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Projection and methodolatry over COVID-19

Projection, thy name is Dr. Vinay Prasad, who complains about “ad hominem” coming from his critics while siding with some nasty COVID-19 minimizers, as he engages in obvious methodolatry about every study of vaccines, masks, and COVID-19.

You might have noticed that my posting has been a bit…light…this week. That’s because I had been thinking of (mostly) taking the last two weeks of the year off from the blog to refresh, recharge, and chill a bit. However, as has frequently happened before, I found myself not entirely able to do that, particularly when yesterday I saw a post by Dr. Vinay Prasad on his well-monetized Substack entitled The Tragedy of COVID-19. Dr. Prasad, regular readers will remember, is the UCSF oncologist with a large Twitter following who is a self-fancied meta-critic of the science supporting medical interventions. Before the pandemic, he actually did some halfway decent work discussing “medical reversals,” basically the abandonment of previously accepted medical interventions and practices based on better, more rigorous clinical studies, and how the accelerated approval pathway for new drugs is not serving patients well. When the pandemic arrived, however, he pivoted fairly quickly to COVID-19 misinformation, even once likening public health nonpharmaceutical interventions to incipient fascism. Seeing Dr. Prasad whine about all the “ad hominem” supposedly directed against him and his fellow COVID contrarians led me to do a quick pre-Christmas response, particularly in light of his previous history and another post with his entirely take based on methodolatry about bivalent COVID-19 boosters, Latest MMWR analysis of bivalent booster is irredeemably flawed.

Projection and methodolatry (plus tone policing). Methodolatry and projection (plus tone policing.) Thy name is Dr. Vinay Prasad!

Tone police
Call the Tone Police!

Call the tone police

There are two things that I’ve noticed about Dr. Prasad that have been remarkably consistent at least since the pandemic. The first is his tendency to tone police his critics and anyone holding positions with which he strongly disagrees, trying to discredit them because they might on occasion become sarcastic, angry, or even insulting, rather than addressing their actual criticisms. Of course, going along with this is hypocrisy, because longtime readers might remember the utter disdain that before the pandemic Dr. Prasad regularly heaped on skeptics who took on topics like homeopathy and, yes, the antivaccine movement. Likening such pursuits to “dunking on a 7′ hoop” Dr. Prasad considered such endeavors to be a waste of his obviously awesome brain and of the less awesome brains of other doctors (even yours truly), who, conveniently enough, he thought should devote their less awesome brains to the same questions that he was devoting his incredibly awesome brain to. An example included this Tweet from late 2019, since deleted, that appears to have been directed at me:

Prasad insult
Gee, whom do you think Dr. Prasad was referring to here?

Rather snarky, eh? At least it wasn’t likening public health to the rise of the Nazis in Germany the way he did last year, an indirect ad hominem that implies that if you support public health interventions you must support fascism, but whatever.

Methodolatry vs. scientific rigor?

The second constant about Dr. Prasad has been his utter devotion to methodolatry, a term that I first learned in 2009 as the H1N1 pandemic was bearing down on us that is defined, more or less, as the profane worship of the randomized controlled clinical trial (RCT) as the only valid means of clinical investigation. (More broadly, methodolatry is an obsession over research methods over the actual findings of research and how to incorporate various studies into what we know.) Of course, under the framework of evidence-based medicine (EBM) RCTs are generally considered the strongest study design to evaluate the efficacy and safety of medical interventions. However, as all clinical investigators know (or should know), it is often not feasible, practical, or even ethical to carry out an RCT for some questions. For example, methodolatry denigrates epidemiological studies, which are the main type of studies that have demonstrated conclusively that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Basically, methodolatry would demand an RCT of vaccines versus placebo in order to answer once and for all the question of whether the MMR vaccine, any vaccine, or the entire vaccine schedule increases the risk of autism. Oh, wait, that’s what antivaxxers used to routinely demand, a so-called “vaxxed/unvaxxed” trial.

"Tragedy" or tone policing and methodolatry?
“Tragedy” or tone policing and methodolatry?

The “tragedy” of COVID-19?

So first let’s see what Dr. Prasad views as the “tragedy” of COVID-19 (rather than the tragedy that I see, millions dead worldwide, doctors contributing to disinformation about the virus and vaccines from the beginning, an antivaccine movement energized beyond anything I’ve ever seen in the last quarter century and now aligned with powerful far right political movements. Here’s his tragedy:

John Mandrola at some point limited commenting about COVID19 policy (I don’t blame him), and I was one of the few indefatigable people, but only because of a stubborn personality and a strong professional position (with 2 books and 400 papers before the age of 39, I’m hard to slow). Of course, I too will stop commenting about COVID19, but only because of boredom.

What I view as the tragedy of COVID19 is that medicine had no way to have a dialog about any important issue without devolving to ad hominem. Even policing ad hominem was uni-directional. The same people who wrote articles about online bullying or how to use twitter as a scientist were happy to bully John Ioannidis. IFR was window dressing. They were just scared that he was opposed to lockdown and school closure. 

Note how, even in lamenting “ad hominem,” Dr. Prasad is unable to resist bragging about his publication record at his still relatively young age and how “indefatigable” he is. Let’s just say that I might respect his “indefatigability” if and when Dr. Prasad has reached a quarter century of enduring abuse for his public takes, you know, like a certain blogger who took a ‘nym based on a supercomputer from a 40 year old obscure British science fiction series.

Ad hominem.” You keep using that word, Dr. Prasad. I do not think it means what you think it means. Also, let me make a prediction. You saw how Dr. Prasad said that he would “stop commenting about COVID-19” (but “only out of boredom,” given how much better he is than the rest of us), right? Here’s my prediction: He won’t stop commenting about COVID-19 any time soon. He can’t. Thanks to audience capture, it’s so much part of his brand that he’d risk losing too much of his audience (and those lucrative Substack subscriptions) if he ever totally stopped offering the contrarian takes infused with methodolatry that his followers so crave.

Also, whenever you see someone like Dr. Prasad complain about “bullying” of his friends, note that it’s almost always projection. Dr. John Ioannidis is arguably the most published living scientist. Before the pandemic, he was widely admired to the point of being damned near untouchable as far as criticism goes. Since the pandemic, Prof. Ioannidis started issuing COVID-19 contrarian takes, starting with a study very early in the pandemic that produced a very low infection fatality rate (IFR) for COVID-19 based on vastly overestimating the percentage of the population infected.

For me, though, Ioannidis’ lowest blow was when he weaponized a satirical publication index, the Kardashian index, against public health scientists who had opposed the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), which he supported. The GBD, as you might remember, was published in October 2020 (before there were vaccines) and advocated a “let ‘er rip” strategy for COVID-19 among the “young and healthy” (and therefore presumably low risk for complications and death) in order to achieve “natural herd immunity” faster, while using “focused protection” (never more than vaguely defined) to protect the elderly and those with chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk. It was a profoundly eugenicist proposal that never would have worked, even more so since the rise of variants like Delta and Omicron, which can evade immunity due to infection with prior variants. Dr. Ioannidis took the Kardashian index, which was proposed satirically as a means of measuring a scientist’s social media reach compared to the impact of the scientist’s scientific publication record, and tried to claim that the signatories of the John Snow Memorandum, issued in response to the GBD and highly critical of it, were “science Kardashians.” Then, when criticized very politely and based strictly on the science—or, more accurately, the lack of science—in his paper, Prof. Ioannidis reacted…very badly. Personally, there were a number of calls for his paper to be retracted (something it richly deserved), but it’s still there, not because it isn’t awful but because it’s Prof. Ioannidis. Because of its author, I strongly suspect that the editor is just too cowardly to pull the trigger and actually retract the paper.

