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ProtocolKills.com: An old quack narrative reborn for COVID-19

Quacks claim that medicine, not the disease, kills, with their nostrums as the cure. ProtocolKills.com shows that victims and their families are often their best spokespeople because they are so sympathetic and questioning their testimonials is easily portrayed as attacking very sympathetic victims, just as Stanislaw Burzynski did for decades before the pandemic.

A couple of months ago, I was wandering around the downtown of a nearby town where I had just gotten my hair cut, when I saw this in a shop near the barbershop, a photo featuring a website called ProtocolKills.com:

ProtocolKills.com
I hate it when I’m just walking down the street and see stuff like this.

I snapped the photo above, thinking that website advertised—ProtocolKills.com—looked like potential blog fodder for a post someday, and then went about the rest of my day, filing the website in an overstuffed folder on my computer full of potential blog topics. As happens all too often, there it stayed—until today, when a reader sent me a link to the website and asked me about it. As I perused the website, my first thought was: “Too many videos. I’ll never have time to get through them and write about this.” Then I poked around more and saw that there were a number of anecdotes describing the supposed horrific treatments inflicted upon people with COVID-19, the consistent theme being that the COVID-19 victims whose stories were told on the website would have all been just fine if it hadn’t been for nefarious doctors pushing remdesivir, steroids, vaccines, ventilators, and other treatments. In other words, the consistent narrative of the website is that it was medicine, not COVID-19, that killed all the people whose stories are recounted on this website.

Unsurprisingly, I also immediately saw that the website promotes a lot of quackery for COVID-19, such as Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), ivermectin, Hulda Clark’s parasite cleanse (now there’s a blast from the past!), and even colloidal silver! At the top of the page promoting COVID-19 quackery, there was what Dr. Peter Lipson once dubbed a quack Miranda warning:

After learning I had been poisoned with Remedesivir and Baracitinib, I knew I had to rid my body of these drugs and repair it myself. So, I researched and found many things that helped me recover drastically and I still use many of these daily or as needed. I don’t endorse any specific supplement brand but I do try to find the most reputable one. I am not a doctor and don’t recommend anything to anyone, these are things that helped me. Please contact a trusted health care professional or do your own research to decide what is best for selfcare.

Also at the bottom of every anecdote:

Any use of protocolkills.com- including implementation of any suggestions or stories on the site and/or use of any resources available on protocolkills.com does not create a professional relationship between that entity and protocolkills.com or any of it’s professionals. ​ All content on this site and corresponding blog is for informational purposes only. All stories and imagery published were granted permission by the author. All other unaffiliated sites must get explicit permission from the authors themselves to republish.

Where have we seen this before? Many times?

I knew then that I had to write about ProtocolKills.com this week, because it shows very well how much COVID-19 misinformation has adopted a very old narrative used by quacks of all varieties, in particular the cancer quacks that I have long written about (and used to write about a lot more often before the pandemic). Although the origin of such narratives can be difficult to trace, what is not difficult to figure out are who profits from such narratives and who are the victims. Unfortunately, as I used to discuss routinely with the case of cancer quack Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and Robert O. Young, often the victims become the most vocal and sympathetic evangelists and pitchmen for this quackery. This is why I realize that it is very likely that I will be attacked as callous and heartless for pointing out that what is being promoted on ProtocolKills.com is quackery and suggesting that the patients described died of COVID-19 rather than the protocol used to treat them. My preemptive response now is, as it has always been, that I empathize with patients and families who are suffering, especially those who die prematurely of a disease like COVID-19 (or cancer or anything else). However, that empathy and sympathy do not stop me from trying to point out how their stories do not necessarily support their conclusions and thereby hopefully inoculate others who might be susceptible to the alternative medicine that they promote in their narratives with a healthy prebunking.

“It’s the treatment, not the disease, that kills!”

If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me is that certain narratives in the denial of science-based medicine and the ineffective treatments that flow from that denial are eternal. It’s not just the conspiracy theories, either, although they are very important. I still argue that all antivaccine messaging is in some way yoked to what I like to call the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement, indeed that all science denial is a form of conspiracy theory. However, the narratives that link to those conspiracy theories are also very old and, although protean in their manifestations, still remain recognizable. Some of you have probably gotten tired of me saying things like “In the age of the pandemic, everything old is new again” and “There’s nothing new in antivaxland” over and over during the last three years or so, but it’s really true, and my repetition tends to be for educational and skeptical purposes. After all, once you become familiar with the common narratives behind quackery and antivaccine pseudoscience, you will start to see them everywhere among the “new schoolers” spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and COVID-19 itself, as well as the quacks who prey on them. Examples include the ideas that vaccines: somehow change your DNA (which predates COVID-19) to make you somehow different from human (e.g., “transhumanism”); are deadlier than the disease; are part of a “depopulation agenda”; contain “fetal tissue” or DNA; are full of toxins; produce immunity that is much inferior to “natural” immunity after infection; and sterilize our girls and women. (Let’s also not forget the idea that the virus was created in a lab or that it isn’t deadly.)

It isn’t just antivaccine messaging, either. One narrative common to both antivaccine messaging and to many forms of pseudomedicine is the idea that medicine is more deadly than the disease. Basically, this is the idea that the disease isn’t what kills, but rather the medical interventions to treat the disease. While it is undeniably true that there have been (and still exist) medical treatments whose benefits are marginal and/or whose risks arguably outweigh the benefits, that is not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is, for example, this sort of narrative, starting with one of the first such cartoons I ever came across:

Cut, poison, burn: Predecessor of ProtocolKills.com.
Cut, poison, burn: Predecessor of ProtocolKills.com.

Then, of course, there’s Mike Adams pushing the same narrative:

Counterthink chemotherapy: ProtocolKills.com precursor.
This view of chemotherapy, promoted by those advocating alternative medicine like Mike Adams of “Natural News,” can frighten cancer patients into refusing effective science-based medicine for their cancers and choosing instead ineffective alternative medicine.
Cancer Screening: A quack view.

Notice any similarities? The narrative is that conventional medicine is not interested in curing the patient but instead promotes toxic—and profitable!—treatments, while rejecting “nontoxic” natural treatments that work miraculously. As I will keep emphasizing, this is a very old narrative, too:

Meet the new snake oil, same as the old snake oil, only social media-savvy. The narrative that there are nontoxic treatments for cancer is an old one.
  1. The disease is not deadly and/or it is the treatment, not the disease, that kills patients. One might remember that Robert O. Young went beyond claiming that treatment is more deadly than the disease by claiming that the cancerous tumor itself is the body’s effort to remove the true cause of the cancer. It’s also the same idea behind German New Medicine and its bastard offspring Biologie Totale. (Young also claimed that sepsis doesn’t exist.)
  2. There exist nontoxic (often “natural”) alternatives to conventional medicine. Examples for cancer include Hulda Clark’s parasite cleanses, MMS, Stanislaw Burzynski’s antineoplastons. For COVID-19, examples include hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, zinc, and the various “early treatment” protocols promoted by quack groups like Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance. (FLCCC)
  3. “They” are trying to cover it all up: how toxic and ineffective “conventional medicine” is and the existence of nontoxic and highly effective “natural alternatives.” Often woven in the anecdotes will be stories about how the patient recovered on the unproven treatment, only to relapse when he couldn’t get it anymore.

You don’t even have to look past the photo above to see the elements of the story in just the shopkeeper’s narrative, with cold, uncaring physicians and nurses rejecting her efforts to save her husband—who was improving on ivermectin!—and forced him to be treated with steroids.

Anecdotes with a familiar message

My first inclination was to try to find the story in the poster. Searching for the names of the doctors on the website using Google Advanced Search didn’t return anything; so I tried searching for the hospital, Beaumont (now, unfortunately, rechristened since a merger as “CoreWell Health,” perhaps the most boringly corporate name for a hospital that I’ve ever seen) and only came up with one entry, for which the name did not match the name of the shop owner, nor did the husband’s name match her husband’s name. The two men were roughly the same age (one was 39, the other 41); both had a similar appearance (bearded, although the shopkeeper’s husband was cleanshaven in a couple of the photos). Their stories also appeared to be from around the same time late 2021/early 2022), during the Omicron surge, which, not-so-coincidentally, was around the same time that the promotion of ivermectin as a COVID-19 cure was hitting its peak. I did ultimately find a GoFundMe for the shopkeeper, but decided to stick with stories on the ProtocolKills.com website, starting with Kyle and Sarah because it was the story that the search for Beaumont returned.

Here’s part of the narrative after Kyle had fallen ill with COVID-19 pneumonia:

Kyle fell ill on 11/7/21 and was admitted to the hospital on 11/15/21 for “COVID” pneumonia. He was mistreated and refused potentially life-saving medications when he was in their death camp. He was prescribed Ivermectin and azithromycin by a telehealth doctor that we contacted because we were afraid of the horror stories we heard about what was going on inside the hospitals. We had a difficult time finding a pharmacy that would fill the Ivermectin prescription. Kyle started complaining that he was having a little bit of difficulty taking a full breath. I ordered a pulse ox machine online and made an appointment for urgent care in hopes to get some steroids. At home, his oxygen was 84-94%. When my husband arrived at the appointment the next day, his blood oxygen level was 91%. The urgent care staff told him they couldn’t treat him, that he needed to go to the emergency room, he was hypoxic.

Right from the start, you see the narrative. Sarah describes the hospital as a “death camp.” She and her husband found a telehealth doctor to prescribe him ivermectin (which doesn’t work) and azithromycin (of note, part of the hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin protocol promoted by Didier Raoult in early 2020 that resulted in a number of “miracle dure” testimonials). I couldn’t help but wonder if it had been one of America’s Frontline Doctors (another COVID quack group) that had been busted for running a telehealth ivermectin prescription mill, but they had been busted a couple of months before Kyle fell ill.

The story continues with Kyle being admitted to the hospital because he was hypoxic and his chest X-ray showed signs of an atypical pneumonia consistent with COVID-19 pneumonia. He was apparently not tested for COVID-19 at that time, with Sarah doubting that he actually had COVID-19 because of the lack of testing. However, I point out that the chest X-ray appearance of COVID-19 pneumonia can be so characteristic as to be diagnostic. Sarah and Kyle wanted him to get monoclonal antibodies, which, I suspect, were refused because most existing monoclonal antibodies then had lost their ability to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 because of the rise of the Omicron variant.

In any event, Kyle became more hypoxic, and, according to the account, doctors urged him to take remdesivir, an antiviral authorized for use against COVID-19 that is a prodrug converted by the body into a drug that interferes with the action of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and evades proofreading by viral exoribonuclease, while correctly (in my opinion) refusing to give him ivermectin, which, as I’ve discussed many times here, does not work against COVID-19:

They refused to give monoclonal antibodies because now they were telling him he was too sick to get them. We asked about him taking his prescription for Ivermectin and they refused to let him take it and somehow talked him out of it (I wasn’t allowed in so I’m not sure exactly how that went down, but he was very afraid to take it after talking to the doctors.) They just continued to try and convince him to take the Remdesivir. The night of the 17th, after talking to many staff members and every single one of them convincing him that he would get worse, he was coerced and feared into accepting the Remdesivir. The doctors also refused to give Kyle inhaled steroids stating that they don’t give breathing treatments to COVID patients because it “spews COVID particles everywhere.” They were adamant, it was their way or the highway.

A recent Cochrane review suggests that inhaled steroids might be useful in mild COVID-19 but evidence was lacking for severe COVID-19, with an NIH consensus statement concluding that for hospitalized adults with COVID-19 there “is insufficient evidence for the Panel to recommend either for or against the use of inhaled corticosteroids for the treatment of COVID-19 in these patients.” Given the lack of evidence that inhaled steroids work in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, it was not at all unreasonable not to use them for the reasons stated above. Also, he was already apparently already on intravenous steroids. (Steroids are mentioned later as a cause of his white blood cell count going up.)

The story continues:

At this point, I was getting very sick and tired of the nonsense going on and I brought to the attention of the attending that they never tested Kyle for COVID and insisted that they tested him in hopes that it would come back negative and I can visit and help advocate for my husband. On 11/23/21, unfortunately, his test was still positive for COVID. BUT they already had him “enrolled” in their deathly COVID treatment plan and actually completed the whole course of Remdesivir before they even tested him! WOW! Kyle’s oxygen requirements started to increase as the days went on and his white blood cell count was rising, daily, consistently. I asked about a potential infection and they told me the white blood cell count was going up due to the steroids. On 11/26/21 Kyle told me and the staff that he was having chest and back pain and they gave him Tylenol. I could tell he was working harder to breathe or perhaps harder to breathe against the high flow oxygen he was on?!

Whatever treatments Kyle was or was not receiving, this story is an all-too-familiar one to ICU doctors who treated scores of COVID-19 patients during the various surges since the pandemic hit. His clinical course as related sounds entirely consistent with deterioration due to COVID-19 pneumonia, including what later happened when he suffered the complication of a pneumothorax and required a chest tube. This suggested to me that he required high positive end-expiratory pressure, PEEP, to maintain oxygenation, which can definitely result in a pneumothorax. It’s a delicate balancing act that ICU physicians have to do with such patients: not enough PEEP and they can’t maintain oxygenation, but too much PEEP can result in a pneumothorax. Often there is no choice but to use as much PEEP as needed and accept the risk of pneumothorax. It’s not that doctors want to see patients get pneumothoraces or that they don’t care. They’re just trying their damnedest to balance risk and benefit.

The rest of Kyle’s hospital course, even filtered through the anecdote as told by his widow, is also sadly familiar to critical care doctors and infectious disease specialists. Kyle developed a bacterial pneumonia requiring antibiotics, as well as other complications, such as renal failure, the latter of which his wife blamed exclusively on remdesivir, even though COVID-19 and/or sepsis would be more likely culprits. He required increasing amounts of respiratory support, leading his wife to complain about his being in the prone position and how she kept urging them to wean his ventilator settings. Per her telling, they would do so successfully while she was around and then put the ventilator settings right back up overnight, when she wasn’t. Instead of medical need, she attributes this behavior to malign intent:

Every day was trying to wean sedation, paralytic, etc (not one thing at a time), & whenever he wouldn’t tolerate those changes or wasn’t ready for them, his oxygen would drop and they would crank everything back to the max. It was a seemingly never-ending cycle of never making progress, and never getting off the ventilator. They were setting him up for failure, every single day.

