saying “unhealthy” and start saying “with no known risk factors.” And while you’re at it, point out that blacbeing black is a risk factor.

An interesting thing to note about the link that ChristineRose posted is that the condition of being 40 years old or older is a greater risk than any of the largest-risk comorbidities.

Being 50 years old or older has a higher risk than having 10 or more comorbidities.

See the diagrams near the bottom of the linked page.

So the “unwell” and the elderly are just collateral damage, right? You don’t care if your grandparents die of Covid, or your friend who has cancer and is taking immunosuppressive drugs, or your child’s friend who has Type 1 diabetes and is more vulnerable to Covid? None of those people are important to you, I guess.

I thought that in the United States we had rejected eugenicism after World War II, and that we believe in the preciousness of every human life.

You are a heartless, uncaring person.

“Life unworthy of life” – ever heard that phrase? That seems to be what you think of old or sick people. That’s eugenics, as practiced by a long line of American racists, as well as the actual Nazis.

Yep, and that’s the attitude I detect every time I see a COVID minimizer say that COVID is a danger “only” to the elderly, or “only” to those with serious co-morbidities: The eugenics view of “screw those people.”

“These vaccines provide no real benefit to health people”

Neither do hospitals and doctors. Until they do.


It might be a matter of what’s on other people’s shod feet that the unshod may step in.

But I have no answer to why one must have a shirt, other than I for one, find that uncovered beer guts make me lose my appetite completely. For women, I can see no problem unless they are braless as well as shirtless (and that would only apply to the well-endowed). I also realize there could be some crossover here among the sexes (and the genders).

People who run red lights and stop signs. Drunk people pissing on your lawn. So many people othered.

“We define “othering” as a set of dynamics, processes, and structures that engender marginality and persistent inequality across any of the full range of human differences based on group identities. Dimensions of othering include, but are not limited to, religion, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (class), disability, sexual orientation, and skin tone. Although the axes of difference that undergird these expressions of othering vary considerably and are deeply contextual, they contain a similar set of underlying dynamics.”
Other dimensions of othering include criminality and antisociality.
Put that way, “othering” is not necessarily a bad thing, and may indeed be regarded as socially desirable.
If your expression of how to live your life in the COVID era is like Novak Djokovic’s, and go out and take part in public events after testing positive, then claim an exemption from vaccination because you’ve had COVID, then I think society has every right to shun you – or deport you, as the case may be.

They accuse pro-mandate people of being like Nazis, and then they complain about being “othered”?

Oh, yes, they are persecuted and silenced. It’s weird how much I hear from or about them, because of how silenced they are.

They are so persecuted and silenced that I get tired of hearing all their complaints about being persecuted and silenced mixed in with their minimization of COVID-19 and antimask/antivaccine takes.

Macron says,

“You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”

MJD says,

In the theatre of human psychology and sociology, positive reinforcement is a kindness that supports well-being. Positive reinforcement like providing the vaccinated with coupons for free coffee, free theatre tickets, and free cinema tickets would reward such behaviors. There’s a wonderful saying, “In a World where you can be anything, be kind.”

Even better – a coupon for a free vaccine. What do you think?

I can’t help but think that you don’t have much respect for those who decided not to get vaccinated, if you think that a free cup of coffee or a ticket to a movie is all that it takes.

There have been countless incentives to get vaccinated, from million dollar lotteries to one free Krispy Kreme doughnut a day.


to one free Krispy Kreme doughnut a day.

Isn’t that just going to move more people into the vulnerable category more quickly?

“be kind….”
…to your family, friends, and fellow human beings by getting vaccinated.

Here’s another saying: “Use a whip to get horses out of a burning stable”.

Dorit Reiss writes,

“Really interesting point about the access to alcohol and cannabis.”

MJD says,

WTF, better yet let’s provide each vaccinated person with one(1) get out of jail free card.

The point of my previous comment was to provide long term rewards for those vaccinated. For example, if the vaccine has 6-months efficacy continue to support that person with positive rewards for 6 months. Antibodies fade with time, positive memories stay with time.