But Ioannidis is the victim of “bullying”!

Dr. Prasad was also very unhappy with a criticism of how Prof. Ioannidis’s contrarian takes on COVID-19 were lionized in the. media very early in the pandemic, a reaction to the claim that COVID-19 was basically like seasonal influenza in its mortality in which Carl Bergstrom added upper and lower bounds to Prof. Ioannidis’ estimates:

Leading to one of the authors (who, unsurprisingly, now contributes to Dr. Prasad’s “Sensible Medicine” Substack) to respond:

Uh-oh. I was recently interviewed by a journalist, who might mention in an upcoming story how I used to play Dungeons & Dragons in high school and college. I could be in trouble here.

To Dr. Prasad, who had long used his Twitter account to savage those whose medical takes he found lacking and denigrate trying to counter medical misinformation as “dunking on a 7′ hoop,” this was just too much:

But the tenor was set. If anyone said anything that could be used to argue for less restrictive policies there would be no limits to what would be acceptable ways to discredit them. Ad hominem was fair game, but only if they were minimizing COVID. If they were exaggerating it, that was fine. If you even pointed out the errors to a maximizers idea, you were “bullying them.” It was a bizarre double standard.

And:

In the years that followed, nearly every single person who expressed skepticism about prolonged lockdowns, school closure, masking 2 year olds, vaccinating children for COVID 19 (despite dubious clinical data & high seroprevalence), perpetual boosters, paxlovid’s efficacy in vaccinated people, and the COVID19 testing industry complex was at one time or another labeled a contrarian, a right wing operative, a grifter, a charlatan, a disgrace, a crook, an anti-vaxxer, anti-masker, or a MAGA republican, etc etc.

“Bizarre double standard,” indeed. Oddly enough, Dr. Prasad seems very…reticent…when it comes to the Brownstone Institute, the right wing think tank to which he contributes, which has likened public health to fascism and Communism. (It can’t make up its mind and apparently shifts to one or the other form of totalitarianism depending on how useful it is to its contributors at the moment to demonize masks, vaccines, or public health.) He also apparently either hasn’t seen, ignores, or doesn’t see anything wrong with the calls of his buddies Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff to hold “lockdowners” and public health officials responsible for mask and vaccine mandates “accountable,” complete with an image of a guillotine and language reminiscent of the “Nuremberg 2.0” language of antivaxxers who want show trials for vaccine advocates. True, Brownstone includes “plausible deniability” in the form of questioning how useful such trials would be, but for the wrong reasons, mainly fear that their flacks and allies might one day also be held accountable. Meanwhile, Dr. Prasad dismisses “pundits” who don’t see things his way as “weather vanes” as basically clueless doctors and scientists who follow the latest trend on COVID-19 to tell the media what they want to hear, all while being incapable of independent thought and analysis of scientific studies (unlike, of course, Dr. Prasad, who is a brave maverick who can “think for himself”).

Back to methodolatry, but only for studies Dr. Prasad doesn’t like

Speaking of double standards, let’s look at Dr. Prasad’s methodolatry. Again, methodolatry basically means dismissing and demeaning more than is scientifically appropriate any sort of evidence that comes from studies that are not RCTs. Another example of the consequences of methodolatry that I like to mention, other than the “old school” antivax call for an RCT of the whole childhood vaccine schedule to test whether vaccines increase the risk of autism, is smoking and lung cancer. All the human evidence that we have to show that smoking causes lung cancer (and other cancers) is epidemiological. There can never be RCT evidence to show that smoking causes lung cancer because doing such an RCT, even if it were possible given that no blinding is possible, would be unethical in the extreme. The reason is simple. There would be no clinical equipoise, the necessary ethical precondition for any RCT that there be genuine scientific uncertainty over which group, control or experimental, will fair better. In the case of such a study, we know which group would fair worse, because of all the epidemiological evidence that we have that smoking is associated with a hugely increased risk of lung cancer and death. The same is true for the “vaxxed/unvaxxed” RCT that antivaxxers used to demand. The placebo group would be expected to suffer far more from vaccine-preventable diseases. Because for such a trial it would be known in advance who would be harmed (and that it would be not by a little), a vaxxed/unvaxxed RCT of the vaccination schedule could never be ethical.

Which brings us to what is perhaps the most clear statement of methodolatry that I’ve seen in a long time from Dr. Prasad:

My take on COVID19 boils down to a simple worldview: I think it is reasonable to implement policies in the heat of the moment when you are scared and uncertain, but they have to be time-limited, and you have to work hard to run randomized experiments to separate what works from what doesn’t (the NIAID and CDC did not do those studies). Drug and vaccines are neither all good or all bad — they often work in some situations, but not others — and you desperately need randomized studies to sort the difference. And no person is a saint — Fauci made many, catastrophic mistakes: none worse than pushing for prolonged school closure.

If you rely on observational data, you do so at your peril. A sizable fraction of observational studies are incorrect, and without randomized data, you cannot separate wishful thinking from a true signal. Many observational studies may merely be a fulfilling prophecy — analytic choices that ensure the answer the authors seek. My worldview is nothing new. It is evident in both my books Ending Medical Reversal with Sensible Medicine’s Adam Cifu,  Malignant, and over 400 peer reviewed papers.

Notice how Dr. Prasad starts out sounding very reasonable. When there’s no time to do an RCT given that people are dying now, then it makes sense to use a lesser standard of evidence to decide what to do now, but eventually RCTs need to be done to nail down the answers. As far as it goes, that’s not methodolatry, and I even acknowledged that very same argument with respect to hydroxychloroquine, the repurposed drug that was touted as highly effective against COVID-19 but turned out, unsurprisingly, not to be effective, as I pointed out that we didn’t even have halfway decent observational evidence to justify the use of the drug given the negative effects on patients who needed it but couldn’t get it for their autoimmune diseases because people were buying it up for COVID-19.

Also notice how, instead of just sticking with a somewhat reasonable statement of how evidence should be used, Dr. Prasad immediately pivots to attack Anthony Fauci as an example. Amusingly, even as Dr. Prasad criticizes “weather vane” scientists for not having any skin in the game, I can’t think of anyone who did have more skin in the game than Dr. Fauci, who had to spend the first year of the pandemic dealing with a profoundly dishonest and stupid President who sought to marginalize public health in order to save his reelection bid and, through it all, has endured abuse and credible death threats. Let’s just say that Dr. Prasad has a very large bug up his nether regions about Dr. Fauci, and publishing anonymous rants about the honors he is receiving.

It’s Dr. Prasad’s methodolatry that led me to be able to predict his reaction to a recently published study on MMWR about the efficacy of the new bivalent booster for COVID-19 before I even saw his take on it. He even sounds a lot like an antivaxxer:

There is only one right way to know who benefits from a bivalent booster, and that is a randomized trial. Take people over the age of 65, who have already gotten 3 doses of the parent vaccine, and randomize them in 3 arms to a 4th dose of Wuhan vaccine, a bivalent booster, and placebo vax, and measure severe disease and hospitalization.

Pfizer and Moderna can afford this study. It can be completed rapidly. The US FDA has a societal obligation to demand it, and yet that did not happen. This raises the question if regulators work for the public or instead plan their lucrative future consulting careers for Pfizer and wish to give them an easy market share. Remember that Scott Gottlieb former FDA commish, is now on their board of directors.

