Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Pseudoscience Skepticism/critical thinking

Jennifer Margulis goes from antivax to anti-COVID-19 vaccine

Old school antivaxxer Jennifer Margulis goes new school with COVID-19 antivaccine conspiracy theories as satire. Her satire fails, both as satire and in accuracy.

Having been writing about the antivaccine movement for a long time, I’ve long been familiar with what I like to call “old school” antivaxxers. It’s an artificial demarcation. Basically, for my purposes “old school” means before COVID-19, in contrast to the new wave of antivaxxers who have arisen since COVID-19. For example, Andrew Wakefield, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Bob Sears, and the like are old school, while Dr. Robert Malone, Geert Vanden Bossche, Dr. Peter McCullough, and Steve Kirsch (and many more) are the new wave, people who were not—detectably, at least—antivaccine before the pandemic but have used the pandemic to spread anti-COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and become famous antivaxxers themselves. Of course, many “old school” antivaxxers quickly leapt on the anti-COVID-19 vaccination bandwagon and also enthusiastically embraced all forms of COVID-19 conspiracy theories, whether vaccine-related, mask-related, or other. This brings me to Jennifer Margulis.

Searching my blog, I found that the very first time I wrote about Jennifer Margulis was 12 years ago, when she appeared in a documentary, The Vaccine War, about the antivaccine movement. In that documentary Margulis asked why we were still vaccinating against polio now that it is so rare in the US? (If evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?) She next popped up opposing SB 277, the California law passed in 2015 that banned nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates, seeing “pharma shills” everywhere among the law’s supporters. By 2017, she was supporting Dr. Bob Sears, co-authoring an antivax book with antivax pediatrician Dr. Paul Thomas, and appearing in Ty and Charlene Bollinger’s The Truth About Vaccines. After that, she periodically showed up to speak at various antivax rallies, and by 2018 I was referring to her as a rising star in the antivaccine movement. Even after the pandemic was well under way, she was working with Dr.Thomas to promote crappy “vaxxed vs. unvaxxed” studies.

It’s thus no surprise that Margulis has her very own Substack (the new wretched hive of scum and quackery where antivaxxer go to monetize their misinformation) and that it’s a cesspool of antivax pseudoscience, misinformation, and conspiracy theories, one of which, 13 Reasons the CDC is Right and You Should Get the COVID Vaccine, caught my eye. Obviously, it’s sarcasm, as becomes obvious right from the start:

There’s no question in my mind that the CDC is right when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as every other vaccine on both the childhood and the adult schedule.

After all, as I explored in my last Substack, the CDC has no conflicts of interest, no financial incentives, and no reasons besides their deep and heartfelt concern about your health and the health of the American people, which is why they recommend these vaccines.

There are way more than 13 reasons to vaccinate against COVID, of course. More like 130,000! 

But thirteen’s such a good number. Fabulous things happen on Friday the 13th; friggatriskaidekaphobia’s all the rage right now; and the 13 in the Tarot deck is the best.

Very droll, Ms. Margulis. Very funny. Or should I say “Dr. Margulis”? I know you love to flaunt your PhD, using it to imply that you have expertise in science. Wherever I see you citing your PhD, I almost never see you cite what subject it was in, namely English, specializing in 19th century American Literature, African-American Literature, and American Studies.

I will give Margulis credit for some antivax tropes that I don’t recall having heard before. I won’t cover all 13 of her tropes, as the post will get too long. That will be left as an exercise for readers in the comments, if they wish to take the task on.

Let’s get started:

1. You’d like to get a vulvar aphthous ulcer.

I mean, why not? Sure, when these purple/red blisters explode they can be excruciatingly painful. But the team of researchers at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, who described three children, ages 12 to 15, getting vulvar aphthous ulcers two days after their second Pfizer vaccines in the April issue of the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology concluded that, “The COVID vaccine is safe and efficacious.” Plus, it’s always good to have a new experience!