And:

When I would leave at night, they did whatever they wanted (most times) and everything would always go wrong when I wasn’t there. When the doctors listened to me about trying to wean one thing at a time (specifically the FIO2 on the vent) he was able to get his oxygen requirements down to 70%. By morning it was back up to 100%, full vent support.

This, too, will sound very familiar to critical care doctors trying to wean severely ill COVID-19 patients from very high settings on the ventilator and failing. Moreover, I actually sympathize with Sarah’s feeling of a loss of control that comes when forced to leave a loved one for the night when they are ill and in the hospital. I’ve had that experience, and it might even be worse for a physician because as physicians we know a lot more. That being said, Kyle’s story comes across to me as more consistent with his having contracted very severe COVID-19 and then suffering an all-too-familiar cascade of complications as a result, with steroids and remdesivir failing to reverse his deterioration. The same appears true of the man in the poster in the shop window, judging from the GoFundMe account, with the husband reportedly deteriorating sometime after the administration of remdesivir, his wife noting that after “he was given a medication we demanded he NOT receive, his health quickly went downhill,” leading him to be “on a ventilator working most of the time at 100%” and on dialysis three times a week.

While it is true that remdesivir can cause renal impairment, causing grade 3/4 decreased kidney function in 2%-19% of patients and it is even possible that in this case it did just that, the far more likely explanation is that COVID-19, the sepsis that occurred after the COVID-associated bacterial pneumonia, and his cardiovascular and pulmonary collapse were the primary causes of his renal failure. To put it more simply, it is possible that remdesivir contributed to his renal failure, but that is not to say that remdesivir killed him. Again, it’s far more likely that remdesivir—along with everything else that modern medicine can offer—failed to save him, as it unfortunately did for more than a million other Americans over the last three years.

One of the earliest stories featured was that of the founder of this website, Greta Crawford, from October 2021, where she noted:

Everyone in my family got Covid. but I was the only one to go to the ER. Their Protocol nearly killed me, not Covid.

That is about as succinct a statement of the narrative about conventional medicine, that it is the treatment, not the disease, that kills (or nearly kills). Unfortunately, Crawford’s experience is what it is to be one of the minority who suffer severe disease from COVID-19 or the even smaller minority who die. It seems unfair and random to those who become deathly ill when most do not, and it is! Unfortunately, that is how diseases work. Just because the rest of your family did fine after catching COVID-19 is no guarantee that you will if you catch it.

I’ll make one more analogy. Those who, for example, believe in Stanislaw Burzynski’s antineoplastons often claim that it was chemotherapy, not the cancer, that killed their loved ones when they couldn’t get antineoplaston therapy. In this analogy, though, chemotherapy is far more toxic than remdesivir and does, on occasion, actually lead to the deaths of cancer patients before their cancer can, either through immunosuppression and opportunistic infection or other complications. (Some chemotherapy agents can injure the heart, for instance.) Nothing in medicine is perfect, and every effective treatment involves a risk-benefit calculation. When used appropriately, chemotherapy will cure some cancers and increase the chance of surviving others after surgery and other treatments, but there are risks. Similarly, as was the case for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine testimonials, the timeline between use of the unproven drug and clinical improvement was often too fast to be believable or consistent with coincidence.

I thought about discussing other anecdotes, but they all take similar forms to the one I discussed, although the end result is not always death but rather injury and a patient out for “justice.” Instead, I’ll finish with the conspiracy theory at the heart of this website.

The most powerful promoters of alternative medicine

There is a section on the website called Hospital Protocols that attributes all the harm to malice. I saw elements of this conspiracy theory in Crawford’s account, where she spends considerable time complaining that it is “all about the vaccines,” at one point saying, “My Pulmonologist came in daily to harass me, and scare me into taking the vax.” At the end of her account, she writes:

The evil don’t need Covid concentration death camps we have them in the form of hospitals now. Instead of dragging people and forcing them into camps, the people willing go under the guise they will be healed from a man-made virus. A virus created/funded by the same man that has financial interests in the drug Remdesivir. Drugs like HCQ and Ivermectin have been banned and hospital protocols only allow unproven novelty drugs and ventilators that kill. Corruption is everywhere, having faith in God allows us to stand up against corruption and relinquish fears. Faith over fear. Do not comply.

Shades of “Cut! Burn! Poison!” indeed!

Under Hospital Protocols, she argues that genocide is the reason “why hospitals kill”:

Unvaxxed and those receiving a form of government monthly payment are targets. Freethinkers and those that can lessen the financial failures of the government need to be removed. The elderly, the disabled, those on Medicare, the uneducated, those with previous conditions, the poor, and the unvaxxed are targets for this mass genocide.

Why? From what I can tell, she thinks the reason is profit, mostly:

The first wave of Covid was presented in mainstream media as the worst pandemic in history with unprecedented death rates. We later found out from hospitals and nurses that this was not true and in fact, hospitals were nearly empty with nurses and doctors filling their time with tic tok dance videos. So when the second round, or the “Delta Variant”, came about, something had to change. ​ The Delta Variant just happened to coincide with the vaccine distribution. Although kept quiet, it is known that many vaxxed patients end up in the hospital with reactions to the shot. One thing that had to be done to keep this pandemic in play was to increase the actual death count of patients. Aside from going to citizens’ homes and outright murdering them, the easiest way was to have them walk into the hospitals where trusted doctors could administer poison to each victim. Even though the vax has caused deaths and injuries that are suppressed or not reported, many people are now aware and not willing to get the shot. The government is able to scare the public into believing that Covid is deadly by paying hospitals to kill off patients. Then doctors and hospitals proclaim that the unvaxxed are the ones dying and everyone needs to receive the shot to survive. The truth is the unvaxxed are targeted for death by the hospitals and the hospitals don’t report that just as many vaxxed are hospitalized and dying as well. There are simple ways to combat Covid at home with drugs like Ivermectin, HCQ, Budesonide, even CBD. These known, effective treatments are being suppressed so that patients will be forced to go to hospitals and ultimately murdered. ​ Through Remdesivir, paralytic drugs, and ventilators, the hospitals knowingly put patients to death so they can earn money and increase the fear of Covid.

Dr. Jonathan Howard has discussed extensively the myth and conspiracy theory that COVID-19 wasn’t that deadly and that hospitals were “empty.” The reason was that elective surgeries and treatments had been canceled, and he also noted that emergency rooms, ICUs, and COVID-19 wards were far from empty. As for the rest, that is some Mike Adams-level conspiracy mongering there, with the government supposedly wanting more people to die and using the vaccine to accomplish this, all for purposes of…control? This, supposedly after considering whether to go into the homes of citizens to murder them.

To this end, the site warns of various tactics, including PCR tests to diagnose you with a supposedly benign “disease,” refusal to retest because they “want to get paid for Covid deaths,” pushing vaccines, financial incentives for “the protocol” from the government, promoting premature use of “deadly” ventilators, and the usual litany of COVID-19 conspiracy theories. Elsewhere on the site, recommended “leaders” listed include antivax icons like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and COVID-19 quacks like Dr. Zev Zelenko (now deceased) and Dr. Mary Talley Bowden.

Long ago when discussing cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski, I noted that the families of his patients—even family of the ones who died (particularly of the ones who died)—were his most powerful weapon. The reason is that they believed whole-heartedly either that their loved ones would have been saved if only they could have accessed Burzynski’s antineoplastons or that the reason their loved ones died was because they only got antineoplastons too late because their oncologists had put up every roadblock and refused to work with Burzynski. Because they had suffered the tragedy of the death of a loved one or dealing with a child with a deadly cancer, they were, in essence, untouchable as far as criticism goes. Indeed, when I discussed testimonials related to patients of Stanislaw Burzynski and other cancer quacks and how those testimonials did not support the cancer quack’s claims of incredible efficacy for their nostrums, I frequently came under attack as being callous and uncaring. I even once had a Burzynski patient report me to my state medical board for having discussed her case on my blog based on her public postings on Facebook and other social media.

With that background it was with some trepidation that I ultimately decided to discuss ProtocolKills.com and the sorts of anecdotes and testimonials there. I will conclude by emphasizing just how similar the overall vibe of this website is to the vibe that I used to encounter routinely on websites devoted to extolling Stanislaw Burzynski, Robert O. Young, and other cancer quacks, which finally led me to decide to chance writing about it, if only to demonstrate the constants in narratives about alternative medicine and antivaccine claims. Indeed, it’s not just cancer quacks. In fact, the vibe of ProtocolKills.com is perhaps more similar to the vibe that I used to find on antivaccine blogs and websites extolling miraculous claims for “autism biomed” quackery, where parents who mistakenly believe that the “medical-industrial complex” and vaccine manufacturers had intentionally given their children autism in order to profit from vaccines. In all of these narratives, nefarious forces are at best indifferent to the “collateral damage” falsely attributed to science-based conventional treatments and at worst actively murderous, even to the point of genocide or “depopulation.” Also common to all narratives is the belief that “they” are actively suppressing highly effective and “alternative” treatments.

The problem for those of us trying to defend science-based medicine from such narratives is that those who mistakenly view themselves or family members as “victims” of vaccines, chemotherapy, COVID-19 treatments, ventilators, or other conventional medical treatments are, in fact, victims, just not in the way that they think. In reality, they are victims of the quacks and grifters who promote false narratives that cancer and COVID-19, for example, are curable with nontoxic natural treatments and that conventional treatments like chemotherapy for cancer and remdesivir and supportive care like ventilators for COVID-19 are what really resulted in the deaths of their loved ones, not the diseases themselves, while “They” (doctors, the government, big pharma, vaccine manufacturers, public health officials, etc.) are trying to “hide” The Truth (with a capital T) of the deadliness of their interventions, based on nefarious motives. The conspiracy theories are about as obvious as obvious can be, but they believe them.

They are also incredibly effective ambassadors for the alternativ medicine interventions they promote and the conspiracy theories behind them for obvious reasons. Because they or their relatives are also victims of a deadly disease like cancer or COVID-19 or parents who have a very difficult time dealing with a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder, survivors or surviving family members of the deceased are very sympathetic, and their ironclad belief in alternative medicine is that much more persuasive. This is no less true of those who lost loved ones—like a husband—to COVID-19 than it was (and still is) for those who lost children to cancer. Those of us who labor to explain why their anecdotes and testimonials do not support the narrative of deadly conventional medicine compared to nontoxic miracle “cures” like ivermectin for COVID-19 or antineoplastons for cancer are thus very easily cast as the villains attacking very sympathetic people, no matter how respectful and empathetic we try to be about it. Quacks know that, which is why they realize that these survivors and surviving family members are their most persuasive and untouchable allies.

Same as it ever was, unfortunately. The diseases might change, but the tactics, narratives, and conspiracy theories of quacks do not.

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]

198 replies on “ProtocolKills.com: An old quack narrative reborn for COVID-19”

Aseem Malhotra also says on Rogan that over the past 20 years the drug industry impact has been a net negative on the world. A more nuanced take sure, suffice it to say mandating experiments appears to be helping catalyze the pushback. Imagine if we hadn’t mandated?

Aseem Malhotra also says on Rogan that over the past 20 years the drug industry impact has been a net negative on the world.

Amazing. A doctor following conspiracies goes on the podcast of a clown and pushes more conspiracy and bullshit.

No, wait, that’s not amazing: that’s the kind of twaddle that feeds the scientifically and medically illiterate portion of the population.

Yes of course anyone who questions the Pharma narrative is a ‘conspiracy theorist’, no matter how credentialed or how correct they’ve been in the past. Ya’ll are nothing if not predictable.

Nah. They’re conspiracy theorists because they spread conspiracy theories, which do fall under a fairly well-accepted definition, with characteristic identifying traits.

In the case of this Doctor he isn’t spreading theories but allegations. Specifically he alleges based on personal knowledge that Pharma influenced his former hospital because he was skeptical of statins and Pharma influenced officials in the British government to suppress vax reactions. He’s not a theorist in that regard but someone leveling specific allegations. Disprove them if you can.

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blockquote>he alleges based on personal knowledge that Pharma influenced his former hospital because he was skeptical of statins and Pharma influenced officials in the British government to suppress vax reactions. He’s not a theorist in that regard but someone leveling specific allegations

Alleging + no supporting evidence = conspiracy. I know you’re not the deepest thinker john but christ, that’s an ignorant bit of support for him.

Your’e the one with the most consumed podcast

If you look to a podcast from a c level entertainer for information on this you’re already past the point of reasoned discussion.

How foolish of me.

Well, every one of your posts qualifies as foolish, so whether your [sarcastic] attempt at saying this one was exceptionally foolish is correct is a difficult call.

@john labarge Prove it if you can. How is Briisn goverment suppressing vax reacions (I guess you mean reporing=.

Personal knowledge is specific evidence.

Apparently, law school didn’t prepare you for writing fortune cookies.

“Personal knowledge is specific evidence” is an interesting statement:
If the “personal knowledge” is based on actual “evidence”, then the we have no need for the “Personal knowledge” – only the “evidence”. If we are presented with “Personal knowledge” as a stand in for “evidence”, that would raise questions about the quality of the “evidence”.
As for the statement that the burden of disproving allegations “based on personal knowledge” is ours seems likewise dubious. Wouldn’t you agree that it is any persons duty to support their allegations with evidence? .

You can accuse the person claiming personal knowledge of lying and those of us that review the matter – the fact finder if you will – can decide which allegation holds more weight. Put another way you can argue quality (witness credibility), but eyewitness testimony is evidence. As it so happens I see very little impeaching the good doctor’s credibility.