Over the last year White House officials continue to work closely with Pfizer to push bivalent boosters through based on mouse data. This has no precedent in modern regulatory history and constitutes a multi-billion dollar give-away to the company. Now the CDC seeks to perform a study to justify that action. Enter the latest MMWR study

Pharma shill gambit, anyone? Also, whenever you see someone say that there is “only one right way” to answer a scientific question, be wary. Again, an RCT would be the most definitive way to answer this question, but, contrary to what methodolatry demands, an RCT is not the only valid method to investigate this question. Moreover, for a self-proclaimed expert on clinical trial design, Dr. Prasad seems rather oblivious to the actual practical difficulties in carrying out such a trial, not the least of which would be recruiting an adequate number of patients to answer the question. Remember that the original phase 3 clinical trials for the vaccines enrolled tens of thousands of subjects each, and it would likely require at least thousands, if not tens of thousands, of subjects for the sort of trial that Dr. Prasad demands, and that would take months.

Rather amusingly, even as he complains to high heaven about “ad hominem” attacks, instead of just launching into why he thinks this study is flawed Dr. Prasad instead chooses to preface his discussion with a rant about Pfizer, Moderna, the FDA, and Scott Gottlieb and how they supposedly are warping the science to produce papers like this instead of doing The One True Study (much like The One True Study of COVID-19 vaccines in children). Seriously, I’d take Dr. Prasad’s complaints about harsh criticism and “ad hominem” more seriously if he had at least waited until after his discussion of the flaws that he attributed to the study to bring up these issues.

Dr. Prasad even gets a bit deceptive:

They assess the VE of bivalent booster vs unvaccinated people or those who received >=2 doses of mRNA. Yet, this is a farce. Bivalent boosters are largely given to people who have already gotten 3 or 4 doses. The question is: if I have gotten all the recommended doses, do I derive additional benefit from the bivalent booster? It makes no sense to compare them to unvaccinated people nor people who got 2 doses only. The analysis does not provide these results separately for those whose only difference is the bivalent booster.

Yet, the report states clearly why this design was chosen under a discussion of the limitations of the study (VE=vaccine efficacy):

First, the sample size was not sufficient to estimate VE by the number of COVID-19 monovalent vaccine doses received before the bivalent booster dose or compared with patients whose most recent monovalent vaccine dose was received 2–5 months before illness onset. Second, because use of monovalent COVID-19 mRNA vaccines as a booster dose is no longer authorized in the United States,††† this analysis could not compare the effectiveness of a bivalent booster dose with a monovalent booster dose administered during the same period.

Basically, there were not enough patients in each group to break them down into into smaller groups for analysis based on number of doses of monovalent vaccine received. So the investigators lumped them together. There’s nothing nefarious about this. It’s a preliminary study and the authors state that more needs to be done. I’m sure that Dr. Prasad knows this. Similarly, the authors simply point out that the only currently authorized vaccine in the US for a booster is the bivalent one.

Dr. Prasad also rants:

“Control patients whose influenza test results were positive were excluded from the analysis because of potential correlation between COVID-19 and influenza vaccination behaviors”. This is absolutely horrific. There is no justification on planet earth for this, and it strongly makes one suspect that the original analysis, which included these people, was null or unimpressive. These patients SHOULD NOT BE EXCLUDED. This violates the very principle of test negative design.

Not everyone will appreciate that these analytic choices are deeply problematic. They are unjustified. The CDC needs to preregister their analyses because there is a deep concern that the entire purpose to return the answer that the White House overlords have asked for.

Except that the authors again explain why they did this, with a link to a modeling study that found that there is indeed a correlation between COVID-19 and influenza vaccination behaviors, specifically:

Where vaccination probabilities are positively correlated, COVID-19 and influenza VE test-negative studies with influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) ARI controls, respectively, underestimate VE. For COVID-19 VE studies, mean bias was low for all scenarios where influenza represented ≤25% of controls. For influenza VE studies, mean bias was low for all scenarios where SARS-CoV-2 represented ≤10% of controls. Although bias was driven by the conditional probability of vaccination, low VE of the vaccine of interest and high VE of the confounding vaccine increase its magnitude.

With the conclusion:

Researchers should consider potential bias and its implications in their respective study settings to make informed methodological decisions in test-negative VE studies.

You can argue about whether this was appropriate or not on a strictly scientific basis, but Dr. Prasad then launches into, yes, an ad hominem attack on the investigators by accusing them of, in essence, scientific fraud (“makes one suspect that the original analysis, which included these people, was null or unimpressive”) and being toadies, sycophants, and lackeys for the White House. Sure, Dr. Prasad doesn’t name names, but the accusations of fraud and being in the pockets of Big Pharma and the White House are no less ad hominem. What this study shows are promising preliminary data that the bivalent boosters are protective. Not even its authors claim that it’s definitive.

With Dr. Prasad, though, it is “RCTs for thee but not for me.” What do I mean? Dr. Prasad’s methodolatry goes pretty much one way: Against studies whose results he doesn’t like. If you don’t believe me, just look at how he’s defended bad VAERS studies and epidemiological studies that found elevated risks of myocarditis, which he called a “bombshell”:

RCTs for thee, but not for me (or my friends)! This was a truly awful paper, but because it showed something that Dr. Prasad liked he was more than happy to hype it as a “bombshell.”

As I said at the time, Dr. Prasad might be well-known for demanding ever more rigorous data for various medical interventions, such as masking to slow the spread of COVID-19, but on the topic of myocarditis and COVID-19 vaccines, he’s long seemed quite happy with a low-quality study that misused the VAERS database. He also seemed quite happy doing a commentary about “obsessive criticism” of him and his buddy Prof. Ioannidis social media based on even lower quality analyses.

I AM A LIBERAL! (No, you’re not, at least not anymore.)

Finally, it’s clear that Dr. Prasad is…uncomfortable…with many of those who lionize him. After going on about how COVID contrarians are often called “MAGA” or right wing, he goes out of his way to deny that he’s a right wing loon

The truth didn’t matter. I am a far left democrat. I supported Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Both of my books are about progressive regulatory solutions to improve the medical drug and device marketplace. I am an expert in clinical trial design. I know the limits of observational data — I have taught many classes pointing them out, and my podcast Plenary Session is often praised as a great place to learn these skills. And yet, I was labeled many of these things.

To this, I respond simply: If you don’t want people to conclude that you are a right winger, don’t associate yourself with right wing anti-public health and antivaccine activists and make exactly the same arguments and use exactly the same cherry picking and misrepresentations of science as they do. I’m referring, of course, to the hacks at the Brownstone Institute, which is basically a right-wing astroturf “think tank” founded by a neo-Confederate white nationalist and advocate for child labor. If you don’t want people to think you’re a right wing anti-public health ideologue defend Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and rail against a university public health department for leaving Twitter because (supposedly) it’s too “woke.” If you don’t want people to suspect your motivations or think that you might be affiliated with Koch brothers-funded entities, get some actual NIH funding instead of relying on grants from Arnold Ventures, a charitable fund set up by ex-Enron hedge fund billionaire John D. Arnold, for a three-year project to identify and reduce low-value healthcare as a way to cut medical costs. Stop working with Koch brothers-funded organizations and COVID contrarian doctors. Meanwhile, Dr. Prasad has appeared on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s podcast to fear monger about the risk of myocarditis from the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

I will conclude by pointing out two rather obvious things. First, Dr. Prasad’s tone policing is performative. It’s intended to try to portray his critics as irrational and therefore people to be ignored, not as any genuine complaint against a lack of civility. After all, dating back to long before the pandemic, Dr. Prasad was not shy about being aggressive in his attacks on science he considered insufficiently rigorous, both on Twitter and in person. These days, it bothers him not in the least that one of the scholars at Brownstone. where he writes, is Paul Alexander, a Trump administration science adviser who used to advocate for mass infection and, in a throwback to “Nuremberg 2.0,” has also called for the hanging of politicians and public health officials who instituted any kind of public health mandate, such as masking, “lockdowns,” and vaccination:

The answer is: Yes, Brownstone does condone this.

