Antivaccine nonsense Biology Cancer Medicine Science

Return of the revenge of “vaccines permanently alter your DNA”

In a new twist on the “vaccines permanently alter your DNA” trope that antivaxxers love, a microbiologist named Kevin McKernan is falsely claiming that contaminating plasmid DNA from COVID-19 vaccines can get into the nucleus during cell division and “permanently alter your DNA” to horrible effect.

Last week, I discovered a new antivax scientist named Kevin McKernan, whose message had been recently amplified by long time quack tycoon Joe Mercola. At the time, his false claim was that SV40 promoter sequences in plasmid DNA contaminating the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines were somehow putting people at risk for cancer. In my deconstruction, I pointed out that this claim was an even more ridiculous variation on an old antivax claim that oral polio vaccines from the late 1950s to 1963 that had been discovered to be contaminated with SV40 virus were responsible for a wave of cancer. They weren’t, but this antivax claim keeps coming back from the grave (going back a decade, at least), ready to party. This time is no different, except that the claim is even more ridiculous than the movie from which I adapted that tagline to describe it. Why? Because it’s almost as though McKernan, his background in microbiology and (apparently) genomics, either does not know the difference between a promoter sequence and an actual gene or, more likely, knows the difference but knows that his audience doesn’t know the difference but is aware of the polio vaccine/SV40 story.(Take your pick.)

SV40: The Return of the Living Dead
SV40 is back from the grave and ready to party yet again, only to be joined with the zombie that is “vaccines permanently alter your DNA”!

This time around, McKernan is back on his Substack with what he views, apparently, as a refutation of the most common refutations of the antivax claim that COVID-19 vaccines, being mRNA vaccines, get into the nucleus and “permanently alter your DNA.” By way of background, I’ve long been discussing how the idea that COVID-19 vaccines will “damage” or somehow “irreversibly alter” your DNA started showing up months before the mRNA-based vaccines even won emergency use approval and began to be distributed, and I’ve been pointing out how such a claim bespeaks an utter ignorance and/or misunderstanding of some very basic molecular biology of the sort that is taught in introductory level biology classes in college. None of this has stopped antivaxxers from citing studies that are claimed to demonstrate that the mRNA from the vaccine can somehow reverse transcribe itself and then integrate its gene sequence for the COVID-19 spike protein into the DNA of the cell’s nucleus but, when examined by people with molecular biology expertise, are fairly trivially shown not to be good evidence of anything of the sort. Basically, there’s no evidence that the mRNA from the vaccine gets into the nucleus or is reverse transcribed into DNA, much less “permanently alters” your DNA. Even if it could, also remember that the cells that primarily take up the lipid nanoparticles of the vaccine containing the mRNA for the spike protein are muscle cells, which do not divide.

Which brings me to McKernan’s claim, embodied in the title of his post, Nuclear permeability during cell division, which he bills as “Flattening the ‘won’t get to the nucleus’ canard.” He begins with a whole lot of handwaving about his previous claims:

First, we need to do some numbers. 

The 100ug Moderna shots deliver over 40 trillion mRNA molecules (14T for Pfizer) and the number of LNPs per shot is reported to be 10-50 billion. For easy math, lets assume 40 billion LNPs. This is roughly 1,000 mRNAs in each LNP.

What most people who don’t do molecular biology don’t know that McKernan does know is that 40 trillion molecules is not a huge number. One mole is 6.023 x 1023 molecules, which makes 10 trillion molecules 1.66 x 10-14, or 16.6 femtomole. Of course, McKernan transparently chose the Moderna vaccine as his example because it has a lot more mRNA in it (100 μg as opposed to 30 μg), resulting in 10 trillion, a bigger number than 3 trillion. Either way, this is not a huge number of molecules, as huge a number as it seems. McKernan is doing nothing more than pulling a common trick antivaxxers like to use to make the vaccines seem scarier. Look at how many molecules of the scary spike protein mRNA they contain!

Riffing on this, he then fear mongers about the modified uracil base that is used to stabilize the mRNA in the vaccines because native mRNA is very unstable and degrades easily:

There over 800 N1-methyl-PseudoUs (m1Ψ) in each mRNA of Pfizer and likely an equal number in Moderna mRNAs for C19 vaccination. 800,000 m1Ψ per cell. This may influence the PUS (Pseudo Uridine Synthase) pathway. This pathway is very thinly published on. This is a very nascent field in the Epigenetics of RNAs. While we understand which enzyme modify Uracil to Ψ to m1Ψ , less is known about the processes that reverse this. 

Most other RNA methylation systems (methyl A, and methyl C) have RWE pathways (Read, Write, Erase) understood. There are proteins identified that recognize the modified base (read), ones that make the modifications (write), and proteins identified that erase the methylation. The reading and writing for Ψ and m1Ψ have been identified but the erasing is still a mystery.

Of course, this is nothing more than a fear mongering appeal to ignorance. In fact, quite a lot is known about using this form of uracil in mRNAs used to express various proteins in cells, but McKernan pulls the claim that this modified base might influence the PUS pathway, all while invoking a newer field, the epigenetic of mRNA processing, in much the way that quacks have long been deceptively invoking epigenetic modifications of DNA. (Deepak Chopra is notorious for invoking “epigenetics” to “explain” how emotions can supposedly cure disease. Indeed, a decade ago I quipped that “epigenetics” had become the new “quantum” to quacks.) So is this something to worry about? If it is, certainly he presents no evidence, although PUS enzymes are a fascinating topic whose study could well result in a better understanding of RNA transcription.

Next up, McKernan invokes the dreaded DNA contamination, much as pathologist Sin Han Lee did a decade ago when he used an incredibly sensitive nested PCR assay prone to false positives to “prove” that there was “fetal DNA” in Gardasil, even though what he discovered, if legit, was still such an incredible small quantity of DNA left over from the cell line used in the manufacture of the vaccine as to be harmless. Here we go with double-stranded DNA (dsDNA):

If dsDNA contamination is 1%-10% of these mRNA numbers we are injecting 10-100 dsDNA molecules into each cell transfected. Likely 40 billion cells if 1 LNP infects a single cell. In reality this number is likely much higher at the site of the injection and diffuses to lower MOI (multiplicity of infection) as it distributes to nearly every tissue in the body. This is 0.13% of the 30 trillion cells in your body.

Cells are being transfected with 10-100 dsDNA molecules each. These DNAs are likely fragmented and short dsDNA given what we know with the low Adverse event batches analyzed to date. They may be longer and more intact in the poor batches analyzed by Schmeling et al.

Will the dsDNA contaminants ever make it to the nuclease? About 1/40th of them will contain an SV40 promoter with a nuclear localization signal. The dsDNA isn’t all SV40 DNA. It’s 7,810bp of sequence for Pfizer. If the dsDNA is ~200bp in size The SV40 region is just ~1/40th of the dsDNA in the contamination.

Notice again how McKernan plays with large numbers in order to make the vaccine sound scary. That first part is nothing more than an acknowledgment that the cells near the injection site likely take up many lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) each, while cells much further away take up many fewer. Of course, “multiplicity of infection” is a word commonly used to describe viral infection using viruses as vectors for introducing genes into cells and generally describes how many virus particles on average infect each cell in a given experiment. When we do in vitro experiments (as I’ve done many times with lentivirus vectors), we frequently calculate the MOI to make sure that we have enough virus to make sure that multiple copies of the virus infect each cell in the dish; we also use MOI for dose-response studies in which the amount of protein product of interest made by the virus is plotted against MOI. Uptake of LNPs by cells is not an infectious process but rather what we in the biz call a transfection, and the way we normally describe this is as a concentration or mass of transfecting agent per cell, such as this paper looking at lipid nanoparticle drugs for breast cancer. No doubt McKernan knows all this but chooses MOI because it uses the word “infection” and thus sounds scarier to lay people, even though the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines do not “infect” anything.