@john labarge Your good doctor just says something. Details would be interesting here.

Aseem Malhotra is a conspiracy monger because, even though he should know better, he spews like a JBS E-Series Spreader.

Rogan is simply a con man and two-bit b grade actor. Anyone looking to him for informed discussion on serious topics won’t find it. That’s why you listen to him: he feeds you the same lies you’ve reached from other sources.

Sure they should come to you instead. Your’e the one with the most consumed podcast interviewing world renowned scientists and artists of our time. I forgot. How foolish of me.

So, what is Aseem Malhotra selling exactly, I’m sure there’s a massive grift in there somewhere, they love themselves a grift.

He has three books published. One promotes the Pioppi Diet, considered one of the 5 worst fad diets.
Another attacks statins.
He has his own YouTube channel and got an interview with Mark Hyman(!)

Because I enjoy woo, I looked at the Pioppi diet ( article at BBC Health):
and it’s exactly what you would expect!

It claims that people in the eponymous Italian village live long lives so if you emulate their diet** you will too ( maybe).
They present a Mediterranean diet with exceptions- a strict limit on starches- but allow dairy, poultry, fish, fruits/ vegetables, olive oil and coconut oil. Many alt med providers criticise the “western diet” as unhealthy and substitute
romanticised versions of what they think “simple folk” ( less industrialised cultures) eat – one might be totally vegan or raw or non GMO/ organic or GFCFSF et al.

Usually extreme diets work for weight loss by severely limiting choices and thus, calories consumed. PRN’s resident “nutritional biochemist” recommends a vegan, organic, mostly raw/ juiced Mediterranean diet- with intermittent fasting- that has very high fibre and very low protein as the ONLY truly healthy choice. Others rely upon organic food and non-processed “pure” options.

Who doesn’t know that limiting your intake will lead to weight loss? The main problem is that these restrictions are hard to continue and some diets may not be very healthy. To be truthful, the authors say that it is a 21 day plan. People can lose weight on a low carb diet but have trouble staying on it long term.

As for it being Italian, I can’t imagine how you can limit bread and pasta and still call it Italian or even Mediterranean. It would be like calling a diet Japanese without rice.

as if that were the only relevant factor

Aseem Malhotra also says on Rogan

Please tell me that the pudding in your head isn’t pistachio.

“Aseem Malhotra also says on Rogan that over the past 20 years the drug industry impact has been a net negative on the world.”

Says? Thats a rather broad statement. I assume that there was a full documented analysis?

There was a story just last week I was discussing with friends at work, some bloke in England, diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, having been given a year to live was now cancer free due to extensive chemo, surgery and radiation, but instead of crediting the miracles of modern medicine in achieving this outcome, he was saying it was the CBD oil he was taking on the side that had cured him, sadly this was amplified massively by all the press reports, his actual treatment being relegated to the last couple of lines in the article.

So sadly just another case where when actual medicine works it doesn’t get the credit. Same was when the quackery doesn’t work its all the fault, somehow, of actual medicine.

You are so very right. And sometimes you do get people wanting some expensive treatment abroad covered by insurance and if that isn’t happening, they start some fund me. And mostly it’s for treatments in the Burzynski, or some other quack clinic.
And of course, if the quack treatment doesn’t work, it’s because they went to the quack to late, or they didn’t follow the protocol to the letter, or they didn’t believe enough, or they didn’t stop the regular treatment.
I hate these quacks.

In The Netherlands, there is some lady who went for a detox to Mexico and got a ruptured gullet, swallowing 6 litres of water and puking. She is some hospital in Mexico and her friends collect money to pay for her treatment, because her insurance didn’t cover hospitalcosts.

Back in the day, when I blogged about cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski a lot more, there was a very common sort of story that came out of the UK. The basic narrative was that the parents of a child with cancer wanted to go to Houston to see Burzynski and be treated with his antineoplaston quackery. Because the NHS wouldn’t pay for it and most oncologists were not supportive, they would start raising prodigious amounts of money on GoFundMe or similar sites and then get a lot of press railing against the NHS for “letting their child die.”

Throughout the last decade, similar stories about mainly adults have come out of the UK for Hallwang Clinic in Germany and other quack clinics, many in Bavaria, all with basically the same narrative of how the NHS doesn’t care and is letting the family member die.

Whenever these unfortunate cancer victims did well, they attributed it to the quackery that they’d persued while they also did (or had done) conventional therapy. When they didn’t do well, the family always blamed conventional medicine and chemotherapy for having “weakened” and “killed” them. ProtocolKills.com is just a variation on a very old theme.

It is doctors tha must be regulated here. Hallwang certainly pleases pharmaceutical industry, it uses lots of chemo

Doesn’t make much sense in the UK. They can’t pass on the cost of expensive drugs to the patient so buying something that isn’t evidence backed just empties your own wallet.

If you were a regular at the Herman Cain Awards, you’d know that God is doing all the work of curing people of Covid. Even when the patient eventually dies!

Matt G,
John 11:25
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
John 11:26
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Yes, I received the COVID vaccination and boosters but knowing my body is deteriorating my hope is not in my physical body but of my LORD and Savior Jesus

(Face palm). Good grief, about as relevant as rocking horse pooh.

Ezekiel 4:15: He replied to me, “Look, I will let you use cow dung instead of human excrement, and you can make your bread over that.”

Well, I would definitely prefer a dried cowpat fire to one burning human poop. You can mix it up with water and mud and slap it on the side of a house too.

I had a lab manager who said that acupuncture cured her Bell’s palsy. Sometime on the second or third time she told the story she mentioned that she’d also done a full set of steroids (the standard treatment) and I asked “how do you know it wasn’t the steroids rather than the acupuncture?”
She actually acknowledged that she had no way to know which one made a difference (or if it was just the healing process).

Most of those cases on that site, were exacerbated by going to the hospital as a last ditch attempt. Prior to that they and their spouses usually tried to treat it with quack remedies from online quack medical scams, got nowhere and were very sick before going to ER. Their is also advice on there to NOT go to hospital yet they went. Its really a kick in the teeth for those hardworking doctors and nurses who fought hard to save them and end up being ‘doxed’, with the same ‘protocols’ actually being successful with other patients, regardless of vaccination status.

Got in early on this post. Let’s see what Argie Bargie, Ginny Stoned and Ig(n)or(ant) Chudov have to say, words of wisdom (not)

Denial is a renewable resource.

Stories like these read like accounts from very poor places without educational systems, where people who get serious diseases think the doctors are the cause of their suffering instead of the dangerous diseases themselves. We have less excuse for such behaviors in our part of the planet given that we supposedly have excellent schools …

And I think often it are the better educated, that do their own research, who don’t believe what the doctors tell them and prefer everything that isn’t mainstream. Even if it is just another Big Pharma product.

High intelligence/education is a double-edged sword. It can make you very good at reasoning, or very good at rationalizing. Not to mention arrogant….

Yes, too many of us become experts in our field and Dunning-Kruger cases in everything else. :/ Blame the self-esteem movement? If only it were so simple…

I remember reading somewhere, or a couple somewheres (“You Are Not So Smart” was one of them), that this is a result of how capitalism has evolved since the mid 20th Century. Back in the 50s, your status was obvious by how many “toys” you had (TV, car, AC, etc) and how expensive they were, with substantial help from the whole race/ethnicity/gender/sexuality complex. From the 60s onward, the “rebels” won (mostly) and TVs, cars, ACs, and the like became available at enough price points that even someone with way lower income could have as many as you do, and the importance of the non-class factors was gradually being broken down. So how could people who didn’t have private jets and an army of personal servants but still had something tell who was who among the vast “middle classes”? Their “tastes.” Latching onto the newest, most exclusive, and so far least obviously mass-produced of everything – food, music, medicine, clothes, movies and TV – generic consumer products they could find. Those who didn’t know about them as soon as you did were clearly a lower grade of middle class.

Speak for yourself right wing talking point broken record.

Right wing talking point? I just posted the other day that I thought there was something to socialized medicine in Europe as they seem more cautions about the boosters. If being and independent thinker makes you right wing then I guess.

“If being and independent thinker”

You will let us know when you become one won’t you?

Toddlers who learn to say “NO!” could be considered independent thinkers. The trick is for one’s alleged independence to make sense (and not just be echoing memes from Tucker Carlson, “Doctor” Ten Pennies, et al).

Mark Robinowitz yes and without mandates you’d be forced to persuade adults to take your medicine. Many more would have refused and that’s not good for business. Thus organizations funded by Pfizer and other drug makers advocated for mandates.

Repeating full party iine is not independent thinking. You should think by youself.

@john labarge Medical associations (doctors’ associations) recommended OHSA mandate. (Medical advice here). So you need go give list of them getting donation from Pfizer. General charitable giving wont do.

“where people who get serious diseases think the doctors are the cause of their suffering instead of the dangerous diseases themselves”

I can’t count the number of patients who said things like “insulin caused my foot amputation” or “insulin gave me diabetes, Facebook says so” as their BMI went from 35 to 40 to 45…

I have personal experience with Ivermectin. I did not take it myself when I had Covid because at the time I was unaware of it.

However, by the time Omicron started in Nov/Dec 2021 I bought a small quantity on the black market.

My unvaxed wife had Covid on Dec 26, 2021. Started Ivermectin right away. Temperature fell down to normal in 2 hours. It stayed normal for 2 days until I lowered the dose, trying to make sure we’d have some left for other fmaily members. That day saw temp increase, at which point I gave her a complete dose, temp went down again. She recovered fully, no long covid etc.
My young vaxed adult relative and their partner had Covid in Aug 2022. Gave them IVM, covid was gone in one day, no long Covid. (my relative’s previous Covid for which they declined Ivermectin, was much worse and gave a 5-month-long “long covid”.)

I followed the Ivermectim story closely since then. The studies not financed by Bill Gates/Wellcome trust etc and not gifted money by FTX, found effectiveness, and the studies financed by the above interests found ineffectiveness.

No comment on the rest as it is above my pay grade

I followed the Ivermectim story closely since then. The studies not financed by Bill Gates/Wellcome trust etc and not gifted money by FTX, found effectiveness, and the studies financed by the above interests found ineffectiveness.

More conspiracies, no facts. Must be another igor post.

The New Jersey Devils crowd was derisively chanting “I-gor, I-gor, I-gor” tonight. Maybe they heard how dumb Chudov’s comments are.*

*more likely that the crowd chant was aimed at the losing Rangers’ goalie, Igor Shesterkin. 😀

I found ineffectiveness, jackass. Not once, not twice, EVERY TIME. Dozens of times. Dozens. Most of those people DIED you disturbed jackaloon. You have been told this ad nauseum. Why do you want to kill people? Are you really this sick?

For those not captured by Pravda/right wing bs: IVM has no place in covid. If it did I would hand it out like candy. It doesn’t help. It’s a scam for some and a pathetic, wannabe “cudgel” for pseudo intellectual political partisans like the above.

Several studies “proving” Ivermectin treats covid were faked, never done, bogus numbers inserted. I thought the alt-med people were against fraud in research, but apparently not. They also seem to be clueless about the difference between in vitro and in vivo …

It’s a big world – if anyone serious had found ivm treated covid there would be real evidence for it. Hint: when Trump caught covid and became hypoxic his state of the art treatment included remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies (since he had the original variant, more or less) and steroids, but no ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine or bleach. One could question whether the official statements of his care were accurate, but if he had gotten IVM or HCQ he and his team would have crowed loudly. And he got vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.

My understanding is that there was exactly one valid study which showed a positive improvement in recovery from CoVid correlated using Ivermectin. But you need to take into account the particular group of people being studied…

This was in an area where River Blindness was common (in other words, the sort of thing for which Ivermectin is normally prescribed.) All the people who showed the positive results were people who had previously had parasitic infections for which Ivermectin was prescribed, and who were at the time undergoing steroid treatments for CoVid itself.

Basically, it looked like some of the steroid treatments ‘woke up’ some eggs that had been left behind in the body from the previous parasitic infection, and that therefore people being treated for the viral infection relapsed on the parasitic infection. So the Ivermectin proved to be useful in that particular subcase to keep the parasitic infection from getting worse.

So, sure, there is a use case… but it has absolutely nothing to do with Covid itself, and Ivermectin is useless as any sort of preventative, it’s only useful for keeping people from suffering two infections at once because the treatment for one being already in a bad state makes the other worse.

In other words, it’s useless for 99.99% of the population, and if you don’t live in an area where worm infections are common, it’s 100% useless.

Yeah, I actually know a guy who took Ivermectin and got all better!

(He had been doing field work in sub-Saharan Africa and picked up some nasty parasite. That there Ivermectin cleared it right up!)

“It’s a big world – if anyone serious had found ivm treated covid there would be real evidence for it.”

This is speculation. And there is much reason to believe it’s unlikely to be the case. Doctors who try anything outside the vax have a tough time, as has been shown over and over again.

This is speculation.

No it isn’t. Early on in the pandemic, ivermectin was tried as a cure, then studies were done to see if it had an effect. It didn’t.
You have consistently ignored data that disproves your idées fixé.

Pierre Kory has a real though time, has he not ? Great telemeicin business and friends in Senate.

“This is speculation. And there is much reason to believe it’s unlikely to be the case. Doctors who try anything outside the vax have a tough time”

Really, really, childishly blind nonsense. By your definition, there would be no treatment methodologies for covid infection. Also, vaccination is generally a protective and preventative measure. Much less so a treatment. I really hope you typed that comment while you were tired and distracted.

Bill Gates is a really busy man, but Wellcome Trust sold their Wellcome stock long since and have now a diversified porfolio.

Is there a possibility that said sufferers with covid and taking ivermectin may very well have recovered without it. Also, pretty risky buying pharmaceuticals on the black market, except of course for the seller.

Is there a possibility that said sufferers with covid and taking ivermectin may very well have recovered without it.

