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Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Skepticism/critical thinking

Projection, thy name is Joe Mercola (and Aseem Malhotra)

In a classic case of projection, Joe Mercola claims a “pandemic of misinformed doctors.” He’s right, but not for the reason he thinks. The misinformed doctors are him and his fellow antivax docs.

As I sat down to write this, I realized that this weekend (tomorrow, actually) is my 18th blogiversary. Yes, it will be 18 years ago tomorrow since I first sat down in front of my computer on a gray, cold December Saturday afternoon to write my first ever post for this blog. True, the blog was then on Blogspot—does anyone remember that or still use it?—and I didn’t know what I was doing, but that was the start. So perhaps it’s appropriate that the post I noticed yesterday that I wanted to write about involved a massive case of projection by an old “friend,” über-quack Joe Mercola, doctor who started out selling “natural health” and then became a “pioneer” selling quackery on the Internet in the late 1990s, which led to him becoming fabulously wealthy, to the tune of a net worth upwards of $100 million. Naturally, with the arrival of the pandemic, Mercola pivoted to the even more profitable selling of COVID-19 disinformation. So it’s not surprising that he’d now publish an exercise in projection that combines old antivax tropes with newer COVID-19 disinformation, all with the help of a doctor who’s recently gone from “soft antivax” to totally antivax, Dr. Aseem Malhotra.

I’m on Mercola’s mailing list; so I saw this article first yesterday under the email subject header of “This Is Why Doctors Are Turning a Blind Eye to the Truth,” which led me to read an email that claimed:

Stop seeing your doctor as an authority. They’re stuck in this mind trap in order to feel secure, avoid conflict, reduce anxiety, protect prestige and, in some cases, protect their precious, fragile egos. Make no mistake, we’re facing a pandemic of misinformed doctors.

Again, projection, thy name is Joe Mercola (and, as you will see, Aseem Malhotra)!

It’s frequently been pointed out that the goal of disinformation is not so much to get you to believe specific conspiracy theories, but rather to lead you to doubt everything, to view the conspiracy theories as potentially plausible, as plausible, even, as what anything authorities tell you. The idea is to confuse you so much that you don’t know (and can’t tell) what the truth is. That’s what Mercola has done all these years, although since the pandemic hit he’s been more blatant about it.

In any case, this is obviously projection. Mercola is, ironically, quite correct that we are facing a pandemic of misinformed doctors. Unfortunately, those misinformed doctors tend to be misinformed because of ideology that leads them to prize the characteristics of the “brave maverick doctor” (no matter how wrong) to the point of embracing unproven and later disproven “cures” for COVID-19 such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin and even outright antivax misinformation and conspiracy theories. My more reasonable colleagues sometimes express disbelief to me that so many of their colleagues have been prone to “going antivax,” and I point out again and again that they shouldn’t have been surprised at how many doctors have been susceptible to antivax propaganda and how many have been “behaving badly.” They should have known. If they’d been paying attention, they would have known. But they weren’t. They were “shruggies,” who looked at quackery and antivax disinformation, concluding that they were so ridiculous that there’s no way anyone would believe it. They were wrong.

Worse than that, physicians like UCSF oncologist Dr. Vinay Prasad, who before the pandemic used to ooze contempt for those of us who had been combatting quackery and antivax misinformation for years, thinking the task so “easy” as to be completely beneath him, has become one of the foremost useful idiots spreading false COVID-19 minimization, as well as conspiracy theories and antivax disinformation, parroting old antivax tropes like describing fear of a deadly disease as “irrational anxiety” and likening public health interventions to incipient fascism, all while using the same arguments that antivaxxers used to invoke to arguing against vaccinating against measles to argue against vaccinating children against COVID-19.

But back to Mercola and Malhotra and Mercola’s article, Has Big Pharma Hijacked Evidence-Based Medicine? It’s based on a talk that he gave last month in London after he’d gone full antivax. Let me preface my discussion by noting that questioning whether big pharma has had undue influence on evidence-based medicine (EBM). A number of reasonable critics have long done that, and, before he embraced conspiracy theories, Dr. Prasad even made some reasonable points on this score with respect to oncology clinical trials. The difference here is that through Malhotra Mercola weaponizes and exaggerates reasonable criticisms about the capture of EBM by big pharma to spread disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines; i.e., to cast doubt on their efficacy and safety and, above all, undermine confidence in the public health and medical authorities recommending vaccination.

After Malhotra cited the fear that gripped the world in early 2020, as the novel coronavirus that had ravaged Wuhan, China started to spread to become a pandemic, he then engaged in the rawest of projection:

Willful blindness is another phenomenon to be aware of. It’s when people turn a blind eye to the truth. Also known as conscious avoidance, this tactic has historically been used in legal trials to avoid criminal liability by ignoring or purposely staying unaware of key facts. 

However, Malhotra notes, people also engage in willful blindness in order to feel safe, avoid conflict, reduce anxiety and to protect prestige or, in some cases, “precious, fragile egos.”1

Malhotra quoted the late Stephen Hawking, who stated, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”2 In terms of health care, evidence-based medicine has been hijacked by Big Pharma; it’s now an illusion. There’s also an illusion that we’re at the forefront of medicine, with prestigious organizations leading the helm, when in reality multiple health crises are upon us.

See what I mean about the projection? One can’t help but note that Malhotra’s turn to COVID-19 crankery could easily have been a way of reducing anxiety and “protecting” his massive “precious, fragile, ego.” Mercola, it should be noted, appears to be an out-and-out grifter, having pivoted from true belief to grift a long time ago. Malhotra appears to be still at least somewhat in the true belief stage, although he is rapidly discovering the benefits of the grift to himself.

Going back to 2020, the first time I encountered Malhotra was when he made a name for himself attacking the Royal Free London NHS Trust for having accepted a gift of 1,500 Krispy Kreme donuts given in gratitude to NHS frontline workers for what they had endured in March and April, after having been known for naming sugar as “enemy number one in the western diet.” Of course, at the time, there were as yet no vaccines against COVID-19, candidate vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech being in clinical trials to determine if they were safe and effective. Also not coincidentally, Dr. Malhotra was clearly working on a book that was published a few months later claiming that you could “optimize” your metabolism to protect you against COVID-19—and that you could do it in 21 days, hence the name of the book, The 21-Day Immunity Plan: How to Rapidly Improve Your Metabolic Health and Resilience to Fight Infection.

What seemed to “turn” Dr. Malhotra from the sort of “soft antivaxxer” of the sort whom I’ve long been running into, the sort who claims that diet and “metabolic health” are as good as vaccines to protect you against infectious disease, to full-on antivax seems to be the tragic death of his father from acute coronary syndrome in 2021. Dr. Malhotra blamed his father’s death on COVID-19 vaccines, after expressing disbelief that a healthy-seeming septuagenerian could just drop dead from heart disease after apparently having shown no symptoms before:

But his post-mortem findings are what I found particularly shocking and inexplicable. Two of his three major arteries had severe blockages: 90% blockage in his left anterior descending artery and a 75% blockage in his right coronary. Given that he was an extremely fit and active 73-year-old man, having walked an average of 10–15 000 steps/day during the whole of lockdown, this was a shock to everyone who knew him, but most of all to me. I knew his medical history and lifestyle habits in great detail. My father who had been a keen sportsman all his life, was fitter than the overwhelming majority of men his age. Since the previous heart scans (a few years earlier, which had revealed no significant problems with perfect blood flow throughout his arteries and only mild furring), he had quit sugar, lost belly fat, reduced the dose of his blood pressure pills, started regular meditation, reversed his prediabetes and even massively dropped his blood triglycerides, significantly improving his cholesterol profile.

I didn’t note at the time that the left anterior descending (LAD) article has long famously been called the “widow maker,” because the LAD supplies a large amount of heart muscle and sudden occlusion is often fatal without rapid treatment to relieve the blockage. I also wonder which “heart scans” that his father had undergone. Only an angiogram can accurately show the actual percent blockage of coronary arteries. I’m guessing that the heart scan was a CT scan that looks for calcium deposits in the coronary arteries to identify atherosclerotic plaques. Not all plaques have calcium in them, and, famously, blood flow can be close to normal until high degrees of occlusion are reached.

