Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Popular culture Pseudoscience

How antivaxxers “think” (that vaccine advocates think)

Having come across an example of how antivaxxers think that vaccine advocates think from Alex Berenson and Madhava Setty, I had one thought myself: Project much?

I’ve written many times before about how antivaccine beliefs are rooted in what I like to call the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement, which should not surprise anyone given that, when you boil any form of science denial down to its essence, all science denial is a conspiracy theory. In the case of antivaxxers, that conspiracy theory goes something like this. Vaccines are harmful/don’t work, but “They” (the CDC, medical profession, government, pharma, insurance companies, etc.) are hiding The Truth—with a capital T!—from you. However, antivaxxers are among the enlightened few who know The Truth—with a capital T!—and, as a result, have become brave maverick warriors for The Truth—with a capital T!—against the nefarious forces arrayed to defend the conspiracy. Once you understand this central premise, the antivaccine movement becomes a lot easier to understand as a movement; in brief, the antivaccine movement is really no different than QAnon, which, unsurprisingly, features a similar conspiracy theory, only about the evil elites. Understanding this central premise will lead you to understand as well articles like one by Alex Berenson (a.k.a. “the pandemic’s wrongest man“) How vaccine advocates think, to which he helpfully added the blurb:

An mRNA skeptic went to the World Vaccine Congress last week to find out. What he saw will disturb you.

“Skeptic”? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Before I go on, I couldn’t help but wonder: What, exactly, is an mRNA “skeptic”? After all, mRNA exists. It was discovered 60 years ago and our understanding of what mRNA is, how it is produced, how the cell processes it, and how to use it in molecular biology experiments and, increasingly, for therapy in humans has only increased. Is this “skeptic” skeptical the mRNA exists? That it does what molecular biology and biochemistry have, as science, established what it does over the last five or six decades? I know, I know. To an antivaxxer an “mRNA skeptic” is just an antivaxxer who doubts that the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and effective, but the sloppy language grates to the ear of a trained molecular biologist like myself. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge about the topic that makes an antivaxxer unable to think coherently.

How antivaxxers think as they think about how vaccine advocates think.
An antivaxxer thinking.

That is a description that appears to fit Berenson quite well:

Last week, Dr. Madhava Setty, an anesthesiologist, decided – in his words – to go in “the belly of the beast” and attended the World Vaccine Congress, which bills itself as the “largest, most established meeting dedicated to vaccines.”

Setty didn’t find any conspiracy to depopulate the world or use nanochips to control humanity.

Imagine my relief that Setty didn’t discover a cabal of scientists led by Bill Gates, George Soros, and the lizard people planning to implant microchips or depopulate the world. That would have been quite the discovery in the “belly of the beast” at the World Vaccine Congress. I’ll also note that in 2018 I attended a spinoff of the World Vaccine Congress in San Diego, the World Vaccine and Immunotherapy Congress, where I was honored to meet two of my heroes, Drs. Peter Hotez and Richard Pan, with whom (among others) I took part in a discussion of the antivaccine movement and vaccine hesitancy. It was a little more than a year before the pandemic hit, and, from the perspective of 2023, seemed a much more innocent time.

Before I go on, though, I should mention that we have met Dr. Madhava Setty before, specifically when he used ridiculous “logic” to attack a randomized clinical trial that found that ivermectin didn’t work against COVID-19. Setty is also listed as a senior science editor at The Defender, which is the publication of Children’s Health Defense, which is the website of one of the most influential leaders of the antivaccine movement, none other than Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who is getting ready to run for President.

In any event, Berenson continues:

Instead, he discovered widespread ignorance about the data on mRNA Covid shots – combined with a deep arrogance among conference leaders toward anyone who questioned those jabs.

As Setty explained in an email to me:

It was supposed to be a fact-finding mission but within the first few hours I couldn’t hold my tongue and began to ask simple but thoughtful questions of the presenters who were clearly ignorant (willfully or not) of the vast body of evidence that demonstrates that these shots are neither safe nor effective.

He has now published what he saw in a Substack that is equally enlightening and disturbing (and well worth your time).

Consistent with a conspiracy theorist’s view that he is one of the enlightened few who know The Truth—with a capital T!—and that the whole of the rest of the scientific community consists of brainwashed sheeple, it never occurred to Setty that maybe, just maybe, he didn’t know what he was talking about and that the vaccines are indeed safe and effective. Perish the thought! Setty knows The Truth—with a capital T!—and he couldn’t stand that the brainwashed sheeple scientists at the World Vaccine Congress apparently were unaware of that Truth. So Setty had to make a pest of himself and then write about it on his Substack and—of course!—for RFK Jr. on The Defender.