Also notice how McKernan admits something that I pointed out the last time I discussed his fear mongering about plasmid DNA “contamination” of mRNA vaccines, namely that the DNA fragments are almost certainly all short fragments, which means that they can’t make any proteins. It is true that the SV40 promoter is only 72 base pairs (bp) long, but, again, it doesn’t code from anything, and even if it does have a nuclear localization signal; i.e., a short sequence that leads a DNA molecule to be taken to the nucleus from the cytoplasm. Again, he’s just handwaving. Even in his paper touted by Mercola, he never actually showed that any of the contaminating plasmid DNA that he claimed to have found actually found its way into the nucleus of any cells, which is where it would have to get in order to do anything.

Don’t worry, though. He has another way to suggest without proving that vaccines “permanently alter your DNA”:

But Dr. Bhakdi pointed out something I hadn’t considered. During cell division the nucleus disassembles exposing the nuclear genome to the cytoplasm and transcription is still active during this time window. Most genome integrations occur in regions being actively transcribed. This would imply all fragments of the 7,810bp plasmid DNA is on the table for integration.

McKernan forgets to consider—or, more likely, didn’t forget but simply declined to mention—is the cells targeted by the LNPs carrying the vaccine’s mRNA. Think about it. Where is the vaccine injected? That’s right: Into muscle. Now, think about it. Do muscle cells divide? No, they do not. They are what is referred to as terminally differentiated. While the idea that terminally differentiated cells do not and cannot ever divide again is a bit simplistic, it is true that normally muscle cells do not divide under normal circumstances. Indeed, because muscle cells are terminally differentiated, a lot of research has gone into trying to “reactivate” them into muscle precursor cells that can divide.

What this means is that, in practice, it doesn’t matter if dividing cells have higher nuclear membrane permeability and thus allow the entry of mRNA and fragments of DNA from plasmids into their nucleus, where the vaccine can “permanently alter your DNA.” It’s irrelevant. Of course, antivaxxers like to point to biodistribution studies showing that the LNPs go elsewhere, something that I have discussed in detail before, pointing out that huge doses of LNPs were given to rats to determine these results. The idea of these experiments is to detect any organ that any amount of LNP might deposit in, no matter how small the amount. Antivaxxers weaponized the observation that a small amount of such huge doses deposited in the ovaries to claim that the vaccines cause infertility, even though they do not. I note that, even looking at the chart, the tissues to which the LNPs go are all for the most part either terminally differentiated or, even if capable of division, mostly in a quiescent, not dividing unless injury requires repair and regeneration. (The endothelial cells lining blood vessels are a good example; they are quiescent—not dividing—most of the time but can begin dividing in response to injury in order to repair damage.)

Unsurprisingly, McKernan also appears to have anticipated the argument that he’s fear mongering about tiny amounts of mRNA and DNA that are harmless at the amounts used:

Many of the detractors to this work will Namaste over the dsDNA being too little to matter. Remind them of using qPCR to detect C19 sgRNA from your mucosa. They were calling some positive for CTs under 40. 

Violating civil rights and wrecking the economy came with far lower standards than the contaminants of their pharmaceutical partners. The dsDNA contaminant in these vaccines is a CT of 20 for 1/300th of the vaccine dose. Thats over a millions times higher (300 million for a CT of 40) amounts of contaminating nucleic acid than what would trigger a CT 40 sgRNA qPCR test.

With qPCR, we finally have a quantitative Political Corruption Readout as we can measure precisely the size of their hollowed out house of hypocrisy.

This harkens back to an old conspiracy theory about the PCR tests used to diagnose COVID-19 and the CT (cycle threshold) used as “positive.” The long version of the explanation of this conspiracy theory is here. The CliffsNotes version follows.

Anyone who’s done PCR (polymerase chain reaction), a test that uses small sequences from a known DNA sequence to amplify it, knows that cranking up the number of cycles does indeed increase the chances of amplifying a contaminant or a sequence that is similar, but not identical, to the intended target sequence. Indeed, setting the threshold count (CT) cutoff on a PCR test is a balancing act, in which you balance the increased sensitivity of using a higher CT and more amplification cycles as your cutoff and the attendant possibility of more false positives associated with that more sensitive cutoff against the possibility of missing a lot more cases of real infection if you use a lower CT. Back in the day, the “casedemic” conspiracy theory claimed that setting the CT at 40 cycles was too high and therefore produced a lot of false positives, making most “positive” PCR tests false positives. They weren’t. Yes, false positives were a problem, just not nearly as big a problem as COVID-19 conspiracy theorists claimed and certainly not an indication that COVID-19 numbers were being vastly inflated for nefarious purposes, as the “casedemic” conspiracy theory claimed.

McKernan also knows that this is a false comparison, which is likely why he pivots to reproducing chapters from an old textbook by Robert Weinberg on “Ocogenesis”—sorry, I couldn’t resist the spelling burn over “oncogenesis,” or the development of cancer—to try to convince you that the amounts of DNA fragments, which are tiny even if his inflated estimates of how much is in the vaccine are accurate, can cause cancer. Anyone who knows anything about molecular biology and cancer will likely laugh at this. (I did.) The book pages reproduced discuss oncogenic retroviruses and have nothing to do with what McKernan says:

A few excerpts from Robert Weinberg’s text book on Ocogenesis were sent to me from some colleagues in Japan. This is a reminder of the carcinogenic risks of genome integration which is far harder for your body to clean up when these injections also lower your white blood cell counts.

Again, read the pages. Even without a knowledge of molecular biology, you can see that the pages are talking about retroviruses, namely RNA viruses that can be reverse transcribed into DNA, which can then integrate into the genome. Retroviruses (like, for instance, HIV) are a very different thing from mRNA in LNPs or even short fragments of plasmid DNA, neither of which have the ability to replicate in cells. The mRNA from the vaccine doesn’t have the ability to reverse transcribe itself into DNA that can be integrated into the host cell’s genome. The minuscule number of DNA fragments can’t integrate into the host genome either. (At least, if they can, certainly McKernan has not demonstrated it or that it causes any harm, particularly in terminally differentiated cells.)

Of course, McKernan is somewhat more sophisticated than that. What he seeks to claim is that insertional mutagenesis. Let me quote the relevant passage from the Weinberg text:

Suddenly, all the clues needed to solve the puzzle of leukemogenesis (leukemia formation) by ALV fell into place. The solution went like this. During the course of infecting a chicken, ALV spread to thousands, then millions of cells in the hematopoietic system of this bird. Soon, the infection was so successful that the bird would become viremic, that is, its bloodstream carried high concentrations of virus particles. Each of these tens of millions of infections resulted in the insertion of an ALV provirus at some random location in the genome of an infected cell. In the vast majority of cases, this provirus integration had no effect on the infected host cell, aside from forcing the host to produce large numbers of progeny virus particles. But on rare occasions, perhaps in 1 out of 10 million infections, a provirus became integrated by chance next to the c-myc gene (Figure 3.23B). This jackpot event led to an explosive outcome—conversion of the c-myc gene into a potent oncogene whose unceasing expression was now driven by the adjacently integrated provirus and its transcriptional promoter. The rare cell carrying this deregulated myc gene then began uncontrolled proliferation, and within weeks, some of the progeny cells evolved further into more aggressive cancer cells that constituted a leukemia.