Be that as it may, even as much as I might feel empathy for Dr. Malhotra for the loss of his father, as I pointed out before his pivot to blaming COVID-19 vaccines for his father’s death likely involved lessening his own anxiety produced by cognitive dissonance. That cognitive dissonance likely resulted from seeing his father, whom he loved and emulated and who had, as Dr. Malhotra had pointed out, been (seemingly) far more “healthy” than the vast majority of men in their 70s, die suddenly of heart disease after seemingly having had no symptoms and no evidence of coronary artery occlusion and having lived what he had viewed as a supremely “healthy” lifestyle that Dr. Malhotra had made his name (and identity) promoting. As a cardiologist, Dr. Malhotra should have known that, sadly, it is not uncommon for the first symptom of heart disease to be sudden death. It’s a fact about which most people are ignorant, leading to the antivax propaganda about people “dying suddenly” due to COVID-19 vaccines, along with the misappropriation of non-atherosclerotic “sudden arrythmic death syndrome” (SADS) as “sudden adult death syndrome” also being caused by vaccines. As much as I might feel for Dr. Malhotra’s grief, I cannot forgive his projection.

That’s not all the projection, though. There’s also the bit about the “illusion of knowledge.” I’ve long referred to the “arrogance of ignorance,” in which it is the ignorant who are most certain about their misunderstanding-based beliefs, not actual experts. Dr. Malhotra’s bit about the “illusion of knowledge” is an excellent term for where the arrogance of ignorance leads. Yes, it’s more projection.

I’m not going to go into every detail about Dr. Malhotra’s claims, because a fellow cardiologist named Dr. Frank Han did that for me. He too pointed out that Dr. Malhotra’s lecture was far more about promoting a narrative—one that I note to be pure projection—than it was about promoting science. He also pointed out that Dr. Malhotra’s comparison of Dr. John Ioannidis, who has destroyed his reputation as a defender of rigorous science to someone who, either through ignorance or deception, has weaponized a satirical publication index to attack his critics as “science Kardashians” (and did not react well at all to criticism for his having done that) to late physicist Stephen Hawking, is misleading to the point of ridiculousness. Rather, I’m concentrating on the message and his use of techniques of disinformation, rather than digging into all the numerous errors of fact and science he makes, many clearly misrepresentations.

Basically, in his projection, Dr. Malhotra recycles all the old antivax tropes. As I like to say, no one claims that big pharma doesn’t sometimes engage in underhanded business practices to promote its products as safer and more effective than they are. No one claims that big pharma isn’t out to make profits. Of course it is! Pharmaceutical companies are corporations, most publicly traded. Their purpose is to make money selling their products. That’s why we have regulatory agencies like the FDA in the US, Health Canada, the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia, the EMA for the EU, and the MHRA in the UK to oversee pharma and require demonstration that its products work and are safe and effective. Again, no one says it’s a perfect system, but prior scandals over drug safety do not imply that COVID-19 vaccines don’t work. We have to examine each claim on its own merits, and, if you watch the video, you’ll see that Dr. Malhotra recycles all sorts of antivax talking points about COVID-19 vaccines, including citing Peter Doshi, Goop doctor Steve Gundry’s awful PULS study, and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo‘s deceptive antivax disinformation disguised as a study.

The bottom line is simple. Antivaxxers engage in projection. They always have and always will. This article by Joe Mercola citing Aseem Malhotra is just another example of projection used to promote disinformation.

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]

151 replies on “Projection, thy name is Joe Mercola (and Aseem Malhotra)”

His father had high blood pressure and prediabetes, too? And these didn’t play any kind of role in his mind? Wow!

According to the post by Frank Han (see link in text above), the senior Malhotra had coronary disease and had stent placement for it. Junior Malhotra talked Dad out of taking the medications Dad was prescribed after this procedure. Probably thought diet/lifestyle was better? Then Dad drops. Pivot to vaccine injury rather than face that perhaps his advice was not that great after all.

More and more I see groups such as antivaxxers employing the old tactic of accusing others of things they themselves are guilty of. And while this not new, its certainly more widespread these days it seems.

I love your thoughtful article!

Orac, you might have a minor typo: “descending (LAD) article” did you mean artery?

Do not discount selfish and careerist motivation among some people!

Regarding Dr Malhotra: his father died in 2021. It is the end of 2022 and Dr Malhotra woke up only a few months ago.

Why? What is the reason Dr Malhotra did not speak up in 2021? Did it take him a full year to think about the death of his father?

Not being specifically accusative against Dr Malhotra, who I must note is a very perceptive man, let me just say that a lot of recent Covid commentators turning against “vaccines” is possibly a realization that a tide is turning: Covid vaccine will soon be on the garbage pile of history and “vaccine critics” are now expecting cushy positions in important magazines and societies, and to be otherwise rewarded in the “post-Covid-vaccine” environment.

Witness the transformation of “Dr John Campbell”, who I always liked despite his past support of Covid vaccines (his video recommending Vitamin D3 is possibly a big reason why my only Covid in Nov 2020 was relatively mild). Now Dr Campbell is antivax, is talking about excess mortality and vaccines, sudden deaths, falling birth rates, lab origin, and covers all antivax topics extensively. I appreciate Dr Campbell’s change of mind. But I wonder why it took him so long to reach a conclusion that forward thinking people reached in 2021?

Expect many more people to jump on the antivax bandwagon, in hopes of making big money and jump starting their careers.

Some possibly desire to avoid recriminations for their past wrongdoings. Examples are Monica Gandhi and Leana Wen who set the bar for nastiness high in 2021.

I do not follow Dr Mercola specifically so no comment there.

Regarding doctors: I recently broke a foot badly and I appreciated having knowledgeable surgeons, radiologists etc treating my bad fracture. I am glad that I was not treated by some naturopath and received, hopefully, good surgical treatment (do not yet quite know the outcome re: bone union).

But vaccines, specifically flu and Covid, are some kind of a weird cult in medicine. They do not work and yet these doctors are pushing them. Last year, a substitute doctor doing my physical was a total [email protected]@ about Covid vaccine, tried to debate it with me etc. I did not want to engage too much so as not to piss him off. Did my best to ramp off the discussion nicely.

This year physical, my regular doctor did not even bother offering flu and covid vax and everything was very cordial. So perhaps better times lie ahead.

“Never argue with a fool. They will drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.” – attributed to various.

Your regular doctor is a smart man.

IC, you should bear in mind the following statement by Christopher Hitchens

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

And you never have any, yet probably wonder why you’re always dismissed.

This is amusing. I’ve heard and read many scientists with knowledge and understanding vastly beyond that of Campbell disappointed with how he went for being OK and at least sometimes right to being a source of misinformation.
He is “Doctor” by virtue of holding a PhD in nursing education.

Perhaps doctors push the vaccines because they do work ? Consider all articles that show that. You havenever commented them, ust making questionabe prediction.
Perhaps you meant, do nor argue people people knowing more than you,they would show how wrong you are.

But vaccines, specifically flu and Covid, are some kind of a weird cult in medicine. They do not work and yet these doctors are pushing them.

When the lede is to beg the question, I suppose burying it is just as well.

“But vaccines, specifically flu and Covid, are some kind of a weird cult in medicine. They do not work and yet these doctors are pushing them.” It is strange. But at least before covid at least half the people I knew avoided the flu vaccine because it’s not effective enough to be worth it. Fortunately my doctor did not mention any such things at my physical. I’d only give it a 50/50 that he himself is vaccinated for covid.

@ Igor Chudov

As usual, you write: “But vaccines, specifically flu and Covid, are some kind of a weird cult in medicine. They do not work. . .”

Well, below is just a small sample of evidence that the Covid mRNA vaccines both are quite effective and quite safe, not perfectly safe as nothing is; but weighing protection from suffering, hospitalizations, and death against rare serious adverse events, no contest. And you in your continued unscientific claims may not get sick from COVID but could pass it on to some innocent third party; e.g., someone who couldn’t be vaccinate (e.g., autoimmune disease, getting chemotherapy) or someone who was vaccinated; but their immune system didn’t react strongly enough.

COVID Vaccine Efficacy Data

CDC Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19 links to several datasets at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

CDC (2022 Jul 15). New COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Data Showcase Protection Gained by 3rd and 4th Doses

Canada @ https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00076-eng.htm

PubMed typed in: “bnt162b2 mrna covid-19 vaccine efficacy” results 428 papers

"moderna covid vaccine efficacy" results 314 papers

'pfizer covid vaccine efficacy" results 566 papers

World Health Organization (2021 Mar). Evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2022 Nov 18). COVID-19 vaccine efficacy summary.