Finally, his methodolatry is also performative—and selective. He demands ever more rigorous RCTs when less rigorous studies come to results that he doesn’t like, but then accepts crappy dumpster diving studies of VAERS done by his buddies and cronies as definitive evidence.

His cries of being a “progressive” who voted for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders now ring quite hollow. Perhaps that’s what he was. These days he’s a right wing propagandist for anti-public health measures. He should just own it now. Why not? It’s his brand.

Note: Orac will likely not return before December 27 and plans an even lighter-than-usual posting schedule between Christmas and January 3; that is, unless something comes up during the holidays that he just can’t resist commenting on which is entirely possible. In the meantime, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Years!

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]

74 replies on “Projection and methodolatry over COVID-19”

It’s the demand to execute everyone you disagree with that marks a truly open, scientific mind.

Yes. agree. I despise anti-vax physicians, but I’m fully content to only see their medical licenses pulled.

Reactions to the article:

Dr. Prasad is very, very impressed with himself and his accomplishments, to the point where you wonder how many mirrors there are in his home.

What is this “Wuhan vaccine” to which he refers?

“Treating Fauci like a saint is wrong.”

That’s a mighty big strawman you got there, Vinny. On the other hand, lots of people in Prasad’s orbit treat Fauci as somewhere between criminal and the devil incarnate, which might be a better focus for Prasad, given how appalled he professes to be by ad hominems.

“There is only one right way to know who benefits from a bivalent booster, and that is a randomized trial.” A randomized trial is only acceptable if there is clinical equipoise, ie, a position of balance between the alternatives. We already know that immunity to COVID19 infection wanes over time; we already know that many of the newer variants escape protection from the older monovalent vaccine, and we already know that the elderly remain at risk of serious infection, long COVID complications, and death. With this knowledge already in place, there is no justification for exposing elderly subjects to placebo doses; thus there is no equipoise, and therefore a definitive randomized trial would be unethical.

Nonetheless, he proposes: “Take people over the age of 65, who have already gotten 3 doses of the parent vaccine, and randomize them in 3 arms to a 4th dose of Wuhan vaccine, a bivalent booster, and placebo vax, and measure severe disease and hospitalization.”

Here’s a subtle point: “Severe disease and hospitalization” occur in only 1 or 2% of elderly with prior vaccination. So if the endpoint of a trial is “severe disease and hospitalization” then the trial has to be very large, and a great many people will be exposed to mild or moderate disease, especially in the placebo group. We know that even mild and moderate disease are associated with increased incidence, in the following year, of new onset cardiac & neurologic illnesses. We also know that the number of patients with severe disease is directly related to the number with mild or moderate disease. If a randomized trial is to be performed (as above, that’s a big “if”), the appropriate endpoint would be clinical infection, which would lead to a much smaller study and less exposure to placebo.

So Dr Prasad’s proposed study is inappropriate, badly designed, and unethical.

I can’t believe he calls himself a clinical trial expert repeatedly while failing to identify the ethical constraints on the vast majority of vaccines. It’s like an alien took over his body, prayed at the altar of Ayn Rand and tried to pretend to be the old Vinay Prasad.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to explain to various anti-vaxxers that an RCT on established, safe, and effective childhood vaccines was incredibly dangerous and unethical. Just think about all of the innocents that aren’t even involved in such a study that would be exposed to infectious disease that they wouldn’t have been exposed to if vaccines schedules had just been followed. Is it OK to cause a significant community (or communities) outbreak(s) just to narrow down a few tenths or hundredths of percentage points of effectiveness? There is no gain that I can identify that would justify any RCT on an existing or successive vaccine where plausibility of shifts in safety and/or effectiveness would make it absolutely necessary.

There is one I can think of that I would demand an RCT, and that’s the new Lyme Vaccine, but the time from the old vaccine’s use and the limited expanse of it’s use are unusual.

While in no way a RCT, I always like to point to places where vaccine rates drop and where there are sudden deadly outbreaks such as we saw in the 2019 Samoa measles outbreak, where vaccine rates dropped alarmingly and which lead to nearly 6,000 infections and 83 deaths, when ever some AV cultist tells me there needs to be a vaxed/unvaxed trial.

Unsurprisingly the response varies between outright denial that such outbreaks occur due to a drop in vaccines or that the deaths are as a result of the sudden uptake in vaccines in response to these outbreaks.

I think perhaps Dr Prasad couldn’t stand to be with his children as much as lockdowns and school closures required. He harps on school closures repeatedly as though they are something truly evil. How did he ever get an MPH?

Goldschläger. Cow!! Melt that fucker down and feed it to the masses. I know I did. Tasty. (I did throw up quit alot though next sunday morning. Awkward.)

What I find most shocking about this article is the title photograph. How is it that people wandering in the desert for years are so stylishly dressed and immaculately groomed? That’s very suspicious. They probably melted down oodles of their pharma lucre to sculpt that golden calf.

I thought the exact same thing!
Probably the illustrator used photos of their hipster associates as models for the drawing: note the fashionably curated beards and hair styles on the men and “beachy-waves” on the women.

The biggest “tragedy of COVID”, is Covid itself – a lab made plague that has no intention of stopping. It keeps reinfecting people and taking them down. Special thanks go to the anonymous virologists who developed it.

Highly vaccinated Santa Clara County, California, shows highest levels of Sars-Cov-2 RNA in wastewater, for the third time in 2022. Their answer? Get more boosters, says Sarah Cody, the health leader of SCC.

It s entirely possible that Covid, enabled for frequent reinfections with immunity-busting Covid vaccine, will claim many times more lives than it claimed up to today.

It turns out that repeatedly injecting people with antigen-producing mRNA injections, produces IgG4-dominant immune tolerance response like allergy shots. Except that Sars-Cov-2 is a replicating virus, not pollen.

Check this out: “Class switch towards non-inflammatory, spike-specific IgG4 antibodies after repeated SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination”

I have vaccinated associates and I am very worried.

We need an ambitious cemetery expansion program.

Igor, I’ve seen smarter grade schoolers when it comes to biology and science. You really are a sad sack.

Orac explained why a lab origin is highly unlikely ( see RI, 8/8/22) not that critics usually actually read what he wrote.

I read his article. Orac is an exceptionally smart and talented person and writes very well. But I followed the Covid origin story since its beginning (the Zerohedge article from Feb 2020).

There is genetic evidence: HIV inserts that fold together to form
HIV’s gp120 equivalent on the spike protein, furin cleavage site that Fauci himself said (in the secret email exchange) likely came from serial passage in humanized mice, Moderna patented sequence etc.

There is China covering tracks: adding a fake RatG13 viral genome in 2020, deleting early Covid cases to point to the Wuhan market, and more.

There is a 2018 DEFUSE proposal by Peter Daszak to develop a coronavirus like Sars-Cov-2, that would engage DC-SIGN receptors on immune cells. (and involved humanized mice with human ACE2 receptors in their lungs) DC-SIGN engagement is why Sars-Cov-2 has these HIV inserts.

There is a coverup attempt by Daszak and Co, supported by Fauci, Farrar and more people participating in the “Fauci email thread”, that culminated with their 2020 Lancet natural origin letter.

Most important:

The talk is always “was it a zoonotic event or was it a lab accident“.