This scenario explains the slow kinetics with which these leukemias arise after initial viral infection of a bird. Since activation of the c-myc gene through provirus integration is a low-probability event, many weeks and many millions of infectious events are required before these malignancies are triggered. This particular mechanism of protooncogene activation came to be called insertional mutagenesis; it explains, as well, the leukemogenic powers of other slowly acting retroviruses, such as MLV. By now, study of avian and murine retrovirus-induced infections has demonstrated integration events next to more than 25 distinct cellular proto-oncogenes. Indeed, insertional mutagenesis can be used as a powerful strategy to find new proto-oncogenes…

I trust that most readers can see how an infection with a virus that is actively replicating and producing so many copies of itself in an organism that low probability events become relevant is different from LNPs containing mRNA and maybe a tiny amount of contaminating plasmid DNA fragments. From a molecular biology standpoint, McKernan’s argument is profoundly dishonest. Yes it is possible that DNA fragments that get into cells can integrate in the genome, but the likelihood is very small and orders of magnitude smaller that any oncogenes will be activated. In nonreplicating cells, it wouldn’t even matter if oncogenes were activated by insertional mutation because, again, these cells don’t replicated and replication is required for carcinogenesis. Why do you think the virus described above caused leukemia and not muscle tumors? Bone marrow cells replicate; muscle does not. Also, if McKernan’s fear mongering about insertional oncogenesis were valid, we’d expect to have seen myosarcomas (sarcomas arising from muscle cells) at vaccine injection sites. (After all, that’s where the vast majority of the vaccine ends up and stays.) We have not.

The bottom line is that Kevin McKernan is using his knowledge of genomics to frighting people about the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. What he is claiming, while not as implausible as homeopathy, is pretty damned implausible, and he shows no evidence that any of the mechanisms that he’s trying to scare you with are operative with respect to the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, other than that he’s detected small amounts of plasmid DNA contamination, likely leftover from the manufacturing process. He has not shown that this DNA can get into the nucleus, much less integrate into the genome and “permanently alter your DNA.” His invocation of increased permeability of the nuclear membrane during cell division is nothing more than more handwaving, particularly given that the vast majority of the cells that take up the LNPs do not replicate. While I like to think that people like McKernan are speaking out of ignorance rather than deception (i.e., spreading misinformation rather than disinformation), McKernan should know better, given his training and expertise. Make of that observation what you will.

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]

104 replies on “Return of the revenge of “vaccines permanently alter your DNA””

This is also an old fearmongery bit of the anti-GMO folks. How some small bits of promoter and viral sequences are going to change your DNA. But I could never figure out why that would be special and not all the corn promoters and sequences of regular corn. They also could never answer this.

The shots are trash. If you’re not interested in learning why, just say so and write about something else.

Your opinion is trash.

Note how I provided exactly as much evidence to back that up as you did.

Also framed as “what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence” (AKA Hitchens’s razor)

We’ve had our resident new school antivaxers Igor and John harp on about this endlessly, Igor focusing more on their substantially less than 100% effectiveness and John harping on about their more than 0% rate of unpleasant side effects. It’s such an old trope that have a name for this: the Nirvana Fallacy, aka “if it’s not perfect, its trash.” It’s a fallacy because, by that logic, seatbelts, sunscreen, flu shots (and Igor says this), and healthy diets are trash too. Because you can still get injured or die, get sunburn and skin cancer, get the flu, or get heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer, respectively. If it works somewhat on a population level, like all the older interventions above, it’s considered good enough for public health. But much as vax developers did with the pertussis shot, they may well reformulate the covid shots in the future to lower the side effects. Because science moves on, and scientific skeptics are not ignoring the problems, just putting them in perspective.

There is a small element of truth with that statement. Once the vial is empty, it’s put into a trash bin. That’s as far is it will go.

I don’t see that Kevin McKernan is a scientist. He took some graduate level classes, maybe, but I don’t see that he ever graduated with a PhD and the handful of papers with his name on them don’t seem to be deeply scientific. It looks like he’s a businessman.

One of the problems here of course is that someone must be pretty well versed in molecular biology in order to see how wrong these claims are. I for one would not have been able to judge the veracity of these claims without the extensive explanation given here.

Then again, this scare about “DNA changes giving you cancer” is debunked quite easily, even if you can’t tell if those DNA changes are real or not: the DNA in our cells is ‘altered’ (read: acquires random mutations) trillions of times a day, if this article is anything to go by. Only very, very rarely do those mutations accumulate in such a way that a cell turns cancerous.

And oh, those retroviruses already mentioned must have infected the gametes(*) of our evolutionary ancestors so often, that their DNA now makes up a staggering 8 percent of our ‘human’ DNA. Which means that the DNA of other cells must have been ‘altered’ by these viruses even far more often. All without eradicating us or turning us into monsters.

So basically, our DNA is ‘altered’ all the time, and for most people, that presents no problems to speak of.

*: Otherwise the changes in DNA would of course not propagate to the next generation,

… that their our DNA now makes up a staggering 8 percent of our ‘human’ DNA. …

Drat .. the first one was correct …
@Orac: can you remove these last two ‘corrections’?

@ Richard Rasker:

I’ve observed that some alties try to suggest that viruses, such as Covid, act as if they were retro-viruses because their audiences don’t know the difference. Retro-viruses are scarier.

The addition of the hyphen makes me picture viruses dressed up in leather jackets like greasers.

It sounds like a teched-up version of the old religious concept of ritual impurity. I guess the appeal of such ideas will never go away as long as certain intuitions and cultural elements are around. Counterintuitiveness is one of the coolest things about science, but also what makes it so hard to teach.

I’d guess something resembling “the concept of ritual purity”, (or rather reinforcements to the avoidance of impurity), is almost as old as human cultures, or at least the development of language, long before any religions that are here now developed. It may be something like evolved instinct, based in practical survival strategies that held for thousands of years… Perhaps it’s even coded into our DNA ; – )

The thing is, this base avoidance of impurity can manifest itself in any variety of superstructures, different takes on what is and isn’t pure, and projecting this down to the molecular biology level seems kinda off-the-rails for whatever function that mythos may have.

Basically, hard-core antivaxers wind up creating fun-house-mirror versions of everything. For example, some of the less techy ones will venture into philosophy or social theory, but their mimicries in the humanities are as off as their mimicries in the sciences. That’s what happens when (consciously or not) you start from a false conclusion and work backwards. So it’s no surprise that this guy may be doing the same with fundamental myths… a lot of it looks really familiar, but it’s been given a particular specific weird twist.

I’d guess something resembling “the concept of ritual purity”, (or rather reinforcements to the avoidance of impurity), is almost as old as human cultures, or at least the development of language, long before any religions that are here now developed. It may be something like evolved instinct, based in practical survival strategies that held for thousands of years… Perhaps it’s even coded into our DNA ; – )

I’ve long written that “detoxification” and the idea of vaccines as “dirty,” full of “disease” and “toxins,” ties into the religious concept of “purity” and the need for ritual purification. The idea of “purity” (famously lampooned in Dr. Strangelove in the context of water fluoridation) seems to come from an old and deep human impulse. For example, here’s a post from nearly 6 years ago:

More recently, since COVID, also including the “occult archetype known as vaccination” for good measure:

You guys are certainly onto something. I have been dismayed and confused since 2016 as I have watched people I thought of as sane and rational flock to Trump; these were “normal” moderates and conservatives prior.

Worse, after he was exposed for what he was and has been seen to continue to be a phoney and a grifter, they have jumped on every idiotic thing he used to justify his behavior no matter how ridiculous or completely devoid of logic it is.

The prime example to me is the “He won the election” bs. I still consider myself a right-leaning moderate but I have watched many of my former ilk jump all over this one.

The big difference? ALL of them are hardcore churchgoers. MOST are evangelicals or some other, similar denomination. That’s been my experience, anyway. The other former Republicans who aren’t buying his manure that I know are all secular/spiritual/keep it to themselves.

I can’t recall where I first read** this:
perhaps early people thought that death was caused by magic/ curses and not a natural consequence of life so they assiduously tried to protect themselves/ their families from witchcraft, spells, gods etc. When I read anti-vaxxers tales of woe, I often think that we haven’t progressed very much.