@ Orac,

I’ll never forget the antipathy of being in auto-moderation for 5+ years here at RI.

They tried that, and it doesn’t work as well as people hoped. Free tickets for a million-dollar lottery prize, for any vaccinated person in the state who wanted to enter made no significant difference. Smaller incentives, like that cup of coffee you suggested, don’t seem to work either.

The incentive that might work doesn’t fall under “small kindness” or come cheap–give people paid time off to get vaccinated, and to stay home for a day or two while recovering from any side effects,with a guarantee that they’ll keep their jobs afterwards. Arrange free childcare, while they’re being vaccinated and for that same day or two in case of side effects. That will bring in the people who want to be vaccinated, but can’t afford the time, literally.

One thing that does seem to be making a difference is the province of Quebec requiring proof of vaccination to enter the government-run alcohol and cannabis stores. Not free drinks, or free joints, but the chance to keep buying those things.

I completely agree we need more policies targeted at giving meaningful access. California has paid leave, but I think your idea of free childcare is a very good one, too. And everywhere should have paid leave. The OSHA standard the Supreme Court struck down today would have required at least large employees to do so.

Really interesting point about the access to alcohol and cannabis.

The incentive for me to get vaccinated was the increased likelihood of surviving the pandemic. No doughnuts for me.

This is another manifestation of the new interpretation of free speech on the right, where free speech is no longer the ability to express your views without fear of Government sanction, but is the ability to say whatever you like without any fear of criticism. Of course, this definition of free speech is only available to the select few. Those who happen to hold different views are to be criticised at every turn and if possible, prevented from expressing their views.

““free market” libertarian “think tank.” ”

The time has long past to refer to conservative organizations as “think tanks” — now they simply spew right wing dogma and conspiracies.

Libertarians groups have never been aligned with “thought” — but folks adhering to “I got mine, screw everyone else” and “Might makes right” aren’t geared to do much thinking anyway.

The Provincial Government of Quebec has just announced a tax penalty to be imposed on unvaccinated people starting sometime in February 2022. The daily rate of new vaccines has shot up since the announcement. mind you, the government is also requiring proof of vaccination for entry to government liquor stores and government cannabis stores.
Of course, this has been met with outrage across Canada.

Australia has had something like that since 2015, to encourage childhood vaccination in general. It’s done via withholding some social welfare payments and means-tested tax benefits.

It’s aimed at parents who seem to lack incentive to get their children vaccinated rather than hard-line resisters (of which there seem to be relatively few in Australia, except in some particular geographical areas).

My main issue with it is that it really only affects people with relatively low incomes.

Oddly enough, it was introduced after a campaign by News Corp outlets in Australia.,_No_Pay

COVID vaccination levels are high in Australia anyway – 91% fully vaccinated of those eligible (12+ years). Vaccination of those 5-11 years started 3 days ago.

Even the scientist are beginning to not believe the science. Its a quick read but worth the 4 minutes.

“Why Do People Not “Trust the Science”? Because Like All People, Scientists Are Not Always Trustworthy”

“Will science publisher Taylor and Francis do anything about an unethical article that misdirected criticism about researchers doing dangerous virus research and apparently skated past peer review?”

The ongoing process of scientific review and debate among one’s competent peers yields trustworthy results.

The alternative is the echo chamber yowlings of charlatans and quacks, who utterly fail to police themselves, but whom the Kay Wests of the world worship devotedly.

“The authors also appear to have bypassed the normal process of peer review, according to emails made public by U.S. Right to Know.”

From the authors own email.
“Yes, just a secret to you two and not share with others.
When I put a super fast review and accept(basically no review)”

so to your point there was no review…..

“The ongoing process of scientific review and debate among one’s competent peers yields trustworthy results.”

This is not very secret nor hard to find and original sourced from a reputable organization for most people, for you yes, knowing your past research skills.

It’s not surprising that Kay thinks a group that targets scientists with abusive FOIA demands and then tries to create conspiracies out of molehills is a “reputable organization”.