There is much more evidence pointing to the fact that IT WAS NOT AN ACCIDENT – Sars-Cov-2 was intentionally developed as a pandemic pathogen.

And it succeeded, brilliantly, as a pandemic pathogen. Covid is only beginning.

“Zerohedge”

That’s the best laugh I’ve had all day – well, except for those from Sovereign Citizen fail videos.

Sars-Cov-2 was intentionally developed as a pandemic pathogen.

So asserts someone who is clearly profoundly ignorant of basic virology – who doesn’t even begin to understand why insertion of a sequence of 19 nucleotides into a coding region would be expected to be lethal – who can’t offer the slightest shred of evidence that the “insertion” IF it actually occurred wasn’t much shorter or longer – who doesn’t get that the supposed short sequences in SARS-CoV-2 that are found in HIV are found in many viruses. All he gets is that repeating his nonsense gets like-minded (and I use the term “minded” very loosely) rubes to read his rubbish.

that Fauci himself said (in the secret email exchange) likely came from serial passage in humanized mice,

<b)CREDIBLE citation required!

“And it succeeded, brilliantly,”

No it didn’t.

A bioweapon needs to be controllable or to have an end. So some kind of agent is spread, it does it’s job and then degrades into harmless sub-components. Or, the originator has immunity from the bioweapon and therefore doesn’t care what it does after release.

Covid has done nothing to dent the world population. No one is immune without infection or vaccination (even then it’s not perfect).

Are you also going to claim that it was developed in Wuhan and then tested locally? A mysterious group with ill-defined intentions had the resources to create a crap bioweapon and the stupidity to test it right next to where they work? Without first developing a defence? Sharks with lasers man, sharks with lasers.

PS hey John! Still feel like Igor is in your club? He doesn’t think covid is insignificant. Ooooh. Maybe YOU’RE part of the conspiracy? Deliberately downplaying covid and campaigning for the end of all preventative measures.

There is small sequence similarity between HIV and SARS CoV 2. Such things happen. Use BLAST to find genes having same sequence.
Wuhan lab spliced ACE recepor to mouse coronavirus. Sequence is published, and it has only 80% similarity to AERS CoV 2. No wonder, it is basically a mouse cornaavirus.
And you have not answered a simple question: If SARS CoV 2 is spliced, where is the reporter (or similar) gene. As an example,there is a paper fromBoson University:
https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.10.13.512134v1
There is a liker gene,

Yes, it works great, especially in China, where half of the inhabitants of Bejing seems to be infected, hospitals are overfloated and the same goes for crematories.

So igor, you don’t like the science but you do like the conspiracies that support your predetermined viewpoint.

It’s interesting how you [and lucas, and labarge, and others of your kind] who keep spouting education histories go on to show you are incapable of learning anything.

Igor, I realize your conspiratorial mind, your lack of knowledge, and other factors limit your reading of things that aren’t at conspiracy/authoritarian sites: nevertheless, here are a couple suggestions.

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3001115#sec002

https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(21)00991-0?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0092867421009910%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

Igor, can you please stop writing Resident Evil fanfiction and acting like it’s real? I get that you really like the CGI movies, especially Vendetta, and the garbage Netflix live action series, given that you seem to base most of your understanding of how viruses work on those, but it’s kind of annoying at this point.

Move on to a new fandom or something and please stop trying to present your fanfics as real. Quotes from an article you wrote showed up on a writing site I go to and there they were presented as being based on actual science! It was kind of painful to see it being discussed so seriously and I nearly outed myself as a writer of RE fanfic in an attempt to comment on it. That would have been embarrassing given that a number of the people there are scifi/fantasy authors published by actual major houses and a number of them are old enough to think poorly of gamers like me!

I’ve only recently stumbled across this site – I think when I was looking for where you post your fanfics because I can’t find you on AO3, and find the articles here fascinating (the stuff about people who are anti-vaccine is great inspiration for villains in my fics), as I assume you do, but please stop role playing in the comments. By the looks of it a lot of the people here are actual professionals and you look kind of cringe next to them.

So yeah, thank you for helping me find this place, but seriously, the fandom does not need people like you running around, trying to act like stuff from a videogame is real.

Embrace the memes, start playing the Metal Gear Solid series. MGS1 is tough, but it makes the second one so much better.

I always wondered how UCSF could have become such a sheethole as to allow a putz like Prasad, and then I see articles yesterday on how UCSF only just now apologized for doing experiments on prisoners in the 1960’s and 70’s, with one of the two researchers still being on facutly at UCSF. ( https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-22/ucsf-apologizes-for-experiments-done-on-prisoners-in-the-60s-and-70s )

There’s the answer: UCSF was always a sewer of unethical clinicians and corruption. Sure would be nice if someone would fire that liar Bob Wachter now.

@ Igor Chudov

I had hoped you would by now have sought psychiatric help. Oh well

The article you refer to simply finds that in a subset of covid vaccinated people, some, after several vaccinations, developed more IgG4 antibodies and since they do not give immunity, some of these people will become infected with covid.

You write: “It s entirely possible that Covid, enabled for frequent reinfections with immunity-busting Covid vaccine, will claim many times more lives than it claimed up to today.”

First, the “immunity-busting” is the immunity developed from the vaccine, so, at worst, this small number of people will be nearly as vulnerable as they were prior to vaccination. Second, the vaccines have been given for two years with many getting boosters and even the bivalent omicron booster; yet, from around the world data clearly finds the vast majority of vaccinated to be far less vulnerable, including less hospitalizations and deaths. I am confident that two years hence, possibly with one or two more boosters, and still all data showing vaccinated far less likely to be hospitalized and die, that you will still claim sometime in the future that those vaccinated will be the victims. I doubt that no matter how many years in the future, your deluded antivax approach will continue.

As for being in wastewater, so what? RNA can not by itself infect people. It must have a capsid and spike proteins to enter cells. So, basically, as more and more people either have had covid and/or vaccines, the virus doesn’t enter bodies, disintegrates, and we have rna in waste water.

You write: “The biggest “tragedy of COVID”, is Covid itself – a lab made plague that has no intention of stopping. It keeps reinfecting people and taking them down. Special thanks go to the anonymous virologists who developed it.”

As I and other commenters as well as Orac have explained over and over, the overwhelming evidence is that current covid came from bats, possibly with animals intermediaries; but in any case, it is certainly no more a “plague” that the thousands of sequenced genomes found in bats could become with just a very few mutations, mutations that occur often in nature. The deadliness of the current covid is mainly because governments, especially ours, did not implement appropriate policies and because many still have not been vaccinated. As an example, flu vaccines, given number who get them, prevent 10s of thousands of deaths and could prevent far more if more people got the vaccines.

You write: “I have vaccinated associates and I am very worried.”

Worry all you want, given your total unscientific understanding; but those, like me, who have devoted a lifetime to public health, worry about the unvaccinated, both as individuals, and for transmitting the virus to those who could not be vaccinated; e.g. undergoing chemotherapy, and those whose immune systems did not build up following vaccination

And extremely important is fact that those who are unvaccinated have covid longer in their bodies and the longer it is in a body the more mutations it develops, so, basically, the unvaccinated are accelerating the potential development of possibly more deadly strains.

I still highly recommend you get psychiatric help.

@ Igor Chudov

Of course one will find COVID viruses in waste water. Waste water contains feces and urine from symptomatic and asymptomatics infected with the virus; however, waste water treatment includes a number of procedures, including chlorination, that successfully kills the virus. According to several papers I found, no COVID viruses have been found in drinking water. And if a very few were found, anyone vaccinated and/or already infected would almost always be protected. Can I claim that no one ever will be infected and even die? Nope; but public health looks at ratio of benefits to risks and the benefits from vaccines and waste water treatment exponentially outweigh the risks.