Almost certainly. The good evidence is ivermectin has no impact on the course of COVID-19. All the anecdotes about it are as good as my anecdote that I took decongestants when I had COVID-19 and got better, so that must cure COVID-19 as well.

Assuming this is true, there are still basically zero safety concerns with ivermectin. Not so with the vaccine. And if you have Covid and are unvaccinated a vaccine while sick will not help.

Incorrect, there some serious adverse side effects with taking ivermectin in large doses, which some people have done. Still, it’s pointless taken any in the hope of a covid cure.

I too can be anecdotal. My brother, 68, his wife, 66 and amongst others, their daughter, grandson. Plus my sister in law, 74, her whole family of 4 kids and 6 grandchildren all had covid. They did not take ivermectin but recovered quickly. Needless to say, all vaccinated. Myself and my wife have not had covid, but are vaccinated.

Purely anecdotal of course.

I’ve never had covid, vaccinated and boosted, so never felt the need to try some rank quackery.

So, by Igors lamentably low standards of proof, the vaccine must be the reason and he should go get vaxed post haste right?

Given that most of my family have had covid I sometimes wonder why not I. Apparently some people just don’t.

Okay, interesting as your stories are, I’ve been noticing a trend in your works as well as others that touch on subject matter I find fascinating – the villains are always making money by preventing people from being cured from a devastating illness/killing the people most likely to buy their product.

How is that supposed to work? Wouldn’t there be more money to be made with a real cure? I mean people would probably be willing to pay a lot more for that. And also, killing the people who support you/give you money means that you eventually run out of people and lose out on their money. How does killing off all of the people who trust you help your plan succeed?

Also, how would they make every single doctor ignore their patients suffering and dying as they continue to hand out an ineffective cure? Especially when there’s a readily available nearly magical fix.

For such far reaching and powerful villains that seems very shortsighted and honestly, stupid, especially when you have the plot twist be that the cure is something that’s commonly available with no real thought as to what makes the cure work.

I mean using Ivermectin as the maguffin strikes me as weird because it’s so common and it’d be impossible to miss the fact that people with parasitic infections (those that should be even more vulnerable to the virus!) are staying healthy while those who are going in for treatment are getting sicker and sicker until they die (or mutate into zombies, or monsters, or something, because that feels like what you’re going for – I get it though, the Resident Evil 4 remake came out recently and since the zombies in that one are created by parasites you thought that it’d be cool to have a drug used to treat parasitic infections be the key to thwarting the villains’ evil plans).

Like, it’s an interesting idea you have, but there are so many plot holes.

Also, the vague relatives in situations with basically no detail that you like to use aren’t very compelling, give them names, get me invested, go into detail about how sick they were until the miracle cure fixed them! As it is it feels like you’re writing more of the really boring reader fic that’s gotten so popular in the RE fandom lately.

I don’t know a single person with onchocerciasis who was taking ivermectin who then contracted Covid-19.

So there.

By the way, regarding the rest of the “it’s the protocol” debunkings, I kind of at least partly agree with Orac.

Covid is not “just a cold”.

Look at excess mortality of the country of Belarus in 2020. Belarus did not use remdesivir, masks, lockdowns, etc. It had somewhat older all-white population. Most Belarussians are slim but not super healthy.

Anyway, without any protocols, and while not doing much, Belarus experienced very significant excess total mortality in 2020. This proves that Covid-19 is a deadly illness and not “just a cold”.

Most Belarussians [  sic ] are slim but not super healthy.

Jesus Christ.

A bit off topic, but there’s one standard-of-care cancer treatment that sounds like it was thought up by crackpots, but works remarkably well.

It’s specific to bladder cancer, possible only those that have apparently been successfuly removed, but which left alone have a very high recurrence rate.

The treatment is to pump the bladder full of a solution of live, attenuated bacteria — in particular the tuberculosis bacterium, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), once a week, and let it attack the bladder lining, and to keep this up in bursts of a few weeks, ideally for over a year.

Somehow — it greatly tamps down the recurrence rate. A bio professor I know has informed guesses as to just how it does so, but it beats the recurrence rate down by a factor of several. It’s still too high, but in many patients it never comes back.

If you pee blood, and it does NOT hurt (painless hematuria), get yourself checked. It’s the reason I’m still alive.

Just heard a report today that Pfizer was paying organizations to push mandates. If true, how does that sit with everyone?

Interesting story prompt. Are we supposed to make up the report, or come up with organizations, or kinds of mandates that were being pushed?

‘In the wake of the zombie outbreak in the seaside resort town various pharmaceutical companies have been pushing for beach closings as it is suspected that the source of the outbreak was one of the rare waterborne zombie viruses. They are also doubling down on mandatory vaccinations for the most common zombie causing viruses and travel restrictions to and from historical zombie outbreak locations in the hope of reducing the risk of further outbreaks.

Various small business owners in the seaside town are outraged as they depend on the seasonal tourist industry and the beach closures have been devastating to their livelihoods. Without the seasonal business many of them don’t know how they’ll manage and to them economic uncertainty they’re facing seems far worse than the risk of dismemberment and gory death at the webbed talons of an aquatic mutant.’

Is that the kind of story idea you were looking for?

Perhaps you can cite that report ? What were the organisations pushing mandates ? I can guess what is behind this,bu prove me wrong.

Orac said, “Some of you have probably gotten tired of me saying things like “In the age of the pandemic, everything old is new again” and “There’s nothing new in antivaxland” over and over during the last three years or so, but it’s really true…”

Please continue to do so for those new to the fight.
You should also encourage those stunned, outraged, and horrified by what has been done by the anti-COVID vaccine/treatment deniers and minimizers to learn from what has occurred and file it away for the next medical crisis when they pull out their playbook so as to recognize that it is just a replay of their COVID denial (which was just a replay of old anti-vaccine tropes).
Readers will then, too, be able to predict what the crank’s and crackpot’s actions/activities are going to be before the game even starts…
Preemptive debunking seems to be one technique that is effective with these loons.
In reality these people are anti-modernity and idiotically worship a fantasy that life in the past was much better before science, education, and rationalism took hold.
“Back to the Dark Ages!” is their motto.

Keep hammering away at them.
It is appreciated.

Back to the dark ages, but with some modern things, like computers, guns and some other technical adventments still in place.

Oh, I’m all for Orac continuing to hammer, but the statements “in the age of the pandemic, everything old is new again” and “there’s nothing new in antivaxland” are a problem because they are simply, objectively wrong.

As I’ve now written here many times, there are indeed very important new things about COVID antivax, and Orac’s repeated ‘nothing new’ framing not only fails to deal with them, but obscures them.

Well, today, I shall add something new. Instead of just complaining, I shall propose a simple remedy. Orac should just be more specific about the domain in which ‘nothing’ is new and ‘everything’ is recycled. Which I’ll denote, for want of ideal single term, as ‘things antivaxers say.’ And, in that specificity, acknowledge that this isn’t the entire picture, and other things “in antivaxland” have indeed changed. All in all, just a few words here and there.

To elaborate a bit… ‘Things antivaxers say’ is clearly what Orac is mostly concerned with: how the truth claims in antivax discourse are contradictory to scientifically established fact – primarily what they say about about vaccines, diseases, medicines etc. and secondarily what they say about pharmaceutical companies, government officials, and medical professionals. He wants to counter truth claims that are wrong, which makes sense for a medical scientist to want to do, and more power to him for that.

However, it should be obvious that social phenomena are more than just the truth claims their participants may utter. Just scan a little bit of political news or history, and you’ll find plenty cases of similar statements being attached to multiple, and often contradictory, social formations and agendas. Utterance is an action that turns mere concepts into material things — defined not just by ‘what’, but ‘who, where, why, and how’. Keep the language the same, but change the speaker, the audience, the contexts of time and place, and indeed you may have a very different thing, not the same old thing you had before. (Who has not had the experience of hearing some identical sets of words given very different subtexts in different situations?)

If we follow the wider implications of the geographic metaphor of “antivaxland” we see that this terrain has changed a lot. The big, obvious stampede of elephants bursting out of the room is the socio/political context, or, in a word, ‘fascism’. Old-school movement antivax (focused on childhood vaccines) was a monomaniacal obsession, a first principle, which kept it reserved to the relative fringe, but also allowed it to be articulated across diverse cultural/ideological environments, from the ‘granola crunchy’ area North of San Francisco to the ‘straight laced conservative’ areas North of San Diego. Demographically, this version of antivax was predominantly upper-middle-class, suburban, and included distinctly more women than men. The new COVID-era antivax is more rural and Southern, has a wider class range, centered a notch down the status scale, and the gender imbalance has flipped 180° to more involvement from men than women. But most importantly, the new antivax is not a singular obsession, but merely one component in a much broader right-wing culture war. Though more narrow in cultural/ideological expression, this culture war movement has captured exponentially more adherents than old school antivax. Jenny McCarthy and the Thinking Moms are one thing. Tucker Carlson and trucker convoys are another…

I could list many more differences, but I’ll add just this one now: If there was a death toll in the US from old-school antivax, it was miniscule; at a minimum, COVID antivax has been responsible for tens of thousands of fatalities. That alone makes saying ““there’s nothing new in antivaxland” not just wrong, but pornographic.

I suppose one reason Orac’s “everything old is new again” irks me is that the rhetorical recycling he references is just what anyone rooted in the study of culture (from cultural anthropology to the more interdisciplinary contemporary ‘Cultural Studies’) would expect. Yet Orac seems to find it significant. Maybe he could be clearer about why. I’ll guess here that it has something to do with science aiming to discover new things, so the repetition of old talking-points reflects the ‘not-science’ status of antivaxers pretending to science In addition, the fact antivaxers just ignore all the debunking those talking-points have received again and again in the past, distinguishes their efforts from any proper form of serious inquiry, which would engage and counter those critiques.

I’d even suggest that the regurgitated rhetoric might be all the more telling because so much else has changed. But if Orac wants to focus on how ‘things antivaxers say’ are same-old same-old, leaving aside those other things that aren’t, that’s his choice… However, I think it’s crucial to at least acknowledge the wider picture, instead of projecting that the repetitive ‘content’ is all there is to the antivax phenomena. This is especially important because protecting public health demands countering antivax as a morphing movement, not just a stale set of pseudoscientific propositions.

Okay, rant over….

So basically, it’s gone from a “keep our children pure and superior” elitist movement to a “we don’t want no shots that aren’t from our own guns” populist movement, driven by the same pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Or, same bullcrap, different sociopolitics.

A very suicidal sociopolitics as they kill themselves with the shots they give and those they refuse to take…dying for freedom in their minds, dying tragically in the minds of those outside the movement.

Yeah, but the bull is only the same on the surface. The subtext – the ‘true’, ‘deep’ meaning, if you will – is the sociopolitics being expressed through the macguffin of vaccines. Not that the folks making the statements are necessarily aware. The old-school antivax .e.g. RFKJ, is more of a subconscious defense mechanism displacement thing. The ego injury at the root is something they can’t admit to themselves, so they kinda convince themselves it really is the vaccines, to the point ‘the jabs are evil’ functions as a first principle, something like an all-consuming monomania. OTOH, the neo-fascist antivax troops are more conscious of the sociopolitics involved, the vaccines are just one item on the culture war grievance checklist, and not necessarily the most important of those.

I was just mulling over the implications of elitism vs populism in the light of this, in a way that probably won’t impress you given that I was a B+ student, or A- on a good day, in your line of work, back when it was still fresher in my mind, so it could be worse now. I thought of historical populist catastrophes, like the Roman conversion from Republic to Empire, Communism and Fascism, and then thought of the French Revolution – “Off with their heads!” If there’s anything I’ve seen that’s “new” in Orac’s blog posts about antivaxers and the trollish commenters’ screeds, it’s that. “Nuremberg 2! Shoot the jackbooted nurses at the door! Massive, public revenge!” In the old days of mostly elitist antivax 15 years ago, I think I remember the reaction arm was more about lawsuits and “recovering” the “lost” children with trendy quackery. And, yes, campaigning to remove school mandates and stuff, but many got around it with private doctors and private schools and stuff. The opposition to public…anything is the same, but scaling it up from a small elitist movement to a large populist one would translate to what, anarchy? As part of a populist movement, the anti-public-health, anti-public-antything strikes me as suicidal. Which, I guess, the outwardly murderous French Revolution also largely was when it got from “liberty, equality, fraternity”to “off with their heads.”

#suc

I think in the last 20 years the politics in the AV cult have swung firmly to the right, back when I first started taking notice, around the time of Wakefields fraudulent MMR guff, it appeared mostly yummy mummies, the worried well and sandal wearing beardy lefites who wove their own tofu. That has gradually changed as the main ones grifting off the AV cult adopted many of the libertarian and right wing culture war BS and buzz words to expand the pool of marks.

Think its been said many time now, but in the US the GOP now is effectively the political wing of the AV cult, and here in Canada the Tories are drifting to be the same.

@ space_upstairs
Hey, B+/A- is good. Thanks for responding, btw. I like the discussion.

And of course, you’re right about the populist… oh f***, fascist thing being both suicidal and more prone to extreme reaction. Calling old-school antivax “elitist” is a really good point, too. (No doubt, I’ll be using that descriptor now going forward.) I’ve been focusing on the idea that both old and new have roots in some ego-injury/sense of vulnerablitity, but those seem largely different. The old-school version is more individualist, the new school more of an “imagined community”.

Orac would no doubt point out that leaders in the old school movement went for a lot of violent imagery and rhetoric, re: Nurenburg 2, etc. But, I always guessed he was taking that a little too literally, as I figured this was mainly woofing by upscale suburbanites and PMCs (sociological lingo: professional-managerial class) who couldn’t actually hurt a flea. So, yeah, what the rank-and-file actually DID, was complain, file lawsuits, get quackery, get bogus exemptions: paper, bureaucratic solutions, all befitting their class and culture. There’s a lot of woofing in the new-school variant, too, of course, but on the whole I do think it’s way more serious. IIRC, wasn’t one guy arrested on his way to attempt to assassinate Tony Fauci? Surely death threats to public health folks have increased exponentially.