COVID-19 Safety Studies

PubMed
Search terms:

covid vaccine AND safety
4,478 results

covid vaccine AND adverse events
1,659 results

Kantarcioglu B et al. (2021 Jan).An Update on the Pathogenesis of COVID-19 and the Reportedly Rare Thrombotic Events Following Vaccination. Clinical and applied thrombosis/hemostasis

Li Z et al. (2022 Sep 13). Efficacy, immunogenicity and safety of COVID-19 vaccines in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in immunology

Cari L et al (2021 Aug). Blood clots and bleeding events following BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine: An analysis of European data
COVID-19 Vaccine-Related Thrombosis: A Systematic Review and Exploratory Analysis. Journal of autoimmunity

CDC (2022 Jul 6). Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html

Government of Canada. COVID-19: Vaccine safety and side effects. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines/safety-side-effects.html

Sweden. Public Health Agency of Sweden. Vaccination Against COVID-19.
Available at: https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/communicable-disease-control/covid-19/vaccination-against-covid-19/

Experts work for who pays them. This is true in academia and true in the courtroom. Experts tend not to reach conclusions that don’t have monetary backing. Sure there are exceptions, but generally this is the case. If experts disagree with the funders they usually don’t publish. But when they do publish something counter to the narrative, folks here celebrate them being stripped of their credentials. Hence this system is rotten and cannot be relied upon.

Another way to see it is the big picture. If death rates are up after the biggest vaccine campaign seen for a ‘deadly’ pandemic post-large scale administration of the vaccine: one of three propositions must be true (but all could be):

1) The vaccine ain’t working
2) the non-pharmaceutical interventions failed or caused more harm than they prevented (e.g. lockdowns)
3) the pandemic wasn’t as deadly as we were led to believe and is really a pandemic of propaganda (massaged death numbers and the like).

It doesn’t matter which of these is true; the public health apparatus has proved itself untrustworthy. Hence there is no recommendation that it can make that we can trust.

“If death rates are up after the biggest vaccine campaign seen for a ‘deadly’ pandemic post-large scale administration of the vaccine: one of three propositions must be true (but all could be)”

You could add:

4) The vaccines aren’t perfectly effective and people are still dying of covid plus the side effects of a pandemic on health care systems.

See? It took me thirty seconds to come up with another logical answer to your question (as phrased). First come up with hypotheses, then develop tests for each one to determine which is/are true.

Nope. If covid is a NEW source of mortality then even reducing that new source will still leave you higher than pre-covid. The only way to return to pre-covid levels of mortality is to eliminate covid. Or decrease mortality in some other area.

If you add in any increased mortality due to the effect on the healthcare system, then you’re looking at playing catchup for a while too.

I thought the vaccine prevented deaths from covid-19? Is it just a religious ceremony now?

I don’t think john ever really reads past the title of the articles he links to. From the latest [final paragraph before acknowledgements]

Finally, we cannot provide a definitive functional proof or a direct causal link between vaccination and myocar-
ditis.

You’re still hanging on to the ‘wasn’t the vaccine’ bury head in sand argument. Even as health authorities are forced to publicize that the vaccines cause myocarditis? You’re in a cult.

“I thought the vaccine prevented deaths from covid-19?”

I hope not, because that would mean that you haven’t been paying attention.

johnlabarge:

Canada has an over 90% vaccination rate.

Yes, and I suspect that that is part of the reason for these differences in COVID deaths/million:
USA: 3,324
Canada: 1,260
Australia: 640 (84.5% with at least two COVID vaccine doses)

BTW, Canada doesn’t have an “over 90% vaccination rate”. Its rate for the full initial protocol (usually two doses) is 82%, close to Australia’s. Canada does have a 90% rate of “any COVID vaccination”, which isn’t the same thing.

@john labarge
Vaccination coverage is high in Canada, with 83.3% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose.
One dose does not mean fully vaaccinatate.

You notice that starting the campaign does not mean that everybody is immediately vaccinated. Actually only very few were

By 2022? Pretty sure kost who intended to were vaccinated. And the most heavily mRNA vaccinated countries have the highest excess mortality. Of course with you all everything negative on the vax is always a coincidence.

Compiled by a vaccine sales organization. Why should anyone in their right mind trust that organizations representations of data?

Experts work for who pays them. This is true in academia and true in the courtroom.

Trying again to get away with this brain-dead canard, I see.

A personal tragedy has led numerous people into dogmatic, incorrect views about health. You’d expect someone with Dr. Malhotra’s training and experience to be more resistant.
One could comment on the “precious, fragile egos” of people who think their diet advice is an infallible guarantee of good health, and become denialists when events prove otherwise.

Orac’s comment about “Malhotra Mercola” weaponizing distrust of Big Pharma to spread Covid-19 misinformation made me wonder if a new, woo version of Ghidra the Two-Headed Monster (one of the goddess Hera’s pets, a sting from whose tail caused instant death) had been created.** Aieee!
not to be confused with King Ghidorah, a three-headed dragon-like monster from the Godzilla movies.

***Mike Adams could furnish the third head of this creature.

I’m speculating that Dr Malhotra doesn’t want to face the fact that he is at risk for atherosclerotic heart disease and sudden unexpected death. There is a strong hereditary component to this disease. Blaming his father’s death on an evil vaccine might allow him to deny this risk and offer the illusion of control.

I wonder if the good doctor sees this as a personal failure – is the good doctor really as brilliant as he thinks he is, if he missed heart problems in his own father?

Agreed.
Woo-meisters’ extreme focus upon nutrients in determining health in general might indeed be a denial their own hereditary risk factors. Like anti-vax proselytisers, they single out external, controllable causes rather than internal and/ or uncontrollable ones like genetic influences.

Another excellent point. The illusion of control, and a desire to blame people for their own misfortunes or other people for bad things that happen to oneself or loved ones.

@ Igor Chudov

In a previous exchange you wrote: “I believe that the story of major vaccines like measles and polio is as complicated as the Covid vaccine, and I do not want to get into those too deeply for now. I do not want to have half-assed opinions and do not have time to research those in-depth.”

I guess you lied because your posted comment above is pure Bull Shit, not based on any in-depth study or understanding.

A few things….

–Alties/anti-vaxxers are always in a quandary because they attack SB doctors as being misguided and/ or being compromised pharma shills whilst simultaneously lauding brave maverick, iconoclastic doctors / scientists who shatter the paradigm of SBM**. They then tout their Ivy League/ Oxbridge educations or important positions in governments after denigrating the entire system they originate from.
Make up your minds.

— Having some free time, I watched a The Highwire from Thursday where Del featured a panel hosted by a US senator starring Malone, McCollough, Risch, Cole and other Covid vaccine denialists as well as the host and his lawyer, Siri. Cole also presents an ‘educational’ lecture later on the Highwire.

— -btw- I sense an uptick in anti-vax scare tactics: are they preparing for a holiday season where followers spend money on woo?
Lots more but I have to go find a sushi parlor

** I guess their professional education/ experience only counts if they disregard it and agree with barely educated woo-meisters and internet grifters.

I think they are upticking their scare tactics because their bottom line plateaued or even fell these last few months (a lot of their givesendgo scams have been very flat). There’s not much new for them to weaponize and in their grifting world you have to keep figuring out how to keep turning the volume “up to 11”.

@ Dr Chris:

You’re right: I first noticed during the 2008 financial crisis how they really began to rail against banks, corporations, the government, experts nonstop. Everyone was a scoundrel. They advised followers how to invest wisely: take care of your health, get out of the market, buy gold, live in the country, go off grid, don’t use banks/ credit at all; barter.

Now, they elaborate how to prep, live naturally off the grid, start businesses ( growing organic vegetables, sprouts, fermented products), and of course, invest in gold and land. Live in an RV and travel until you find the right place.
Interestingly, Adams is sponsored by a gold seller and a satellite phone company ( for when phone/ internet networks are destroyed), sells prepping supplies and supplements. Null teaches how to grow organics/ make food products and hosts followers at retreats and at his new “intentional community” located on his estate, sells “educational material”. All of these people- RFK jr, Del, the aforementioned hucksters- have charities that people can support to “fight the power” funding investigations and to support their important work.

With inflation and possible economic problems, can average people really afford overpriced supplements and vegetable powders?