So apparently Dr. Setty wasn’t alone. Dr. Elizabeth Mumper is another hanger-on of RFK Jr.’s.

Basically, Dr. Setty summed up his views on how “they” think with some bullet points, which I will list here:

  • The majority of attendees truly believe they are doing the right thing.
  • The majority of attendees look no further than recommendations from agencies of public health to guide their opinions. In other words, they fully believe COVID-19 mRNA (and other) vaccines are exceedingly safe and have saved millions of lives.
  • Beyond members of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) and officers from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), few, if any, are aware of vaccine trial and post-marketing observational data around COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy.
  • The keynote speakers and expert panel moderators who raised the topic of “vaccine hesitancy” were dismissive of those who managed to avoid vaccination and were openly contemptuous of those who encouraged others to do the same.
  • Except for a few instances, the tone of the presentations and round table discussions were collegial. Aside from the pointed questions that Mumper and I were able to pose, there were no open hints that any of the attendees questioned the conventional narratives around the COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • One-on-one exchanges revealed encouraging signs that not everyone there has bought the conventional narratives around the pandemic.
  • Calls for public-private “partnerships” were a common theme.

That second from the last bullet point is a common theme in antivax conspiracy theories. The basic idea is that “they” present a united front in public, but in private antivaxxers are having an effect and even members of the cabal behind the conspiracy are starting to have their doubts. Another common theme among antivaxxers is that the regulatory bodies (e.g., VRBPAC, UKHSA, the rest of the FDA and CDC, etc.) are completely oblivious to the supposed dangers of the vaccines. Seriously, it’s their job to examine the observational postmarking data for these vaccines and look for worrisome safety signals, and that’s just what they have been doing. In the US, they do it so publicly that antivaxxers can get onto the list of people providing public comment at, for instance, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to try to score points. Similarly, any criticism of the antivaccine movement or discussion of how it stokes vaccine hesitancy is perceived as “contempt,” whether there is evidence of contempt or not.

This leads Setty to observe:

To summarize, leaders of the vaccine industry and the regulatory agencies are, in my impression, convinced that they have offered the world an amazing product and are frustrated that it is not being readily and universally accepted.

That’s because they have done exactly that. They have offered the world an amazing product, having developed it in record time, and that product has an amazingly good safety record after billions of doses administered. Are the vaccines perfect? Obviously not. They are not as effective at preventing infection and transmission as we would like, being only partially effective at that. However, the vaccines are very effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization, even in the face of the evolution of new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, that can evade immunity due to prior infection or vaccination. Would it be better if the vaccines produced sterilizing immunity (that is, immunity that is so effective that it prevents infection completely or near completely)? Of course. Most vaccines, however, do not produce sterilizing immunity; yet they are still very useful and effective. Moreover, scientists understood that producing sterilizing immunity against a coronavirus would be difficult, but they also understood that a COVID-19 vaccine did not have to produce sterilizing immunity in order to be a highly useful tool to bring the pandemic under better control. They even wrote about it in 2021! As I’ve said, a good vaccine doesn’t have to induce sterilizing immunity or to be 100% effective at preventing transmission to accomplish a lot of very good things, again, not the least of which is preventing severe disease. Heck, during the conference, one of the speakers even said as much:

Marks, flanked by his partners — I mean counterparts — in industry let the audience know what the future would look like. “I am not going to hold my breath waiting for a sterilizing vaccine, protecting against severe disease is enough,” he said.

Again, sterilizing immunity would be great, but the goal is to prevent severe disease and at least slow the transmission of COVID-19. Antivaxxers make the perfect the enemy of the good by portraying any vaccine that is not 100% effective as not working at all and any vaccine that is not 100% safe as dangerous, toxic sludge.

Dr. Setty also expresses amazement that Dr. Gregory Poland, a famous vaccine scientist, still supports the vaccines and views them as a fantastic achievement, namely because Dr. Poland apparently suffered an adverse event after vaccination:

This first session was possibly the most fascinating 90 minutes of the entire week. Poland, I learned in a brief conversation with him after the conference, is also a pastor. His oratory skills were on full display during his opening and closing remarks, quoting both William Wordsworth and William Shakespeare among others. He asked us to acknowledge the limitations scientists have when looking at the world through the lens of duality. 