I won’t bother typing out the papers I found as I know that nothing can change your mentally disturbed mind.

@ Igor Chudov

Do you use tap water? Do your friends? Do you understand that waste water is full of viruses, bacteria, etc; but tap water is safe? Why do you, in your warped mind, believe coronaviruses somehow are invulnerable to waste water treatment, whereas other viruses aren’t?

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “But I followed the Covid origin story since its beginning (the Zerohedge article from Feb 2020).”

From Wikipedia. Zero Hedge: “Zero Hedge (or ZeroHedge) is a far-right libertarian financial blog . . . Over time, Zero Hedge expanded into non-financial political content, including conspiracy theories and fringe rhetoric advancing radical right, altright, and pro-Russia positions.”

I also found a page “Reviews of articles from: Zero Hedge” that lists a number of claims by ZeroHedge, linking to in-depth refutations. at: https://healthfeedback.org/outlet/zero-hedge/

So, yep, you refer to a far right organization known for its conspiracy theories, etc. And support their position 100%. I could supply a number of peer-reviewed papers that clearly found COVID-19 from nature. They explain in detail the closeness to genomes sequenced in bats. Closeness, so that only a very mutations would have resulted in current virus and also finding in animals even closer. And, as I wrote above, not super deadly; but most deaths because, for instance, US didn’t implement appropriate policies and when implemented various areas of nation ignored more or less. And then totally unnecessary deaths among those who didn’t get vaccinated once vaccines available.

Oh, also, as I wrote above, of course one finds COVID RNA in waste water, since waste water contains, among other things, our shit; but I suggest you read Wikipedia article: Water Treatment. Explains why once we get the water, drinking water, SAFE.

You really need help!

You might wonder why apparently intelligent and well-educated adults consistently accept anti-vaccine talking points as well as other conspiracy theories. Matt Hornsey ( U Queensland) surveyed people from 24 countries and found that education was not a significant factor but other personality qualities were useful for predicting who believed. His work and that of Karen Douglas ( U Kent) show how anti-vaxxers differ from the average- more likely, they believe in more than one CT, they may have paranoid and narcissistic traits, they value freedom and individualism, they might fear needles and blood, they do not accept hierarchies of expertise and they value their own outcomes over those of others. Additional research shows a tendency towards conservative/ libertarian thinking and natural solutions. They address fear and magical thinking. Both writers are worthwhile including more complex explanations about why people believe ( Douglas).

“they value freedom and individualism … and they value their own outcomes over those of others.”

Genius!

@ johnlabarge:

So what’s the problem with that? That’s what researchers found: anti-vaxxers value individual outcomes more than community ones and ‘freedom’ might be their prime motivator.
Of course, everyone is concerned about what happens to them and freedom is important BUT some people also don’t want to jeopardise what happens to others. Anti-vaxxers score much like libertarians in many respects: they won’t accept any level of risk in order to secure larger societal goals- a tiny risk of myocarditis is TOO much to take for them.

The rate of myocarditis/ heart inflammation – even in teenage boys- is less than the risk of myocarditis / heart inflammation after Covid infection. The CDC lists exact figures but there is a brief article CNBC April 2022 by Spencer Kimball explaining the situation. Joel PhD, MPH has discussed this also.
The exact rate is extremely low.

People are often afraid of extremely low risk but frightening events like plane crashes. It is highly unlikely that you’ll be in a plane crash but many people greatly fear it. Look up the rates.
Anti-vaccine activists trade on this psychological phenomenon in order to frighten people away from vaccines.

Denice, you forget that labarge is a libertarian, which is modern code for “I got mine, screw everyone else”. That, along with the view that people are poor and or sick because they deserve to be, sums up john’s “philosophy” (which is nothing more than being a spoiled 4-year old in an adult body).

@ Denise Walter

While I agree with you, you leave out other aspects. Studies have shown that 70% of Americans don’t understand the basics of science and some actually reject science. There has been an explosion of social networks, so many are locked in closed reinforcing circles, some of which just reinforce racism, etc. And don’t forget how many believe in QAnon. Over the past few decades dishonesty and betrayal by our government has resulted in many not being able to discriminate between when our government is actually being honest, doing the right thing, and when not. We have become an extremely polarized nation. And given distrust of government, an American tendency to emphasize individual over community has increased drastically.

There is a good book from years ago that discussed three trends/attitudes in America and extreme individualism was one of them:

Robert N. Bellah et al (1985). Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life.

another interesting book is: Robert D. Putman (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

@ Diane Walter

Some doctors who promote antivaccination, may or may not actually believe it; but like Joseph Mercola, estimated to be worth $100 million, his sales of alternative meds would plummet if he encouraged vaccinations. Just as many qualified doctors are now including alternative and complementary medicines in their practices. Do they actually believe in them or just necessary to get “customers?” Some politicians, nutcases like Marjorie Taylor Green are true antivaccinationists; but others may just be playing up to core constituents who they believe turn out more during elections.

And, of course, we now have a proliferation of antivax websites, a huge number. So, many variables play into our current insane number of antivaxxers.

@ Joel PhD, MPH:

Actually, I wanted to limit the scope of my response. You would not want me to get into all the problems of education and how the internet serves as a tutor, advisor, best friend, role model and “professor” to many people because then I will be here all day! As well as how and why grifters operate ( as “professors”/ cult leaders) to their enthralled masses.

More seriously, certain people are more susceptible to BS on the net and then spread the crap to others and argue with more realistic/ educated folk. What do the qualities Hornsey and Douglas discuss have in common? Lack of concern for others? Over evaluation of themselves? Less orientation to reality?

Other research suggests that narcissistic tendencies are reflected / magnified in social media and that this is problematic especially for girls. I could go on but won’t although it applies here.

What does fascinate me is how people without a shred of relevant education/ experience can lecture professionals/ more well versed people. Are they unable to self-evaluate? Of course, I imagine that we’re talking about the marks BUT it won’t surprise me if the leaders/ salesmen ( and it’s mostly men) have a streak of the same qualities themselves – the Brave Maverick who actually believes his own cant to a degree that he is above professionals who studied/ worked for decades and he pwns them all!

A better question for me might be what protects people from falling for BS and magical thinking?

“A better question for me might be what protects people from falling for BS and magical thinking?”

Making sure that students are always aware of their limitations while in education? If you’re exposed to people who demonstrate that they know far more than you do on a regular basis, maybe you won’t suddenly decide that your degree in politics puts you at the same level as an astrophysicist when discussing black holes.

Of course, this could be a bit disheartening but better than booping a bear on the snoot because you read it works for sharks.

@ NumberWang:

Of course you’re right but even if educators made students aware of their limits doesn’t the whole world teach them otherwise where we observe altie know-nothings pontificating about topics far beyond their ken? Isn’t that the internet? Isn’t that Twitter both before and after Elon? Podcasts? Substack?

Because I observe altie know-nothings on a regular basis I can tell you that they acquire many followers/ marks/ advocates easily.
Certainty/ confidence is attractive and simple answers often feel better. In addition, the personality types that are susceptible to this like to feel special or unique not part of the “common herd”. They enjoy being part of an oncoming paradigm shift and they want to get there first! Alties assemble a crowd of unique Galileos ( Galilei?) to follow them. Don’t brave maverick upstarts get attention as speakers/ authors? Their supposedly unique followers mime their leaders staging a rebellion against authority/ fascism/ Government.