This is a very odd choice to lead with. In fact, it’s so odd that I wondered why Ms. Margulis chose it. Perhaps she chose it because it is so odd and out of left field, given that it’s an issue that even I hadn’t heard before.

I looked up the paper. It’s short, and, unsurprisingly, it’s basically a very small case series with an odd name, Post COVID-19 Vaccination Vulvar Aphthous Ulcers: An Unpopular Case Series. “Unpopular”? I can’t recall ever seeing a case series published in the biomedical literature being described as “unpopular” in its title. It’s definitely rather odd. As is the situation with all case series, this one can’t demonstrate causation, just correlation, and a tiny number of such cases doesn’t tell us much of anything. Even if there were causation (for which there really isn’t any good evidence), one notes that Margulis conveniently forgot to mention one small detail, namely that all “resolved spontaneously by 3 weeks and no further follow-up was needed.” Just for yucks, I did a PubMed search and found four papers on this, three case reports and one article summarizing them. In any event, there are a small number of case reports about this, and it’s unclear whether there is causation. There might be, given that vulvar aphthous ulcers are thought to be immune-mediated. Whatever the case, either COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause this or they do, but very rarely. In either case, this is not a reason to forego vaccination.

Next up, Margulis attacks doctors:

2. You Trust Your Doctor. 

This is probably the best reason of all. Your doctor told you to! The doctor said so! And doctors are always trustworthy! 

I mean, just look at Dr. Joel Lavine, M.D., who groomed and sexually abused at least one child in his care; Dr. Onyekachi Nwabuko, M.D., a Florida-based ER doc who smacked a patient in the face, laughed at her, and accused her of faking it while she was having a brain seizure; and Dr. Yee Chung Ho, M.D., a Pennsylvania-based doc who’s sweet side hustle was illegally selling opioids

Doctors know best. Trust ’em, always. And trust your kids with them too!

Ms. Margulis does realize, doesn’t she, that if you’re going to attack doctors in general, the same attack applies to the doctors she likes, such as her co-author Dr. Thomas. After all, Dr. Thomas had his medical license suspended a year and a half ago for his antivaccine activities, which led him to practice in a manner that caused injury to patients; yet Ms. Margulis trusts him. That being said, yes, there are bad doctors, just as there are bad people. There are doctors who run pill mills, diddle patients, or are addicted to alcohol, opioids, or other addictive substances. That doesn’t mean that the medical advice of doctors in general is wrong. It just means there are bad doctors—again, like doctors Ms. Margulis likes and works with, such as Dr. Thomas.

Next up:

3. You’d rather have a lifelong heart disorder than a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Yes, yes, we know that these mRNA vaccines can cause heart inflammation. That’s well established in the scientific literature now. Who cares?! This peer-reviewed article from data in Israel has found that signal, as did this one from the United Kingdom, and this one from Denmark. But, so what? 

Myocarditis is no big deal. 

This one is easy. There is a small incidence of vaccine-associated myocarditis, especially in young males, but the risk of myocarditis from COVID-19 is far higher than the risk from the vaccine, and the risk-benefit calculation is still very much in favor of the vaccine.

This one made me laugh:

4. You don’t want anyone to think you’re an anti-vaxxer.

Those people are ridiculous! My god. Yeah, yeah, Dr. Daniel Salmon, Ph.D., claimed people who don’t vaccinate their kids tend to be better educated and have higher incomes than parents who don’t question vaccines, but what does he know? Salmon is only head of the Institute of Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins.

And even if that were true (which it’s not because we all know that anyone who skips even just one vaccine is a complete dunderhead), who wants to be associated with educated people who make good money anyway?! 

So even though you secretly have some reservations about getting the vaccine, you don’t want anyone to think you’re an anti-vaxxer. Scroll down to the end of this post to see pictures of just a few of the dufus-for-brains you’d never want to talk to or hear speak. And then roll up your sleeve for vaccine numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. Peer pressure and groupthink for the win!