Poland is also vaccine-injured.

In February 2022, Poland reported suffering from significant tinnitus after receiving the second dose of “an mRNA vaccine.” At the time, Poland described his symptoms as “extraordinarily bothersome.” Nevertheless, he chose to receive a third dose (monovalent booster).

Poland’s commentary on the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines was extremely positive. He said the rapid deployment of the new therapy saved millions of lives and would have saved millions more if it weren’t for the disturbing trend of growing vaccine hesitancy.

I assumed that his vaccine-induced tinnitus had resolved over the last year. It was only at the end of the conference, several days later, when he told me personally that his symptoms were still debilitating, making his unmitigated support of these products even more astonishing.

See what I mean? Dr. Setty finds it astonishing that an older man at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19 who, assuming for the moment that it was causation and not just correlation between his development of tinnitus and being vaccinated, would weigh the benefits of being vaccinated against what would appear to be in his case a higher risk of adverse events and then decide that the risk-benefit ratio of betting boosted would still be favorable enough to do it. Indeed, no doubt Dr. Poland related his reasoning, as he did to a reporter for this MedPage Today story a year ago:

Since then, Poland said he has been experiencing what he describes as life-altering tinnitus, or ringing in the ear. It occurs in both ears, but is worse in the left than in the right.

He remains steadfast that opting to receive his booster — after which his tinnitus briefly disappeared but then returned at a slightly higher pitch that made it just a bit less bothersome — was the right move. After all, it would be “way too ironic” for a prominent vaccinologist to die of COVID, he said. He also worried about the possibility of contracting COVID and spreading it to his patients.

Yet Poland realizes his life may never be the same, and that many others may be grappling with the same reality. He continues to receive emails from other individuals across the country and around the world who say they have also developed tinnitus after COVID vaccination.

The same story notes that there had not been definitive research linking the vaccines to tinnitus and:

And in a recent Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) analysis reported in the Annals of Neurology, tinnitus was among the most commonly reported adverse neurological events following vaccination. But its authors noted that rates of neurological adverse events were far higher following SARS-CoV-2 infection than after vaccination.

Just because I was interested, I searched PubMed for articles on COVID-19 vaccines and tinnitus. There were studies that didn’t find a correlation, others that suggested a correlation, and studies that pointed to confounding factors, such as inconsistent reporting, recall bias, and possible nocebo effects, that made it difficult to determine if there is a causal link.I will point out that the number of articles was surprisingly small; so I will agree that more research is needed. However, given the uncertainty and his high risk from COVID-19, I would also agree that Dr. Poland likely made a very reasonable decision. Unsurprisingly, Dr. Setty tries to portray Dr. Poland as a fanatic. His taking pains to mention that Dr. Poland is also a pastor was not coincidental. It is a common antivax talking point to liken support for vaccines as a religion. (This is, of course, purest projection.)

But what about this “contempt” of which Dr. Setty speaks? Apparently, this is one example:

The only failure came in the form of “inexplicable” vaccine hesitancy, a phenomenon driven by anti-vax pseudoscientists who are profiting from spreading baseless, fear-driven propaganda.

Combatting vaccine hesitancy, he said, is as big a challenge as protecting the world from the next deadly pathogen. Indeed, a significant portion of the events focused on strategies to dismantle the troubling “anti-vaxxer” movement.

That is actually the part of the conference that I’d be interested in, given that I have repeatedly expressed grave disappointment in how clearly unprepared public health, government, and regulatory authorities have consistently demonstrated themselves to have been and how little the understand the antivaccine movement. Indeed, I would argue that the very fact that Dr. Poland finds vaccine hesitancy with respect to COVID-19 vaccines “inexplicable” (assuming Dr. Setty’s characterization is accurate) to be evidence of that failure that I’ve lamented time and time again.

Next up:

Marks supported Poland’s position that the vaccine-hesitant are irrational, “It’s crazy that they don’t get how great vaccines are,” he said. “I am past trying to argue with people who think that vaccines are not safe.”

This remark was particularly disquieting to me. What is it going to take for the director of the FDA’s CBER to ever reassess the safety profile of the mRNA shots, especially if he no longer wishes to engage with those who disagree with him?

The panelists expressed shock that some states (Idaho and North Dakota) are considering bills making the administration of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines illegal.

“How can we get the public to understand that science is iterative?” Heaton asked. “COVID vaccines save lives!”

Poland responded: “Can we get an amen?!!”