It’s often a wise sales technique for grifters who have books and products to sell. If you look at sites like AoA, prn, NN or CHD, you notice that they advertise many books/ films and also have charities to raise money to expand their reach ‘educationally’/ or to sue people. I wonder how these “charities” are considered legal when their perpetrators lie about their basic raison d’etre-informing people about health?

I found Prasad’s focus on his 400 publications to be all of amusing, pathetic and telling. My initial thought was he was using this as a bit of foot stamping “Look at me, Look at me!”

Instead of relying on the evidence to support his statements, Prasad is using an argument from authority (himself). This hints to me that he knows his arguments do not hold water.

@ Everyone

I did search of Prasad’s publications on National Library of Medicine’s online database PubMed

Many of his publications were NOT peer-reviewed research, though some were; but many were more or less OpEds, opinion pieces. In fact, several were just replies/exchanges:

The Case for Being a Medical Conservative
Should Evidence Come with an Expiry Date
Medical Debates and Medical Reversals
FDA decisions on new oncological drugs.
Old Fashioned Intelligence Will Always Be Needed in Medicine
Prasad & Ioannidis Constructive and obsessive criticism in science
and a number labeled Reply

I was going to make a comment about getting 400 publications in 13 years of activity and how that probably indicated an amount of guest authorship, because no-one could effectively contribute to that number of studies each year. Then I realised that a lot of the publications were recycled opinion pieces.

Poor Vinay Prasad, having to suffer all the COVID mitigation efforts conducted by individuals and local governments here in the Bay, with the added pain of having the intellectually superior recommendations he and Ioannidis offer ignored or rejected. He should pull up stakes and move somewhere his ideas would truly be appreciated. Like Alberta: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/25/world/canada/canada-alberta-danielle-smith.html

I don’t think it’s TOTALLY off-base to criticize skeptics for some of their topic choices*, but that Prasad Tweet is aggh-sad. To be fair, his bias there is kinda of-a-piece with the bias of skeptics: what makes a “target” worthy is how it relates to science. For skeptics, the degree of wrongness of a thing makes it worthy of criticism, for Prasad (apparently, anyway) it’s the degree of complexity. He appears to suggest supplements are unworthy of a debunking by a fellowship trained MD because they are so OBVIOUSLY scammy any fool (like, say a geriatric former film professor) should be able to recognize that and take them on. But this geriatric former media studies academic had enough truck with political economy in grad school to know that the marketing power behind products stocked in big box stores is anything but a soft target (or, as a Minnesota native like myself might note, a soft Target). As Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) observes in Network, aiming at that target, the “one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars” is meddling with the primal forces of nature. One hard target indeed.

••••
* John Horgan’s arguments, e.g. are weak, and what he thinks skeptics should be critiquing instead is questionable as well.

Believe it or not, I agree that it’s not totally off-base to criticize skeptics about topic choices. We in the skeptics movement actually used to discuss these sorts of issues all the time. Also, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve appreciated that skepticism as a movement did tend to ignore certain difficult topics, such as systemic racism and sexism. I tend to think it was because as a group they were more comfortable with “harder” sciences and have never done particularly well with social sciences.

That being said, Horgan and Prasad are not about making real criticisms of the topics that skeptics choose to spend their efforts on, but rather about trying to make what we choose to concentrate on seem silly and pointless, all Bigfoot and no cancer quackery. Horgan’s was the most ridiculous in that he seemed to be saying that if we weren’t concentrating on WORLD PEACE we were wasting our time. It made me want to know what Horgan’s contribution to promoting WORLD PEACE had been.

I think you nailed Prasad. Not only does he think that if a problem is difficult it’s just not worth devoting his awesome brainpower to, he has no idea that he doesn’t even understand what he’s criticizing. Prasad also played an intellectually dishonest “heads I win tails you lose” game. For instance, when I pointed out to him on Twitter that in order to debunk, for instance, homeopathy, you have to have a deep understanding of clinical trials and how they can go wrong in order to produce seemingly positive results about a remedy that can’t possibly work, that it’s just as difficult to do that as it is to analyze oncology trials, his response was that I was admitting that what he did (analyzing clinical trials) was more important than skeptical activities because I was trying to show him that I did the same sorts of things that he did (and he wasn’t buying it).

I also pointed out to him that, as you say, supplements are not a “soft target” and that countering the antivaccine is very difficult and anything but a “soft target.” (This was a few months before the pandemic.) He couldn’t accept that possibility, even though a number of people with experience with the antivaccine movement and supplements were telling him the same thing.

But aren’t these purists ( for lack of a better word) aware that studying social sciences might contribute to our understanding of
— why people accept pseudoscience
— how altie/ woo purveyors attract followers
— how misinformation spreads
— how topics like sexism and racism fit seamlessly into the mix
— how particular people are especially susceptible to misinformation

About supplements:
they aren’t a soft target because they profoundly affect choices people make about healthcare and how they spend money.
If people believe that particular substances can prevent or cure serious illnesses they might be open to all sorts of other pseudoscience.
Attitudes about supplements – and buying patterns- might inform us about other beliefs consumers espouse, such as anti-vax.
The past two years have illustrated that certain altie beliefs link to politics and voting as Orac has shown many times.

The alties/ woo-meisters I survey have often of late spoken more about political ideas than about health.

Sadmar writes,

“or, as a Minnesota native like myself might note..”

MJD says,

Like reading your comments, Sadmar. This Minnesota native wants to assure the rest of the world that we understand winter storms and cytokine storms.

https://ijsra.net/sites/default/files/IJSRA-2021-0196.pdf

@ Igor Chudov,

Does the medical paper above make any sense to you? Please advise.

@NumberWang:

You made a number of very insightful comment and noted some very important things.

Yes I am not a Covid minimizer, I do not believe that “it is just a cold”. Covid is deadly for some people and will claim many more lives than it claimed to date.

In fact, many “sudden deaths” in 2022 are due to Covid and immune tolerance induced by repeat injections, causing “mild” infections without fever etc — but with viral replication out of control. That results in heart attacks an sudden deaths.

Many antivaxxers hold the opposite opinion that Covid “just a flu”. I do not agree with those.

Regarding your “bioweapon” comments. We do not know exactly who developed SC2 and for what purpose. The two facts that I know is that 1) it is a very successful pathogen and 2) plenty of money was made. Beyond this, SC2 is a big mystery. This includes its authors and their exact purpose. I keep an open mind.

The mystery is tantalizing.

We have NO HERD IMMUNITY WHATSOEVER after three years. (in the highly vaccinated countries at least) Many areas shows wastewater levels peaking several times a year without any decrease.

Covid is only beginning.

“We have NO HERD IMMUNITY WHATSOEVER after three years. (in the highly vaccinated countries at least)”

Not doing very well against the common cold either.

As for your addition about highly vaccinated countries, the implication being that countries with low vaccinated rates DO get herd immunity. Why don’t you look at the covid rates in the lower vaccinated states in the US (more reliable figures than a sparsely populated third world area or densely populated developing country)? You should be able to show that they have fewer cases and serious illness/death than the higher vaccinated states. As long as you can account for confounders like population density and movement etc the difference should be clear. If you are right.

Of course your ‘natural immunity is better’ theory doesn’t really gel with ‘covid is a bioweapon’.

@Igor Chudov Perhaps simplest answer is that nobody develope SARS CoV 2. Do your “open mind” include that possiility ? Do you understand what reporter gene means ?
Repeated COVID infections are caused by mutations, SARS CoV2 is a RNA virus. Do you know what that means ?

@ldw56old says:

So igor, you don’t like the science but you do like the conspiracies that support your predetermined viewpoint.