I’m not sure the old-school antivaxers were against public health in as broad a way as the new-schoolers. As Orac says, their overt agenda is all about the vaccines. They might even be pro-public health on other issues, e.g. RFKJ may not have actually done work as an environmentalist in decades, but I don’t imagine he’d like to see the EPA dismantled…

While “conservative Republicans” are indeed against public anything, fascism isn’t. It just does “public” in a different way. But that could indeed involve a functional end to public health at an institutional level. That’s not anarchy, just a regimented authoritarian regime that considers vast swaths of its constituents to be disposable, which is hardly anything new, and maybe a modal characteristic of human societies over time.

Orac would no doubt point out that leaders in the old school movement went for a lot of violent imagery and rhetoric, re: Nurenburg 2, etc. But, I always guessed he was taking that a little too literally, as I figured this was mainly woofing by upscale suburbanites and PMCs (sociological lingo: professional-managerial class) who couldn’t actually hurt a flea. So, yeah, what the rank-and-file actually DID, was complain, file lawsuits, get quackery, get bogus exemptions: paper, bureaucratic solutions, all befitting their class and culture. There’s a lot of woofing in the new-school variant, too, of course, but on the whole I do think it’s way more serious. IIRC, wasn’t one guy arrested on his way to attempt to assassinate Tony Fauci? Surely death threats to public health folks have increased exponentially.

Maybe, but cosplay can lay the groundwork for the real thing, and I think that’s just what happened here. Also, I don’t know that I took it “too” literally. All the calls to “string ’em up” that I saw 10-20 years ago were quite angry and bitter. Moreover, I have a whole series of posts about the increasingly violent rhetoric of the antivaccine movement dating back to…2015:

https://www.respectfulinsolence.com/2015/12/03/the-violent-rhetoric-of-the-antivaccine-movement/
https://www.respectfulinsolence.com/2016/07/19/the-violent-rhetoric-of-the-antivaccine-movement-vaxxed-edition/
https://www.respectfulinsolence.com/2019/05/03/violent-rhetoric-antivaccine-intensifies/

In these posts and elsewhere, I predicted that, sooner or later, the rhetoric would turn into action. It took longer than I thought, but here we are. As for death threats, Dr. Paul Offit has written many times about the death threats he was receiving 20-25 years ago, the example I remember the best being in his 2008 book Autism’s False Prophets. The Department of Justice considered these threats to be sufficiently credible that the CDC provided an armed guard for him during ACIP meetings when he was on the committee and his university screens his mail for suspicious packages. Ironically, after publishing that book, the death threats started again. Dr. Offit considered them sufficiently credible that he ended up stopping all publicity appearances for the book.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ninashapiro/2019/07/22/vaccine-proponents-receive-death-threats-again/

The above story is from before the pandemic and describes death threats that vaccine advocates were receiving at the time, using Dr. Offit as an example from a decade prior. In fact, out of curiosity, I pulled Autism’s False Prophets off my shelf, and found the relevant passage:

During a congressional hearing chaired by Indiana congressman Dan Burton to investigate the cause of autism, John Tierney, a congressman from Massachusetts, asked if I had vaccinated my own children. I said I had, stating their names and ages. At the next break, a member of Tierney’s staff came up to me, grabbed my arm, and pulled me aside. “Never,” he said, breathless, “never mention the names of your own children in front of a group like this.”

After I appeared on MSNBC, an extreme antivaccine activist called our home; later, our eleven-year-old daughter asked whether I thought anyone would ever hurt me. While I was on a federal advisory committee to the CDC—the one that had made recommendations about the use of the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal in vaccines—I got a death threat. A man from Seattle wrote, “I will hang you by the neck until you are dead!” I called the CDC, which sent the email to the Department of Justice, which sent it to the FBI. The threat was deemed credible, and for the next few years an armed guard was placed at the back of the advisory committee meetings; for the first few months, he followed me to and from lunch, a gun hanging at his side. The mail room at my hospital regularly checks my mail for suspicious letters and packages.

And:

It got worse. While sitting in my office, I got a phone call from a man who said that he and I shared the same concerns. We both wanted what was best for our children. He wanted what was best for his sone, giving his name and age. And he presumed the I wanted what was best for my children, giving their names and ages and where they went to school. His implication was clear. He knew where my children went to school. Then he hung up.

As for RFK Jr. and government with respect to left/right politics:

I’m not sure the old-school antivaxers were against public health in as broad a way as the new-schoolers. As Orac says, their overt agenda is all about the vaccines. They might even be pro-public health on other issues, e.g. RFKJ may not have actually done work as an environmentalist in decades, but I don’t imagine he’d like to see the EPA dismantled…

And yet RFK Jr. is now talking up Bitcoin and crypto and opposing CBDCs:

https://twitter.com/RobertKennedyJr/status/1653808786577010697

https://twitter.com/RobertKennedyJr/status/1653412637844144128

https://twitter.com/RobertKennedyJr/status/1654304979207815174

Parroting Russian wing anti-Ukraine propaganda:

https://twitter.com/RobertKennedyJr/status/1654143612811194371

And anti-immigrant rhetoric:

https://twitter.com/RobertKennedyJr/status/1653835940580696064

https://twitter.com/RobertKennedyJr/status/1653772735779143681

He’s also starting to say that he believes in “as little government as possible.”

https://twitter.com/RobertKennedyJr/status/1648733656129601547

So, while I agree that right now RFK Jr. would not be happy to see the EPA dismantled, his rhetoric about small government, crypto, and Ukraine are moving sharply right, and even in other areas he’s starting to sound a lot more right wing.

That being said, I would push back against your claims that antivaxxers were not always anti-public health. I published copious examples before the pandemic of antivaxxers pushing for laws that would restrict the power of state public health departments, prevent local public health officials from keeping unvaccinated (or any) children out of school during outbreaks of infectious diseases, etc. For example:

https://www.respectfulinsolence.com/2017/04/05/why-is-the-michigan-legislature-trying-to-hard-to-bring-back-vaccine-preventable-diseases/

(This is a law that the Michigan GOP introduced and failed to pass in 2015 as well, before Donald Trump.)

I used to refer to these sorts of laws as “make measles great again” laws.

The more general anti-public health bent in the antivaccine movement was always there—and not hidden, either.

@Sadmar:
Thanks for the reply.
If the old school antivax leaders were spouting violent rhetoric, it may be that they fancied themselves populist/proto-authoritarian demagogues rousing the rabble against Them ™ a la Ginny Stoner, when the people who were listening at the time were, well, Jewish bankers and the Gentiles who went to college with them, and so found the conspiracy mongering demagoguery part of it all preposterous. But they happily ate up Monsanto conspiracy theories, and any general idea that being careful what they ate or otherwise ingested would help them maintain their superior status. So they blamed their daughter’s autism on the measles shot and their son’s dyslexia on GMOs, and put them both on an organic GFCF diet in a private school and cease all boosters and flu shots, but no need to storm anything or cut heads.

And you may be right that populists are inherently proto-authoritarian (fascist, communist, and other shady stuff), insofar as some authority always seems to rise to rouse the rabble and make Them ™ pay…and then, following the “kill him/her and you become just like him/her” TV trope, becomes as bad as Them ™ or worse if given the chance. Left-wing populism turned authoritarianism seems to have some of the best examples: Robespierre, Lenin, Chavez. But it probably works the same on either side of the spectrum. The other thing that can happen, invoking the Horseshoe Theory of Politics, is the power gap created by a nominally left-wing populist revolution could produce a 180 into right wing authoritarianism a la Arab Spring or Roman Empire. Or vice versa, but no examples come to mind. And the people tend to end up poor, suffering, and depressed in any of these regimes. Often starving, but now that antivax and antiabortion are prominent, the new version of starving would be suffering and dying of preventable diseases and medical complications.

The funny thing is, though, populists never seem to see themselves as proto-authoritarian, just the opposite: free thinkers fighting for freedom from a corrupt regime. I wonder why so many fall for that. Maybe you know something about it since you actually became a professor in all this wacky people stuff. (Space is so much simpler.)

It’s funny that you call the ones against mandating experimental medicine by a merger of government and corporate interests the fascists.

It’s funny that you call the ones against mandating experimental medicine by a merger of government and corporate interests the fascists.

It’s sad that you continue to refer to it as experimental medicine and imply there was a great conspiracy funded by your “big pharma” boogey man to implement it. It’s also sad that, on the one hand, you talk about meeting health workers with guns without realize your own authoritarian and fascist leanings.

But then you’ve long demonstrated you don’t know the definitions of words, you only know how to spell the words.

Well, if its experimental, then that status should be upgraded…as it works….very well.

Fascism is authoritarianism (and authoritarianism sucks, whatever its ideological underpinnings), but not all authoritarianism is fascism. Fascism in particular involves social and economic reactionary policies, like, you know, women back in the kitchen and pregnant, queers back in the closet, minorities (including “white” ones like Jews) back in the shadows, immigrants back to where they came from or, if they assimilate, in the shadows with other minorities, and so on. And it tends to gain power via a sort of bait-and-switch populist movement based on conspiracy theories that a dangerous and powerful new liberal order – often consisting largely of women out of the kitchen with empty wombs, minorities out of the shadows (or running everything from the shadows), unassimilated uppity immigrants, and/or queers out of the closet – is taking away “your” jobs, “your” culture, “your” freedom, “your” daughters and their prospects for giving you grandchildren. Once you agree with the conspiracy theories and vote these mofos in, they end up being the ones who take away, well, your jobs, your culture, your freedom, the lives that your daughters and future grandkids were hoping for. This is all loosely based on the Nazis.

Not that this can’t happen the other way too: see Communist China and the French Revolution. Authoritarianism sucks. And it often starts with conspiratorial populism. So tread carefully.

Shoot, I Godwinned, so I guess I lose. :/ However, everyone’s favorite villainy of all time did involve reactionary politics and garnering support via populist conspiracy theory, so those two things are far from incompatible.
I think LaBarge imagines himself more as a French Revolutionary, though, and regulatory agencies and corporations who work with them as the corrupt aristocracy that needs beheading in the name of, as Dickens put it, liberty, equality, fraternity, and death (from new diseases, misuse of your own guns, and anarchy).

That’s not Godwin’s law. Godwin’s law says that “that as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a comparison to Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches 1.” [per Wikipedia entry for the law]

It doesn’t say that whoever mentions Hitler or the Nazis loses the argument, or that it’s necessarily inappropriate to mention them.

Not quite. A tradition developed that the first person to make an inappropriate comparison to Hitler or Nazis would be considered to have automatically lost.

The Covid cult is fascist:

Dictate taking experimental medicine through mandates
Suppress and censor opposing views
Do so in as pure authoritarians – no consideration of prior infection or that vaccinated still spread
Merger of corporate interests with government
Attempt to hide documents relied on for approval for 75 years and on and on

The left is also fascist- seeks to silence and punish opposition – twitter files etc
Cancel culture
Uses criminal proceedings to pursue political opponents Asange, Trump etc

Not what your newspeak says they mean. Fascism is merger of state and corporate power and includes censoring and prosecuting opposition. The first thing fascists want to do is disarm the populace. See Mussolini, it’s inventor. See also Hitler.

No, those are only two aspects of fascism and the merger of state and corporate power isn’t even an absolute requirement. The real sina qua non of fascism includes a belief in a mythic past that must be reclaimed (associated with hardcore nationalism and the belief that the “nation” was much better in that mythic past), a sense of extreme victimhood and the idea that it was an enemy that “stole” that mythic past away and must be defeated before the mythic past can be reclaimed, anti-intellectualism, unreality and conspiracy theories (again, about how the enemy stole the mythic past and is plotting to keep the true believers from reclaiming it), worship of the “old order” that worships masculinity and views women as belonging in the home raising children, and, of course, the “leader principle,” or faith in a strong (almost always masculine) leader. There are other aspects, but those are the main ones.

@prl: I think I remember somewhere in a thread, perhaps with humorous intent, the first to mention Nazis or Hitler being declared to have “lost.” But I think the “loser” in this case was a contrarian/troll bringing it up rather inappropriately. And fascists were already mentioned, which is Godwin-1. Unfortunately I couldn’t think of a better example of right-wing authoritarianism supported by populist conspiracy theories. But maybe I didn’t need to, if comparison to left-wing authoritarianism such as communist dictatorships or the French Reign of Terror proves to be a better warning/scary comparison to right-leaning people who believe in populist conspiracy theories. (Me? Like a Communist? No way! Well, what about your notion that the elites are all plotting to keep you miserable and they need to go?)

@LaBarge:

Rebelling without a clear map forward is dangerous. That’s what the French Revolutionaries did. They cut off heads at the slightest suspicion of plotting against the new liberal order and starved themselves.

The vaccines were never mandated at a federal level for US citizens (they were and still are mandated for adult tourists entering the country, I think), but private companies and state and local governments were left to decide whether they would implement mandates for their workers and civil servants, given science supporting a reduction in transmission (not stopping, but something) and a reinforcement in pre-existing immunity for a class of virus known to attack as frequently as every 3 months. Of course, those workers and civil servants were as free to quit their jobs as were antivax journalists who were deplatformed. (Nobody can get arrested for free speech, but anybody can get fired for it if they mouth off at their boss, for instance.) And the vaccines already passed experiments, albeit, yes, expedited ones.

Regarding corporate-government cooperation, well, what, would you want the government alone to take care of it? That would be even more Communist, no? Or the corporations alone? But that would be aristocracy, no? Or nobody to do anything, and you’re left to suffer? That’s what happens if you off everyone’s head.