I groaned. I know what Dr. Poland was probably trying to do there, but antivaxxers love to portray supporting vaccines as a religion. Giving them obvious targets that make it easy for them to lend support to that idea is just not a good idea. Maybe he assumed that there were no antivaxxers in the audience, but anyone who can come up with the registration fee can attend these meetings. Why would vaccine advocates assume that antivaxxers wouldn’t “go undercover” like this to “find out how they think” and learn what they are saying?

Dr. Setty was also very unhappy to learn that his heroes on the antivaccine side are not viewed favorable at all by real vaccine experts. Why would they be? They peddle pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. For example, he related a conversation with to Dame Jennifer Margaret Harries, a British public health physician and chief executive of the UKHSA, about Dr. Aseem Malhotra:

Harries looked at me sternly and said, “There are a number of prominent physicians in my country who are gaining fame for their unfounded positions around vaccine dangers, most recently a cardiologist.”

“Do you mean Dr. Aseem Malhotra?”

“Yes. He has gotten a lot of attention of late.”

Harries didn’t think Malhotra or Lawrie held credible opinions, or at least that’s what she told me. It wasn’t easy for me to accept this. We didn’t have a chance to speak about this further. I had another brief interaction with Harries later in the week (see below).

Recall that Tess Lawrie has, in addition to promoting ivermectin as a cure for COVID-19 and cancer, recently started promoting The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy. Recall, further, that Malhotra has started promoting the “died suddenly” conspiracy theory about COVID-19 vaccines. And Dr. Setty is surprised that Harries doesn’t “think that Malhotra or Lawrie held credible opinions”? They don’t! They are quacks of the lowest order, and I’m glad that Harries understands this. I also understand that docs like Malhotra, Setty, and Lawrie love to engage in projection, accusing their critics of spreading “misinformation.” It also really got Dr. Setty’s hackles up every time an vaccine advocate

A common theme continued, in which Dr. Setty would ask antivax-based questions, didn’t get the answers he wanted or had the moderator move on, and then decided he was being disrespected. Meanwhile, Dr. Mumper also doesn’t like how vaccine advocates think, and Dr. Setty quotes her:

It was profoundly disturbing for me to hear details about how social scientists and public health officials worked directly with Twitter to remove content they deemed to be misinformation. Their assertion ‘that we know what is true’ did not ring true. Their efforts were directed at increasing vaccine uptake in all age groups for which emergency use authorization had been granted.

The speaker did not seem to take into account the First Amendment rights for free speech of those who posted data questioning the effectiveness of COVID vaccines.

I was surprised by the vitriolic rhetoric directed at those who reported side effects from the vaccine or who questioned the risk-benefit ratio.

It was unsettling to hear how public health officials courted social media influencers to spread messages for their followers to get vaccinated. Yet they scrubbed messages from doctors and scientists who posted inconvenient data about COVID-19 vaccines.”

This is another theme that runs through antivaccine conspiracy theories, namely that any effort to reach the vaccine-hesitant and persuade them demonstrates “contempt” and lack of respect and that the dismissal of antivaccine cranks (like Malhotra and Lawrie) represents arrogance. What I found from Dr. Setty and Mumper’s account is different, namely that these experts are distressingly unaware of common antivax misrepresentations of COVID-19 safety data, which led them to retreat to excuses of “I’ll have to look into it” instead of being able to refute the antivax misinformation right on the spot. This, in turn, fed Dr. Setty’s false narrative that those directing regulatory agencies are utterly unaware of the “real” safety data concerning COVID-19 vaccines, when in reality what Dr. Setty did was to confirm my critique of public health authorities: They are oblivious to specific antivaccine conspiracy theories and conspiracy theories.

It also allowed Setty and Berenson to write with a straight face:

In his note to me, Setty counted himself as somewhat optimistic:

I feel that there are huge strides that can be made towards clarity if we stop calling every single person on their side a mass murderer. They know not what they are doing and are beginning to understand what is transpiring. I think we can hasten the inevitable fall of the narrative if we handle this right.

I hope he’s right, but am not so sure. 

Obviously, name-calling is counterproductive (and the paranoid speculations of some of the loudest mRNA vaccine skeptics, like Dr. Michael Yeadon, do not help those of us trying to raise more serious objections), but it is very hard to talk to people who don’t even know what they don’t know, unless they have some interest in finding out.