That last link is to an antivax conference featuring a lot of the big names in the antivaccine movement, both old school and new wave, such as Mary Holland, Shannon Kroner, James Lyons-Weiler, Dr. Peter McCullough, Del Bigtree, and more. The whole shtick behind #4 is the common antivax mischaracterization that if you “question” even a single vaccine, you’ll be hopelessly attacked as an antivaxxer. Well, for all the reasons I listed above and in the links in the paragraph in which I introduced her, Ms. Margulis is an antivaxxer. It’s not because she “skips one vaccine” or has “reservations” about the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s because she has been spreading antivaccine pseudoscience, misinformation, and conspiracy theories since at least 2010, and likely before given that 2010 was just the year when I first discovered her.

Next up, Ms. Margulis cites other rare events:

5. Having your skin peel off in clumps is just not something you’re worried about.

This happened to Richard Terrell, who had to be hospitalized for five days. But the Virginia man told reporters that he’s still glad he did it! Your vulva might become blistered with lesions that fill with pus and then pop (see #1), your face might become paralyzed, or you might end up with possibly lethal thrombocytopenia, but you’ll still be glad you did it.

Again, although the doctors believe that the reaction was due to the vaccine, there isn’t really any hard evidence other than correlation, although it’s not implausible that a vaccine could cause an immune reaction like this. Moreover, even if it were, this would obviously be a very, very rare adverse event. As for the reports of facial paralysis (also called Bell’s palsy), this was something that people started trying to report very soon after the vaccines were released, even though there was no good evidence that Bell’s palsy, which is more common than people think, was caused by the vaccine. Three billion doses later, the evidence is still equivocal about whether there’s even a correlation between COVID-19 vaccines and Bell’s palsy. As for vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia from the ChAdOx1 vaccine (AstraZeneca’s adenovirus-based vaccine), this appears to be a real thing, but very rare. Again, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks, particularly during a pandemic.

Some of Ms. Margulis’ other claims are pretty easy to dispense with. For instance, she cites a paper by Stephanie Seneff (seriously, that Stephanie Seneff, the one who predicted that all children would be born autistic by 2025) and Peter McCullough to argue that the vaccines suppress the innate immune system. She says that you “like to be a guinea pig,” even though the COVID-19 vaccines underwent large scale phase III clinical studies to demonstrate safety and efficacy, which alone would make them no longer “experimental” but there’s also the matter of some three billion or so doses having been administered since then with an excellent safety record. She also touts how roughly 40% of COVID-19 infections are thought to be asymptomatic and that the infection fatality rate (IFR) is estimated to be “only” 0.1-0.2%. As I’ve said many times before, that might sound small, but when tens or hundreds of millions get infected, that quickly translates to millions of deaths, and, of course, with the US alone closing in on a million deaths, that already sets a hard lower boundary for the IFR of around 0.3% in a population of ~330 million; that is, if you assume that every single person in the US has been infected, which means that the IFR is likely far higher. Unsurprisingly, Ms. Margulis cites the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database to parrot the ridiculous antivax claim that COVID-19 vaccines have killed more people than all other vaccines combined. Regular readers know that being reported to VAERS does not mean that the vaccine caused the adverse event, be it death or any other, because anyone can report anything to VAERS—and does.

I’ll stop right there and jump ahead to the one that made me laugh the loudest—derisively, of course:

9. More is always better, and you want more, more, more.

You did number one and then number two. Now they’re telling you to get number three and number four. More is always better when it comes to medicine, as you already know. And getting shot #4 because the efficacy of shots numbers 1, 2, and 3 have worn off does NOT mean the vaccines aren’t working! You also wear three seatbelts when you drive your car and four condoms when you make love.