I love science! I always liked science, reading articles and whatnot.

That’s why I was so appalled by “Covid science” and how these lowlifes are pretending to know something, while in fact being totally in the dark.This was such a shock to me, to see these naked emperors pretending to have answers and bumbling around, patting each other on the back, while trying to shut up everyone who pointed that they have no clothes on. The COVID vaccine was such an obvious quackery promoted by charlatans, and it made things much worse with endless reinfections and lack of herd immunity.

We have a serious problem with Covid. Both China and the UK governments stop Covid reporting. The reason is the same. They lost and Covid won.

One out of 20 Brits is having Covid, according to ZOE.

Excess mortality is off the charts and all the press and governments want is to NOT talk about it. We are staring into the abyss.

The governments around the world are now the chief Covid minimizers.

References:

1) UK Government will stop publishing Covid data from January as country moves into phase of ‘living with the virus’

2) China stops reporting Covid-19 figures amid mind-boggling surge in cases

I love science! I always liked science, reading articles and whatnot

No, you like what you think is science, hence you’re pushing conspiracies like “lab made virus” and “dangers of the vaccine”. There is scant to no evidence for the first of those and no evidence for the second — not of the magnitude you keep spewing.

You don’t understand the basics — your endorsement of the wast of electrons that went into all of those little simple regressions you banged on about shows that: they weren’t worth time it took to crank them out, as I stated after looking through them.

No, you don’t like science. You like the pseudo-science that fits your conspiratorial mindset.

@Aarno,

Take a look at UKHSA vaccine effectiveness report for Week 13

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1066759/Vaccine-surveillance-report-week-13.pdf

Look at Table 14. Unadjusted rates of COVID-19 infection

And note how boosted people have FOUR TIMES the rate of infection per 100,000 than unvaxed people, for example in age group 40-49.

This was so embarrassing that they discontinued this reporting.

There is a study finally published in Science Immunology that explains why it is happening.

http://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciimmunol.ade2798

==> Class switch towards non-inflammatory, spike-specific IgG4 antibodies after repeated SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination

It explains that what happens is that repeat mRNA antigen shots work like “allergy shots” and convert our immune response towards “immune tolerance”. The much-ballyhooed “antibodies” produced, switch towards IgG4 class antibodies actually preventing robust immune reaction.

This is why infections seem “mild” but last a long time, like was the case for Rochelle Walensky recently. She was out for almost three weeks but was thankful for her boosters for her illness being “mild”.

Think of IgG4 antibodies as having your house doors open and allowing robbers inside and ignoring them as they ruffle through your drawers. The robbery will seem “mild”. But the robbers will take your stuff. And they will come back again.

This is what we are seeing in boosted people and that explains everything — negative effectiveness against infections, seemingly “mild” infections, and “sudden deaths” due to the virus multiplying unopposed and doing organ damage.

This is actually terrible and I am very worried about our collective health.

This will not end well.

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “Regarding your “bioweapon” comments. We do not know exactly who developed SC2 and for what purpose. The two facts that I know is that 1) it is a very successful pathogen and 2) plenty of money was made. Beyond this, SC2 is a big mystery. This includes its authors and their exact purpose. I keep an open mind. We have NO HERD IMMUNITY WHATSOEVER after three years. (in the highly vaccinated countries at least) Many areas shows wastewater levels peaking several times a year without any decrease.”

It is only a “very successful pathogen” because in the beginning and for some time our government, actually governments since we don’t function in public health as one nation, screwed up big time. And it is still successful mainly in clusters of unvaccinated. However, we do have herd immunity in some areas where most either have been infected and/or vaccinated. Of course, you have shown time and time again that you trust websites run by antivaxxers who indicate little understanding of anything. I’ve already addressed your wastewater point. Basically, as more and more people either experienced covid and/or were vaccinated, their SHIT will contain dead or weakened virions and that is what goes into waste water. Our drinking water is perfectly safe. Do you have any idea the amount of bacteria and viruses in wastewater? As for people making money, yep; but for me, those who produced the vaccine that I got and protects me should make money. After all, they would go out of business if they provided the vaccines for free. Making money doesn’t say if something valuable, harmful, or any combinations thereof.

You write: “In fact, many “sudden deaths” in 2022 are due to Covid and immune tolerance induced by repeat injections, causing “mild” infections without fever etc — but with viral replication out of control. That results in heart attacks an sudden deaths.”

“Immune tolerance induced by repeat injections.” You just continue to display your complete ignorance of immunology.

And you continue to display your ABSOLUTE STUPIDITY when you write: “The COVID vaccine was such an obvious quackery promoted by charlatans, and it made things much worse with endless reinfections and lack of herd immunity.

Overwhelming data over two years from around the world clearly shows the effectiveness of the mRNA covid vaccines and rare serious adverse events.

You write: “Excess mortality is off the charts and all the press and governments want is to NOT talk about it. We are staring into the abyss.”

No, not off the charts; but significant. Are you totally incapable of not grossly exaggerating things???

You write: “One out of 20 Brits is having Covid, according to ZOE.”

If one includes both those infected and/or vaccinated in US, same. Given the high numbers in beginning of pandemic, we now have data on those being hospitalized and even dying and majority unvaccinated. During average flu season percent of Americans either infected and/or vaccinated even higher.

Finally, you write: “I love science! I always liked science, reading articles and whatnot.”

Bull Shit. You don’t understand science; but think you do, picking and choosing papers/websites that support your sick rigid antivax bias.

Get back on your meds. YOU ARE REALLY MENTALLY SICK

STOP MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND SCIENCE. YOU PICK AND CHOOSE AND THEN EXAGGERATE, ETC

@ johnlabarge

You write: ““they value freedom and individualism … and they value their own outcomes over those of others.” Genius!

Freedom and individualism can only exist in a society, in a community; but a community involves both rights and responsibilities. If you own a ranch and drive drunk on it, you’re right; but if you drive drunk in a community, not your right. With a highly infectious disease, if you don’t get vaccinated, maybe you won’t get sick, etc; but you can transmit it to others, some who couldn’t be vaccinated or some where the vaccine didn’t work. I’m sure you could care less; but what if you or someone else transmits it to you or someone you care about? How would your valuing freedom and individualism work if a loved one or friend sickens and even dies. Oops! It is obvious that you are a loner who cares not a bit about anyone else???

We live in communities. Too complicated for someone like you to understand.

Prasad’s claimed 400 published papers are chicken feed.

According to Stuart Buck of the Good Science Project, French researcher and HCQ advocate Didier Raoult is listed as an author on 2,113 papers that came out of his lab, the equivalent of churning out a paper per week for 40 years.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Raoult%2C+Didier%5BAuthor%5D&sort=date

That would suggest that either Raoult is an all-time workaholic who hardly has any spare moments to eat or sleep, or his name is winding up on papers where his contributions were minimal at best. Regardless, all those citations must mean that he’s a far more distinguished and credible scientist than his critics. 😉

But Vinay “look at me” Prasad had 400 papers by the time he was 39. Raoult is 70. There is lots of time for Vinay to catch up. After all Google Scholar reports 86 publications for Vinay in 2022.

I honestly wonder how people who publish so much do it. I’ve never been able to publish more than 7 articles in a single year, and I only managed that once.

@ Dangerous Bacon

Many universities only count papers one is among the first three authors when it comes to promotions and tenure. So, yep, people put their names on papers they had little to do with; but usually far down the list of more than three authors. In fact, some put their names on papers they had nothing to do with except their lab was used and/or they were chair of a department. Oh well.

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