Assange and Trump are complicated cases, linked to some classic aristocratic abuses of power. Why them and not Fauci and Hunter Biden, you ask? Also complicated, but not necessarily a left-wing authoritarian conspiracy. Fauci is just doing a thankless job of trying to remind people that freedom isn’t free. Hunter Biden probably should get in trouble. Assange has been involved in sexual misconduct at the least, and Trump with various abuses of power you might expect from a dirty businessperson. And I am not a big fan of “SJW” rhetoric myself, given its common origins with actual Communism that show in some of its worst moments like trying to ban dressing up as a character of another race or ethnicity for Halloween, but I do think the modern left puts important emphasis on continuing to move in the direction of expanding freedom, justice, and equity. The modern right, echoing actual Fascism, wants women pregnant (anti-abortion) if not back in the kitchen and queers (at least those of the trans varieties) back in the closet, if not minorities back in the shadows and immigrants back where they came from.

@ Orac May 5, 2023 at 9:08 am

Why do I have to think of Russia at this moment?
Longing for a historic past? Check
Blaming an outside force for losing the mystic past? Check

@Orac and Space,
I agree with all of that. People can read Lawrence Britt or Umberto Eco if they want more details.
I’ve been working on my own essay on Fascism in recent American politics and trying to figure which of those are the most important or dangerous characteristics. Fascistic thinking tends to bleed over into the other characteristics or start adding them even if it initially only espouses a few.

One that I think is key and is kind of a correlate of the anti-intellectualism is control of the news media. This insulates the “fearless leader” from criticism and the internet media ecosystem plays right into that.

@john labarge You reallly need to check what fascist men. Twitter moderation (by a private company) does not come even close.
Have you noticed that COVID vaccines are now approved by FDA ? They are not experimental, even legal sense.

The left is also fascist- seeks to silence and punish opposition – twitter files etc

Except that the twitter files showed nothing of the kind you “think”.

Cancel culture

You grab onto every bit of right-wing bullshit don’t you? But I will assume that your second compaints means
– you object to the actions of DeSantis and his actions
– you object to the banning of books and pushes against libraries your right-wing cronies are carrying out
– you object to the dedicated canceling of laws that make voting easier for the elderly, the poor, and minorities
– you object to the purely bullshit “drag queens are harming our youth” PR stuff
– you object to the laws working through state governments that would restrict access to social networks (like the one in Utah
– etc., etc., etc.

Well, today, I shall add something new. Instead of just complaining, I shall propose a simple remedy. Orac should just be more specific about the domain in which ‘nothing’ is new and ‘everything’ is recycled. Which I’ll denote, for want of ideal single term, as ‘things antivaxers say.’ And, in that specificity, acknowledge that this isn’t the entire picture, and other things “in antivaxland” have indeed changed. All in all, just a few words here and there.

Oh, please. “Things antivaxxers say” is a very poor term to describe what I mean, and, I suspect, you know it. Seriously, I’m disappointed. You’re usually more on point than this. You know damned well from the context that when I say “everything old is new again” or something like that I’m referring to both the claims made by and conspiracy theories believed in and spread by antivaxxers. It’s a rhetorical device to show that there are no truly new conspiracy theories, pseudoscientific claims, and misinformation about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines that can’t be directly traced to near-identical conspiracy theories, pseudoscientific claims, and misinformation about earlier vaccines dating back decades (at least) or even centuries. The the hope is this: Once you know the general conspiracy theories, pseudoscientific claims, and misinformation about vaccines, you will become able to easily recognize them when they resurface in different forms, as they always do. Hell, even the claims that vaccines are “transhumanism” or “permanently alter your DNA” are not new at all.

Another example is my frequent harping on how misusing VAERS to portray vaccines as instruments of death and destruction (or in the past autism, which to antivaxxers was and is the same thing) is an old antivax technique that dates back almost as long as VAERS does. Again, the idea is to show people that antivaxxers are not doing anything new in terms of the general conspiracy theories, pseudoscientific claims, and misinformation that they believe in and try to get others to believe in. Ditto the same sorts of misuses of bad science, the calling for unethical RCTs of vaccines, etc. So maybe I should include strategies of misinformation in the list.

Truth be told, gadfly that you are (sometimes appreciated, sometimes annoying), you are not the primary intended audience for this message. This message is intended primarily for two purposes. First, it’s prebunking, so to speak, to try to convey the general forms of antivax misinformation and disinformation, so that people learn to recognize them when they appear dressed in new clothing. The second reason (and secondary I hasten to add) is to express my own annoyance at some of my colleagues who think this misinformation is something new. Basically, I’m the old man scoffing at the young man in the 1980 Clash song Something About England:

My silence gazing at the ceiling
While roaming the single room
I thought the old man could help me
If he could explain the gloom
You really think it’s all new
You really think about it too
The old man scoffed as he spoke to me
I’ll tell you a thing or two

And that’s what I’m doing in addition to trying to prebunk antivaccine misinformation for a more general audience, telling some of my colleagues “a thing or two.”

Nor is it as though I have been neglecting changes in the context of antivaccine disinformation since the pandemic, such as how social media has transformed the movement’s abilities to spread its message and the rightward shift of the center of gravity of antivax politics. Heck, a little over a year ago, I even wrote a very long—even longer than Orac long—post about the growing affinity between the antivaccine movement and fascism. Before that I had been noting the growing shift in the political center of the antivaccine movement, my first mention being something like 12 years ago, with increasing warnings beginning in 2015, when that shift really took off. I even noted in the fall of 2019,, around 6 months before the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, how the far right wing California State Militia had marched with antivaxxers in Sacramento. I’ve even commented on how antivaxxers are like the dog that caught the car he was chasing. They had successfully lured the far right in with messages that attracted them (e.g., parental rights, anti-government, personal rights, etc., about which I used to joke, “Come for the freedumb, stay for the antivax conspiracy theories”), but since been subsumed by the greater right wing enterprise. They basically don’t know what to do with the car, and have been invited to jump in by the car’s owner, which they happily did in search of more influence.

So, no, I don’t plan on changing, at least not when discussing specific antivax claims and misinformation.

P.S. As for that bit about “pornographic,” my first inclination was to respond with a hearty, “Fuck you!” However, after some thought, I will simply quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s adage about obscenity/pornography and say that I don’t see it.

Oh, and fuck you. (Changed my mind back.)😂

This reminds me of Jake Crosby’s attacks on me back in the day. (Oldtimers will know what I’m talking about.😏)

@ johnlabarge

Your first link is to a paper by Raphael Lataster, who has a PhD in theology and has written books such as “Questioning the Historicity of Jesus” and I looked at one of his papers on COVID vaccine, totally bogus. Yep, one can search the worldwide web and find anything that confirms even the most absurd beliefs; e.g., QAnon. So, I don’t want to get into religious discussion; but simple question: Do you believe Jesus didn’t even exist as Lataster writes? A PhD in theology, wow, certainly a background that gives one “credibility” on medical topics.

I’ve torn you to shreds over and over and so has many others; but you ignore and keep searching the worldwide web to find things that confirm your stupidly ignorance of science antivax bias.

KEEP MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF

And your other link includes Pfizer donating monies to American Red Cross, Cancer Support Community, etc. And, by the way, even if Pfizer does contribute money, so what, many corporations that have nothing to do with healthcare also donate monies to some of the organizations listed? Doesn’t mean they then ignored the science and I have donated money to certain charities, doesn’t mean they do their thing because people like me donated money. Actually they do their thing and hope people will support them. A number of the organizations listed receive funds from numerous companies, wealth individuals, also people like me.

YOU ARE JUST ONE MORE IGNORANT OF SCIENCE JERK WHO NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WILL CHANGE YOUR LOCKED BIASED MIND.

I actually agree with mandates. Too bad there isn’t some science where one could link someone hospitalized or dead who was infected by someone unvaccinated. We live in communities. I realize you don’t give a shit about anyone; but yourself and family. Just as I, an old man, donate blood at least once a month to help total strangers. Only reward is an occasional t-shirt. And many years ago I volunteered at soup kitchens and did other things. Worse is I feel guilty for not have done much more.

Bottom line is your stupidly ignorant understanding of vaccines, epidemics/pandemics, and infectious diseases.

Simple question: did Pfizer donate to organizations that advocated for vaccine mandates? I have a feeling your diatribe on irrelevant subjects indicates you know the answer to this.

The subject is not irrelevant, as old-timers her know. It’s a perfect analogy for what you are doing.

it is irrelevant to whether Pfizer funded organizations advocating for mandates. There are counter arguments that perhaps Pfizer didn’t do so with the intent of pushing mandates evidence for which would include that they normally fund these organizations in the same amount. Nevertheless they still fund the organizations so they are unlikely to advocate something counter to Pfizer’s interests ergo any study they fund has a conflict of interest thereby.

@john labarge Did Pfizer fund medical associations supporting OHSA mandate ? Try to figure that ou.

@ johnlabarge

First, Pfizer obviously created a list of their donations available on the internet, so they certainly are trying to hide them, actually corporations create lists of their donations as PR. Second, where does it say that the donations required recipients to push for mandates? And did you check each and every recipients website to see if they are pushing mandates?

@ johnlabarge

Anyone can write any hing on a substack, including lies, distortions, etc. If actual truth highly likely it would be posted on a known website. So, as usual, you find something and if it supports what you choose to believe, then it must be true? YIKES!

If truth it comes from a pharmaceutical company selling the same or a media sponsored thereby? Give me a break. 🙄

Substack does host the historian Heather Cox Richardson’s blog “Letters from an American”, which place current political developments in historical context, and which I find really thoughtful and illuminating. Apparently it’s just a platform.

If truth it comes from a pharmaceutical company selling the same or a media sponsored thereby?

Did you also write your briefs and memoranda in Yoda-speak?

Interesting thing is that there is no links prove the claims. One IRS link goes to Biotechnology Innovation Organization, not to Hispanic medical associaion.

Yep, one can search the worldwide web and find anything that confirms even the most absurd beliefs

That is even easier to do on substack. To the point that I know have a knee-jerk reaction of not clicking any links to substack. I have taken the principle that if the phenomenon mentioned is real and important it will be in the scientific literature or in quality newspapers. It has saved me from reading a lot of dreck.

Writer did lie, as I would guess. Americn Medical Associaon is not in both list (organisations supporting COVD mitigating and geing donaions from Pfizer)
Conspiracy theory is exactly that: if someone disagrees you, here must be consporay involved,

What Reality and Renate said.

Some alt med loons idealise life 100 years ago or even more recently, in the 1950s: like right wing advocates, they preach the value of the family, traditional roles and a rural lifestyle- farming, crafts, working manually. Right, guys on computers whose techies create websites, podcasts/ seminars and internet radio networks, so they can broadcast misinformation and sell products without ever leaving their posh estates and ranches.

The internet and social media enable another phenomenon: the citizen journalist ** who is encouraged to “report” on developments in science or politics and is given a stage and microphone by those described above. Both prn and NN seek content creators to emulate and second their positions. Of course, some may go it alone, that’s what Substack is for!

Which brings me to Orac’s little cache of denialists:
none of them appear to have had a basic education in life science YET they criticise experts who have spent their lives studying and working in areas they only know glancingly. They imagine that some glittering detail that strikes their eye is the “Gotcha!” that will overturn decades of research from around the world. Here’s an example: our own (?) Igor has been applauded by Naomi Wolf herself on the great harm Covid vaccines have done ( pregnancies/ miscarriages), following her lead, he produces numbers and examples of dire consequences. Yet no research from anywhere has found the same level of danger. Similarly, they amplify low level risks to frightening proportions. Others produce graphs and charts to “prove” their point or just briefly negate whatever Orac and company say.

A few hundred years ago, anyone might become a researcher without formal education and training BUT things have changed– I imagine that those who come to RI to grind their axes are seeking validation that life has been unfair to them and that their special genius has not been properly recognised in its awe-inspiring uniqueness HOWEVER, they all sound much the same: basically, Science is wrong, Leave Nature alone, Stop progress any way you can.

** even Elon supports this trend- he would : he owns Twitter.

he produces numbers and examples of dire consequences. Yet no research from anywhere has found the same level of danger.

Lay that off to the idea of produces: he doesn’t have the science training to understand data, and he doesn’t have the statistical knowledge to know what is valid to do with the little data he does find: it seems he just chooses settings with the goal of producing results that meet his predetermined ideas.

ginny is, in a sense, even worse, as she’s conflated summarizing/presenting data with in-depth analysis.

Ginny believes 5g caused excess deaths, 9/11 was faked, mass shootings faked, moon landings faked, climate change is fake, NASA lies to everyone, chemtrails and so on and so on. How can anyone take someone like that seriously.

Probably daylight between tested vaccines for which companies retain full accountability and the system where if you get myocarditis from the mandated vax you pay the bill.

and the system where if you get myocarditis from the mandated vax you pay the bill

You’ve already tried and lost with this one, LaBilge.

If your insurance doesn’t fully cover it you’re still liable.

You of course do not pay the bill. Healh insurance (or Medicare) pays, and CICP the rest.

“Similarly, they amplify low level risks to frightening proportions. “ as does marking Covid on death certificates for any likely Covid regardless of the cause of deaths. As does mandating a vaccine for a virus that has a real hospitalization rate around the flu. And mandating vaccines and masks for kids. Like y’all don’t amplify minimal risks. 🤡

“Similarly, they amplify low level risks to frightening proportions. “ as does marking Covid on death certificates for any likely Covid regardless of the cause of deaths.

You’ve left out the part where you show that deaths from car accidents are ascribed to COVID-19.

Worth a Google.

You make an assertion — you’re responsible for supplying support for it. Nobody else.

Because captured media says so?

Everything you don’t like is due to corruption and evil influence isn’t it? What a sign of a mind lost to idiocy.

I’ve posted it here many times. Y’all prefer to ostrich it.

Thing is, I’m right.

In your mind I’m sure you believe that. The only problem is nothing you believe [at least, say you believe] matches with reality.

And no, I don’t bother with the substack crap you look at, because that is as full of lies and false representations as you are.

Have you thought that someone can actually disagree with you ? Possessing One Truth is a thing you share with …

Of course COVID hospialization (or death) rate is not same as flu.. And probable COVID does not mean imaginary. I notice that they, a favorite enemy of ocnspiracy theorists are again in action.