** maybe Frazer or Campbell?

@ Yeti
The divide correlating to evangelical church attendance may not be as strong everywhere as where you live. ‘Religion’ is an extremely flexible and diverse rubric, which is to say that all kinds of groups and motives can present themselves in some ‘religious’ form: in the case of the ‘Christian’ right, we’ve basically been seeing fascism cloaked in thrift-store vestments for long before Trump showed up.

I only intersect with a few Trumpers, but fwiw they’re athiests.

@ Denice
The way you frame it — magic, NOT a natural consequence — is almost certainly misleading, since what we know about early human cultures suggests they didn’t separate the two. My hypothesis, again, is that a desire for ‘purity’ is a product of avoiding ‘impurity’, i.e. stuff you’ve figured out can hurt or kill you. It’s pragmatic in origin, reinforcing insights like it’s a bad idea to eat dirt, let foreign matter into open wounds, get drinking water immediately downstream from where the sick animals take dumps in the slow creek. In animism, all the features of nature that shaped the lives of homo sapiens, that they had to develop some understanding of in order to survive, were conceived as having their own spirit form, deities of dirt, dung and everything else.


Stories like Adam, Eve, and the apple and Pandora’s box point to an ancient intuition that disease and death are caused by acting badly and angering your God(s). This leads to a notion that the cure or prevention of disease and death is to do what’s right to appease your God(s) – pray, make sacrifices, avoid the wrong food, avoid the wrong sexual behaviors with the wrong people. Alties, as you call them, seem to extend this to avoiding the wrong medicines as well…but even that goes back at least as far as Muslims banning alcohol, I guess.

@ sadmar:

What I’m referring to is speculation that primitive people may have attributed death/ illnes to UNnatural causes like spells, breaking some taboo, angering a magician or god rather than realistic causes. So perhaps a person really died of a natural infection- which they did not understand- but thought it was caused by taking the wrong path in the forest or not following rituals correctly ( I think this was in Frazer** but I can’t look now).
Of course, some ancient dietary proscriptions, like that about not eating pork, were actually realistically healthy.

I mention death-by-magic only because it seems to resemble the way some anti-vaxxers/ alties ascribe the cause of illness/ death/ injury to medical interventions like vaccines/ meds superstitiously without understanding what really happened .

** Orac really knows Frazer so perhaps he will recall this

Of course, some ancient dietary proscriptions, like that about not eating pork, were actually realistically healthy.

Ascribing the Judaic prohibition on pork to pragmatics is a tough sell (and depends on one’s definition of antiquity).

In a way every cell replication “Alters your DNA”. So what!

It’s hard not to conclude that the people yelping the loudest about vaccines and GMOs altering their DNA are the ones who’d most benefit from having a snappy new genome.

What I’m trying to figure out is who he thinks his target audience is. He’s using numbers and figures that are hard for the average person on the street to put into context. In general, unless given a way to visualize numbers, people tend to be terrible at figuring out if a number represents something horrifically large or so vanishingly small so someone reading McKernan’s writings has to either go into it understanding context on their own or draw conclusions based on the way he’s presenting the ‘data’. He puts a lot of effort into making the numbers he’s talking about sound far larger than what they represent and then he throws in deliberately frightening sounding words without giving further context.

Like, I’m no scientist, but I like to try to understand what I’m reading and I’m struggling to follow what McKernan is saying in terms of facts. There’s plenty of effort to put an intense amount of emotion into it though, mostly fear.

Very funny that people who are against vaccines get frustrated when doctors and scientists use ‘technobabble’ to ‘fearmonger’, but when someone who agrees with them does the same to concoct a horror story they take at face value as proof of whatever they already believe. What’s the benefit of making people so afraid of something they’re rendered unable to understand it because just the thought creates such a visceral, emotional response? Unless that’s the plan…

You don’t need a (conscious) plan to reap a benefit. There is social benefit to scaring people: it creates themes for them to bond around. I think there’s a psychological displacement mechanism at work – where the distant object in the imaginary of the conspiracy theory – vaccines, or trans-girls in youth soccer, or whatever – serves as a substitute for the frightening aspects of material and immediately present concerns of everyday life. Those are too formidable, too personal; no one else is going to care. It’s just so much easier to create a little support community and project solutions right around the corner with an elaborate fiction.

I don’t know whether McKernan has an audience, or if he thinks about his readers at all. I’m not sure audience analysis is much of a thing on blogs, Substacks, web forums. I mean, I’m trained to do that, but I almost never do in these threads. it takes time and mental effort I’m not up to on a daily basis. So my comments are more like casting monologues out into the void, and that may be closer to how McKernan imagines his piece. “If no one else cares, at least I was true to myself by putting The Truth out there!”

The form here is lots of detail, lots of specialized science terminology, lots of quantitative references, – an impressive amount of scientific knowledge on display in just being able to identify the component parts assembled so inappropriately. Based on what I’ve observed from Orac’s many critiques over the years, this form is pretty common among antivaxers, and it does, in general, have an audience, as it will generate any number of citations in short social media posts. Fwiw, I’m not aware that complaints about technobabble are common among AVs. On the contrary, it seems to me they just LOVE to talk science(ish), in as much granular detail as they can simulate.

Yes, ‘simulate” is a Baudrillard reference, and that may point to a way to look at pseudoscience in general, and the relationship between a ‘scientist’ like McKernan and his audience. It’s a symbiotic simulation game. He pretends to expound (valid) science for an audience of quasi-cultists mainly composed of Google U. auto-didacts who pretend to comprehend all of it, so they create a collective illusion of being the true champions of enlightenment rationality and objectivity.

This type of obscure woo is why I’m glad I know someone like Orac who has the molecular biology chops to disembowel the crackpot claims.
Thanks, Orac.
From the above article: “…or 16.6 femtomole”

One wonders how many femtomoles of mosquito DNA are injected into my capillaries to be transported throughout my body to be replicated until I turn into a giant, mutated Mosquito-Man!!!!!!111!!!
Jeff Goldblum and David Hedison eat your heart out!
(Maybe McKernan will write a screed addressing this extremely dangerous “possibility” now that summer and mosquito-time are upon us.)
Have fun.

The general public is especially vulnerable when highly technical material like this is involved ( I am not expert but can usually spot BS because of courses I took long ago/ self study/ Orac ) such as we have witnessed in the Covid era ( vaccines, viruses, immunity, big numbers)
which unfortunately intersects with scammers who correctly assess how little people know and how much audiences identify with iconoclasts on Substack: who are especially enabled by their denigration of experts.

During the early days of the pandemic, I felt television news did a good job educating how viruses and vaccines work as well as how infections spread through the populace. However, now I fear that good information- and good informers– are drowned out by louder, invalid writers such as the above.

In other news….
— despite what alties have been telling us, children help spread Covid ( Tseng et al, June 2023, JAMA
— Naomi Wolf discovers the “rest of America” has fun in sparkly heels whilst Liberal Elitists suffer in their prescribed khaki uniforms

Yeah I did advanced courses in some of this stuff and I still wouldn’t try to take on that guy who came out “certain” he could prove the cleavage site had been added artificially, etc.

FWIW, he could be right I have no idea. This is why he should publish. Let other experts in his field examine and try to replicate his findings.

espite what alties have been telling us, children help spread Covid ( Tseng et al, June 2023, JAMA)

I was not aware this was in doubt. Nice to have some data though.

Back when South Australia opened up to the world and omicron came surging in, most of the spread was in schools. In fact it got so bad that some schools had to close because they did not have sufficient well teachers to stay open. Back then if you had a confirmed infection (and teachers were having to test every day) you had to isolate for 14 days. Adults had been vaccinated, but vaccination of children was only starting. Over the course of a week, school classes would go from having a few students away to having a few students at school.