I couldn’t help but think of a rocker who was very popular when I was in college:

Here’s a counterexample: I sprained my ankle, and it hurts a lot. I took some Advil for the pain. It wore off after a few hours, and my ankle started hurting again. So I had to take some more. That must mean that Advil doesn’t work!

Or how about this one: I got COVID-19 eight months ago and recovered. Now I just got it again this week! That must mean my immune system doesn’t work and “natural immunity” is a crock! (Yes, there have been lots of reinfections during the Omicron wave.)

Seriously, the claim that because immunity from vaccines is known to wane after several months and you might need boosters means that the vaccines don’t work is the height of ignorance. However, it’s not ignorance with Ms. Margulis, I suspect. Even though her PhD is in English, not any scientific career related to medicine, she’s intelligent and knowledgeable enough to know that not all immunity is like the lifelong immunity from measles vaccination and that coronaviruses are notorious for inducing only relatively short-lived immunity. That variants arose that could evade pre-existing immunity and that immunity from the vaccine against infection wanes does not mean that the vaccines are useless, just that better vaccines are needed. (Seriously, this is the same ignorant argument that old school antivaxxers used to make against pertussis vaccines, the immunity from which also fades with time.) Like all good antivax propagandists, though, Ms. Margulis knows that most people tend towards black and white thinking with respect to vaccines. Either vaccines work and provide lifelong immunity or they’re useless. She’s playing on that.

Then of course, Ms. Margulis, after having demonized doctors as abusive pedophiles who run pill mills, pivots to appealing to trusting that same profession that she had just castigated as completely unreliable and morally bankrupt:

If you’ve decided to stop after one or two, or just take a little more time to decide, it means that you want babies to die. And grandmas too. The TEN PERCENT of medical doctors who are openly expressing concerns about the efficacy, necessity, and safety of the COVID vaccine? They’ve just been duped. You see, every single one of them has been misled by peer-reviewed science and clinical experience, I mean, by dangerous misinformers like me.

Which is it, Ms. Margulis? Are doctors reliable to the point that we should care about their doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine, or are they all drug-addled despicable pedos whose judgment cannot be trusted? I guess they’re both, depending on what you need them to be for the argument you’re making. If doctors recommend vaccination against COVID-19, they’re pedos hitting patients and running pill mills. If they doubt the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination, you should trust them! Easy! Just never mind that pesky scientific evidence showing that the vaccines are very safe and very effective protecting against severe COVID-19 that lands you in the hospital or the morgue. It must be conceded that they are not as effective against infection as we would like and that immunity wanes, but so does “natural immunity” (a.k.a., post-infection) immunity in those who have recovered from COVID-19. Overall, even after the rise of the Delta and Omicron variants, the vaccines are far safer than COVID-19. We will likely need new vaccine formulations as boosters to cover new and emerging variants, but we already do that with influenza.

I realize that Ms. Margulis obviously thought she was being clever and satirical with the title of her post and the entire tone, in which she tries to sound as though she’s agreeing with the CDC and recommending COVID-19 vaccines as she fear mongers about them. Unfortunately, if there’s one thing I’ve discovered, it’s that antivaxxers, be they old school or new wave, rarely have the wit for good satire or parody. They always tend to go for very obvious and crude “satire” or humor, such as the time when they likened vaccination to an elephant that had crushed a baby’s head with its hoof but could never, ever be blamed. They thought it was funny. I thought it was eyerollingly bad.

The same goes for Ms. Margulis’ attempt at “satire.”

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]

30 replies on “Jennifer Margulis goes from antivax to anti-COVID-19 vaccine”

I was thirsty. I drank a glass of water. After a few hours, I was thirsty again and had to drink another glass. Clearly, that means that water doesn’t work. 🙁

So then like a jab every four weeks then? Is that what is required? Just trying to understand. Also each jab has some risk associated with it. Do these risks accumulate the more jabs you get?

If there was a top 10 list of most whiny, annoying, unclever anti-vaxxers, JM would be on it.