I normally ignore twitter as much as possible, but this exchange has some very amusing entries:
https://twitter.com/DrAseemMalhotra/status/1599435740672589824?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

eg
Replying to
@DrAseemMalhotra
So the fact he died while overdosing on heroin and opioids and with 10 different unprescribed substances in his body had nothing to do with his heart attack – no it was the vaccine. Are you actually still a doctor?

There’s also the Twitter response featuring an ostensible quote about how gas chambers aren’t needed if you can have a Holocaust by slowly killing off vaccine recipients.

How that fits with the “Died Suddenly” meme is a mystery.

In this weekend’s Wall St. Journal is an op-ed declaring that the elite need to apologize for all their horrifically wrong Covid-19 policies, including the school shutdowns that harmed so many children. Another op-ed laments that conservatives are overwhelmed by progressive messaging, including that which targets children in school.

Wait – in that case weren’t school closures for Covid-19 a good idea? Parents got to see and counter any propaganda aimed at their kids during online classes.

It’s so confusing.

No calls from the WSJ for apologies from those calling it a hoax, divine punishment, “just the flu,” and those who claimed “it would go away by itself”?

DB: “… including the school shutdowns that harmed so many children.”

Right.
Alties/anti-vaxxers go on about school closures dramatically exaggerating their duration ( see esp Katie Wright twitter) as well as vaccine/ mask dangers. Naomi Wolf ( Substack) gave an angry speech at Yale about the dangers of vaccinating these “children” ( students) to a boisterous crowd of…. 30.

It seems that alties also buy into rightist memes about liberal indoctrination at universities usually doubting the institutions’ overall worth because “degrees don’t guarantee careers” and more “traditional roles” for women** and men as electricians, plumbers etc might be the answer to society’s woes. Home schooling puts the parents back in control as they should be instead of teachers’ unions and liberal politicians. Not to mention drag queens.

Interestingly, these same “educators” brag about their own ersatz and/ or inappropriate degrees while thought leaders like RFK jr, Mercola or the Covid contrarians never let you forget that their titles include doctor, professor or esquire.

** see trad wife trend

It seems that alties also buy into rightist memes about liberal indoctrination at universities

The people who rant on and on about how liberal university faculty are are like the folks who claim public schools have “porn” in libraries and are teaching ‘crt’ from first grade on: they have no idea what they’re talking about.

@ Igor Chudav

You write: “But vaccines, specifically flu and Covid, are some kind of a weird cult in medicine. They do not work”

Well, one more example of your immense dishonesty. Below are just sample lists of studies, etc. on safety and effectiveness of the mRNA COVID vaccines. I could supply a similar list on flu vaccine, though less effective than the covid vaccine; but with even fewer serious adverse events. You are one sick dishonest individual.

COVID Vaccine Efficacy Data

CDC Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19 links to several datasets at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

CDC (2022 Jul 15). New COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Data Showcase Protection Gained by 3rd and 4th Doses

Canada @ https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00076-eng.htm

PubMed typed in: “bnt162b2 mrna covid-19 vaccine efficacy” results 428 papers

"moderna covid vaccine efficacy" results 314 papers

'pfizer covid vaccine efficacy" results 566 papers

World Health Organization (2021 Mar). Evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2022 Nov 18). COVID-19 vaccine efficacy summary.

COVID-19 Safety Studies

PubMed
Search terms:

covid vaccine AND safety
4,478 results

covid vaccine AND adverse events
1,659 results

Kantarcioglu B et al. (2021 Jan).An Update on the Pathogenesis of COVID-19 and the Reportedly Rare Thrombotic Events Following Vaccination. Clinical and applied thrombosis/hemostasis

Li Z et al. (2022 Sep 13). Efficacy, immunogenicity and safety of COVID-19 vaccines in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in immunology

Cari L et al (2021 Aug). Blood clots and bleeding events following BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine: An analysis of European data
COVID-19 Vaccine-Related Thrombosis: A Systematic Review and Exploratory Analysis. Journal of autoimmunity

CDC (2022 Jul 6). Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html

Government of Canada. COVID-19: Vaccine safety and side effects. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines/safety-side-effects.html

Sweden. Public Health Agency of Sweden. Vaccination Against COVID-19.
Available at: https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/communicable-disease-control/covid-19/vaccination-against-covid-19/

Happy 18th blogiversary, Orac!

Sometimes, what non-conventional medicine promotes is a healthy projection of non-reality. Specifically, MJD et al. are publishing a review paper titled “Psilocybin-based breakthroughs in natural medicine.”

Abstract

Nature created a mushroom-based compound known as psilocybin that can biochemically alter perception and affect mental anguish. Medical research shows that psilocybin activates the brain, engendering new cognition and awareness. Although psilocybin usage dates to ancient times, its contemporary medical usefulness is still in its infancy. This review discusses a potential breakthrough in natural medicine; psilocybin-based therapy may be a life-changing experience bringing hope to many suffering from mental anguish based on emotional and physical pain.

Q. Are naturopath’s visionaries or quacks.
A. Both, that’s why they’re important.

Rasmussen poll results are out!

Search youtube for: 12 MILLION PEOPLE! – Vaxxed Americans Report Major Side Effects, and Question Efficacy

It turns out that:

32% of adults are UNVACCINATED. This trashes ALL CDC’s vaccine effectiveness calculations, based on false assumption of under 10% unvaccinated adults. We, the critical thinkers, knew it all along, but it is GREAT to have confirmation from Rasmussen.
7% of vaccinated people suffered a MAJOR adverse reaction. Same exactly as V-Safe data.

Times are changing!!!

@ Igor Chudov

Based on your ignorance of science, why would 30% unvaccinated vs 10% have any effect on statistics, except perhaps confidence intervals? One could still look at percent unvaccinated vs vaccinated for hospitalization and deaths. You want to believe the vaccine worthless, so pick and choose things that confirm your asinine beliefs. Did you notice that I presented data from not only the US and, thus, percent vaccinated would also vary?

If you really want to understand the CDC Covid Data, go to:

CDC (2022 Dec 8). Data Definitions for COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/reporting-vaccinations.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fvaccines%2Fdistributing%2Fabout-vaccine-data.html

It is complicated; but one more thing. You don’t understand the immune system, that is, the adaptive immune system which takes 10 days or more to respond and recognizes not whole viral or bacterial microbes; but only minuscule segments called antigenic determinants. And you don’t understand mRNA. You could look at the comment I made to Doug which explains the COVID-19 virus, that is, how it works; but I doubt you will and even if you did, I doubt you would understand it.

So, the vast majority of scientists around the world who understand vaccines, immune system, viruses support the mRNA vaccines; but people like you can find a few who don’t and you believe them, not based on any fundamental knowledge; but simply because it confirms your ABSOLUTE STUPID UNSCIENTIFIC BIAS

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

The number of unvaccinated people is the DENOMINATOR in all vaccine effectiveness calculations involving, for example, evaluating “vaccine effectiveness against death”.

To calculate this effectiveness, you get “rates per 100,000” by dividing the number of deaths of unvaccinated people by their overall population, and doing the same for the vaccinated people, and then comparing those rates.

VE=1-RR (RR is relative risk)

If the estimate of the population of the unvaccinated group is understated by 3x, the unvaxed rate of death will be accordingly OVERstated, and vaccine effectiveness against death be overstated as well.

This is how the CDC gets all these fake graphs of how great the “covid vaccines” are working.

This is not exactly new — a lot of people talked about this for the UK and US and I caught Santa Clara County, CA doing same thing — but the Rasmussen poll added a great deal of weighty data that is very useful.

You hve no shown tha CDC uses rate 90% anywhere. As I said it is number of people with one shot.
There are any numer of papers about vaccine efficacy. Medical records are usually used, not some esimates

Igor, you are as far from a critical thinker as I am from being a nuclear physicist — but I did have a major in physics (many years ago, so no longer relevant) but it’s pretty clear you haven’t had any experience with science or statistics [my grad degrees and career] but that level isn’t needed to see that there is nothing in this ‘survey’.

a) This was not a medical study, it was an extremely small survey (1000 people)

b) The key question with the results giving you a woody was this:

Do you believe you have experienced major side effects, minor side effects, or no side effects, from your covid-19 vaccination?

So self reported with no verification. Further (from the video)

We left it up to the respondent to define in their head what constitutes a major side effect so take a minute to think what a major side effect would mean to you.