“(U.S. Right To Know)’s donor list includes organizations well known for supporting fringe medicine and activist causes. As of September 2017, the backbone of its funding came from the Organic Consumers Association, which has contributed $479,500. OCA is an anti-technology group that opposes genetic engineering and vaccines, and promotes alternative medicine, such as homeopathy.”

As to his latest Substack blast, wonder if Paul Thacker knows about the difference between soliciting comment and allowing someone editing privileges, or cares about facts in his zeal to uncover nefarious enemies. I didn’t see anything in his piece addressing the points raised in the article he’s attempting to smear.

@Kay West You could make citation. Where is this email ? What is the context ?

@Kay West So context is this (hat tip to pri)
“Yes, just a secret to you two and not share with others. When I put a super fast review and accept (basically no review), the JEO [Journal Editorial Office] of T&F, became very suspicious and wanted her boss to check and approve.”
I understand why you did not give a citation

You say you support scientists — ha no? Wow. Can I see your super smart card? Link is garbage of course. The antivaxx movement is exactly unconcerned with science and truth. You are just that tool that we see. What kind of garbage are you promoting again?

The antiscience promoters are an incomprehensible and violent mob. Are you part of that organization? I think you are anti-american.

Will you ever admit that you are wrong by the date or just keep on with you anti-health crap — and especially for your country folk. Seriously you promote the death of all your neighbors.Others here with the sweet good of life don’t.

You are hell, but I speak it with sweetness, love, and truth.

“Why Do People Not “Trust the Science”? Because Like All People, Scientists Are Not Always Trustworthy”

The trouble is, Kay, it’s still only scientists who are capable of producing the science. There are bad surgeons and doctors but you still aren’t qualified to remove an appendix. As has been so often said, the answer to bad science is more science by more scientists.

People don’t trust lawyers but good luck winning a complicated case in court without one.

Minor point: I believe you mean Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not Pierre Trudeau.

@ Kay West

You write: “Even the scientist are beginning to not believe the science. Its a quick read but worth the 4 minutes.” Citing an article, not peer-reviewed; but on a platform that anyone can post on. However, I guess you didn’t pay much attention to who the author is, Paul Thacker. Orac has written about him several times, including WTF happened to The BMJ?

However, your main problem is your rigid anti-science bias. Of course some scientifists aren’t completely honest and of course, some scientists are incompetent, poor methodology; but science is self-correcting. The alternative is morons like you who have opinions based on what? Your immense knowledge of immunology, microbiology, infectious diseases, epidemiology or your immense knowledge about climate change??? You cherry pick papers. You even misread/misinterpret some. You ignore what others write, even if backed with numerous solid papers.

There is no viable alternative to science. Certainly not worthless opinions like yours. But science can be improved. Surveys show that more than 70% of American public lack the basic understanding of science. We need to improve public education. We also need for newspapers to not publish preliminary studies or at least make certain the public understands they are preliminary and could prove wrong. Newspapers could actually try to educate the public, etc; but given your bias, I doubt anything could influence you.

So, keep searching the web to find something that confirms your ignorance. In a world like ours one can always find something. A huge swath of people believe QAnon, believe Sandy Hook didn’t occur, believe Trump won the election, believe RFKs book, etc. so you are NOT alone.

Newspapers could actually try to educate the public, etc; but given your bias, I doubt anything could influence you.

Not to cite another sort of crank, but this harkens back to Elon Musk’s reasoning as to why hyperlongevity and immortality would be really bad for the human race. As he points out, people rarely change their minds; their mores go away when they die… and if people lived forever, the human race’s capacity for innovation would stagnate. I thought it was an interesting take. Not sure it’s quite that extreme, but sometimes it feels like it is.

If taken generally, the statement is obviously wrong. Many scientific facts have been accepted before current generation had died. Quantum mechanics is an obviously example, it was well accepted before Planck died. Iwas people like Lenard to did not accept, and felt that they need political power to oppose it.