@ Chris P:

That study is at JAMA Network.
PH denialists I read have been baulking about restrictions/ masks/ vaccines especially for children and demand apologies because kids’ lives were destroyedruined forever by school closures etc.
We know that children transmit the virus and can get sick. I suppose that it doesn’t register with them that some die because all of them don’t.

re Smoke
it has abated a bit. I was shocked to look into the next room and see thick brown-orange smoke. I went to the food store and noticed that quite a few people were wearing masks ( but not the best ones).
I woke up today coughing. My SO has asthma but is OK. The cat is fine.
I’ve only really witnessed smoke during flights or on the ground in the west when there were fires.

although I’m not exactly in the worst of it, the Great Smoke Fiasco is quite as bad as it’s being described. I looked into another room which appeared to be filled with thick orange-brown haze until I shut windows. I was worried about the cat who is a rather small adult.

It’s terrible to be sure! Lots of patients this week with asthma/copd exacerbations in clinic/ER.

As someone who’s lived through other Canadian smoke, my best advice (beyond shut the windows, stay inside and wear a mask) is to put a furnace filter on a box fan to filter the air in your bedroom. It helps some (and it’s better than nothing).

Thanks. I’m doing better. We had an air filtration unit but it broke down.
I was expecting my SO to have problems but I guess his maintenance meds worked.

BTW, love the Return of the Living Dead line: “ready to party” has a nice irony. Also love the drive-in movie title parody “return of the revenge” (which I used myself 30+ years ago to advertise a student video show, a more benign form of cheeze).

“But I don’t care Darlin’, because I love you, and you’ve got to let me EAT YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINS!”


Have you ever seen The Return of the Living Dead? If you haven’t and are in any way an aficionado of zombie flicks, I highly recommend giving it a stream. (It’s on Amazon Prime Video, or, if you don’t subscribe to Prime, you can find it on the free ad-supported streamers Tubi and Pluto TV.)

I first saw The Return of the Living Dead in the theaters soon after it was released in the summer of 1985, and I loved it for its combination of horror and humor. (One example: Much of the action took place in a medical supply company warehouse next to a cemetery, which led to an embalmed bisected animals and a cadaver for anatomy lab to come back to life.) On a strictly historical note with respect to zombie cinema, it was arguably the first horror movie ever to feature “fast” zombies instead of the classic George Romero-style slow, shambling zombies that we still see today on The Walking Dead and its spinoffs. (Undeniably it was one of the earliest examples of the genre; sometimes the obscure 1980 horror film Nightmare City is cited as the first ever to feature fast zombies, although these creatures drank blood to regenerate their cells, making the movie arguably more a vampire film than a zombie flick. Whatever.)

In TRotLD, the “fast” zombies weren’t the superhumanly fast zombies that we frequently see today in movies like 28 Days Later (which is frequently incorrectly cited as the first movie to feature “fast zombies”), the 2004 remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead or in World War Z (a middling movie) and Train to Busan (one of my all time favorite zombie flicks, fast or slow zombies). Rather, TRotLD zombies were just zombies that could walk and run as fast as average humans can, but that alone made them quite different from the zombies that we were used to seeing in horror movies at the time. (They could also talk, which was different too.) In addition, the punks partying in the cemetery—as “Hollywoodized” and kind of cheesy as they were—and the punk rock soundtrack were novel twists on the genre at the time.

There were also a number of cool callbacks to the original Night of the Living Dead, such as the amazement expressed by the characters when they discover that destroying the brains of these zombies did not kill them, as it did in Night of the Living Dead

“You mean the movie lied?” LOL.

Also, an even better tagline: “More brains!”

Sadly, the sequels almost all universally sucked. At best, one of the sequels (I forget which one) was actually watchably mediocre and mildly entertaining.

Rather, TRotLD zombies were just zombies that could walk and run as fast as average humans can, but that alone made them quite different from the zombies that were used to seeing in horror movies at the time.

Well, if Igor is going to trot out MDPI, I might as well mention Les Revenants. (I’ve only seen the movie.)

There’s something about the dead showing back up and wanting their old jobs back that’s just inspired.

@ Narad

I have only seen the French television mini-series, both seasons. I continue to strongly suggest to people that they not watch the second season, which became increasingly disappointing, especially so for the denouement, which almost ruined everything.

I actually haven’t seen RotLD. I’m not a big horror fan in general, or of zombies in particular. I had a student write a pretty good seminar paper about RotLD though, that made me think it might be worth a look. I also had a colleague/friend at my last academic post, super-smart guy who was big into zombie movies, and had these amazing, both perceptive and entertaining analyses of their subtexts. He could go on about the slow-zombie zombie distinction… definitely preferred the classic Romero-style slow zombies. The one film he talked about in a way that just blew my mind, though, was Freddy vs. Jason. I wish I could remember the details, you’d have gotten a kick out of it. If only I’d had a tape recorder to preserve the conversation.

I’ve heard good things about Train to Busan, and I think I have it in a queue on some streaming service to see ‘someday’. We do have Prime, so I’ll add RotLD to the list. Sadly, my head issues include difficulty concentrating, so it’s hard for me to commit to the focus of watching a movie (a total change from my younger days), and a lot of films i would have enjoyed once will now threaten my depression level – not that those would necessarily include zombie movies. It’s just overall I have a long. long list of movies I SHOULD like, I have yet to get around to seeing.

There’s a lot of academic writing on horror, with varying appeal to a non-academic audience, as you might imagine. The one ‘foundational’ essay I’d recommend to anyone wanting to sample a little horror theory is Robin Wood’s “An Introduction to the American Horror Film” which has been anthologized in any number of books, including several collections of his essays, among them a newer one gathering all his other writings on the genre. [i couldn’t find a .pdf on the web, though].

Here’s a big vote for Train to Busan. There was a second movie, Peninsula, set 4 years after the first, that I won’t recommend.

Peninsula wasn’t that good, just mediocre. I actually found it kind of boring and was really disappointed when I watched it. The animated prequel Seoul Station, which showed the origin of the zombie virus outbreak, was much better—not as good as Train to Busan, but definitely much better.

He could go on about the slow-zombie zombie distinction… definitely preferred the classic Romero-style slow zombies. The one film he talked about in a way that just blew my mind, though, was Freddy vs. Jason.

I generally prefer the classic Romero-style slow zombie. There’s something about the slow dread of being overwhelmed by creatures that you can take out one-on-one—or even take out a lot of them by yourself because they’re so slow—that nonetheless slowly overwhelm you with numbers until you realize that you can’t kill them all before they surround you, leaving no escape, or who bite you before you manage to escape, leaving you knowing that you’re going to die and turn.

Why else would I have been so obsessed with The Walking Dead for so long before the show and its spinoffs started dropping off in quality? During the heyday of TWD (seasons 3 through the first half of season six, which was when the show, which had become more uneven during season five, started to go wrong, quality-wise, in a way that could no longer be ignored and became pretty frustrating), I was obsessed with the show and couldn’t wait for new episodes each week. That being said, certain takes on the “fast zombie” genre resonate, such as Train to Busan, which is a great fusion of a base under siege with an journey to find safety story archetypes. The whole “fast zombie” thing gives a different horror vibe, more of a rollercoaster compared to a slow build. In terms of horror, it’s kind of like the difference between Aliens and its predecessor Alien, namely action/suspense versus slowly building fear and horror with intermittent shocks and jump scares.

As for Freddy vs. Jason, I watched that movie once years ago but only vaguely remember it. I do recall it as being more entertaining than I had expected but nothing that I have any desire to watch again.