And an antivaxxer destroys yet another irony meter, given that Berenson has been quite prolific at name calling and “paranoid speculations.” Don’t believe me? Just peruse his Substack. I particularly like this part where he castigates “liberals” for “believing in science” and then says this about mRNA vaccines:

The mRNA jabs are extraordinary science. They are an incredible feat of biotechnology. We have figured out how to hijack our own cellular machinery in the same way viruses do. 

As someone with a PhD whose thesis was heavily based on cell and molecular biology, I facepalmed. This isn’t the same thing. Viruses hijack cellular machinery for one purpose: To make lots of copies of themselves. That’s it.They use the cells they infect to replicate their genetic code and make proteins that coat that genetic code only for one purpose: To make copies. mRNA vaccines don’t do that at all. They “hijack” the cell to make one protein for a limited period of time in order to induce an immune response. In the same article, he portrays vaccine advocates as ignorant fanatics and himself as the one who knows The Truth (with a capital T, of course), while dismissing the scientific consensus (as all science deniers do) as “not science” and nothing more than a tool to suppress dissent (as Maryanne Demasi does here.)

Berenson even makes his belief that he and his fellow antivaxxers know The Truth—with a capital T!—while scientists do not:

As if those of us raising questions must be treated with kid gloves because we just don’t understand how science works. Don’t we understand basic biology? Don’t we know these drugs have been tested? Don’t we know there’s a process? Don’t we understand that sometimes terrible things can happen to people after they’ve received the mRNAs purely by coincidence?


We sure do. We understand everything these nice folks who got the shot do.

The problem is that we understand more.

No, Berenson, Setty, and Mumper do not understand basic biology. (I’ve written about more examples of this than I can remember.) They don’t understand the process. (I’ve written about this more times than I can remember too.) They don’t understand that correlation does not necessarily equal causation. (Their love of VAERS as seemingly the only vaccine safety monitoring system is evidence enough of this.)

More importantly, their belief that, not only do they understand science as well as experts, but they understand “more” shows one of the most important aspects of how antivaxxers think—and how they think vaccine advocates think. It’s the arrogance of ignorance. It’s also projection, as demonstrated by Berenson’s claiming that above “it is very hard to talk to people who don’t even know what they don’t know, unless they have some interest in finding out.”

A better description of hard core antivax conspiracy theorists would be difficult to find.

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]

42 replies on “How antivaxxers “think” (that vaccine advocates think)”

He has now published what he saw in a Substack

When I was in grad school there was a faculty member who was, I think, originally a functional analyst, who kept trying to get in with the graph theory research group as they were the top folks at the time. The problem was, he wasn’t very good at analysis and was worse in graph theory, so none of his ideas for papers panned out. He finally wrote a small book with his graph theory ‘research’ and got it published. He was fond of saying that the real advancements in mathematics didn’t wait for journals to review things, the top people published books, like Newton. That didn’t erase the fact that the stuff in the book was worthless, even at the undergraduate level.

Substack seems to be providing the same option for the anti vaccination science deniers.

A reminder that are science-based voices on Substack too. Paul Offit and Eric Topol, for example are physicians with pro-vaccination platforms there.

And of course there’s my own Substack, for guerrilla gardeners.

Paul Offit and Eric Topol, for example are physicians with pro-vaccination platforms there.

Certainly, and I wasn’t trying to imply that substack’s only residents were anti-science loons.

I will admit: I have no idea what being a “guerrilla gardener” entails.

Although I don’t plant anything, I like to observe…
I live in 7a, near 7b.
Zone denialism? Mr Blackhaw’s photos remind me : many people/ their families came from Italy and grow figs, even decades ago when it was probably colder than it is now ( zone creep?) which involves interesting structures/ wraps to allow cultivation. There have been attempts growing palms by restaurants/ hotels along the ocean further south ( zones 7a and b ?). Not sure how successful.

International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day is coming up on May 1.

Mostly it seems to be an effort to beautify public lands and spaces without having to fight the bureaucratic hassle to get specific authorization.

My daughter and I are gradually working to supplant the miscellaneous weeds that pop up everywhere with dry climate friendly flowering plants and shrubs. It also provides food for pollinators and in turn helps feed baby birds!

But that’s just my front yard, so it’s not “guerilla”.

“A reminder that are science-based voices on Substack too. Paul Offit and Eric Topol”
… and epidemiologist, Katelyn Jetelina, with less failed predictions than Paul Offit – though that’s a pretty low bar! 😉

Are those two respectable physician scientists begging for subscribers on substack like all the pseudoscientific quacks are?