Jennifer Margulis has adopted that “say the opposite and pretend it’s satire” approach a long time ago to try and avoid Facebook bans for spreading misinformation.

As you point out, while emphasizing rare problems that come up after vaccines – many without evidence of causal connection – the risks of COVID-19 don’t count in her book. Because, as you point out, she’s antivaccine.

And I suspect she will deny MMR gives longterm immunity from measles too. As you point out, she’s antivaccine through and through.

Early on in the pandemic she wrote a sorry excuse of a paper that claimed Round Up was the potential culprit (not 5G). According to her, since covid first spiked in urban areas, and urban areas have a lot more traffic than rural areas, and some vehicles use a fuel mix that includes biofuels with crops sprayed with Round Up, therefore Round Up could be the cause. Of course, by then it was already more than just people living near interstate highways (the Navajo Nation is very rural and was hit hard by Covid early on) and the ludicrous leaps of logic suggested to me that any relation to Carl Sagan was purely coincidental …

I’ve been biased against calling people “doctor” if they are not trained to do medicine, and she is a good example why this is appropriate. Some PhD’s in the humanities deserve honoring for their studies but not this one.

As for comedy, I know a comedian who is a diehard member of AntiVa, formerly a left winger but now relies on ultra right wing, fundamentalist cultist type websites for his (mis)information. But he’s not making jokes about vaccines (although there is some humor at the Herman Cain Award site, but that is pro-vaccine). The vaccine just reduces symptoms of covid, he claims – as if staying out of the hospital and the morgue isn’t enough to get vaccinated. It’s a rich field for psychological exploration. We’re all in some degree of denial of our mortality and the fear of succumbing to the pandemic seems to be a partial reason for this sort of distorted pseudo thinking.

At my work (biotech) a few years ago everyone with a PhD was told that it would be part of their office sign (Office 432, John Doe, PhD, Quality Control).

Oh the whining! You would have thought a PhD was something to be ashamed of! The reluctance with which they introduce themselves as “Doctor” to outside vendors who need “proof” that they’re talking to someone senior. Heck, the only time I’ve ever seen any of them use their title willingly was at a scientific conference.

One of the things I picked up in my time in academia is that you don’t use the title “doctor” socially if you don’t have an MD/DO – because if you do someone will expect you to respond to a medical emergency. (I don’t know about vets and dentists; if I had to pick between the two in an emergency I’d pick the vet.)

I didn’t know that this was a common thing. Don’t even know what her ‘expertise’ is…

I saw the same thing with (Dr.) David Martin, another member of her tribe.

because if you do someone will expect you to respond to a medical emergency.>/i> – very definitely! After 3 such incidents I always asked our admin staff to book my flights with the Ms honorific.

I don’t see any sign that she refers to herself as “Dr. Margulis.” That would indeed be considered gauche in the humanities. OTOH, noting a terminal degree after one’s name in something like a bio brief is pretty standard. Orac’s stretching here, opining that Margulis is using the citation of her degree as a dubious attempt to present herself as qualified to discuss vaccine policy. However, her substack bio blurb in it’s entirety is “Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning journalist and book author.” She doesn’t present herself as a scientist, and I certainly wouldn’t take the PhD as being relevant to medical science on the basis of that ID.

OK, you might wonder, what does a PhD in English have to do with journalism, or with anything for that matter? What abilities should we expect from someone with such a qualification? (I’m guessing some readers here may be quite mystified about what getting a doctorate in the humanities actually involves…) Well, the base-line skill is doing library research. This isn’t just a question of using a resource data-base, but following trails of citations and references and arguments along relevant lines of inquiry. This actually has a certain relevance to the work of “investigative journalism”, especially as exemplified by the late great I. F. Stone. The second skill we would expect is the ability to organize all the ‘data’ one has dug up in the library into some kind of coherent argument supporting a overall thesis relevant to an issue in the field. Said argument doesn’t need to be “correct”, it can even be kind of whacky, but it needs to have a certain level of support — typically reflected in copious footnotes (MLA style, no APA).

So, upon reading the pull quotes above after seeing the mention of her degree, my honest first thought was, ‘Man, if that kind of “reasoning” and argument is representative of her dissertation, her committee sure must have been asleep at the wheel!” Ultimately, though, my guess is they weren’t, but that was then and this is now.

Now, and I realize this may absolutely shock some readers here (/s), but I can testify from personal anecdotal experience that achieving a PhD in English does not inoculate the holder from abject stupidity, especially outside of the narrow specialization of their dis research. But this substack piece seems of a different order than, for example, some of the WTF right-wing (yes, right wing) political nonsense that emerged from tenured English colleagues at my last professor gig. This looks more like the kind of WTF you get from MDs who go round the bend and down an antivax or pseudoscience rabbit hole. Margulis’ LinkedIn page notes other past legit academic credentials besides the PhD: undergrad Phi Beta Kappa from an Ivy; Fulbright grant, etc. OTOH, under “Skills” the top listings are endorsements for “Editing” and “Publishing” from Jennifer Nelson. Oy vey…

History is important with respect to the PhD. Margulis has frequently listed her name with her PhD, but without saying what the PhD was in, when she wrote about vaccines and COVID-19, going back years.

“I’ve been biased against calling people “doctor” if they are not trained to do medicine”

If they are talking about a medical topic and their PhD is not in any medical field, they should either not use the title or explain that they have the ‘doctor’ title because of – as in her case – a degree in American 19th Century Literature”.

For example, there is a retired nurse and nurse educator in the UK who has a PhD in nurse education who has been dispensing flawed advice under the ‘doctor’ title promoting ivermectin, vitamin D, zinc, apsiration before injection, deliberate infection with Omicron to achieve natural herd immunity, and scaremongering about vaccine side-effects while ostensibly being pro-vaccine. He releases a video a day to his adoring 2.5 million subscribers and regularly gets up to a million views a day.

I didn’t know that this was a common thing.
I noticed the same for Dr. David Martin…

I’ve earned my PhD. I expect to be called doctor in professional situations, but not clinical ones, where I might be confused for a physician. PhDs were the original doctors, physicians co-opted the term. I earned my doctor title and deserve it as much as any physician.

How about the Top Ten reasons to avoid Covid-19 vaccination, satirically speaking? We could do a Top Thirteen easily but there’s no need to be verbose.

1) While struggling for breath with Covid pneumonia, you get a chance to see if the spirits of dying people really do float up at the ceiling watching events unfold below.

2) It gives you an excuse to hang out at the feed store for your fix of horse paste, while trying to make time with the cute clerk.

3) Because you trust the kind of doctors who get arrested for participating in the Capitol riot or who believe gynecologic disorders are caused by demons having sex with women in their dreams.

4) You don’t want anyone to think you’re part of the common herd, but instead a rugged individualist who probably makes more money and went to a better college.

5) Because your greater intelligence is amply displayed by citing 10% of doctors who supposedly agree with you, rather than the 90% who do not.

6) More vaccine-preventable diseases, symptoms, pain and permanent disabilities are always better, and you want more, more, more.

7) Long Covid gives you opportunities to spend extended periods away from work and pleasurable activities, and more time to think about writing the Great American Novel.

8) Eugenics has gotten a lot of bad press, but it’s better if you share your germs with the immunosuppressed, as they’re a drain on society and will probably die soon anyway.

9) Keep people guessing whether your cyanotic skin tones are from hypoxia due to Covid-19 infection, or from the colloidal silver you’ve been taking.

10) You were getting bored with that job in healthcare, so getting fired for going unvaccinated opens up new opportunities for writing books, going on the lecture tour, making $$ off Substack and selling supplements and potions.

11) Long COVID may cause your brain to shrink, which, in the case of your brain, may decrease its tendency to display symptoms of personality disorders.

12) Because you want to be smarter and make more money, which will clearly result if you choose to resist vaccines (see ‘vulvar ulcer logic’ for confirmation.)

13) Because you aspire to become Governor of Florida.

Thank you, sadmar, for concisely illustrating my comment about how creating effective satire displays higher cognitive ability by contrasting your efforts to hers!
And so quickly, too.

Well, her attempts at sarcasm and parody are neither adroit nor fine-tuned given her PhD is in English. She’s quite pedestrian, just stating the reverse of what she wishes to communicate. Usually, people’s skills at satire and comedy reflect their level of higher order skills because these involve language ability, abstraction and anticipating their audience’s response. I sometimes have to laugh ( metaphorically but not literally) at Kim Rossi’s forays into comic posts and jokes**.

Margulis has an eponymous website that catalogues her woo-fraught lessons. Rational Wiki has an entry on her as well. I wonder if altie belief is learned or genetic given who her mother is.

** see also NN and PRN

“Well, her attempts at sarcasm and parody are neither adroit nor fine-tuned given her PhD is in English.”

She is talking to antivaxxers |:

“Vaccine War”

There is no vaccine war. That’s misinformation. It’s a vaccine special medical operation. All those bodies of COVID patients are merely crisis actors.

If like me you have five minutes of your life you’re willing to waste, don’t miss Margulis’ other cleverly droll bit of Substack sarcasm, “I Stand For Censorship”. The piece is accompanied by a photo of Margulis making a face, so you can realize she’s being sarcastic.*

She relates multiple grievous examples of the silencing of science titans like Scott Atlas, Robert Malone and Steve Kirsch (oddly enough, she is able to cite their enormous contributions to the Covid-19 debate despite their being censored).

Kirsch was denied freedom of speech because he wanted to speak at M.I.T. “to share the most recent peer-reviewed science” (pause for guffawing), but he couldn’t, because no faculty member would sponsor him. Censorship!

Meanwhile, Scott Atlas (former adviser to Donald Trump and heroic Covid contrarian) was allowed to speak at the University of Texas, where a rousing crowd of 20 attended his talk, covered by the Austin American-Statesman. Evidently that was censorship, either because the article wasn’t given a banner headline or because the university didn’t ensure a larger crowd.

Margulis is outraged about the censorship of VAERS data which she sees as proof of horrible Covid-19 vaccine nastiness, though how she heard about that data in the face of government suppression is hard to understand.

The obvious conclusion is that if one’s opinions are not mainstream, the reason must be censorship.

*I’ve noticed that sarcasm for the consumption of a woo audience (as on Natural News) is overtly labeled as such, so as not to confuse tender but rigid minds. Speaking of confusion, there must be a lot of antivaxers who are unable to struggle through books written by their heroes such as Kent Heckenlively, Judy Mikovits, Joe Mercola etc., because books by such authors are accompanied by a proliferation of “Summary of” books offering the Cliff Notes version of these tomes. I have yet to see summary books sold to accompany pro-vaccine books. It makes you wonder about the argument that antivaxers are more highly educated than vaccine-accepting sheeple.

Well, this summary-of thing is new to me. A quick search only reveals three publishers so far: one has the Mercola and Cummins book, another the Mikovits and Heckenlively books, and the third both of those. But that’s about it, which leaves oh so many AV books unsummarized.

The basis on which the publishers choose which books to summarize is pretty inscrutable, as the titles seem all over the place in both subject and on the notoriety/obscurity axis. This is mainly an audiobook thing (though one publisher offers printed copies) and most of the titles are listed as freebies for signing up with Audible. Probably some general contract then. Maybe the title selection reflects cheap rights fees, rather than any great demand necessarily.

The “listeners also enjoyed” selections under the Genius Reads (publisher name) Mikovits summary is a mix of antivax and right wing (Trump celebration, Glen Beck, James O’Keefe) conspiracy audiobooks, apparently unabridged rather than summary form, for which the customers probably payed actual money.

Your quick search was incomplete.

Numerous books by other antivaxers and Covid contrarians have spawned “summary” editions of their opuses – from such authors as Scott Atlas, RFK Jr. and Alex Berenson, to name a few I found on Goodreads.

I meant to write “quick search on Amazon”, but apparently I experienced an internal edit malfunction. What I did was search for the authors you mentioned in the prior post, then click on the links for the publishers to see the complete list of titles they offered. I’m ignorant of Goodreads, but I just went there and searched “Alex Berenson summary”, and yup, there are no less than five different summaries of Pandemia there. Sadly, I didn’t see any identification of publisher, or easy way to see what else whoever is putting these out may be up to.

If anything, the sparse listings for these titles, and lack of ratings or reviews, just adds to my suspicion that the demand for these things is rather small, and the fact multiple summaries exist for some titles may reflect IP policies of the copyright holders rather than great demand.

Besides, who even needs a summary of an antivax tome when they have Substack, Facebook groups and Twitter/Telegram/Gab/whatever?

1) Thanks for turning me on to that substack article looks like a hoot.
2) Re Sears if we cancel anyone that questions prevailing medical practice wrt to vaccines, how can we be sure they are always the right option? I don’t understand this to be very scientific, tolerant or open minded. I suppose the argument is that practitioners aren’t allowed to have such opinions, only scientists. But if there is any perversion of science by those interested in Vaccines, then it shan’t be challenged there either. Moreover, it’s the practitioners that would have more exposure to adverse reactions, not the scientists. It’s moves like this to cancel dissent that seem good tactically that I wonder – if your strategy is to support vaccines and eliminate vaccine hesitancy – whether they are a strategic failure. Specifically they are an indication to some (myself included) that vaccines are not questioned enough but sort of accepted by the medical community as dogma for whatever reason. This makes me more hesitant not less. It’s worth some market research to determine ultimate effect if you’re trying to quell hesitancy is all I’m saying.

“Re Sears if we cancel anyone that questions prevailing medical practice wrt to vaccines”

If you refer to Bob Sears, he was not “canceled”, and the reason the California medical board disciplined him was not for questioning medical practice with regard to vaccines, but for gross negligence. The board found that he had issued an improper vaccine exemption for a child, failed to keep adequate medical records and failed to conduct a neurologic exam on a child with a reported history of head trauma and headache. A followup complaint the year after his medical license was placed on probation involved a pair of additional improper vaccine exemptions; medical board action in 2020 extended his probation for another two years, probation expiring this coming July. If being “cancelled” means having to take continuing medical education (including an ethics course) and having a practice monitor, then one could say Sears was “cancelled”, but that’s a weird definition of cancellation. During all of this, Sears has been free to emote on his supposed persecution, write books, give speeches etc.

“I suppose the argument is that practitioners aren’t allowed to have such opinions, only scientists.”

Opinions are one thing, upholding the standard of care is another. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is heavily made up of practicing pediatricians, fully supports the safety and efficacy of vaccination.*

I wonder if John’s embrace of strawmen and mischaracterization of facts is aimed at misleading readers rather than an honest attempt to convince them. But I’m just asking questions. 😉

*curiously, certain antivax pediatricians proudly proclaim themselves to be FAAPs (Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics), without acknowledging that their beliefs and behavior run in direct opposition to that organization.

I remember the first time I saw this idiot and how much I wanted to smash my TV. She was on an episode of PBS Frontline saying how she harassed the poor OB floor RNs about giving her kid the HepB vaccine since it was a “Sexually-transmitted” disease. She went on to barf out other gems throughout the episode all the while maintaining that same stupid look on her face she has in the picture, above. She’s a deeply smug, pious, nauseating individual.

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