“obsessed with The Walking Dead for so long before the show and its spinoffs started dropping off in quality”

I don’t think I made it much past the first/second series. You know that character, in a lot of films, who says something like “Don’t shush me, you’re not in charge” right at the point where keeping quiet is vital? Or Hudson from ‘Aliens’ without the redeeming features? It felt like this was nearly every member of TWD cast. I was at the point of wishing that none of them would survive.

If you liked ‘Train to Busan’ and zombies in general, you could try the series ‘All of Us Are Dead’. I quite like Korean horror and action films.

@ Orac

I’ve watched Return of the Living Dead multiple times. Love it. One of my favorite films. Loved when paramedics took temperature, room temperature, took pulse, no pulse. LOL If Netflix shows again, will watch it again



RE ” .. combination of horror and humor..”
Is anyone else here a fan of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and US ( or is it Us)?
I was quite impressed about how seamlessly he blended genres with a heaping dose of social commentary. Having Oscar winners as leads didn’t hurt either. Haven’t seen Nope yet though.

Well, those films I HAVE seen. I liked Get Out a lot. Us was less immediately appealing, but had a pretty powerful windup. Peele’s ambitious in style as well as theme, a very interesting director. If you like the first two, you should check out Nope, but be aware it’s different. For one thing, the genre references are more sci-fi and westerns than horror, and the storytelling is more oblique. Also, the protagonists aren’t particularly appealing, which I take as a conscious strategy to make the film more thought provoking. I’d be curious of your thoughts if/when you get to see it.

My SO’s friend asked me about Get Out and I wanted to recommend it highly without giving it away so I said that a white girl’s parents really liked her Black BF perhaps too much and had plans for him
the guy responded saying ” Like slavery?” and I replied “Worse” and he said – a great quote- Nothing is worse than slavery!
to which I counted that this wasn’t the real world but sci fi.

Wow, I was mentioned here twice before I even posted anything 🙂

The central dogma of biology says that all molecular expression goes from DNA to RNA to protein.

Later, scientists found that under some conditions, reverse transcription happens and RNA is transcribed into DNA and then integrated into human genome. The most famous example of this is HIV, an RNA virus, which can successfully reverse transcribe itself and integrate its code into human DNA. After this, the genetically edited cells become HIV virion producing factories.

This is part of the reason why HIV is so difficult to fully cure.

Anyway, the most important article pertaining to the topic of the Covid vaccines reverse transcribing is titled “Intracellular Reverse Transcription of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 In Vitro in Human Liver Cell Line”.

Scientists took a human Huh7 liver cell line (so it is an in vitro experiment), added Pfizer Bnt162b2 mRNA vaccine to the live cells lining a glass vessel lined with huh7 cells, and looked at the outcome.

After some time, they detected increased level of LINE-1, which is an endogenous reverse transcriptase which assists in, drumroll, reverse transcription.

Using PCR tests (used specifically so it would detect DNA only) they detected presence of DNA (not RNA) containing the complement of Pfizer’s mRNA reverse transcribed into DNA: “We also show that BNT162b2 mRNA is reverse transcribed intracellularly into DNA as fast as 6 hours upon BNT162b2 exposure”.

Please note that “reverse transcription” is only the first step before RNA becomes part of human genome. The second step is “integration” and the above articles does not, in any way, test for whether the DNA in Huh7 cells became part of our nuclear chromosomes. That was not the objective of the study. The study only looked at reverse transcription, not integration.

As such, it shows that the assurances of Covid vaccine promoters about mRNA from vaccines not reverse transcribing, to be false.

It is entirely possible that some members of this forum are walking and talking spike protein producing factories! But spike protein is harmless so there is nothing to worry about, right? 🙂

What is worse, Covid vaccine loves going to testes and ovaries. So it is conceivable, although not proven, that some of the reverse transcribed cells would be in the germ line, possibly producing babies, who would be born expressing the lovely harmless spike protein continuously.

This article discusses “endogenization of HIV”, that is the reverse-transcribed HIV genes making it into spermatozoa and then becoming part of the baby’s DNA. “Potential for Virus Endogenization in Humans through Testicular Germ Cell Infection: the Case of HIV”. A worthwhile read.

Since mRNA vaccines were given to billions, it is totally possible that we have some lovely cute “science babies”, having the mRNA gene integrated into their genomes.

I hope, very much, that such spike protein babies would be happy and healthy, of course.

First, although Huh7 responds to INF stimulation and is a promising cell line for studying viral infection and replication in vitro [2], it does not reflect an in vivo environment, particularly the absence of comprehensive cellular and humoral immune response.

Second, the vaccine dose used in vitro is much higher than expected in vivo.

Third, the experiment employed cultured hepatocellular carcinoma cells (Huh-7) that differ significantly from primary human hepatocytes.

Fourth, retroviruses in particular are known to reverse-transcribe intracellularly and have the ability to be integrated into the host genome. There is some evidence in support of SARS-CoV-2’s ability to integrate some of its genetic sequences into the DNA of the host cells [7]; however, unlike retroviruses, the infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus could not be reproduced from the integrated subgenomic sequences.

The first such babies would have been born last year, presumably. No news going around yet on anything strange in 1 year olds born to vaxed or previously infected parents.

I imagine that if such babies exist, at worst they will have elevated rates of ADHD (innate brain fog) and at best they will have innate partial covid immunity. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Now I wonder if lawsuits will come up several years from now from fathers and mothers alleging that their covid shots caused their children’s ADHD, and the vaccine court rules that the parents were undiagnosed cases (and the grandparents thought their kids were just lazy or bratty and would outgrow it like they supposedly did but not really), a kind of Michelle Cedillo 2.0 Light as it were.

To add to points made by dr Yeti, authors of the paper never checked has anythiing integrated into DNA. It was all about LINE 1 expression.

@ Igor Chudov

It does NOT integrate into the genome. You just don’t know when to quit. You are tiresome. You admitted you have NO basic knowledge of immunology, microbiology, virology, etc.; but you still keep posting comments. Everyone who knows anything, understands how RNA can become DNA, etc.; but it is in the cytoplasm of cells. Your opinions go against 10s of thousands of professionals around the world; yet, you know you are right. Please explain. Since you are certain you are right, are you really not human; but some sort of g-d???

As I mentioned a while back, I am currently proof-reading and editing next edition of colleagues undergraduate Microbiology textbook. What do you know about microbiology??? Have you ever read a single textbook, taken a course, etc.? How about immunology???? How about genetics? Despite my advanced age, currently reading new edition of undergraduate Immunology text and found free college courses online using text, so read chapter and watch lectures. I do this because as I age my memory not as good, so refreshes my memory and also updates me a newer developments. So, though I read on a number of topics, editing colleagues book and reading new immunology text takes up around two hours per day. How much time do you devote to learning the aforementioned topics???


Joel, you may be shocked but I like you despite your naughty words. I hope that I live to your age, which I kind of doubt, and would remain as feisty as you.

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “Potential for Virus Endogenization in Humans through Testicular Germ Cell Infection: the Case of HIV”

What you fail in your immense ignorance to understand that, yep, an intact virus has mechanisms to enter just about anything; but not mRNA, etc. Think of a burglar without arms, still burglar; but can’t enter house. I realize this is too complicated for your to understand! !

However, maybe actually you hate people and think world overcrowded because with COVID vaccines the number just in US who would have died would have been much much larger. You continue to fail to understand that all a vaccine does is create the same memory cells that develop after an infection. Memory cells that can stop an infection cold or reduce its severity. Your antivax stupid bias does not understand this and when it is explained, you ignore because you refuse to consider you are wrong.

Instead of wasting so much time posting comments, why not get hold of undergraduate microbiology text and read. An excellent one is one I am editing:

Gerald Tortora et al. Microbiology: An Introduction


Wrote: “with COVID vaccines the number just in US who would have died would have been much much larger.”

Left out with”out”, so WITHOUT COVID vaccines the number just in US who would have died would have been much much larger.