I’ve long considered telling others what they are or aren’t thinking to be one of the two hallmarks of the fool. The other being pontificating on matters one knows little about.
A joke for you that I’ve posted before.
Derek was the head of the local conspiracy theory club. One day, as he was driving home from a meeting, he was in a car crash and found himself at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter and the Archangel Gabriel were there.
“Now listen here! You are a conspiracy theorist. Every single conspiracy you believe in is wrong! Men have walked on the Moon! There are no lizard people controlling things! Vaccines do NOT cause autism! We are sending you back to Earth to correct things. Now go.”
At the next conspiracy club meeting, Derek stood up and took the podium. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have some news.
The cover-up goes even higher than we thought.”

Mumper is an embarrassment to pediatrics.

Setty is a complete disgrace for an anesthesiologist.

Both should have lost their licenses years ago.

The keynote speakers and expert panel moderators who raised the topic of “vaccine hesitancy” were dismissive of those who managed to avoid vaccination and were openly contemptuous of those who encouraged others to do the same.

(emphasis added)
Mr Setty probably does not realize that especially the more influential and prolific spreaders of anti-vaccine FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) each probably have more deaths to their name than the most notorious serial killers in US history – as thousands upon thousands of Americans died needlessly because they were scared away from getting vaccinated, and told that they would be perfectly fine with ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine instead. I recall countless often heartbreaking news stories how these people often only realized on their Covid death beds that they were wrong, and had believed in lies. So yes, I’d say contempt is the very least that you can expect when you contribute to killing thousands of innocent people.

During 2021, the first year after the vaccines became available, 250,000 Americans have died because of the influence of the anti-vaccine industry. It is truly a killer industry – and not just in financial terms.

Pseudo-science ( alt med, anti-vax, hiv/aids denialism etc) and CTs go hand-in-glove: they are interdependent. After all, if your groundbreaking theory hasn’t become the gold standard, there has to be suppression by some evil cabal.

For this farce to perpetuate**, believers need to vastly over-estimate their own abilities and how worthwhile their studies are- which means that their self-evaluation skills are abysmal. Usually, even grade school kids can tell you that they are better in one subject than another or which classmates are the best or worst. Skills develop during adolescence and become more realistic with age. By university, students know where they will probably succeed and where they will have problems but some people continue to have difficulties evaluating themselves.

We know that personality differences play a role in a person’s degree of susceptibility to CT / anti-vax with many believers rejecting hierarchies of expertise and believe they have special abilities: needless to say, they are more likely to display narcissistic and paranoid traits. Also, they frequently don’t know enough of the topic they choose to pontificate about to correct obvious flaws/ mistakes in their presentations. Anti- mRNA vaxxers warn their audiences that soon the ” meat you buy will have mRNA in it” – they mean it will come from a vaccinated source but they don’t realise why I would laugh at their statement.

** except for the case of obvious grift

A lot of liars and cult leaders know that they are lying, but believe that the end justifies the means, e.g. distorting a study is acceptable if it serves the greater truth of making everyone afraid of vaccines.

It was just announced that the head of the DEA has called fentanyl “the greatest threat to Americans today”.

While it’s a serious problem, it strikes me that a much greater danger is posed by influential bozos who urge their followers to ignore and hold health experts in contempt, trust those who lack training and expertise, and to “do your own research”.

The keynote speakers and expert panel moderators who raised the topic of “vaccine hesitancy” were dismissive of those who managed to avoid vaccination

That’s the “laptop class,” amirite?

Actually you are correct that it is indeed the laptop class (I’m in that class) that was able to avoid vaccinations. That’s one of the most sinister things about this whole ordeal.

Anyone having a lapyop belongs to laptop class ? This means everyone having 500 dollars. Rather low bar.

Rather a class too. Not spreading the disease ls another attribute.

As I read this yesterday I was listening to a debate between Matt Dillahunty and Jorden Peterson and was struck by some similarities reported here, Peterson kept asserting Dillahunty didn’t really believe what he was saying and that if only he could accept he didn’t really believe the stuff he said he believed in then he would find the Truth (capitol T). He was insistent he knew better than Dillahunty what his views were, as he, Peterson, was in the know.

Real truth, secret knowledge, sounds very familiar

Unsurprisingly Peterson is also in multiple conspiracy theories such as being Anti-Vax.

I’m seeing a theme here.

I am an agnostic. Since existence or nonexistence of God cannot be proven or falsified due to the definition of God, I choose to just say that I have no idea if God exists. This makes me agnostic, even though I constantly doubt my agnosticism.