Denice, thanks for your thoughts. Naomi is Naomi and she does her own thing, and I do my own thing. When reporting on Covid, I try to make sure that my articles can pass some basic fact checking. If I report a correlation, I try to make sure I calculate it correctly, for example.

When reporting on the previously secret Pfizer postmarketing report, I report dead infants, “transplacental exposure to vaccine”, accurately as per the report. (despite being promised that the vaccine stays in the arm, Pfizer admitted in a secret document that the vaccine crosses the placenta)

The reason why the general public, myself included, is unusually interested in Covid matters is that the story of Covid is uniquely strange, people were forced to vaccinate with a mystery vaccine, which did not even prevent the mystery illness, but was mandated anyway. That got a lot of people’s attention as people rightly suspected malfeasance.

It does not help that the “Covid vaccine science” is largely quackery and pseudoscience. (quackery, may I remind you, is promotion or unproven and non-working treatments).

Orac gave us an amazing overview of antineoplaston quackery by Burzynsky.

The Covid vaccine is quackery that is extremely similar to those antineoplastons. It can be, as a joke, renamed “anticovidons”. Remember the absurdity of promises of how these “anticovidons” would stop Covid. Then, when people started getting Covid despite having taken anticovidons, we were told that these “breakthrough infections” are rare. Except that they were not rare. Then it turned out that people died of Covid despite having received anticovidons. That, we were told, was the fault of unvaccinated people. It turns out that anticovidons only work for a month and need to be administered every 6 months. etc etc

We live in interesting times!

It does not help that the “Covid vaccine science” is largely quackery and pseudoscience. (quackery, may I remind you, is promotion or unproven and non-working treatments)

The only good thing about your continuing to post that bit of drivel is that it shows two things: just how ignorant you are about covid vaccines and how willing you are to lie about them.

I seems toyou still believe that not 100% effecive means 0% effecitive, As Denise said 70% tax rate is different than 30%,even though neiher is 100%. You cannot understand even that ?
I want to have link to that secret Prizer report, because antivaxxers always miscite.

… I try to make sure that my articles can pass some basic fact checking. If I report a correlation, I try to make sure I calculate it correctly, for example

Fact checking doesn’t mean you’ve done your high school arithmetic correctly igor, although you’ve made it clear that high school level math is a struggle for you — and if all you can do is try to make sure your work is correct you shouldn’t be trying to do it.

@ johnlabarge

You write: “Probably daylight between tested vaccines for which companies retain full accountability and the system where if you get myocarditis from the mandated vax you pay the bill.”

You really are incredibly dishonest. I have written in numerous comments that the vaccines not only went through all clinical phases; but have been tested in numerous other nations and that they all have their own adverse events reporting system. Three years of the vaccines and huge data sets give overwhelming proof of their effectiveness and minuscule risks. I have also explained that you are an ignorant idiot because you don’t understand the basics of immunology so you don’t understand that all vaccines do is create the same memory immune cells as those created when we experience a disease; but without experiencing the disease. Memory immune cells are why, for many diseases, we only experience them once, since the memory immune cells nip them in the bud. As for myocarditis, the risk is much higher from the actual virus and more severe and whether you get it from the disease or the vaccine, if you, as the vast majority of Americans, have health insurance, it is covered; but the vast majority of those who get it from the vaccine do not need to be hospitalized.

KEEP MAKING A DISHONEST IGNORANT FOOL OF YOURSELF

Exactly. By LaBarge’s own political inclination it’s ridiculous to believe that, we’re there some explosive evidence of fraud, deception, or serious adverse events, the CCP or Putin would be doing anything other than screaming them as loudly as can be screamed. They would make as much destabilizing political hay as they could as long as they could.

Hell, Putin would probably settle for anything that even hints at a chance of a prayer of these things. LaBarge should know-he repeats his talking points.

@ johnlabarge

You write: ““Similarly, they amplify low level risks to frightening proportions. “ as does marking Covid on death certificates for any likely Covid regardless of the cause of deaths. As does mandating a vaccine for a virus that has a real hospitalization rate around the flu. And mandating vaccines and masks for kids. Like y’all don’t amplify minimal risks.”

Just how stupid are you? The real hospitalization rate for COVID was much higher than typical flu season. And, for instance, if someone has mild congestive heart failure, get COVID, and dies, of course it is legitimate to list heart disease as primary cause and COVID as contributory cause. Without COVID or other infections, they might have lived longer. As for vaccines and masks for kids, though few kids have died, but still several thousand, many have developed long COVID, and even if most asymptomatic or with minimal symptoms they can infect others, including those who can’t be vaccinated and those whose immune system didn’t rev up due to vaccines; but, as I wrote before, you are a despicable individual who cares only about yourself and family; while I live in a community, which is also why I am a regular blood donor.

They don’t calculate those the same. Covid hospitalization does not mean hospitalization because of Covid.

@ johnlabarge

From same CNN article:

“More than 100 million cases have been reported in the United States since the start of the pandemic. However, the actual number of cases is likely much higher, as many individuals who are infected do not test or do not report the results of tests taken at home. As cases are undercounted, hospitalization has become a better indicator of disease trends.”

Yeah, referencing someplace that thinks “Dr. Scott Jensen” is a legitimate source is certainly reliable.

You really have no rigorous standards for analyzing things go you?

It has specific screenshots of CDC guidelines. What makes him illegitimate? That he opposes the Covid vaccine? Circular reasoning?

@LaBarge: Dr Scott Jensen is a Republican politician since before the pandemic. Medicine has not been his primary career for some time. Therefore, we can’t be sure his position on covid shots isn’t primarily political pandering to the covid-conspiracy-theory-believing Republican base rather than informed medical opinion. Yes, he knows more about medicine than most politicians do, but he will likely show more loyalty to his prospective constituents as such than his patients as such. And don’t forget that other physicians, such as the Sears family, have pandered to rogue patients rather than sticking to best medical practices back when left-wing aristocrats were the most visible antivaxers. And consider all the cases Orac has profiled of physicians promoting disproven therapies like homeopathy and acupuncture to retain patients attracted to them.

What makes him illegitimate? That he opposes the Covid vaccine?

His lies about it john. That makes him not worth listening to.

For someone who claims to have been a lawyer you sure as shit don’t indicate you have any concern for the truth.

Re: Scott Jensen
According to the website for his clinic, he’s still practicing there. He may be spending more time on political issues these days, but saying medicine has not been his primary career “for some time” is kinda misleading.

Nor does his political history prior to his gubernatorial campaign raise red flags. In 2016, the year he was elected to the MN state senate, he was named Family Physician of the Year by the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, a group officially supporting mainstream public health positions including childhood vaccination and the ACA. (Though the PAC arm of the parent AAFP has made some dubious donations to pro-NRA, anti-ACA Republicans…)

According to Wikpedia, he ran as a traditional pro-business Republican, and served in the Senate as a moderate, “among the more bipartisan members” supporting bills to regulate pharmacy benefit managers, probe drug price increases, and establish universal background checks for gun sales. He also voted “against his party”, for a ban on conversion therapy.

But after that single term in the state senate, he resigned and ran for governor as a Trumpist. If you want a reason to question his legitimacy now, he didn’t just flip to a conspiracy theory take on vaccines, but to the whole MAGA magilla, including election denial, avering that the Minnesota Secretary of State should “go to jail” for his handling of the election. He also demonized gender-affirming care, promised to commute the manslaughter sentence of a police officer convicted of shooting an unarmed black motorist at a traffic stop (which the governor, btw, does not have the authority to do), and “he falsely claimed that some schools provide litter boxes for children who identify as furries.”

Or you could just question his legitimacy on the basis that he won the endorsement of a state party led by a close associate of Mike Lindell…

If you actually read whole document, it is about new code for probable COVID. Obviously this is still more probable COVID than not. Even more obviously, code will include probable COVID cases.

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “people were forced to vaccinate with a mystery vaccine, which did not even prevent the mystery illness, but was mandated anyway.”

Are you totally DISHONESTLY STUPID. Numerous studies, including the clinical trials with phase 3 having between 30 and 40,000 subjects, long-term follow-ups and data from numerous other nations have found the vaccines reduce exponentially risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death and have minuscule serious adverse events. Orac, myself, and others have repeated this over and over. YOU ARE SICK!

You write: “When reporting on Covid, I try to make sure that my articles can pass some basic fact checking.”

BULL SHIT, your articles are garbage; yep, you can find websites that give bogus data or you can misread, misuse legitimate data; but you just keep posting, proving you are a SICK INDIVIDUAL.

I suppose Igor wouldn’t recognise a fact if it bit him in the a**.

I suppose Igor wouldn’t recognise a fact if it bit him in the a**.

It’s unlikely igor could find his a** even with a mirror and a head torch. It would require some work, and he doesn’t do that.

@ ldw56old

Actually I think Igor’s brain is in his ass??? LOL

If not, his personality certainly is.

Those clinical trials, that showed 95% effectiveness against infection that was contradicted by real world data after rollout, is typical example of Covid quack science.

Three days ago, the state of Texas opened an investigation into potential violations of his state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The investigation will hopefully find fraudulent acts by the above mentioned companies who faked clinical trial data.

Soon, lawsuits, bankruptcies, revelations, firings, and the general Covid Reckoning will hopefully be in full swing.

Such steps are in political interests of many shrewd politicials, so I expect that many revelations and investigations regarding Covid vaccines will be conducted.

Igor, we certainly do live interesting times when Naomi Wolf is cited as a source: she has a history – her early work over-estimated anorexia death of girls/ women by orders of magnitude. Later and more recently, she mis-interpreted a legal term implying that British men died in prison when they were actually released or had their sentences commuted ( The Beauty Myth, Outrages, respectively) She has had problems with accuracy in general and espouses conspiracy theories. It’s a mystery that she manages to get published at all.

She insinuates that Covid vaccines harm women in various ways ( infertility, menstruation problems, miscarriage, death of fetus or newborn, green milk production etc) that are not supported by research or reports anywhere on earth. Even if one company or country hid damaging reports, don’t you think that someone else would find it? If you google/ bing any of these issues you will find “conspiracy theory”, ” misleading” etc.
Is the entire internet corrupted? Are all news sources suspect? Is Naomi Wolf the only person ‘uncovering’ these dastardly assaults on women? Aided and assisted by right wing conspiracy mongers like Bannon and her merry band of 3500 “researchers”? These days, many writers, scientists and physicians are women- don’t you think one of them would notice these events?

Of course, vaccinated women have miscarriages, so do UNvaccinated women. That’s the important point to consider. Years ago, I received a flu vaccine and three days later, fell and injured by leg: was that a vaccine injury? I often joke that it was. It was unrelated.

You may be amplifying what Wolf asserts by repeating her basic outlines which could conceivably frighten women away from the vaccines. Do you know what also hurts pregnant people? Getting Covid.

If you want to be taken seriously as an information site, you should be more careful about what you write and how readers might react to it.
You can do better. Orac has written in depth about much of what I skim over.

Denice, thanks. I try to be careful regarding any pregnancy-related reporting because it is easy to get the facts wrong. For example, many people ran with a story that 84% of pregnancies in a certain trial ended with a miscarriage. That was a mistaken interpretation (most pregnancies did not yet have an outcome) and I try to avoid those stories.

My report on the recent revelation of Pfizer’s “PREGNANCY AND LACTATION CUMULATIVE REVIEW” was chronologically posted before Naomi’s. I only reported on what the review stated explicitly.

Regarding miscarriages: I am sure that the Covid vaccine causes miscarriages. The clearest evidence for this is in CDC document titled “COVID-19 in pregnant people and infants ages 0-5
months”. Page 32 of that presentation shows that Moderna (a higher dose) causes 42% more miscarriages than Pfizer (a lower dose), with the difference having great statistical significance. (page 33 shows a 93% increase in infant deaths for Moderna compared to Pfizer, also statistically significant)

So if you look at the above-mentioned cumulative review, it shows 11% rate of miscarriages in vaccine recipients. A normal rate of miscarriages of all pregnancies is also 11-12%, so it seems like no problem?

The answer is no, there is a problem, and the reason is that the background rate of miscarriage is computed from the moment of conception, but in the Pfizer review the rate is from the moment of vaccination. Since the chances of miscarriage drop quickly as the pregnancy progresses, that rate is too high. It is difficult to precisely figure out the increase, but the signal of increased miscarriages is there.

Meta- analysis of Covid vaccine and miscarriage: Rimmer et al 2023

@ Igor Chudov.

You wrote

“When reporting on the previously secret Pfizer postmarketing report, I report dead infants, “transplacental exposure to vaccine”, accurately as per the report. (despite being promised that the vaccine stays in the arm, Pfizer admitted in a secret document that the vaccine crosses the placenta)”

Citations please, what is your source for that claim.

To continue, for Igor et al

Yesterday, I found a meta-analysis ( cited above) that throws cold water upon Wolf’s claims, using studies that totaled 150 K women. I found it in less than a minute. Why did Wolf and her army of 3500 “investigators” not find that result or any of the studies it includes?

A well-known woo-meister explained how he as a “business school grad” ** before his “education in science/ PhD” ** was able to win debates with medical experts ( in the 1970s): he just went to a medical library and looked up things, as he does now ( today, prn.live)

I imagine that some of Orac’s contrarians ( and their leaders like RFK jr, Del, Wolf etc) do much the same. They seek information that confirms their already-set beliefs or suspicions: this is self-education but also involves self-selection and self-deception- if you pore over topics that interest you to the exclusion of the entire field of research, you will certainly find what you want but it doesn’t mean that you understand anything.
When you take a formal course or read a well-written survey of a topic, you will view the work of experts from around the world compiled over decades that arrives at a summation, the state of the art as it exists to date: educators are aware that looking at single results can be used to present a false picture of reality and don’t do it -except as negative examples. Doing this by yourself is not easy without a formal background.