As I wrote a while back, if vaccines never developed current world population would be 1/3 or less current and many alive would have various disabilities, etc.

Of course, Igor knows better based on his immense g-d like knowledge. LOL

==> What you fail in your immense ignorance to understand that, yep, an intact virus has mechanisms to enter just about anything; but not mRNA, etc.

mRNA nanoparticles also have mechanisms to enter many places, as “japan biodistribution study” showed. In rats, it entered both ovaries and testicles.

@ Igor Chudov

Do you know what a nanoparticle is? We are inundated with enormous varied nanoparticles every day with NO effect because they are so incredibly small. For instance, we get nanoparticles of various toxins, etc.

And even if nanoparticles of mRNA enters ovaries and testicles, so what, so does many other substances that have NO effect. You just continue to display your ignorance of immunology, microbiology, genetics, etc. So, you read something without really understanding it or its limitations; but if it suits your purposes, you jump on it.

If individual don’t get COVID vaccines and suffer, not my problem; but, unfortunately, they can infect others who either couldn’t be vaccinated; e.g., perhaps currently getting chemotherapy for cancer or their immune systems just don’t respond enough. Just as if a drunk driver kills themselves, shame; but I won’t shed any tears; but, unfortunately, they often crash into innocent third parties.


tt would useful to have a link to that “japan biodistribution study”. I bet that “nanoparticle” dose was much higher than one used in vaccines.

I did found the study. It was Japanese, but some parts were in English. Dose was 1mg/kg! Compare with vaccine dose.
Do you read Japanese ?

@ Igor Chudov

Actually a retrovirus can enter the cell nucleus and merge with its genome; but COVID is NOT a retrovirus and retroviruses are a small minority of all viruses. It is NOT a RNA virus merging with ribosome creating additional RNA which becomes DNA that can merge with nucleus. I’m sure you don’t understand a word I write.

Maybe I should criticize, make suggestions on how buildings or bridges should be built. I have NEVER studied structural engineering; but so what? I’m sure my suggestions would be valid just because they are my suggestions.

Igor. Why should anyone listen to someone who has no relevant qualifications whatsoever, as opposed to 10s of thousands who do?

I will answer, because you don’t know what you are talking about. But you seem knowledgeable to others who also don’t know what you are talking about, hence you are an irresponsible gob shite who may well have caused someone to make a wrong decision about their health care.

Get real, you have still YET to admit when you are wrong, your ego is far bigger than your knowledge.

I have no idea why anyone should listen to me, to be honest.

I just have a way of saying things that makes people want to comment.

@ Igor Chudov:

No, you say things that a particular audience wants to hear so they comment mostly in agreement with you.
There are plenty of media outlets, governmental sites, SB experts and educated commenters that you run directly counter to AND
alt med/ anti-vax believers like you form an ecosystem, a network of websites, social media and organisations that mutually reinforce each other on the internet.

If one of their luminaries mentions a new reason to fear vaccines, soon the others will pick it up or present their own version. They have their own set of heroes and villains. They link to each other and their followers amplify their material such as films and books.
This ready-made audience is fiercely loyal and rewards writers it likes by following them and commenting
AND to be accepted, you don’t need an advanced degree or experience in a field just the right position- contrarianism and naysaying.

Places like Substack, Rumble are rife with alt med/ anti-vax supporters so it was a good place for you to land. Plus you can monetise your writing and earn some money.
Being popular doesn’t make your ideas true and being critical of everything doesn’t make you either correct or perceptive.
Being praised by Naomi Wolf isn’t something to be proud of. I’d be thrilled if she hated me.

“I just have a way of saying things that makes people want to comment”

It’s because you act like you’re clad in the armour of true science but you are really clad in the fishnet stockings of opinion.

Lots of openings.

It’s because you act like you’re clad in the armour of true science but you are really clad in the fishnet stockings of opinion.


@ Igor Chudov

If you noticed, I corrected myself about viruses, first writing can’t enter nucleus; but then retroviruses can. This isn’t the first time I’ve corrected myself on this blog. I accept that I am a mere mortal and, though highly educated, sometimes make mistakes, something you are incapable of admitting since you aren’t educated in any related subjects, so you know you are absolutely right because you know you are absolutely right.

YOU ARE A REALLY SICK INDIVIDUAL. If anyone listens to you, doesn’t get vaccinated, and either gets severely sick, hospitalized, or dies, or transmits to someone else who suffers, you bear much of the responsibility.

@Joel ==> If you noticed, I corrected myself about viruses, first writing can’t enter nucleus; but then retroviruses can.

DNA viruses can also enter nucleus.

==> I accept that I am a mere mortal and, though highly educated, sometimes make mistakes, something you are incapable of admitting since you aren’t educated in any related subjects, so you know you are absolutely right because you know you are absolutely right.

I am also a mere mortal, and have limited biology education, and make many mistakes. I discard about a half of my posts on substack because during writing them, I realize that they are wrong or mistaken.

I appreciate your feedback.

You should discard ALL your posts, that would be more accurate. Dunning, Dunning and more Kruger

@ Igor Chudov

Actually a much much better rebuttal than mine to your belief that COVID can enter nucleus is above:

MedicalYeti says:
June 9, 2023 at 10:55 am

Hamid A. Merchant (2022 Apr 11). Comment on Aldén et al. Intracellular Reverse Transcription of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 In Vitro in Human Liver Cell Line. Curr. Issues Mol. Biol. 2022, 44, 1115–1126.

I notice that anti-vaxxers propose that something in vaccines somehow gets into the brain and changes it:
— vaccines get into young children’s brains and cause autism
— vaccines get into adults’ brains and cause “brain fog”, “cognitive problems” and something resembling dementia
HOWEVER none of them can tell us how that happens:
how do brains transform from normal/ average to something not average.

We know how autistic people’s brains are different and how stroke or Alzheimer’s patients’ brains depart from average.
How does a vaccine do that?
Does MMR or DTaP go into the PFC and re-arrange its architecture and wiring? Does it grow extra cells? Increase head size ( in some males)?
Does a Covid vaccine create tangles such as are observed in Alzheimer’s?
Do vaccines cause CVD or diabetes quickly that leads to circulation problems or damage to blood vessels?
How about the BBB in all of this? How about the hippocampus and memory?
Did it break?

Do billions of spike proteins clog up the tubes? Tubes are how parts of the brain communicate with each other and the body**. Does hiv disable the immune system until all hell breaks loose? We need to know.

** I’m joking

Denice, you should read comments (1,150 and coming) to my post about cognitive decline.

I was frankly more disturbed by the comments, than by the material I used to make my post.

Read the top level comments and you might feel some unease at what is going on.

@ Igor:

Anyone can report anything post vaccination to VAERS or on Substack.
I once had a flu shot and fell a few days later, did the vaccine cause the fall and injury? I could report that.
I could report that after my last Covid vaccine, I was able to read Italian much better: did the vaccine cause this apparent benefit – or was it study?
All vaccines are monitored before approval – even emergency approval- with tens of thousands of subjects. After release, there is additional surveillance which often reveals rare effects because millions of people have now been vaccinated. These are reported and sometimes lead to a pause or stop to vaccine release: that happened with J&J. Others included an uptick in narcolepsy after H1N1 vaccines in a select population. Rotavirus vaccines caused a very rare problem that led to changing the vaccine. DPT. Myocarditis and other problems can rarely occur in certain people, so a warning was issued. If you look these up, you’ll find that the rate is exceedingly small.
You have a very select audience that may be seeking out vaccine “Injuries” .
I won’t make a joke about FREQUENCY of cognitive problems but leave it to Dr Bacon, Narad and other RI tricksters.
Cognitive decline/ issues may occur for many reasons – what would be the mechanism of action post vaccines? Alzheimer’s has a very specific mechanism and occurs over a long time. Problems can accompany CVD, diabetes, kidney disease, SMI and other illness.
So how does that work?
Does something in the vaccine affect the brain, blood vessels, heart?
What part of the brain? PFC? Hippocampus? How does that happen so quickly? Can you see it if you do a cat scan/ MRI?