That’s a loaded statement. Scientific facts accepted broadly within specialized fields is not the same as necessarily generally accepted. To this day, there are still cranks and contrarians who think “proven” scientific facts are garbage. If the simple existence of anti vaxxers isn’t enough, to take your specific example, in my first semester graduate level quantum mechanics, there was a crank auditing the course who was positive it was nonsense –nevermind that he clearly didn’t understand it and shouldn’t have been there. As a further case in point, the numbers of flat earthers are bouncing completely out of control; talk about a principle that is well proven… you have to be a special kind of contrarian to go there and be remotely serious about it. With something like quantum mechanics, people in general do not understand it… the acceptance of it as a scientific fact is by a specialist field; pretty much everyone else is taking it on faith. In that background, given the right conspiracy theory and the right people talking, it wouldn’t be hard for a huge swathe of society to change their mind and outright reject it as fact. Don’t believe me? See Evolution by natural selection.

It is easier to say that Elon Musk’s statement is obviously wrong because crankery clearly can outlive its originators. Homeopathy, for example.

Orac may enjoy hearing about this:
( newscentermaine; yesterday) Meryl Nass had her medical license suspend because she dealt in Covid mis-information, tried to prescribe HCQ etc. She will also have to undergo psychological evaluation. Another Maine physician is also in trouble.

It’s about time. I just rotated off an inpatient stent and saw more and more IVM. Didn’t do a damn thing -these people were all unvaccinated and sick as snot. All prescribed and picked up from pharmacies in Idaho and Nebraska. I traced the scripts back to an ER doctor in a dinky town in WA. Nowhere near where the scripts were filled so I’m guessing she was prescribing online. Maybe she will be next.

The vaccinated covid cases were all in and out or we just evaluated them in the ER and sent them home. That’s the reality on the ground right now. The vaccine (Possibly combined with omicron being milder) is making this thing an annoying cold. Unvaccinated? You’re in for a rough ride and maybe a pine box; omicron or not.

Well, I suppose it is true that COVID is (mainly) “only killing the most unwell”, since it’s now taking out the Trumpers who are too damn sick in the head to get the damn shots.

That’s interesting because Mikey keeps telling us that it’s the blue state “lib-tards” ( his appellation, not mine ) who will be dying soon – or in the next 18-24 months- from the “kill shots” so that Trump et al will have a total victory. Large cities will die out and the plucky, hard working rural folk like him will jump into their tractors and clean up the mess- dead bodies, GMO foods, gang refuse, poop. It will become so deserted that the government will let you get an abandoned house for FREE if you just pay taxes! There will be new careers for scavengers and re-cyclers. Barter will be totally acceptable as will paying with silver coins. The healthy people in red states will re-build a new nation.

It’s so cute that he thinks, if that comes to pass, that the matter will be resolved domestically by these local heros. Hardly. First, Mexico will walk right in and reclaim all the territory they once controlled, and probably more. China will claim a west coast foothold in several locales. Many of the world’s large and middle powers will sweep past Mike’s guns and tractors and take what they want: resources, capital, territory and more. In some places they will receive local support in order to restore infrastructure and governance.

All those plucky farmers who run the fuel refineries and factories making tractor parts and fertiliser. They’ll be bartering with human poop. It’s the new gold I tells ye.

Well, the SCOTUS just nixed the OSHA workplace vaccine mandate. IDK if there are recordings or transcripts of the oral arguments online, but in one brief clip they had played on one of the cable news channels, Justice Alito was channeling some medical-science-cluelessness in badgering the Solicitor General on whether there was any risk in vaccination. The implication being that ANY risk put the mandate in a problematic category, as if there is some choice in any direction which has no risk whatsoever. Which the SG tried to address, but Alito just interrupted her and cut her off…

I guess I’ll be staying off Twitter for the next couple of days so it doesn’t catch my phone on fire.
Damnit. And what do you want to bet that management at my company will take this as an excellent reason to just give up on the vaccine recording/testing/masking system they were setting up expecting this to go forward.