Major problem there (although I’ve read enough of your crap to believe you’re too stupid to see it).

Just after that bit of worthless crap the narrator says this:

[cites the 2020 Census] “… there are about 258 million adults in the U.S. and according to this poll 175 million are vaccinated with seven percent having a major side effect

and goes on to say that there are

12 million people who believe they have experienced a major side effect that they attribute to the vaccine

He [narrator] then throws in a scare quote about people who died can’t report anything.

So there’s an immediate jump to the assumption that
a) the claims from 7% of the sample, none of which are verified, can be extended that simply to the general population
b) everyone’s view of “major side effect” is the same level of risk to health

The summary is that this poll is garbage, and the “pollster” talking in the video should be ashamed of himself and if he isn’t he shouldn’t be working.

You? Well, you’re always up to spread a lie igor, but here I think you might actually believe this crap because, as I said above, you’re just that stupid.

Hi, the 7% self-reported rate of severe events is very similar to 7-percent severe event rate that is reported in V-Safe data, pried from the hands of the CDC by lawsuits. These two data sources match very well.

While 1,000 people is not a lot, Rasmussen is a professional pollster and so my expectation is that it is not at all an outlier result. It is a reasonable sample size for many polls.

Even the owner of this amazing website where we are hanging out, reported “vigorous reactions” to the vaccines and planning to stay home after the bivalent booster.

Igor, why did I expect that you would miss the problem with the survey, whether intentionally or due to ignorance? Oh yes, because your personal bias, based on no evidence, that the vaccines are dangerous, blinds you.

Your ignorance of statistics has a lot to do with it too.

Number are indeed similar than VAERS, because there is same problem. Are these caused by vaccination, or do they happen aer vaccination ?
Rasmussen must next how many unvaccinated have serious side effects. (And I do not mean COVID)

“Rasmussen is a professional pollster”

Hurr hurr hurr hurr. Irrelevant, if you had any serious experience of polls. For a start, the people willing to respond are a self selecting group. NOT a random cross section of humanity. Secondly, as has been said, you have no idea what ‘serious’ actually means to the people who responded.

We, the critical thinkers, knew it all along, but it is GREAT to have confirmation from Rasmussen.

Rasmussen polls are often described as having a Republican bias. This bias could easily be affecting the results of polling about COVID-19 vaccines. You should take that into account.

Yes, rasmussen has a known right-leaning bias in its political polls: they explain it by saying they use a different model than other pollsters.

Here though the issue is a poor poll (small sample size, only 4 key questions about the vaccine), and the implicit assumptions that everyone has the same view of what a significant side effect might be (someone might think fever for a couple days, some might view it as long lasting impairment), self-reporting from the participants with no verification, blind post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc reasoning (after taking the word of participants as gospel), and foolishly generalizing to the US adult population. All of these things would get you laughed at in a rigorous setting, and anyone who believes the results should be similarly humiliated.

@ Igor Chudov

I actually have an MS in biostatistics from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston; but also had 2 semesters of applied statistics as undergraduate, four courses when earned MA in Social Psychology, several more when earned PhD, then MS in biostatistics. Included even courses in mathematical statistics and LISREL, ie structural equations. It was a long time ago; but when someone has so many courses, the basics stick with you. And I have two shelves of statistic books, including, of course, all my old textbooks and have course notes in various binders.

So, how many courses in statistics have you had???

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

I had one course of statistics for my computer science degree, and also econometrics in business school (U of Chicago MBA)

VE calculations are not super complicated

I had one course of statistics for my computer science degree, and also econometrics in business school (U of Chicago MBA)

IF we believe you, one plug/chug course as a co-req, and econometrics do not prepare you for anything more than calculating a mean, and given your comments I doubt you know the difference between a mean and a trimmed mean.

My comment about how worthless is the study you’re happy about is further up.

Econometrics is great! I learned linear regressions there and wrote several substack posts about country and cohort death rates based on linear regressions.

Linear regression? So you have a hammer.

No doubt you never asked the question whether linear regression was appropriate for the problem at hand.

Igor (or whatever tf your name is): the only linear regress that’s happened for you was across all your neocortical layers involving 95-100% of your synapses.

I had one course of statistics for my computer science degree

That’s a curious way of spelling ‘linear algebra’.

We, the critical thinkers, knew it all along, but it is GREAT to have confirmation from Rasmussen.

∗BLINK∗

@ Igor Chudov

I am beginning to suspect you are just one more troll, someone not interested in what is really going on; but just wants to anger/provoke/irritate people or that you are someone with such a radical rigid antivax belief system that it lacks any relationship to reality. In any case, you are tiresome, just as you lied when you claimed you wouldn’t post more until you had had time to learn more about immunology, etc. Obviously, you are a LIAR, so, yep, a TROLL.

“I am beginning to suspect you are just one more troll”

Igor is definitely a troll. A passive aggressive troll. His first comment here literally drips with it. This creep is going to remain perfectly calm and reasonable while doing his best to rile you right up and snigger under his breath if he succeeds. Don’t give him the pleasure.

The only way to deal with an insufferable troll like “Igor Chudov” is complete and utter silence. Or, if you are like me, and can’t resist correcting BS (not here, because I mostly only have time to read the articles), talk about him like he’s not in the room. He will positively hate that. Just don’t let him play his nasty game on you.

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “If the estimate of the population of the unvaccinated group is understated by 3x, the unvaxed rate of death will be accordingly OVERstated, and vaccine effectiveness against death be overstated as well. This is how the CDC gets all these fake graphs of how great the “covid vaccines” are working.”

“IF” is not evidence for anything, just your rigid moronic antivax bias. Are you really so stupid you don’t understand that “if” says nothing credible???

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “Search youtube for: 12 MILLION PEOPLE! – Vaxxed Americans Report Major Side Effects, and Question Efficacy”

Wow! Someone posts something on youtube and it must be true, at least if it confirms your rigid biased position.

And ldw56old does such a great job, that maybe this old man should just let him deal with dishonest unscientific rigidly biased people like you.

And as you write: “If the estimate of the population of the unvaccinated group is understated by 3x, the unvaxed rate of death will be accordingly OVERstated, and vaccine effectiveness against death be overstated as well.”

“If” is not a valid estimate of anything. “If” you were a tenured full professor in virology with several hundred peer-reviewed articles, then I would, perhaps, give you more credibility; but, of course, you aren’t and even if you were there are tenured full professors, even prize winning scientists who went of fthe rails. Linus Pauling was probably the greatest chemist of the first half of the 20th century; but then, despite NO strong knowledge of medicine, came up with pushing mega doses of vitamin C that would prevent not only infectious diseases; but cancer as well, not even understanding that vitamin c is a water soluble vitamin so if cells don’t use immediately, goes out with urine and that cells can only use so much at any one time. In any case, despite taking mega doses of vitamin c he died of cancer.

But, of course, you aren’t a tenured professor, not a prize winner, not a published scientist and you have made clear that you don’t understand the basics of immunology, so don’t understand how vaccines work. You are just a stupid rigidly biased unscientific antivaxxer and anyone can search the internet and always find something that confirms even the most absurd beliefs.

Now, it’s late and time for my evening walk with my dog, an Australian Shepherd, one of the 10 smartest dogs and probably smarter than you. LOL

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “Econometrics is great! I learned linear regressions there and wrote several substack posts about country and cohort death rates based on linear regressions.”

First, your substack posts are not subject to peer-review on any level. Second, it depends on the type of data, including its distribution if linear regression is appropriate or not. If the data was not normally distributed and/or not interval data, then linear regression analysis would NOT be valid. Anyone can create their own substack and post absolute absurd, unscientific, invalid papers. Obviously, you believe your own substack. You are NUTS.

My undergrad degree is in physics and man, does that rankle me when these anti-vax quacks cite physics giants like Hawking and Feynman (and to a lesser degree Sagan) as proofz they are correct. Of course all 3 are deceased and cannot rebut. Funny, I haven’t seen them cite a living physics giant such as Roger Penrose.

The bright minds at SASL (Short Alphabetic Sequence Laboratories) have been hard at work for the past few years developing an AI that summarizes RI articles. Unfortunately, as we’ve frequently seen, the results come out as limericks. We’re working on it. In the meantime we offer this:

Cardio-quack Malhotra,
Channeled by grifter Mercola.
..They’re all dropping dead!
..By vaccines, so he’s said,
Spewing misinfo ejecta.