You’ll notice that not all of Orac’s regulars/ minions have degrees in life science : several studied computer software, physics, engineering or law*** yet still are able to seek out important research as cites when they comment. They know how to find expertise and that – constantly transforming- “state of the art”- they can comprehend what they read and “pre-bunk” startling, attention grabbing, fear mongering headlines.
Of course, scoffers will say that experts have been wrong before BUT so have contrarians- I’ll lay my bets with people who have devoted long years of study to an area and number in the thousands all over the world.

Orac’s contrarians are not uneducated simpletons BUT they do allow alties to steer them towards conclusions that stoke fear and negate much of what life science consists of: using technology to improve people’s lives. They fear vaccines– which have saved lives and decreased suffering- by seconding alt med cherry picking, distortion and outright lying which of course is exactly what they attribute to experts. THINK ABOUT IT: they fear vaccines, medications and other innovations that have extended life and helped people, preferring “natural” life and death.

If you really want to be a contrarian, oppose the status quo in anti-vax land or find a cultural or political issue where only opinion counts.

** employing very loose definitions of those terms
*** I won’t name them and embarrass them although it’s OBVIOUS

To sum up:
I think that there is no reason that people who graduated from university/ graduate/ professional school CANNOT understand research about vaccines/ SBM as presented by Orac et compagnie UNLESS they have axes to grind or flames to fan or outsider self-images to burnish.
Naomi Wolf, Katie Wright, RFK jr, Stephanie Seneff are not attractive as role models.

@ johnlabarge

You write: “They don’t calculate those the same. Covid hospitalization does not mean hospitalization because of Covid.”

First, how do you explain the high number of excess deaths during the pandemic. Of course, some were murders, suicides, drug overdoses, etc; but majority weren’t.

And: “many of these cases involve patients that had to go to the hospital to treat conditions that were exacerbated by a COVID-19 infection, health care workers said. COVID-19 can affect multiple systems and often worsens even mild cases of other conditions . . . COVID-19 might not be the reason listed for admission, but the patient wouldn’t be there were it not for the virus. . . “This 86-year-old had COVID a week ago with 2 days of fevers, sore throat,” Jha wrote in a recent Twitter thread. “Two days of fevers caused him to become dehydrated, go into acute kidney failure. His COVID is ‘better’ but he’s in the hospital with kidney failure. Was he admitted for COVID? No. With COVID? Yes.” . . . someone whose condition grew worse because of a COVID-19 infection . . . “In the earlier waves, before delta and before the vaccine, most people were getting admitted for COVID pneumonia . . . Many so-called incidental cases were caused or worsened by the virus in the first place, and whether patients are coming to hospitals with or for COVID-19, they’re still being admitted in record numbers”

Samantha Putterman (2022 Jan 18). Hospitalization data is being used to claim that the pandemic is overblown. Here’s why that’s wrong. PolitiFact.

Note. I have more papers that support the above.

So, whether covid is the primary diagnosis or exacerbating an underlying condition, covid played a significant role in the overwhelming majority of cases.

There is NO way you, in your infinite antivax stupidity can explain away the hospitalization rates during the covid pandemic. Yep, one can always come up with a few; but then how do you explain the high number of excess deaths during the pandemic?

WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO DISPLAY YOUR ANTIVAX BIASED IGNORANCE AND KEEP MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF.

@ Igor Chudov

So, you link to FDA (2021 Apr 20). Pfizer – PREGNANCY AND LACTATION CUMULATIVE REVIEW.

First, it clearly displays Pfizers honesty in supplying the data; but what you, in your continued stupidity ignore is that it doesn’t give “compared to what?” Yep, some women had miscarriages following vaccinations; but women have miscarriages. Overwhelming evidence finds not caused by vaccines. Association does NOT mean causation, except when it suits your warped mind.

And Denice Walter actually supplied reference to article that you ignored and stupidly posted your comment:

Michael P. Rimmer et al. (2023 May 2). The risk of miscarriage following COVID-19 vaccination: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction; Vol 38, No. 5, pp. 840-852.

@ Denise Walter

Hi. Love your well-written comments; but, if possible, when you give a reference to a paper would be appreciated if you gave a more detailed reference: e.g., Michael P. Rimmer et al. (2023 May 2). The risk of miscarriage following COVID-19 vaccination: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction; Vol 38, No. 5, pp. 840-852.

or at least: Michael P. Rimmer et al. (2023 May 2). The risk of miscarriage following COVID-19 vaccination: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction

@ Joel, PhD, MPH:

Thanks so much: your input is always valued!

I refer to studies that way for two reasons:
partly, it’s short hand and laziness BUT more importantly, it’s a test for our intrepid scoffers who investigate Science carefully combing the net for data. I know that Orac’s regulars can easily find my references, but the others? Hopefully, it will show them how to search- which may be beneficial.

I was also going to explain why a set of studies can be instructive, about large numbers and distributions in general and why Igor’s objection is not troubling at all, although he should know that!

It may be overly optimistic but I think that contrarians** on RI can learn to understand PH research better.

I use Naomi Wolf as a blatant example: she lords ( ladies?) it over experts and misses basic information and facts as she blithely fear mongers about dangers to women. AND. she has a history as I’ve recounted. She shouldn’t be immune from criticism because she is (supposedly) a feminist.
A few anti-vax advocates try to invoke misogyny because their views are rejected: no, their views are rejected because they’re bad.

** Igor and johnlabarge

@ Joel, PhD, MPH:

I’ll try to include a little more about the references

@ Igor Chudov

You write: ‘Those clinical trials, that showed 95% effectiveness against infection that was contradicted by real world data after rollout, is typical example of Covid quack science. Three days ago, the state of Texas opened an investigation into potential violations of his state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The investigation will hopefully find fraudulent acts by the above mentioned companies who faked clinical trial data.”

Over and over Orac, I, and others have pointed out that the “real world data”, that is,, data from numerous other nations has confirmed that the COVID vaccines have significantly reduced serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. You just keep on posting comments based on your stupid antivax bias and NOT displaying that you have actually done the research. And, yep, one can find websites, sub stacks, that confirm any and all stupid biases someone may have.

As for the State of Texas, its government is based on gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. It is right-wing, wants to impose its version of Christianity on everyone, while it has lowest rates of medicaid coverage, so many without any health insurance, it is one of few states still implementing death penalty, it is among highest per capita death rates for COVID, against not only vaccines; but physical distancing, masks, etc. and its gun laws, rather lack of them, is insane. So, I rather doubt such an investigation will find anything; but it is great propaganda for its voting base of White racists.

YOU REALLY ARE ONE DISHONEST STUPID ANTIVAXXER.

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “Page 32 of that presentation shows that Moderna (a higher dose) causes 42% more miscarriages than Pfizer (a lower dose), with the difference having great statistical significance. (page 33 shows a 93% increase in infant deaths for Moderna compared to Pfizer, also statistically significant)”

Page 32 gives for Pfizer 3.3% miscarriages and for Moderna 4.7%. Page 33 Infant Deaths for Pfizer 0.1 and Moderna 0.2. First, do you understand what random variance is? First, the numbers don’t mean “causes, only association in this particular subgroup of much higher number of pregnant women who received a vaccine. A 1% difference between the two is easily seen as random fluctuation. Please give the formula you used for statistical significance! ! ! You also ignore that one could see that the vaccines actually worked; but one worked better than the other, so prevented more miscarriages and deaths???

You ignore Page 62 which gives Cumulative deaths involving COVID-19 in children by age based on death certificate data, National Center for Health Statistics, January 1, 2020–October 1, 2022, which gives 0.5% for all deaths in “Among infants ages 0-5 months. 0.5” which is, of course, higher than 3.3 and 4.7, so, as I wrote, could be the vaccines failed to protect some.

You also ignore the Summary:
COVID-19 can cause severe disease in pregnant people and infants.
COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant people is safe for pregnant people and infants.

And another paper reviewing Rimmer’s paper wrote: “No apparent elevated risk of miscarriage was observed among pregnant women who received the COVID-19 vaccine. This rate was consistent with the miscarriage rate in the general population before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dr. Priyom Bose (2023 Feb 19).Can COVID-19 vaccinations cause miscarriage in pregnant women? News Medical Life Sciences

Michael P. Rimmer et al. (2023 May 2). The risk of miscarriage following COVID-19 vaccination: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction; Vol 38, No. 5, pp. 840-852

You have continuously displayed your ignorance of immunology, thus your antivax bias is based on pure ignorance. You continue to ignore international data showing the vaccines have prevented a significant number of severe illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. You immediately jump on any stats, regardless of if differences within random fluctuations.

Most experts predict we will have another pandemic within a few years and odds are much more deadly. So, though I am old, if I live another 5 – 10 years and we really do experience a much more deadly pandemic (hopefully not) and a vaccine is available (or pandemic variant on current influenza or covid vaccines, so still some protection), and number dead much higher, maybe 3 million or more and per capita deaths much higher in areas with low vaccination rates, I will bet it will not influence your antivax position because it is not based on valid science; but your stupidly ignorant biases and your refusal to even consider you may be wrong, especially when pointed out your total lack of understanding of immunology, microbiology, etc.

Oh, one more paper on risks from COVID during pregnancy:

Seyyedeh Neda Kazemi (2021 Aug 11). COVID-19 and cause of pregnancy loss during the pandemic: A systematic review. PLOS ONE.

Joel, regarding statistical significance and statistical test: The test is called two-proportion Z-test. Pfizer has proportion of 0.033 and sample size 12,751, whereas Moderna has proportion of 0.047 and sample size of 8365.

Enter this into “statology two-proportion Z-Test calculator”, you get Z-statistic -5.16860 (five standard deviations) and P-value of 0 (this is a rounded value of p=0.00000019

This is huge and scandalous.

Let’s look at this further. In statistics, this is called a “two-sample proportion comparison”. We have two samples: the Moderna group and the Pfizer group. We can assume that the groups are identically sampled from the population, except their vaccines — and outcomes — differ.

One group (Moderna) has a 42% higher rate of miscarriages than the other group (Pfizer). Is this a statistical fluke, or is this meaningful?

Statisticians use a “two-proportion Z-test” to check if the difference could be due to a random chance, or not. Skipping some statistical minutiae, the greater the size of the samples, and the higher difference in proportions (rate of miscarriage), the less likely the possibility that the between-group difference is due to random chance.

To give an example of a statistically meaningless comparison, suppose that you met 5 men and 5 women on the street. Three women out of 5 wore hats and only two men out of 5 wore hats. Could you conclude, from this tiny sample, that women are more likely to wear hats in general? Of course not, as your samples are way too small!

However, if you sampled thousands of men and women for hat-wearing, on different streets and at differing times, and found that one gender wears hats 42% more often, THEN you would be able to make meaningful conclusions!

Contrary to the above example of 5 men and women, samples of Moderna and Pfizer women are HUGE — in the THOUSANDS — and so are the numbers of miscarriages. Is the difference between these groups meaningful?

We can plug the numbers into the Statology Two-Proportion Z-Test calculator:

The calculator tells us (P-value of near zero) that these samples ARE different, five standard deviations away from each other, and the difference has tremendous statistical significance. In other words, this is not a chance difference, but a fundamentally important one.

In response to Brian Mowrey’s comment: You

Enter this into “statology two-proportion Z-Test calculator”, you get Z-statistic -5.16860 (five standard deviations) and P-value of 0 (this is a rounded value of p=0.00000019

The Z-score for α = 0.05 is 1.38 (calculated by hand, twice). I’m mildly curious how you managed to screw this one up.

“We can assume that the groups are identically sampled from the population, except their vaccines — and outcomes — differ.”

That’s assumption that requires justification and can also be checked by going back to the underlying data to see if the characteristics of pregnant women match between the two samples. Why don’t you show us that you’ve done the latter.

Pfizer has proportion of 0.033 and sample size 12,751, whereas Moderna has proportion of 0.047 and sample size of 8365.

Note the sample sizes. Your test result has a large test statistic for one reason: those sample sizes are massive. I get that you know only “plug and chug” statistics but good god that would have been in your “put the numbers in these spots” books as well. Your ignorance is still astounding Igor.

And “Statology”? Really? It’s probably a better tool than Excel but not by more than a whisker.

The calculator tells us (P-value of near zero) that these samples ARE different, five standard deviations away from each other, and the difference has tremendous statistical significance.

We know the samples are different igor, because we see the numbers. The purpose of a classical hypothesis test is to see whether that observed difference is due to random chance or reflects similar differences between populations. If you can’t get that basic (freshman level) explanation correct tell us why any of your “analyses” should be trusted?

@ Igor Chudov

I don’t need to show just how stupid your statistical calculation is because several others already have. And, as pointed out, we don’t know if the two groups varied in some other relevant variables; e.g., age distribution, underlying comorbidities, social behavior, etc. And, since wasn’t a random sample and small compared to number who were vaccinated, questionable at best.

YOU JUST KEEP MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF.

@ Igor Chudov

You are both fascinating and frightening. Fascinating because you are negatively fixated on vaccines. Extrapolate from your position and, on average, most American would live into their 90s if they weren’t vaccinated. Of course, this goes against the history of vaccine-preventable diseases and understanding of immunology and, thus, how vaccines work. Frightening because some people who don’t question will NOT get vaccinated because of you and potentially could end up very sick, hospitalized, long covid, or even die.

And you give NO indication that you even question your position. For you, you are absolutely certain you are right. Basically, your self-concept is mainly, if not completely, dependent on your antivax position. If you actually questioned your position, you would be devastated. On the other hand, I both review everything I’ve learned about immunology, infectious diseases, etc. and keep up with valid scientific research. If valid, repeatable research finds a vaccine to have problems, perhaps, just when given to certain subgroup, I have NO problem accepting that, that is, after I have carefully reviewed the papers, including the methodology.

My self-concept is based on being a regular blood donor and being open to science, that is, science is not based on absolutes; but on solid research, variant replications of research; but never claiming 100% certainty. However, the level of certainty with some medicines is extremely high, including vaccines.

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