Or maybe not. Having 40+ people out is sure impacting the bottom line.

What I read about the decision was that Covid is a general danger rather than a specific workplace/occupational danger, so OSHA doesn’t have the authority to mandate vaccination.

“Covid is a general danger rather than a specific workplace danger,”

Apparently that “logic” is included in thew ruling, but no one both sane and serious should be able to type those words without noting THEY MAKE NO DAMN SENSE AT ALL! By the same token, OSHA could not require a factory to be heated in winter because freezing cold weather is a general danger and not specific to the workplace.

But the decision goes beyond that in terms of bad precedent. It’s partly an expression of what conservatives call “the major-questions doctrine” which states “an agency can issue a regulation that would have significant political or economic ramifications only if it has explicit instructions from Congress to do so.” As Elizabeth Kolbert writes in the New Yorker, this doctrine is also at the heart of briefs filed “from a Death Star’s worth of right-wing think tanks” in the upcoming SCOTUS case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. While a ruling for the “red state” AGs in that case would “at a minimum… make it difficult for the Biden Administration to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions” it would likely go beyond that to “hobble” the efforts of any government agency “to protect the environment and public health.” The briefs, one of them authored by 1/6 coup architect John Eastman no less, “seem aimed at what the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon famously called the ‘deconstruction of the administrative state’.” An attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund said that the petitioners are “asking the Court to do far-reaching damage to all sorts of ways we protect human life: by regulating food safety, car safety, deadly pollution, and so on.”

Even that may be understatement, as the radical de-regulation agenda could turn back the clock to some conservatives favorite era, the Gilded Age. Bring back the sweatshops, child labor, and the Triangle Waist Fire!!

I certainly don’t know how any of this might affect the FDA, or other government health policies, but I’m guessing it could be pretty awful.

As if the ruling on the OSHA mandate wasn’t bad enough, four justices voted to nix vaccine requirements for healthcare workers. [The deciding vote making the narrow majority was Kavanaugh, but he’s very into the major questions doctrine, so there’s not much solace there for future rulings…]

I would think it obvious that extermination comes quicker to the unvaccinated? This sounds a lot like a response to ‘woke’ however ridiculous. Like the author notes, not getting a vaccine is a choice and not a protected class that has faced discrimination based on a state of being that can’t be changed. If the choicefully unvaccinated die in their freedom loving homes, what do I care? However, those who promote terrible advice that dissuades others from taking obvious healthful action — that is a menace. Othering, now infused with electrolytes and unicornism!

In other anti-vax news…

Australia has again cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa and he may have to leave. If his challenge fails, he may not be able to re-apply for 3 years.
He is unvaccinated.

The Australian official responsible for the latest visa cancellation cited encouragement to antivaxers if Djokovic is allowed to play. Djokovic’s attorney countered that booting him out of the country would galvanize the antivax cause, i.e. the “Vaxxed” effect.

There are probably no good solutions at this point, other than requiring Djokovic to wear a mask during competition. He could probably afford one of those luxury transparent head shields with automatic air circulation.

Quoting joel, on how to win an argument in a scientific way.

“MORON,Just how stupid are you?You really are incredibly stupid, SICK SICK SICK dishonest Keep making an absolute fool of yourself. Or, maybe you are mentally ill. moron like you, Just how STUPID are you?You are so incredibly dishonest, MORON, MORON, MORON.YOU ARE AN IDIOT YOU ASK REALLY STUPID QUESTIONS.PROJECTION. You need help! ! !You really are SICK SICK SICK.what a dishonest liar you are How stupid are you???In your sick mind stupid as you areHow STUPID sick mind You just keep lying stupid and dishonestYou just are too dishonest or stupid STUPID, stop being dishonest,Talk about delusions of grandeur.Liar, liar, pants on fire. you are sick and delusional.YOU ARE FULL OF SHIT, moron you are delusional, dishonest, sick person like you,GO TO HELL!, GO TO HEL!! how delusional and dishonest you are,MORON, GO TO HELL, MORON, immense stupidity, STUPID, GO TO HELL, STUPID ON STEROIDS, You are a SICK DISHONEST EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED INDIVIDUAL. friggin ASSHOLE. friggin ASSHOLE, ASSHOLES, Friggin ASSHOLE, friggin lying ASSHOLE, So, ASSHOLE, YOU ARE A DISHONEST SICK LYING ASSHOLE. YOU ARE NOT A COMPLETE DISHONEST LYING ASSHOLE


@ Tony

Yep, I did say all of that because you made it clear from the beginning that your posts were NOT based on any real study of the subject and mostly just to provoke/irritate people, so, yep, you are a DISHONEST LYING STUPID ASSHOLE . An entirely accurate description. And, again, given just how dishonest you are, maybe Dorit was correct about your last name. And you claimed your students found Sophie Amsden; but, as with most of what you wrote, just a claim without any backup. Yep, you are a DISHONEST LYING STUPID ASSHOLE.

And even more hilarious is that you linked to documentary “The Little Ice Age” which essentially refuted everything you wrote, including the five volcanoes. Yep, for instance, in 1815 one volcanic eruption spewed so much sulfur into atmosphere that when it mixed with water vapor formed sulfuric acid that blocked much of sun for two years; but in your immense ignorance you assume that climate dependent on only one thing, sometimes in extreme circumstances true; but usually not so and the program emphasized that CO2 levels higher than millennium and increasing. So, ASSHOLE, keep on referring to documentaries, papers, whatever, that you are too stupid to really understand.

When I’ve responded with comments that refuted what you wrote, including references, you ignore, so calling you the aforementioned probably an understatement.

Dear Dr. Gorski,

I only recently read this critique of my piece in the Brownstone Institute. It appears you may have missed my thesis, potentially due to my imperfect prose. Thank you for writing your critique, as it affords me the opportunity to clarify my argument.

I deliberately crafted a narrow argument. I do not argue either for or against covid vaccines. I do not argue either for or against covid vaccine mandates. I argue against a specific pattern of speech – othering a group of people based on their vaccine status. In the later months of 2021, I noticed rise of such othering speech in political rhetoric.

I provided examples where othering precursed and sustained dark times in history. Your critique, perhaps mockingly, suggested other potential examples: the Inquisition, Cambodia, Serbia, Tibet, and the Uyghur genocide. I agree that your list provides further examples of disastrous events associated with dehumanizing groups of people, but I make no attempt to equate current pandemic policies with these tragedies. I explicitly wrote that I do not equate current pandemic policies with these tragedies. Still, as these examples illustrate, dehumanizing people often enables graver evil.

Your critique seems to condone the practice of othering a group of people, provided othering responds only to a group’s choice rather than an immutable characteristic. I hope I misunderstand your argument. Veganism is a choice, but it is wrong to other vegans. Migrating is a choice, but it is wrong to other immigrants. Religion is a choice, but it is wrong to other religious adherents.

I suspect you encounter patients who make lifestyle choices with which you disagree; perhaps you encounter patients who overindulge on fast food. I hope in your role as a medical professional, you encourage “fast foodies” to change their unhealthy diet. But I also further hope that as a medical professional you do not dismiss “fast foodies” as less than your other patients. I hope “fast foodies” do not feel shamed by you after they leave your care. I hope you do not make attempts to foment hatred for “fast foodies” among your patients who eat healthy diets. I hope in your discourse about “fast foodies” and your interactions with them, you treat them as fully and equally human as you do all your patients.

I hope that my article convinced people to extend the same courtesy to those who are unvaccinated. I am pleased that such heated othering rhetoric seems to have abated recently.


Jared McBrady

P.S. Your make a sound critique of my characterization of othering Jewish people in Nazi Germany. I did not take sufficient space in my short article to address the ethnoreligious complexities of anti-Semite persecution. Were I to re-write this piece, I would choose a clearer example of othering based on religion – such as othering of Muslim people following September 11.

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