That said, my observation is that the nature of human mind is that people love to belong to cults. Most people are uncomfortable NOT to belong to a cult. They want to live in a world with easily defined Good and Evil, they want to be on the side of Good, they want their views constantly validated and they seek to ban disconfirming evidence (which they think comes from Evil). They also love to hang out with their fellow cult members.

Examples of cults are organized religions, atheism/scientism (which is also a stupid cult), and there is also a cult of vaccines.

How do I know? Very simple. They require doctors to take useless Covid and Flu vaccines. This ensures that the only doctors who are practicing are members of vaccine cult. Everything that proves ineffectiveness of vaccines is “misinformation” to the vaccine cult members, which they seek to eradicate regardless of its truthfulness. They fully admit that evidence of ineffectiveness of their beloved vaccines may be true, but if it undermines vaccine cult beliefs, it is “misinformation” that needs to be erased.

Thank God we have such ‘critical thinkers’ like Igor to provide such a great example of projection and confirmation bias….

“They require doctors to take useless Covid and Flu vaccines. This ensures that the only doctors who are practicing are members of vaccine cult”

Except you cannot (not haven’t, cannot) show that the vaccines are useless. YOU may not believe that they are effective enough, but this is a subjective measure, akin to 100% or nothing. If you cannot prove zero benefit then they are not useless.

Since science is the methods used to determine how reality functions, it’s no more a religion, or a cult, than a tape measure.

What abou yourself ? Rejecting all data that does not fi ino your preconception is typical for cults.

Viruses literally hijack host cell, by shutting down host protein synthesis. Berenson of course do not know what hijacking means inn this context.

Berenson quote from Orac:

“The mRNA jabs are extraordinary science. They are an incredible feat of biotechnology. We have figured out how to hijack our own cellular machinery in the same way viruses do. “

Orac quote from 3/31/23:

“Conceptually, mRNA vaccines work in much the same way as live attenuated virus vaccines in that the overall idea is to “hijack” the body’s cells to make antigen, or a protein from the pathogen that the immune system can recognize and target. In the case of live attenuated virus vaccines, it’s multiple antigens from a weakened version of the virus, while in the case of mRNA vaccines like the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines it’s a single protein from the virus, the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. “

Here’s a quiz:

Name the ways the vivid virus and the vivid vaccine “hijack’s” the body’s cells?

I hit send before I was completed as I was on a Runway and (bleep) Auto correct.

What I was trying to ask:

Name the differences In The ways that the Covid virus and Covid vaccines hijack the body’s cells?

On another note,

Don’t you see the hypocrisy in your thinking/writing?

It’s entertaining, but a bit mind boggling!

You are saying you know how Berenson is thinking, right?
You facepalmed, because you know what he is

How do you know?

I clicked on your link read his sub stack article and then read a bunch of the comments.

Most comments are counter examples to your concept (and Denice’s + others) that the current wave of anti-Covid vaccine is rooted and inextricably linked to CT thinking.

I see this mistake as a flaw in your thinking based on bias. Couple three months ago I tried to explain this, that you have been dealing with the fringes for almost two decades…

if you look at this from a distribution frequency standpoint you will see that you’re dealing with the area under the curve in the middle versus the tails.

You are still trying to deal with it as though you’re dealing with the fringe, Which is why you are getting nowhere.

I’m mean honestly. Who tf doesn’t know the mRNA vaccine codes/produces a single protein vs a whole virus?

if you look at this from a distribution frequency standpoint you will see that you’re dealing with the area under the curve in the middle versus the tails.

I highly doubt you know anything more about “distribution frequency” and statistics than igor labarge, or any of the other people demonstrating their ignorance here — and they don’t know shit about statistics.

It seems you think there is effectively no difference between “in the same way” and “in much the same way”. There is actually a vital difference between the two that was clearly stated in the present article. Go back and read it and tell us all what that vital difference is. It should answer your own question in the singular.

Billy Joe,

I don’t have to reread anything. Maybe you do (hint)

The point I was trying to make is that over the past several months, Orac and commenters have openly stated that viral vaccines should be considered “gene vaccines” because they harness the genetic machinery of the cell like mRNA vaccines do.

My quiz/question was to see what else the experts here know, i.e the differences…

I’m pretty sure anybody with a basic understanding of biology understands that the mRNA vaccines code for a single protein (spike) vs a whole virus.

Which brings me to the other point I was making, was that Orac is partaking in the exact same behavior that he is criticizing.