It’s a start, but you have to make it fit the meter. Well, okay, I don’t always succeed because I rarely spend more than 5 minutes on this doggerel. Counting syllables is usually delegated to apprentice jesters and I have none available.

I’ll play the fool!

It needs nobbut one extra syllable in the first line.
“Ejecta” is a little weak in terms of rhyme, but not too bad. Sadmar’s line as a supernumerary syllable – perhaps “But for proof he’s not an iota.”

Want proof? He charges extra.

But I can use ejecta because of the latitude permitted by my poetic license (in the cause of art!) that is not available to the general public

But I can use ejecta because of the latitude permitted by my poetic license (in the cause of art!) that is not available to the general public

Oh, man! Talk about entitlement! 😉

It’s not syllable count for a proper limerick, it’s metric feet, and “cardio quack Malhotra” is missing one for a first line. To improve the whole limerick, then:

The cardio-quack named Malhotra,
As channeled by grifter Mercola:
They’re all dropping dead!
By vaccines, so he said,
But for proof he’s got not an iota.

Orac, use it as you wish, of course, with or without the suggested modifications. I won’t say which version sounds best to me.

sadmar: no, I don’t really count syllables! If the verse sounds good enough to me after a few minutes effort, I go with it. If it doesn’t, I hit delete and I soon forget about it.

Everyone I disagree with is a quack and grifter.

Isn’t it nigh unto time to nuke LaBilge from orbit? It contributes nothing, not even explanatory rebuttals.

But they only became such because they went against the vivid narrative (McCullough and Malone for instance) just snapped – maybe it was a blood clot from the vax in Malone’s case.

Antivax obituary ghouls have struck again, this time in response to the death of Grant Wahl.

Wahl, a 49-year-old soccer writer collapsed and died at the World Cup a few days ago. Earlier in the week he had complained of chest pressure and tightness, was treated for presumed bronchitis with antibiotics (!) and said he felt somewhat better for a few days before his death.

While this sounds like a classic case of undiagnosed cardiac ischemia leading to a fatal M.I., any conclusion should be based on an autopsy. That hasn’t stopped the ghouls from declaring that it had to be Covid-19 vaccination. Among those leading the charge is (surprise!) Steve Kirsch, who’s demanding an autopsy utilizing histologic criteria supplied by a recent German study (which looked at all of four cases of alleged vaccine-related death, didn’t specify how many microscopic fields they had to look at to find lymphocyte aggregates, didn’t establish significant myocardial damage, didn’t take into account other potential causes of a fatal arrhythmia (they didn’t do cardiac conduction system dissections) and conceded that they hadn’t proved vaccine-caused death). The study’s few cases were all within 20 days of vaccination; Wahl apparently was vaccinated over a year and a half ago.

If the autopsy doesn’t turn up myocarditis, they could turn over the body to embalmer Hirschman of “Died Suddenly” fame. Surely, after he injects his magic embalming juice into the corpse, some “unique” clots will be found.

I wonder if Mr Wahl’s bereaved family will demand that one of Mr Kirsch’s dead relatives be dug up and dissected.

Jokes aside, it is time to start worrying about increased mortality and increased “sudden deaths”.

Sudden deaths with ICD codes I46 and r96-r99 jumped by THREE TIMES in Germany since beginning of 2021 after being mostly stable for years.

What made Germans three times more likely to start dying suddenly in the beginning of 2021?

Yes I do have links.

It is time to at least make sure that the wills are up-to-date.

Even if you think “it is not the vaccines”, the danger is there.

When Kirsch first posted his call for an autopsy, he was apparently unaware that Wahl was married to Celine Gounder. But he added an addendum noting that to his Substack post, inferring blame to Gounder for encouraging vaccination, and inferring a passive cover-up will result: “This means she isn’t going to want to know. So we will never know. So more people will die because people don’t want to know what is killing people.”

Ghoul.

@ sadmar:
I was hoping that someone would discuss that.

I just found an article on CCDH about how Substack-based anti-vaxxers earn real money: Mercola and Berenson are top earners ( average of 183K per month).
It seems that other anti-vaxxers- like the altie BS artists I survey- are migrating to Substack – as well as contrarian attention seekers like Naomi Wolf.

I imagine that they will compete for paid followers because money may be tight for many marks. Because articles include a ” let me read it first” option**, I’ve read quite a few although often, to continue, you need to pay up. Sometimes to attract CT-hungry followers you need to exaggerate already over-the-top content. And they do.

** I would never pay for woo/ altie crap

Guardian article on antivaxers monetizing Substack:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jan/27/anti-vaxxers-making-at-least-25m-a-year-from-publishing-on-substack

I think they’re underestimating how much Steve Kirsch and Robert Malone are raking in. Both boast “tens of thousands of paid subscribers”. A typical subscription on Substack costs $5 a month but can be as high as $50. There are people who pay a premium to show extra support for their idols.

Do the math.

Now what was that again about vaccine supporters all getting rich from pharma payoffs, while antivaxers are only in it for the love of mankind?

Cause of death revealed. From the Boston Globe:

“Grant (Wahl) died from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium,” wrote his wife, Céline Gounder, who is an infectious diseases doctor. ”The chest pressure he experienced shortly before his death may have represented the initial symptoms. No amount of CPR or shocks would have saved him. His death was unrelated to COVID. His death was unrelated to vaccination status. There was nothing nefarious about his death.”

Search Google for: Pfizer BioNTech Covid Vaccine and Aortic aneurysm rupture – a phase IV clinical study of CDC and FDA data

Turns out that there are six reports related to the Covid vaccine:

401,887 people reported to have side effects after getting Pfizer BioNTech Covid Vaccine.

Among them, 6 people (0.0%) have Aortic aneurysm rupture.

Very sorry to hear about Grant having died from it

“Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) occurs at an estimated rate of 6 to 16 per 100,000 population”

In your group you cited, the rate was more like 1.5 per 100,000. It’s LOWER than the average rate. Strong work. those damn vaccines are DEADLY!!

@ Igor Chudov

Over and over I have pointed out just how wrong you are, how you really don’t understand immunology and, thus, vaccines; but given you either are just one really rigid biased stupid antivaxxer and/or a troll who just wants to irritate people. As for your “links”, either to biased unscientific websites and/or to sites that you really don’t understand and, thus, misinterpret.

STOP MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF

From CNN:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday asked his state’s Supreme Court to green-light an investigation of “any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to Covid-19 vaccines,” his latest move to cast doubt on the vaccines’ effectiveness and amplify fears about side effects. In the petition filed with the Florida Supreme Court, the Republican governor requests the empaneling of a grand jury to investigate a broad group of entities associated with the development, distribution and promotion of the vaccines, including pharmaceutical manufacturers and their executive officers, as well as medical associations.

DeSantis also said Tuesday he was launching a public health integrity committee – a panel that would counter the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which DeSantis said “is not serving a useful function; it’s really serving to advance narratives rather than do evidence-based medicine.” The panel would assess guidance and actions from federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC…

Members of the ‘integrity’ committee?
Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kuldorff, Tracy Beth Høeg, Joseph Fraiman, Christine Stabell Benn, Bret Weinstein, Steven Templeton

The full press release, which is worse even than the news stories suggest, has lots of material for critique by Orac and/or minions:
https://www.flgov.com/2022/12/13/governor-ron-desantis-petitions-florida-supreme-court-for-statewide-grand-jury-on-covid-19-vaccines-and-announces-creation-of-the-public-health-integrity-committee/

Florida is only the first state; other states will soon join the fray. Opposing Covid vaccines is now seen as a way to get elected and/or reelected, or a way to the top of medical boards and other institutions.

A year ago, we, the Covid vaccine skeptics, were in the minority, vilified and deplatformed. And now, Twitter ended all Covid vaccine misinformation restrictions. Oh how the times have changed.

Meanwhile the Covid pandemic dumpster fire is worsening and it is about as bad now as it was last winter, judging by Bay area wastewater. The confusing part is that Covid infections and hospitalizations and deaths are no longer counted correctly.

Covid, a lab made plague, is only beginning. The health damage from reinfections will accumulate.

Meanwhile the Covid pandemic dumpster fire is worsening and it is about as bad now as it was last winter

You just love to lie don’t you.

Covid, a lab made plague

And you don’t care how outrageous your lies are.

And you don’t care how outrageous your lies are.

He HAS to lie. It is the only basis on which he can generate his “articles” on substack. We’re long past the point where it is completely obvious that he does not have even remotely close to sufficient knowledge of any relevant topic to produce credible output, and even if he did I think it highly unlikely his “followers” would be interested. Lies are easy and they appeal to rubes.

@doug actually my articles about relation of “excess mortality” and “covid vaccination” were fact-checked by the UK statistical luminary Prof. Norman Fenton and Martin Neil. (news as of this morning)

Their findings were similar to mine — the relationship between excess mortality in late 2022 and vaccination rates is extremely strong, with huge R squared (39%) and tiny P values.

I do not provide links because it would be inappropriate for this forum. Plus having links slows down approval of the article.

I do not provide links because it would be inappropriate for this forum.

I can guess the types of authoritarian bullshit sites you frequent, and those would not be appropriate. If you had a link to a legitimate site that would be fine.

Norman fenton? The asshole who said “it isn’t p-hacking if you don’t use p-values” while basing conclusions on dodgy confidence intervals? that norman fenton?

Igor, you really are a sucker for con men, and you really don’t have any understanding of any of this:every time you post you show just how lacking in knowledge you are.

@Igor
[reply to first part: snort of derision]

I do not provide links because it would be inappropriate for this forum. Plus having links slows down approval of the article.

Pathetic! Links are posted here all the time as you very well know. Our host makes if very clear that more than two links in one post will result in the post going to automoderation, but unless you personally are subject to automod one or two links cause no delay. Delays are usually pretty brief in any case.
You simply prove once again that you fail completely to understand how this stuff works in science. It is critical that people who are interested in evaluating claims supposedly made in published materials know for certain that they are all looking at exactly the same material – “on the same page.” That certainty requires sufficient information to allow all those interested to obtain the source material. Links are the most convenient but sources can also be identified with a simple text citation including title and author, with extra details such as publisher and date if required to resolve ambiguity. If the source is not a formal publication but something on a website and you can’t post a link, then simply directly quoting a sentence or two is often sufficient, again supplementing that with some other details if required.

There is a reason most of us around here are very dubious of unsupported claims, especially those made by someone like you who shows such a lack of requisite basic knowledge on the topics. My favorite tale of misunderstanding or misrepresenting what a paper said is of an antivaxxer claiming that vitamin C supplements reduced the time patients spent in intensive care by 95%. She did provide a reference to the paper. She apparently didn’t even begin to understand the 95% confidence interval notation and somehow construed it to mean 95% reduction in time in the ICU.

What happened in Michigan ? Gretchen Whitmer get elected handsomely.
Now there are too few COVID deaths ? They are still death certificates that count.
You have not answered a simple question. If SARS CoV 2 is manmade, where is the reporter (or similar) gene

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “A year ago, we, the Covid vaccine skeptics, were in the minority, vilified”
Being in the minority or majority says nothing about being right or wrong. A significant portion of Americans believe QAnon, doesn’t make it true or even sane.

And you write: “The confusing part is that Covid infections and hospitalizations and deaths are no longer counted correctly.”
According to you. Back it up with URLs to legitimate documents, etc., not antivax websites.

You write: “Covid, a lab made plague, is only beginning. The health damage from reinfections will accumulate.”

The overwhelming evidence says it was not from a lab, given findings of thousands of coronavirus variants in bats, some only a few mutations from the current one and also found in some animals; e.g., pangolins; but even if one could, against all evidence, claim came from a lab, given so many variants in bats, the next one will come from bats and we will probably be as ill prepared as ever. It isn’t the source that caused such widespread deaths, over one million; but our understaffed, underfunded public health sector and our political leadership that ignores science and looks at polls.

JUST KEEP MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF

@ Igor Chudov

And you continue to ignore what I wrote. Of course excess deaths will follow vaccination rates. As more and more people are willing to get vaccinated as the death toll mounts and/or because of mandates, at least some of these people will be senior citizens and/or with comorbidites, they would have been at high risk without the vaccine; but since the vaccines do not confer 100% protection, those at most risk, though vaccine will protect some of them, will die. Correlation is NOT causation! ! !

You have NEVER given any indication you understand immunology, thus how vaccines work. You have NEVER given any indication you have ever read even a single book on the history of any vaccine-preventable disease.

And you write: “I do not provide links because it would be inappropriate for this forum. Plus having links slows down approval of the article.”

Yep, slows approval down; but without valid links anything you write can be seen as your personal biased unscientific antivax ideas or mimicking some antivax website.

What bothers me most about you and your ilk is that sooner or later we will experience another pandemic, one that potentially could be more deadly and more transmissible and as more and more antivaxxers with websites, etc. post their unscientific bias, we could see many people die who could have been saved. But, I would bet if this happens, you and your ilk will take no responsibility, even if data from around the world shows lower hospitalization and death rates for those vaccinated.

@ ldw56old

You write: “Norman fenton? The asshole who said “it isn’t p-hacking if you don’t use p-values” while basing conclusions on dodgy confidence intervals? that norman fenton?”

Sorry; but you are dead wrong. p-values were originally used to decide certain agricultural programs, needing a decision point. Good science uses confidence intervals because they give the “range” that the “true” value may lie. Obviously a narrow confidence interval is more trustworthy than a broad one. The p-value doesn’t give this. For instance, what if p-value is 0.05 and mean is .60; but 95% confidence interval is 0.05 – 0.90, so real value could be as low as .05 which would usually not legitimate any major program. Also, confidence interval is a check if data skewed, so using statistics based on normal curve inappropriate.

I understand perfectly Joel (I have a master’s and Ph.D. in statistics) but: when a confidence level is selected for a confidence interval that is equivalent to doing a corresponding two-sided hypothesis test at a corresponding level of significance: for most cases you can get the endpoints of the (100-alpha) percent CI by inverting the inequality where the test statistic is in the non-rejection region. So, if you find a CI that “works” you’ve essentially found a hypothesis test that “works”.

So, [for my point] making a decision based on a 95% confidence interval is equivalent to making the same decision from a two-sided hypothesis test with 5% level of significance. The test and the corresponding interval lead to the same conclusion about whether a particular value is supported: the interval provides more information.

It is true that you get an estimate of the size of the mean (or proportion, or slope, etc.) from the interval, as long as the relevant assumptions are reasonably met. However, if a null is rejected it is the recommended practice to look at the corresponding CI estimate.

Note: Fischer developed the notion of p-values simply as an indicator of whether more investigation was needed. They were not meant to be used to make decisions, but as guides.

Also, confidence interval is a check if data skewed, so using statistics based on normal curve inappropriate.

A CI doesn’t give any information about whether data are skewed

@ Igor Chudov

I found that over 15 of his recently submitted articles analyzing current pandemic have been rejected. Maybe some by those who believe in vaccines; but difficult to believe that every journal he submitted to the editors had such a position. Maybe, just maybe, experts found major flaws in his approach. He uses simple regression. As I wrote, depends on type of data. Finally, I don’t have time nor statistical software to check his analysis; but I would bet that he doesn’t understand anything about the immune system nor how vaccines work. And neither do you. Depending on ones choice of analysis, one can find just about anything. I found a number of articles and YouTube programs, etc. where he is critical of COVID vaccines, so, maybe, like you, he has a rigid bias and given his expertise, can set up analyses that support it. Of course, you believe that experts around the world, US, Canada, Sweden, Israel, etc. all are wrong; but you and Fenton are right. Maybe, delusions of grandeur built on ignorance of immunology and a bias against vaccines.

In any case, nothing will change your mind. If I am right, not because I am some sort of genius; but simply understanding pandemics and the corona virus enough to know that it has already mutated to deadly versions three times in only two decades, so the risk of another more deadly corona pandemic and also a flu pandemic is high. And understanding the immune system, mRNA vaccines, and the history of vaccine-preventable diseases. I may not live to see it; but, then again, I may; but you probably will. But as I’ve already written, even if it kills many more Americans, especially those who did not get vaccinated, I doubt you will admit you were wrong.

@ ldw56old

I probably didn’t explain clearly. Nope, confidence interval won’t tell if data skewed; but my point was that I learned as an epidemiologist to base programs on confidence intervals, not p-value. If confidence interval wide, a problem. If data not normally distributed, still don’t use p-value. For instance, if ordinal data, could use interquartile range, etc.

I looked at it Joel. My summary (not at all short) is next. My preemptive apologies for any types.

[The TLDR summary: the work isn’t a dumpster fire, it’s a landfill fire.]

Ideally in linear regression your response is continuous, reasonably symmetric, with no severe outliers, and with constant variance across the range of your predictor. If any of those are violated caution should be exerted, especially with small sample sizes. You also need to be very careful if your response is percentages when it comes to the assumption of equality of variance: it’s highly unlikely percentages near zero have the same range of variability as percentages near 30%. And typically, if you’re concerned about predicting percentages, you’d look at logistic regression, although if your percentages are in the central, essentially linear, part of the sigmoid curve you’re probably ok.
Early on there is this comment:

R-sq measures how well the line fits the data

followed by a comment that “in the sense that the line accounts for the variability of the data”.
The first point is bogus: the second is a poorly written, almost correct, explanation of R-sq. (This was for the 2022 Weeks 1-14 non-significant fit).
Notes: CHL, KOR serious outliers: in a data set of this size it’s quite possible they have high influence values, indicating they exert a great deal of influence on the position and slope of the line. HUN, SWE, and ISL are also outliers: a good investigation would examine the role they have in the line’s position
You can make the same comments about the 2nd fit, for 2022 Weeks 1-44 excess mortality versus Covid rates 20-21. KOR and CHL are huge outliers here, with ISL also standing out. Again, their role should have been investigated.
The next fit (Excess mortality vs stringency index) is even worse: the same two countries are clear outliers, but so is an easily identifiable curvature in the plot: there’s no way the fit should have been a line. The r-sq value is small but, since it’s based on an inappropriate fit, it doesn’t matter.
Excess mortality versus healthcare quality from 2015 is included (IMO) simply to be misleading: the implication is that healthcare conditions and actions in 2015 are directly comparable to those during the pandemic. That’s already more than deserves to be said for that bit of work.
Oh-except for the throw-away but not investigated comment Obviously, there will be some interplay [I assume the intent is interaction, but the target audience for this steaming pile of crap wouldn’t understand that term] between lockdowns and healthcare availability, so there remain open questions here that require further investigation. If anyone has any better data or insights, then please let us know.
Here’s some insight on this: if you don’t have relevant data state that and move on: don’t make a blatant attempt to mislead readers by dredging up irrelevant data.

From there the move is to ‘temporal analysis’, summarized by two sets of four linear fits, each set covering Weeks 1-12, Weeks 12-24, Weeks 20-32, and Weeks 30-44.
In the first set, for Weeks 12-24 and Weeks 20-32, showing excess mortality vs covid rates, the regressions are significant and the conclusion [unsubstantiated] printed beneath each is ‘Vaccines NOT Effective’. I’m guessing that the clown who segmented things this way doesn’t realize [possibly does but doesn’t care] that by using overlapping time periods the data used in the fits are not independent samples. The same is true for the second set of fits, excess mortality versus percent fully vaccinated. [My guess is that outliers are causing problems in these sets of work as well.]

All in all: these linear regression fits aren’t worth the effort it took to create them. The lack of concern for appropriateness of the data, the lack of investigation of problematic outliers, and conclusions that would rely on information not in the data, is appalling. On a sophistication scale, this work is equivalent to the hidden sock pile of an 11-year-old boy who’s just discovered masturbating: it was probably fun to create and did some inner soothing, but it served no good purpose and only made a mess.

Many times over the past couple of years I’ve encountered antivaxxers and COVID deniers, commenting articles on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. website, who were incapable of calculating a simple percentage correctly. Occasionally it was a simple oops! of the sort that we all commit from time to time, but many couldn’t even see what was wrong when their chain was jerked and broad hints, such as “what does per cent mean,” were given. People that profoundly innumerate would have no choice but to take a bunch of stats such as those which appear on Chudov’s page as valid – assuming that the pseudostats agreed with their biases.

an aside: Many times I also saw people saying that something was “statistically zero” when the actual statistics said it was not. Again, they are so lacking in basic understanding that they think that some number that is very small is the same as zero. I’ve also mentioned before someone who repeatedly tried to present himself as being adept at math while showing only rudimentary skills and a complete inability to analyze a problem adequately to determine what math to use. I think Chudov is much like that person. He knows something about straight lines, so he happily tries to fit a straight line to any data set. It’s a bit like saying the average human has one ovary.

Many times I also saw people saying that something was “statistically zero” when the actual statistics said it was not.

True. I forget the post where he did it, but in one igor cited a collection of confidence intervals that contained zero, which means it isn’t possible to conclude there is any effect, but he rambled on saying “See, these extend into the negative range so clearly there’s a problem.” And don’t get me started on people who swear that if, for example, some quantity has doubled, that’s equivalent to a 200% increase.

There’s nothing at all wrong with someone admitting they aren’t literate in statistics or any other technical discipline.Problems arise when people like igor think they’ve learned a tool and apply it to every problem without understanding, or in his case caring, whether it is appropriate.

I will say this: his willingness to use a procedure blindly, ignoring whether it is appropriate or not and not caring at all about what damage it causes, does add credence to his claim to have studied economics at the University of Chicago.

Many times I also saw people saying that something was “statistically zero” when the actual statistics said it was not.

At the other extreme, in another post igor was looking at CIs that contained 0 and saying “But they extend into the negative range, so they show there is problem.”

Ignorance or intentional dishonesty? Honestly, for him, likely an equal mix of both.

@ Igor Chudov

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) vaccine is in Phase 3 clinical trial. I hope when trial finishes it gets Emergency Usage Authorization. If so, I will be first in line to get it and if, as with some other vaccines, it requires more than one shot, I will get them all. My only problem is I hate driving. US has much higher per capita traffic deaths than a number of other nations and during pandemic we actually had several deaths caused by some literally driving on the wrong side of a freeway. Insane.

But I will get the RSV vaccine. And if another booster is offered from COVID, I’ll get it as well.

@ TBruce

Thanks for link to arstechnica article. I downloaded it and will read tomorrow.

Right now I’m watching for the second time a Netflix six part series entitled Pandemic.

@ ldw56old

You write: “Note: Fischer developed the notion of p-values simply as an indicator of whether more investigation was needed. They were not meant to be used to make decisions, but as guides.”

I wrote: “I probably didn’t explain clearly. Nope, confidence interval won’t tell if data skewed; but my point was that I learned as an epidemiologist to base programs on confidence intervals, not p-value. If confidence interval wide, a problem. If data not normally distributed, still don’t use p-value. For instance, if ordinal data, could use interquartile range, etc.”

From one of my epidemiology books (note I actually used 1st edition in a course I took), Kenneth J. Rothman & Sander Greenland (1998). Modern Epidemiology 2nd Edition, page 184:

“The preoccupation with significance testing derives from the research interests of the statisticians who pioneered the development of statistical theory in the early 20th century. Their research problems were primarily industrial and agricultural,and typically involved experiments that formed the basis for a choice between two or more alternative courses of action. Such experiments were designed to produce results enabling a decision to be made, and the statistical methods employed were intended to facilitate decision making.”

Thanks for the rebuttal to Norman Fenton’s paper. However, it was tough going, so, I cut and pasted it into a Word file so I can read it alongside Fenton’s paper.
I have a suggestion. Write a real article. Perhaps with the following outline (then submit it to Science-Based Medicine, if they don’t accept it, I can suggest several others)
Introduction

Explain importance of vaccinations with brief summary of latest statistics on mRNA covid vaccines, including effectiveness and rare serious adverse events (e.g., CDC MMWR, etc). Then discuss dangers of antivaxxers briefly. Then explain how one can lie with statistics. Two good books to quote are:
Darrell Huff (1954). How to Lie with Statistics
A.J.Jaff & Herbert F. Spirer (1987). Misused Statistics: Straight Talk For Twisted Numbers. Both contain good examples.

Then introduce Norman Fenton. Gives his credentials, textbooks, etc and URL to his website; but then explain how he went over to the dark side with over dozen antivax papers. Explain how he hides behind his previous achievements; but uses bogus analyses to support his unscientific bias against vaccines.

Then go through this recent paper. Cut and paste a section, then show how it is wrong. Reading your comment is difficult without clearer context. I would bet that such a paper will get widespread use. You might need to include some tables.

After first draft get someone you trust to edit it, perhaps your PhD advisor or, maybe Orac can or knows someone.

I am quite serious about the above.

Best regards,

Joel

p.s. I intend to go through your rebuttal together with Fenton’s paper again, more carefully, later today.

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