FINALLY: do you know what causes cognitive problems ? Getting Covid, especially Long Covid. One of Orac’s long time commenters, Chris, asks:
can you show me a vaccine that causes more problems than the illness?

The numbers I used to delineate points seem to have disappeared. Sorry.

Denice, I had comments from MANY unvaccinated people who report mental decline after Covid.

P.S. (follow up to my previous reply to your message above)

The post about cognitive decline somehow struck a nerve and a lot of people showed up to report their own intellectual decline or that of their friends, associates and the loved ones.

Many names are new to my blog – so they came to report what was bothering them) but people felt safe and empowered to report what they see happening around them, and it is not pretty.

They see unusual mental decline around (and including) themselves.

It is not a survey. It is just a free form comment space. Many comments from UNvaccinated people reporting post-Covid mental decline.

The posts blaming 5G are least well written.

“It is not a survey.”

Then why mention the comments? If we believe you’ve been getting such comments, the fact that gullible people [your subscribers], have the seed that ‘cognitive decline’ is a real thing and then start saying they’ve observed/experienced it doesn’t mean anything. There is as much reason to believe their reports than there is to believe your stories: none.

That’s not the point Igor. You’ve published a post on a particular subject. Firstly the people commenting are already in your camp or, at least, adjacent to it (otherwise your blog wouldn’t be on their radar). Secondly, the people who have recently come across a ‘stupid’ incident or experienced one themselves are naturally more inclined to comment than those who haven’t seen anything more than the normal human incompetence.

In your case you attracted the type of people who want to post and think it applies to the population as a whole. This is a known problem with surveys. I was trying to find a cartoon I’ve seen recently which perfectly described the problem. It was about an online survey with only two answers to one question:

How do you feel about online surveys?

A) I love them and always full them in.
B) I ignore them.

Naturally (A) was a vast majority of the answers. Can you see the problem with this Igor?

@ Igor:

Did you read what I wrote above as well as comments of Idw56old and NumberWang ?
In fact, Orac wrote about this in his post today ( and commented here- which I can’t read yet):
the poll/ survey tells us only about your readers. It is easy to game these results to portray whatever you like- be it intentional or not.

Actually, if this were a highly active thread I could probably game something now myself.
Suppose I asked if readers could report positive results after a Covid booster – besides not getting sick- such as my example:
improved foreign language reading skills?

Knowing RI regulars, I predict many creative and sarcastic responses. The “survey” tells us nothing about what people in general think and is highly biased towards a particular audience.

Suppose an amateur researcher wants to study racism and asks very reasonable questions BUT does this survey only in a town that has a long history of making voting difficult for minorities: do you think that the survey will reveal anything BUT racism? It has no wider significance and is only about that town which we already know. Survey about a racist town shows racism.
Woo hoo!

You do understand, don’t you Igor, that a collection of anecdotes people leave at your blog is simply a collection of stories: you’ve neither conducted a survey nor taken a random sample. [Unless, wait: did the stories come in in alphabetical order of the authors’ last names?]

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “mRNA nanoparticles”

Nope. the nanoparticles are extremely minute pieces of the mRNA. The mRNA only works if intact. And nanoparticles can be used for gene therapy; but an intact gene is not the same as mRNA. And usually used are lipid nanoparticles, not remotely related to mRNA.

NOTE. though you don’t know what you are talking about, just to be certain I do websearches and PubMed searches, so this time downloaded dozen papers on nanoparticles. Lipid nanoparticles can be used to deliver mRNA, which is how some of the vaccines work. I repeat Lipid nanoparticles. And they only deliver vaccine to cell cytoplasm, not nucleus, then mRNA joins with ribosomes to create proteins, after short time disintegrates.

@Joel, actually the nanoparticles are the lipid “envelopes”, inside of which the mRNA sits as a payload.

These particular nanoparticles are very good at penetrating all sorts of barriers, like the placenta, breast, ovaries, testes etc.

Which does not mean thatA goes to nucleus. Are these claims based on “japanese biodistribution study” which used dose 1mg/kg, hundreds ims more than vaccine dose ?

As sceptics sometimes we are gifted material which succinctly illustrates our case:
I described here what happened Wednesday afternoon ( in this thread) when orange-brown smoke suddenly entered my house due to fires; today I discovered that Naomi Wolf encountered the very same phenomenon when she visited to meet her lawyer.
She creatively spins an apocalyptic tale that purports that people are “.. trained now to not react to catastrophic danger or even extra super weirdness..”
She starts her piece suspecting her hotel of data harvesting as it scans her face, quotes prophets from the bible and videotapes the smoke from her Uber.
Then she discusses geoengineering, orange chemicals, Bill Gates and that Canada and Australia are “.. Petri dishes for bad actors to experiment on populations..” She invokes 911 as she ratchets up frightening CTs whilst denying that she is a CT spreader.

Of course, I’m not a professional writer and investigative reporter who ferrets out societal truth from personal experience but isn’t she overdoing it? If everything you encounter is a threat and illustrative of malignant, secret manoeuverings, isn’t that often just “crying Wolf?”.

I realise she writes on Substack to raise funds ( since she no longer is paid by magazines) and that writers need eye-catching titles and stirring commentary but if you claim to educate, shouldn’t you also suggest at least a pinch of scepticism in your predominantly fear-danger-horror stew?

RI scoffers like Igor scare readers about potential dangers from vaccines that most likely originate from their misreading of studies and jumping to unlikely conclusions.

Because forest-fires are not frightning enough, ms. Wolf needs to throw in all kinds of nasty plots.

“If everything you encounter is a threat and illustrative of malignant, secret manoeuverings, isn’t that often just “crying Wolf?”.”

Keeping followers in a constant state of fear, resentment and confusion generates income, celebrity and political success. It’s a time-dishonored formula.

All the while stroking their egos by assuring them that THEY are the ones in the know.

She starts her piece suspecting her hotel of data harvesting as it scans her face

I’m not so hard on her for that: there’s no reason for a hotel, or any business, to do that, and with the non-existent laws about data security we have here it’s more than a little concerning. That horse has already bolted a good distance I realize, but we still need to be concerned.

“Even if it could, also remember that the cells that primarily take up the lipid nanoparticles of the vaccine containing the mRNA for the spike protein are muscle cells, which do not divide.”
This seems to be the basis for your entire argument. The vaccine is injected in your shoulder muscle and muscle cells don’t divide. Yet this argument doesn’t hold as bio-distribution data have shown that a significant portion of the lipid nanoparticles enters the bloodstream and is transported to all organs. Where cells do divide. Which basically counters a large part of your argument.

I’m aware of the bio distribution data. Most of the cells in those organs are terminally differentiated and do not divide either. Moreover, the bio distribution data is from a rodent study in which the rats were injected with massive doses of LNPs with a reporter mRNA, many times by weight what a human would receive, all in order to find any organ where the LNPs might go at normal doses, while the vast majority of the vaccine does stay in the muscle into which it is injected. Seriously, search for the word “biodistribution” in my post and note what I wrote, as well as the link provided to my prior discussion a couple of years ago of the biodistribution study to which antivaxxers like to refer.

[…] In any case, over the last few months, the variant of the “toxins gambit” that’s been promoted has been that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are “contaminated” with dreaded plasmid DNA that might somehow integrate into your genome and cause “turbo cancer” by disrupting tumor suppressor genes…or something. (Whatever they do, according to antivaxxers they’re horrible because they somehow “permanently alter your DNA! Hint: They don’t.) […]

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