He is assuming (thinking he knows what Berenson is thinking) without any evidence of him knowing. It’s a classic straw man. I’m surprised none of you guys caught it.

So I took up the challenge and read Berenson’s Substack (Unreported Truths) article. I found it underwhelming. It seemed rather short, perhaps because he was mainly giving Setty a pat on the back. But more importantly, I didn’t see him give a good explanation of his title, How vaccine advocates think.

What I did see were question-begging arguments like

he discovered widespread ignorance about the data on mRNA Covid shots

He did not provide any sources for that data. And a quick Pubmed search shows over 16,000 articles about Covid-19 vaccines just in the last year. I would hazard a guess that 90% of the attendees have read twice as many of those articles as either Berenson or Setty.

Not does Setty(An Insult to Intuition) when he makes similar unsupported claims.

The pathogenicity of the strains now circulating is less than the original ancestral strain from 2020. The possibility that reduced uptake could be linked to a poor safety profile was never mentioned.

It’s tricky to evaluate the pathogenicity of Omicron and its subsequent variants now that so many people have some immune protection from prior infection or vaccines or both. But the studies that did compare it in a naïve population showed it could still kill lots of people. Which is largely why when Setty asked?

Why not insist on trials that can prove an outcome benefit?”

Alessandro Setter replied

“It wouldn’t be practical. The signal is too small because we are no longer dealing with a non-naive population.”

Instead of trying to organize an RCT for that, scientists continue to do observational and case-control studies to assess the results.

And again they don’t give any reference for the “poor safety profile”.

And Setty also tosses in disingenuous rhetorical questions like

What is it going to take for the director of the FDA’s CBER to ever reassess the safety profile of the mRNA shots, especially if he no longer wishes to engage with those who disagree with him?

There have been over 150 articles about Covid-19 vaccines and stroke in the last year. What does he think those studies are trying to assess?

And Berenson concludes with a bit of a revealing statement.

it is very hard to talk to people who don’t even know what they don’t know, unless they have some interest in finding out.

Perhaps he should try doing a better job of researching and explaining those “untold truths”? Or maybe just look in a mirror?

And at the end, Setty includes a long response from Dr. Elizabeth Mumper. She has no Pubmed publications to her credit but does a bit of writing for CHD.

In the end, I am left with the perception that Berenson’s idea of how vaccine supporters think consists mainly of the claims that he thinks they are unaware of. But I’m pretty sure that Peter Hotez, at least, is very much aware of those.

I suggest reading the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on January 30 of this year. While you are there, you can sign up to livestream the Pathogens Project coming up in just a couple days! It seems to be free so I may peak in on that one myself.
Or you could go back to the Boston Globe in 1/27/2022 or the New York Times in 6/2/2019.

That should have been Alessandro Sette not ‘Setter’.

As it happens I watched the latest MedCram tonight about the Arcturus variant, Sette works with Shane Crotty at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. They have published several papers including this one which shows how somatic hypermutations (?), the ongoing variations in the specific antigens targeted by T and B cells, helps continue to protect against the evolving variants even after the ancestral strain is essentially extinct.

Mainly the video discusses an article from a couple years ago in Scientific American and has some nice graphics to illustrate how the parts of the immune system work to respond to and get rid of an infection.
Arcturus is already here in the U.S. but doesn’t seem to be making a big difference. It seems to be an emerging problem in India though.

I’m not sure about younger voters, but I wonder how much voters of any age think about the “legacy” of the Kennedy family regarding politics. I’m far from a young voter [far from a young anything really] and I’m not sure how the Kennedy legacy should be considered.

Here’s something interesting for you.
Infamous ‘peer-reviewed’ antivax paper retracted
“In January, Covid-19 vaccine opponents got all worked up about a paper that appeared to show 278 000 vaccine-related deaths in the US. Of course, the study turned out to be tripe.”
‘With these survey data, the total number of fatalities due to COVID-19 inoculation may be as high as 278,000 (95% CI 217,330–332,608) when fatalities that may have occurred regardless of inoculation are removed,’ wrote Mark Skidmore, in a paper published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.
Link to the paper:

I do find myself wondering who covered the (steep) fees for these people. I guess Children’s Health Defense has enough to afford it.

I also know some of them were giving out pamphlets to entrants.

Want to respond to Orac? Here's your chance. Leave a reply! Just make sure that you've read the Comment Policy (link located in the main menu in the upper right hand corner of the page) first if you're new here!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: