Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Clinical trials Medicine

Now Steve Kirsch wants to “collaborate” with provaccine scientists?

Steve Kirsch is known for his ludicrous challenges issued to vaccine advocates to “debate” vaccines. Now he wants to “collaborate” with provaccine scientists to test whether vaccines cause autism. His proposal is equally ludicrous.

So now Steve Kirsch wants to “collaborate” with vaccine scientists, claiming that the “best way to settle an argument about ‘what the science says’ is with a collaborative experiment”? Maybe I should, as Kirsch likes to say a lot, “talk about it.” First, however, a little background is in order to explain why I find Kirsch’s offer to “collaborate” so risibly silly.

Steve Kirsch is a tech bro who early in the pandemic the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund (CETF) in order to fund research into off-label treatments for COVID-19 using existing drugs already having FDA approval for other diseases. Unfortunately, his reactions to the results of his project, the good and the bad, were a major foreshadowing for the antivax heel turn that he would later take. He refused to believe the results of a study funded by CETF that found that hydroxychloroquine had no value treating COVID-19 and turned on the investigators, accusing them of poor study design and statistical errors. Even for an early promising result with the antidepressant fluvoxamine, Kirsch didn’t seem to understand that preliminary results are often overturned by later, larger and more rigorous clinical trials and hectored his scientific advisory board to stop being so cautious in its statements about fluvoxamine and to promote it. It wasn’t long before Kirsch was weaving conspiracy theories about how “they” were “suppressing cures” like ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, and fluvoxamine and his scientific advisory board all resigned in frustration. This was the first example of how he collaborated with scientists after the pandemic hit.

It didn’t take long before Kirsch went completely off the deep end and became a hard core conspiracy theorist about COVID-19 vaccines. By 2021 Kirsch was promoting ivermectin as a miracle cure (with fluvoxamine) for COVID-19. By May 2021 he was claiming that COVID-19 vaccines impair female fertility (they don’t), and by. September 2021 he was falsely claiming that the mRNA vaccines kill more people than they save—150,000 killed by the vaccines—!using some truly risible arguments to claim that grew by May 2022 to a claim that mRNA vaccines have killed over a half a million people while only saving ~25,000. By 2022, Kirsch had developed a penchant for challenging critics of COVID-19 quackery and antivax misinformation to live public debates, a penchant that leads him to annoy the crap out of legitimate scientists with fatuous “challenges” conveyed by email and publicly on his Substack. (I’ve been at the receiving end of a few.) Equally predictably, Kirsch’s anti-COVID-19 vaccine variety of antivaccinationism soon expanded to encompass “old school” antivax conspiracy theories, such as the CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory featured in the 2016 antivaccine propaganda “documentary” VAXXED (even more recently resurrected by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) and, of course, the long debunked claim that childhood vaccines cause autism, all while using legal bullying and doxxing to silence critics.

It is the “old school” antivax claim that vaccines cause autism that has led to Kirsch’s sudden desire to sing Kumbaya and bring “vaccine skeptics” and vaccine scientists together to…prove that vaccines cause autism? Well, that’s not how he puts it, but his history suggests that’s what he means. Here’s how he starts out:

Important scientific questions like “do vaccines cause autism?” have been around for over 20 years.

Debates won’t change anything. Publishing more papers won’t change anything.

There is one way to change things: invite both sides to collaboratively design a series of experiments that they agree in advance will finally resolve the issue to the satisfaction of each side.

To keep things honest, everything will be in public view, and the experiments will be designed so they cannot be gamed by either side.

I’m glad to see that Kirsch seems to finally recognize that “debates won’t change anything.” Of course, his version of “debate” is the old antivax trope beloved not just by antivaxxers but by cranks of all stripes (e.g., creationists, quacks, etc.) the “live public debate,” which lets the crank put the defender of science on the defensive with rhetoric and sophistry, particularly Gish gallops, firehosing, citing obscure studies, misrepresenting studies, and other tricks that take far more time to refute than to trot out. I’m being snarky, of course, because Kirsch appears not to have backed off in the least from his grandstanding challenges to “debate.” Mentioning this, though, does put his sudden offer to “collaborate” with provaccine scientists into proper perspective.

He’s also almost correct that publishing more papers won’t change anything, but again not in the way he means. We already have huge amounts of well-designed studies, some very large, that have failed to find a whiff of a hint of a signal that vaccines (or vaccines that contained mercury) are associated with a detectably increased risk of autism. Publishing more negative studies—and, yes, they will be negative—won’t change antivax minds. Scientists have been publishing such studies for close to a quarter century, and each one is met by antivaxxers with either a collective yawn dismissing it as the product of big pharma, deceptive attacks on the methodology, demonization of the researchers, and/or appeals to anecdotes. This history, too, puts Kirsch’s sudden thirst to “collaborate” into perspective.

In particular, Kirsch framing his offer as wanting to “invite both sides to collaboratively design a series of experiments that they agree in advance will finally resolve the issue to the satisfaction of each side” might seem reasonable, but only if you’re a crank like Kirsch. There are not “two sides” to the issue of whether vaccines cause autism, at least not two scientifically equal sides—or even sides that are roughly equal (or, come to think of it, are somewhere in the same order of magnitude). Such an offer to bring together adherents to rival scientific hypotheses to “collaborate” might make sense when both of the two hypotheses have a lot of evidence to support them, but it’s still unclear which hypothesis best explains existing evidence. What Kirsch is proposing, whether he realizes it or not, is akin to “bringing together” flat earthers to collaborate with geologists and astronomers to design experiments to determine once and for all if the earth is round or flat.

As is typical for Kirsch, he can’t resist wasting no time in making a private challenge public, in this case by publishing his email “offer to collaborate” on his Substack. One notes right away the—shall we say?—asymmetry in the scientists as defined by Kirsch

“Pro-vaccine” (To: line)“Antivaccine” (cc: line)
Stanley PlotkinJames Lyons-Weiler
Paul OffitAaron Siri
Peter HotezDel Bigtree
Martin KulldorffPaul Thomas
Jay BhattacharyaAndrew Wakefield
Vinay PrasadAnthony Mawson
Tracy Beth HøegBrian Hooker
Christine Stabell BennChris Martenson
Greenland SanderClare Craig
Peter MarksNorman Fenton
Harvey Risch
I note that I wasn’t sure how to classify some of these invitees, as will be explained below. I also note that he bcc:’d Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Also note how many nonscientists are on the antivaccine side.

I had some trouble deciding how to classify a lot of these; so I more or less accepted that anyone in the cc: line was considered to be on Kirsch’s side, given his brag that they are “his friends” in the email. Obviously, Andrew Wakefield, Anthony Mawson, James Lyons-Weiler, Brian Hooker, Del Bigtree, Aaron Siri, and Paul Thomas are all “old school” hardcore “vaccines cause autism” antivaxxers, as regular readers will immediately recognize. Chris Martenson, Clare Craig, and Norman Fenton are clearly “new school” anti-COVID-19 antivaccine, while Harvey Risch was a hydroxychloroquine promoter early in the pandemic. (I haven’t paid much attention to the evolution of his views since.) I also couldn’t help but point out that Del Bigtree and Aaron Siri are not scientists, nor is Chris Martenson, former pharmaceutical financial analyst and founder of Peak Prosperity turned COVID-19 conspiracy theorist. Although it is clear that Wakefield, Mawson, Lyons-Weiler, Hooker, Bigtree, and Thomas all believe that vaccines cause autism, I am less sure about Martenson, Craig, Risch and Fenton, although Fenton has of late seemed receptive to the idea.

As for the “provaccine” side in the To: header, Kirsch’s only criteria seem to be to lump people who are just not as antivax as he is in with a handful of real vaccine advocates. Indeed, only three of the ostensibly provaccine side can be unequivocally truly be classified as truly provaccine: Stanley Plotkin, Paul Offit, and Peter Hotez. Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya, Vinay Prasad, and Tracy Beth Høeg have turned out to be anti-COVID-19 vaccine. While some of these have started to echo “old school” antivax tropes—e.g., “we don’t need to vaccinate children because they are at such low risk”; provaccine and promask advocates have an “irrational fear” of disease; “natural immunity” is superior; public health officials deserve punishment—they still don’t believe that vaccines cause autism. I will note that in the case of Dr. Vinay Prasad, his denial is rather lukewarm, basically that RFK Jr. hasn’t presented good evidence for a link, but he nonetheless, at least as of now, appears not to accept the “old school” antivax conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism. (I predict that this will change as audience capture pulls him further and further down the antivax rabbit hole.) Finally, I know Christine Stabell Benn from her appearance with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his “urgency of normal” roundtable—never a good look for an ostensibly “provaccine” scientist or physician. In other words, many of the “provaccine” doctors chosen by Kirsch are arguably—shall we say?—not exactly provaccine. In his offer to “collaborate,” Kirsch appears to have stacked the deck.

Sander Greenland is an interesting case. I put him in the provaccine side because that’s how Kirsch clearly views him. However, Greenland was co-author of a widely publicized and very bad paper looking at “serious adverse events of special interest” due to COVID-19 vaccines that seemed custom-designed to make the vaccines look as dangerous as it could. More importantly, Kirsch likely does not know—or maybe he does—that this article was not Greenland’s first antivax rodeo. Indeed, way, way, way back in the day—15 years ago!—he was an expert witness for the test cases in the Autism Omnibus proceedings, who supported the claim of a link between vaccines that contained the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal and an increased risk of autism with bad statistical arguments. On reconsideration, perhaps I should have put Greenland in the antivaccine column, regardless of how Kirsch views him.

So let’s see what Kirsch proposes:

Kirsch's offer to "collaborate"
Kirsch’s offer to “collaborate.”

I love the part where Kirsch characterizes himself as an “independent journalist” and then brags about being “friends” with the folks on the cc: line as well as with RFK Jr. With amusement, I note that Kirsch has not always been so careful as to bcc: RFK Jr. on emails to people…like me. Be that as it may, Kirsch is more like an independent advocate and crank. What he does resembles journalism only in that he writes words on a website and not much else.

Let me just respond to Kirsch’s proposal to collaborate in a way that, I daresay, none of the small number of truly provaccine scientists on the list would be so blunt as to do. Collaborating with antivaxxers to design a study like this would be akin to how Mark Crislip likes to characterize “integrative medicine” (or, as I like to call the pseudodiscipline, “integrating” quackery and pseudoscience with science-based medicine):

If you integrate fantasy with reality, you do not instantiate reality. If you mix cow pie with apple pie, it does not make the cow pie taste better; it makes the apple pie worse.

Adding a bunch of antivax cranks, quacks, and pseudoscientists to a group of scientists to study whether vaccines cause autism will not make them and their previous “science” any less antivax pseudoscience and quackery, but it will contaminate any scientific protocol that is produced by the effort. I’m sure that Peter Hotez and Paul Offit likely ignored Kirsch’s offer, while I suspect that Stanley Plotkin was probably puzzled by it, given his age and lack of online presence. I wonder, though, how Jay Bhattacharya, Vinay Prasad, Martin Kulldorff, Tracy Beth Høeg, and Christine Stabell Benn reacted to this offer to “collaborate” on the design of a study to answer once and for all the question of whether vaccines cause autism. (Never mind that it’s been answered quite conclusively again and again over the last quarter century.) Their turn to anti-COVID-19 antivaccine views notwithstanding, they all still appear to view themselves as “provaccine,” which is perhaps why Kulldorff reacted so negatively to claims that vaccines cause autism:

Good luck with that offer to “debate,” Dr. Kulldorff!

This lead to this hilarious rant by Kirsch:

Is that how “science” works? No, actually, it isn’t, but not for the reasons that Kirsch seems to think it isn’t. Basically, Kulldorff was a fool to agree to “debate,” and, I think, he started to realize it when he saw Kirsch’s list of potential antivax “debaters” and their terms.

I was amused, for the simple reason that at the time of this Tweet, RFK Jr. was all hot to “debate” Peter Hotez on Joe Rogan’s podcast. The fact that he found excuses to demur when challenged by Martin Kulldorff tells you all you need to know about his original challenge to Hotez. It was performative, not substantive, as is the case with effectively all such “challenges” to “debate” by cranks. In brief, Kulldorff was just too small a fish for RFK Jr. to bother with.

I’m almost touched by the seeming naïvété of Kirsch’s faith that just bringing together his group of cranks with some real scientists will produce a plan for a study to answer any scientific question once and for all. Even if such a plan were produced and weren’t irredeemably tainted by the pseudoscience of the cranks helping to design it, there would still be the issue of finding funding for the study, which would no doubt cost millions of dollars given the sample sizes likely to be required, getting it approved by an IRB, and then actually doing the study and analyzing its results. Given that we already have more than adequate evidence to reject the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism, it would be an utter waste of money and effort. Maybe Kirsch knows that, but I fear that he really doesn’t.

Also, it’s not as though this sort of thing hasn’t been tried before. Safeminds funded a study to test whether mercury in vaccines causes autism using a rhesus macaque monkey model. When the study came back negative, with no detectable association between mercury-containing vaccines and changes in brain anatomy associated with autism, the antivaxxers who funded the study turned on the investigators whom they had funded, calling for a “reanalysis” of their data and accusing them of “cherry picking” their data because the larger study didn’t agree with the results of a prior pilot study, while avoiding publicizing the results of research they had helped to fund. (Sound familiar? It sounds a lot like what Kirsch did with the results of CETF-funded studies that disagreed with his preconceived beliefs, doesn’t it?) Meanwhile, 36 monkeys died for no reason.

On the other hand, Kirsch’s offer to “collaborate” might still also be about the grift, given this contact page recently pointed out to me:

If you want to book my time and ask me anything (including whether viruses exist) and get instant answers in an interactive Zoom call, use this link. You can purchase anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours by changing the quantity. After your purchase, you’ll be able to immediately book a mutually agreeable time slot by following the instructions. You control how the time is used so you can interrupt me at any time. 

The paid link is meant for serious discussions. 

You will need to be respectful at all times; I reserve the right to terminate the call if you are not. The point of this is to show that I’m not hiding from questions from anyone. If you’re willing to compensate me for my time, I’m perfectly happy to answer any questions. Now wouldn’t it be great if people on the pro-vax side of the debate were open to doing the same thing I am? But they aren’t and that’s the problem

My consulting rate is currently set at $500 for 15 minutes. The price is set high enough to discourage people from using this method to waste my time and high enough that I don’t spend all day long in these calls. 

And I’d be absolutely delighted to pay the exact same rate to any prominent “pro narrative” people to buy their time to defend the narrative. 

I think I’ll pass as I wonder if anyone has ever been stupid enough to actually pay Kirsch this much to talk to him about COVID-19 or vaccines.

I will, however, suggest that if Kirsch really was so willing to pay the “exact same rate,” he probably owes me around $4,000 for the time I wasted trying to educate him by email about science when he emailed me about his antivaccine ideas. I don’t ever expect to see a penny, but will admit that the only way I could stomach talking to him would be at a $2,000/hour rate. On second thought, even that rate is too low to put up with his bloviating about his conspiracy theories and pseudoscientific beliefs.

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]

87 replies on “Now Steve Kirsch wants to “collaborate” with provaccine scientists?”

There is one last factor that makes this challenge pointless.
On several occasions, antivaxxers have been involved in studies to answer some questions about some or other supposed harms of vaccines, from study design right through to data collection and analysis. And when the results have come in, disproving antivaxx claims of harm, then despite the fact that they were involved from the start, the antivaxxers have thrown their toys out of the cot and rejected the results. In fact, I may be misremembering, but I believe you have blogged on at least one such study.
Kirsch is either naive or dishonest, but I suspect the latter.

With Kirsch’s record of haranguing and pressuring professionals to fudge evidence, no credentialed and knowledgeable scientist will want anything to do with him. Nor will they want to “collaborate” with bottom-feeders known for gross deception, fraud, medical license-losing and retractions.

This is a Kirsch stunt, much like his other stunts designed to increase clicks and subscriptions. He’s run through pretty much all the decrepit relics in his antivax toy chest*, so he’s got to keep his faithful followers revved up with new nonsense.

*truly, he’s been like a kid with new toys recently, discovering commonplace antivax memes for the first time. Unless he picks up on that old cartoon showing cow heads emerging from the arms of people vaccinated against smallpox, he’s close to running out of rancid tropes to spew.–1024×795.jpg

If Kirsch is truly needing the grift from these activities, he’s about to run into the well-established grift wall of Bigtree’s ICAN and RFKjrs CHD groups. They put the screws to that dopey “I invented email” guy Shiva pre-pandemic and I’m sure they’ll have not problems doing it now.

All big-time grift in the AV world now goes through Delbert and Kennedy.

I’ll wager Kirsch will would only accept either an RCT vaccinated versus unvaccinated study or a large-scale VSD retrospective vaccinated versus unvaccinated. The first is incredibly unethical for leaving children unvaccinated. The second suffers the problem of severe differences in health care seeking behavior between parents who vaccinate and parents who don’t. It’s worth noting in the first year of the Trump sleezidency a meeting was arranged between Bigtree, RFKjr and Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci where Dell and RFKjr both claim they were told by Collins and Fauci that such a study would never be done. (Bigtree moaning about this at!AuGjhXd2JkGGnjLuNaukjAXAcAUT?e=qF7HbL . Link on CHD for RFKjr whining summary at ).

A. I think you showed that his history with early treatment shows him a bad faith collaborator on scientific studies.

B. Maybe someone should tell him about this early antivaccine effort to do real collaborative science on vaccines and autism with actual scientists.

C. If he wants to challenge the consensus, he actually needs some evidence that it’s wrong. Online posturing and useless surveys aren’t it.

Orac: “.. the time I wasted trying to educate him..”
it would have to be more like re-education.

Alties/ anti-vaxxers, whether they be leaders or followers, come to RI with preconceived ideas about vaccines or how autism develops: they have already been initiated with a series of concepts backed by “studies” expounded by the “experts” they value.

They have read books, websites, “informational” sites and viewed “classrooms on the air”, broadcast “universities” , “fact” sheets, undercover research and videos/ films. Some of these groups have regular broadcasts and articles that happen weekly or daily over months or years.

I’ve found that widely respected proselytisers have little or no background in relevant areas like biology, physiology or psychology and it’s easy to spot them if you have ever studied seriously.

Orac tried to educate scoffers on a recent thread, going into great detail about clinical equipoise and important research issues: amongst the anti-vaxxers I survey, these concerns are NEVER addressed. Neither is why huge number of subjects are needed to test certain questions.

I’ve frequently written about how research from the last 40 years or so illustrates why vaccines can’t cause autism in young children because autism was already there. There are famous researchers in neuroscience and physiology as well as developmental psychology BUT anti-vaxxers totally disregard their evidence in multiple disciplines that coalesce to show what occurs during brain development pre-natally.

Are these people unreachable? I don’t know but I suspect that those whose identity revolves around their position are but less entranced followers might not be as susceptible if they learn that their experts/ sources/ leaders are not worthwhile. Unfortunately, they first poison the well and besmirch SB experts like Orac, Drs Novella, Hotez, Fauci, Offit et al.

All we can do is point them towards SB facts and reveal how altie/ anti-vax mis-education works.
RFKjr, Del Bigtree, Mike Adams, Gary Null, Sayer Ji should be our biggest targets.

It is really noticeable that there are no autism researchers mentioned (disclaimer, as ever: I worked with one of the developers of ADI/R and ADOS) nor any of the numerous autism advocates or even other bods ( like me) who worked extensively with autistic folk.

And, before anyone asks, Wakefield absolutely does NOT count as an autism researcher (see my standard description of his training and experience, given many times here and at SBM).

Is this not an obvious response to Prasad’s suggestion he could sit down with RFKj and design an RCT that would settle the vax-autism issue once and for all? That was point at which I concluded Prasad had jumped the shark. What does he do now? [Offering (semi-)satirical predictions could be fun…]

You definitely have a point. Perhaps we should all start emailing Dr. Prasad and suggesting that he take Mr. Kirsch up on his offer, given that he seems to have the ear of RFK Jr., who presumably would also be involved. After all, isn’t that what Dr. Prasad said that he wanted, to sit down with RFK Jr. and design a couple of RCTs to reassure him that the childhood vaccine schedule doesn’t do more harm than good?

Just sayin’.

“Collaborator” is not the word that pops to mind when I consider Steve Kirsch. Why? Well, for one well written and publicly available reason there’s this recent account (

Heck, he evidently can’t collaborate with people that he hires and pays when the results they get don’t confirm his biases. How does he think things will get better when shifting from boss/employer to collaborator (where he’d have to, ya’ know, collaborate instead of bully). Cow pie indeed.

Why don’t Junior and Kirsch get so frustrated by all the helplessness they experience sifting through someone else’s data to do their cherry picking? Ask their buddy Elon for some significant cash! Take action guys! Get the data, crush the pro-vaxxers with your own DATA! You can do it!!

Then their fever dream of disproving all the evidence that supports the safety and effectiveness of vaccines should come true and be as easy as it was for CETF to “prove” that hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and fluvoxamine are suppressed miracle cures…

From Kirsch’s email reproduced above:
“Unlike previous studies, this new study will be designed by qualified scientists on BOTH SIDES of the debate working together collaboratively so that the result is as definitive as possible.

We’d like you to approve the final study design as being a valid method to settle the question or not.

And the ringer giveaway line:
“At this point, all I am asking is whether you will review their final study design and provide your feedback.”
Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!
Alarm! Alarm! Alarm!
“…whether you will review their final study design and provide your feedback.”

Seems pretty obvious to me that he is admitting that the “study design” has already been decided upon by the Kirsch and the anti-vaxxers and now the laughable non-scientists want the scientists to review their cargo-cult farce and tweak it for them until it is presentable to scientists.
That hardly seems to be a scientific “collaboration” but more of an author/editor relationship.
Kirsch must be so crazy as to not understand that an unfixable, inappropriate garbage design by amateurs cannot be tweaked… It is garbage from the start.
I’d like Kirsch and his megaminds to explain what is wrong with some of the larger negative observational studies and what they think is required to make them acceptable…
Except that is exactly where we’ve been for decades – Scientists produce a negative study and ignorant anti-vaxxers reject it with a handwave.
Same as it ever was.

I don’t think he has a design concocted yet. But I think this stunt is a clever propaganda move. If Kirsch was actually asking his “to:” list to collaborate on creating a “final answer” study, he’d only have a weak case of grievance if they decline, if only due to the time commitment involved. But since he’s only asking them to review some hypothetical final proposal (which likely will NEVER exist), it will look bad to any “undecideds” if they decline to even read and comment on whatever his “both sides collaboration” might come up with. And if they DO agree to review, he gets a sh!t-ton of publicity and legitimation by saying these folks are ‘working with me’, blah. blah, blah.

I don’t have an idea at the moment of the best way out of this trap for the “to:” list: just ignoring it; declining, but not on the basis of reasons that make sense to other scientists, rather reasons that will make sense to the wider public audience; or offering conditions back under which they would review a proposal, but that Kirsch is unlikely to accept. Probably the latter.
For some reason, I actually looked at the comment thread under Kirsch’s post. Amid much re-statement of vax-autism hokum, one of Steve’s fans posted a critique of Kirsch’s proposal he’d received in the comments thread of another Substack post. Fwiw, I will copy it below.

First, the context:
1) The OP was a climate-change-denial political scientist (“The Honest Broker”) accusing the usual suspects (Fauci et al) of covering-up the COVID lab leak. 2) First comment in the sub-thread opines that most scientists are honest, and doubts there was any nefarious cover-up. 3) Reply from the Kirscher accuses #2 of naivete, citing Kirsch’s “collaborative experiment” and arguing that “establishment scientists will all refuse to undertake such experiments” proves they are indeed nefarious scum. 4) Person who appears to be regular commenter and Honest Broker fan, and had opined on how “obvious” the lab leak was, takes issue with Kirsches proposal, as follows. 5) Kirscher unleashes tirade against #4, asserting “I can guarantee you Kirsch’s team would not be willing to use unethical methods”. [whole thread viewable at

I followed the link to Steve Kirch – he spouts nonsense, calling for “both sides” to agree on a decisive experiment to settle whether vaccines can cause autism.
Consider what this would entail: first, we must agree which vaccine we are to test. MMR, perhaps? Then we must assess how large an effect we expect to detect: would 1 extra case of autism per 1000 vaccines be enough to say that yes, vaccines cause autism?
Since the background rate of autism seems to be about 1%, we need a sample large enough to reliably distinguish between a 1% and a 1.1% incidence of autism in the unvaccinated and vaccinated groups. For this, we need a total of 540,000 babies, randomly divided into 270,000 who will be vaccinated and 270,000 who will not. (It must be random – the parents get no say in whether or not their child will be vaccinated. For the preferred double-blind design, all of the parents will think their child has been vaccinated, but half of the vaccines will secretly be water.) Then we expect about 2700 cases of autism in the unvaccinated group and 2970 in the vaccinated group. We can then be 95% confident that, if the rate of autism caused by vaccines is really 0.1% or more then our study results will actually show a significant difference, and also that if there are no additional cases of autism from the vaccines then our study results will not show a significant difference. So this experiment would give a fairly conclusive result wither way, just as Steve Kirch claims to want.
Of the 270,000 unvaccinated children, some will develop measles. The number depends on what is happening in the community, but a group of kids this large will be widely spread geographically, so that many of them will come into contact with measles. If we suppose that 10% of them will be infected, that is 27,000 cases of whom perhaps 5,400 will be hospitalized and 80 will die (typical US rates).
And that is why no scientist will take up Steve Kirch’s challenge. He may consider that it is okay to kill babies to test his obsession, but responsible people do not. And even if the experiment were performed, the anti-vax grifters can easily shift ground: maybe different vaccines cause autism, or the autism rate is less than 0.1% so our experiment was too small, or something. And we do have ample studies, if not as large or as well-controlled as this imaginary experiment, that are collectively convincing that vaccines are not related to autism. Many of these studies draw on the fact that some parents are still too frightened to vaccinate their children – the deaths that result are not the fault of the researchers who later use that data.

Again, this is from a climate-change-denier and lab-leak proponent. In copying it to the thread under Steve’s proposal, the Kirscher asked “How about some feedback to this guy:” So far, crickets.

In a recent episode, entitled “Beyond the Noise #7: Vaccine misinformation with RFK, Jr.”, Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D. (Higgins Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of CUNY) moderates a discussion with Dr. Paul Offit:

At about the seventeen-minute mark, Offit notes that about twenty years ago, RFK Jr. contacted him, and they had a conversation about thimerasol in vaccines. Offit says the conversation went “very well,” but then he finds out about a year that RFK Jr. leveled false charges against him, accusing Offit of being a shill, etc. This just led to Offit getting hate mail and even death threats. Lesson: these idiots don’t learn, and it can be dangerous to interact with them (recall the anti-vaxxer that stalked Hotez at his house).

FYI: also note TWiV (= This Week in Virology), episode on #1017, “From Nature, not a lab,” where a panel of distinguished scientists argue persuasively that COVID-19 didn’t originate from a Chinese lab in Wuhan:

I just ran into something similar concerning RFKjr’s judgment ( see shows/archives progressivecommentaryhour/ 07.04.23):
the hoary old host interviews Charles Ortleb, an hiv/aids denialist, who claims that RFKjr’s book on Fauci relied extensively upon his own ‘investigation’ about Fauci and AZT. RFKjr used old CTs to bolster his own recent CTs.

Of course he did. All conspiracy theories take the same general form: All is not as it seems in the world. There is a nefarious plot to cause harm to a given group (usually the group believing in the conspiracy theory) that is being implemented by powerful forces and whose knowledge is being suppressed by those same powerful forces and their allies. But there is hope! A few (the believers in the conspiracy) have hidden knowledge of the conspiracy and are working to oppose the dark forces behind the nefarious plot and to “wake up” everyone else to the danger. And if you join them can be a hero too, a resistance warrior combatting an evil enemy and working to set the world right.

As a psychologist, I would venture that this entire scenario directly appeals to people who feel passed-by, slighted and unappreciated
by the world who need to elevate their feelings of self worth- that would include purveyors of these myths as well as followers.

The world is NOT as it seems: there are underlying deep eddies of malice and hidden currents engendered by miscreants AND everything is interrelated yet only a rare visionary can spot this and disentangle the many, interwoven threads of this sordid imbroglio.
And they is IT! How fabulous for them!

It’s also why the whole red pill/blue pill imagery from The Matrix is so powerful to the conspiracy set and therefore such a common fixture in their memes and writings. Take the blue pill and remain blissfully ignorant in your fantasy land in which everything is fine or be brave and bold and take the red pill and learn The Unsettling Truth About How Things Really Are.

The Matrix!
I was trying to decipher what Naomi Wolf ( my comment below) meant by calling a modern hospital, a “vortex”…
perhaps to suggest the film?

Although New Age places say that they are near energy vortices so I suppose they’re beneficial.
And matrices are used in statistics. ( different matrices though)

I was trying to decipher what Naomi Wolf ( my comment below) meant by calling a modern hospital, a “vortex”…
perhaps to suggest the film?

Nobody tell her about John Lilly.

Important scientific questions like “do vaccines cause autism?” have been around for over 20 years.

Way to invoke Wakefraud without explicitly invoking Wakefraud, Kirsch.

“Important scientific questions like “do vaccines cause autism?” have been around for over 20 years” (Kirsch)

With regard to the MMR vaccine that particular question has been well and truly answered.

Had there been evidence to answer that particular scientific question in respect of the MR/MMR vaccines proving causation, the UK litigation would not have folded with the claimant lawyers having to concede that they could not bring a case.
More than £26m of Legal Aid was squandered on the litigation with over 25 medical /scientific experts arguing causation for the claimants alleging a link between measles virus in the MR and MMR vaccines and ASD/ IBD.

In addition there was a Pilot Study set up at the Royal Free Hospital and Unigenetics Ltd, a lab in Ireland specifically to provide services to the litigation and Visceral Research Group, a charity with Andrew Wakefield and Kirsten Limb at the helm.

If with all those experts, both scientific and medical and all those resources /facilities at their disposal, the legal team were forced to abandon the claim, I’d say that with regard to the MMR vaccine that question was not only asked but well and truly answered over 20 years ago!

OT but I thought that physicians might ‘enjoy’ this …

Naomi Wolf Substack Not Dead Yet, yesterday:
she had complications after an appendectomy and was transferred to a Vortex (?) hospital **
and not fed for many days awaiting a procedure. She can’t give more details because she still has to see the same doctors to get a device taken out. Her experience was horrible and she dreamed of a communion with her late father on a beach who told her to “go back”. Her oxygen levels fell “into the 80s”.
The HCWs “shed” spike proteins all over her for over 2 weeks so OBVIOUSLY she had trouble healing. Right. They saved her life from a serious infection and she bitches about vaccines.

** I’m not exactly sure where she lives but when she wrote about an event a while ago, I remember thinking that
it was near where my cousin’s daughter lives: NY State/ Massachusetts border. Rural, small towns, mix of lefty and rightie areas

It must be an unpleasant ordeal for physicians and nurses caring for a hospitalized patient who is deep into the woo and resents modern medicine.

There was an enthusiastic alt med advocate who showed up in the comments at RI a time or two (he was heavily into promoting a toxic oleander “soup” for treating cancer). This guy wound up in the hospital for what was described as a serious heart ailment. He carted in a slew of supplement bottles and described his resentment over the medical staff not concurring with and encouraging his mass consumption of non-prescribed pills and potions.

It’s rather telling that his list does NOT include people who have done real research into the vaccine-autism issue such as Anders Hviid, KM Madsen, Luke E Taylor, or many others.

Note his lists are not people he’s asking to create the “studies” but only to review and comment on the designs. Anyway, I think it’s clearly a propaganda stunt, not a serious proposal.

I am glad that I am not part of several dumpster fires mentioned. The fight for the shrinking public attention becomes, for some people, a justification to jump sharks and engage in questionable behavior.

I would rather lose subscribers than say things that I know to be untrue in order to attract attention.

However, be aware that , in my opinion, one of the individuals mentioned, namely Prof. Peter Hotez, is a self-promoting quack and a charlatan.

All “vaccines” that he developed, have something in common, which is that there is no evidence that they actually work. His CORBEVAX vaccine had no Phase III trial and as far as I can tell, no evidence that it improved any clinical outcome or prevented Covid-19 in anyone.

Same thing applies to his hookworm vaccine.

In other words, Hotez developed substances, called them “vaccines”, however there is no evidence that these substances are actually helpful.

He goes around and gives interviews to sympathetic press, which is not asking him any obvious questions. Like, “Prof. Hotez, what is the evidence that CORBEVAX led to any improved clinical outcome”, this question was not asked even once.

Compare Hotez with another individual, Dr Plotkin. That man actually developed vaccines that prevent illnesses. I saw fragments of Plotkin’s interview by Aaron Siri, where he honestly confesses to research acts that are shocking by modern standards. When pressed, he said “If I will burn in hell for what I accomplished, I will gladly do so”. That impressed me. Plotkin is an obviously very intelligent man.

But Hotez is the worst example of vaccine quackery, a shameless self promoter with no verifiable accomplishments, who calls himself “science”.

(and he also financed development of Sars-Cov-2-like viruses in China)

They measured “antibodies”, not “outcomes”.

Covid vaccines induce a lot of antobodies.

But those antibodies do not work and do not prevent Covid.

Antibody counting without making sure that antibodies correlate with disease prevention is pseudoscience and medical quackery

Igor, you said there were no phase 3 trials……

Not moving the goal posts I hope?

You might work on your sleuthing skills, Igor.

First, since India has vaccinated lots of people with other vaccines that have demonstrated efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, it would be unethical to do a placebo-controlled trial of Corbevax as a primary vaccination because it would leave the placebo recipients unprotected. So they are using a strategy similar to that used in testing new seizure medicines like the one I have been taking for the last 10 years.

It would be unethical to withdraw known protection, so they add the new medication to another with proven effectiveness. If the result gives better protection, then they have a basis for using the new medicine on its own.

So India is testing Corbevax as a heterologous booster. That is, it is given to people already vaccinated instead of an extra dose of the vaccine they have already received.
If you follow DB’s link through to the published article (, you will learn that

Out of 250 individuals who received booster doses, 48 individuals were infected after the booster dose, as follows: only 10 individuals were positive for SARS-CoV-2 after 14 days of receiving the boosters. Among them, four individuals received the heterologous booster Corbevax and six received the homologous booster Covishield. While all six who received a homologous booster developed symptoms such as fever/body pains, a cold, and a cough, only one out of four receiving the heterologous booster with Corbevax developed mild symptoms after the booster dose

It’s a small sample size, but it shows that if anything Corbevax works at least as well as boosting with Covishield. My link was for a preprint for a follow-on study that has enrolled over 2000 subjects at 18 sites around India.

Results indicated that CORBEVAX™ is a safe and well tolerated with no vaccine related serious adverse events, MAAEs or AESI when administered to adult individuals of Indian origin. This safety profile of CORBEVAX™ is comparable with that of another sub-unit vaccine Covavax.9 High immune responses in terms of anti-RBD IgG specific binding and protective antibodies were observed after second dose of vaccination. Here we also report, immunogenic superiority of CORBEVAX™ vaccine over COVISHIELD™, an adenoviral vector-based vaccine which is licensed in multiple countries, in terms of higher GMT’s of neutralizing antibodies against both the SARS-COV-2 Ancestral strain and the Delta strain.

This seems to be an ongoing study so we should get some results on the relative effectiveness in protecting against serious disease and hospitalization in the future.

And the WHO has moved to list Corbevax for prequalification.

So it is bein studied carefully, looks to be both safe and effective, has received an EUA in India and is getting widespread administration. Phase 4 follow-on evaluations will tell us how well that protection holds up.

“By the end of 2022, an estimated 100 million people in India and Indonesia had received Hotez and Bottazzi’s vaccine (Corbevax), which is not patented and can be manufactured by any pharmaceutical company. Indonesia’s version is halal-certified; it contains no animal-based ingredients and is acceptable to observant Muslims. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are made with mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology, Hotez and Bottazzi’s version is based on the recombinant protein technology that low-income nations already use to make the hepatitis B vaccine. By partnering with local pharmaceutical manufacturers in those countries, Hotez and Bottazzi have reduced the cost of vaccinating the world’s population while boosting the Global South’s readiness for another pandemic. In 2022 Houston congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher nominated Hotez and Bottazzi for the Nobel Peace Prize, calling their vaccine “a contribution that is of the greatest benefit to humankind.”

So who’s done more good in this world: a scientist instrumental in developing a lifesaving vaccine who’s been steadfast in defending immunization against unjustified attacks at the risk of his personal safety – or sleazy Substack posters who profit from deceptive fearmongering?

How do you know that Hotez’s adjuvanted subunit vaccine CORBEVAX is “lifesaving”?

There is literally no evidence of that whatsoever.

No evidence that CORBEVAX is lifesaving? I googled. It has an efficacy of over 90%. Given that millions have died from COVID, I’d say that’s proof it saved lives/

“CorbeVax nAb GMT against Ancestral-Wuhan strain indicates vaccine effectiveness of >90% for preventing symptomatic infections based on the Correlates of Protection assessment performed during Moderna and Astra-Zeneca vaccine Phase III studies.
“CorbeVax nAb GMT against the Delta strain indicates vaccine effectiveness of >80 percent for preventing symptomatic infections based on published studies.”

Igor is “obligated to tell my readers the truth”, so accurate information about Corbevax will undoubtedly be showing up on his Substack shortly, as he apologizes to Dr. Hotez for being such a clueless, offensive dickhead.

The “correlates of protection” are medical quackery, at least for Covid-19

The “correlates of protection” are medical quackery, at least for Covid-19

You seem to be relying heavily on simple invocation of that word lately:

But Hotez is the worst example of vaccine quackery, a shameless self promoter with no verifiable accomplishments, who calls himself “science”.

Antibody counting without making sure that antibodies correlate with disease prevention is pseudoscience and medical quackery

It’s not a magic incantation.

@ Igor:

What do you base your criticism of Dr Hotez on?

It’s the easiest thing in the world to oppose consensus or rail against common knowledge. Being an iconoclast is certainly cooler than reiterating
and supporting well known material/ opinions but for the criticism to be substantial it must be based upon deep understanding of the topic.

I look at a few Substacks:
Naomi Wolf, Celia Farber and Jennifer Margulis** who function as nay-sayers in general with a focus upon health, medicine and women’s issues. Not one studied biology, medicine, psychology or allied fields: they studied English or Journalism yet they discuss vaccines, diagnosis, treatment and medical ‘crimes’. One of them is famous for vastly overestimating anorexia/ bulimia deaths AND misconstruing terms concerning incarceration. Another supports and disseminates hiv/aids denialism. Another still strongly discouraged hospital care for childbirth. All are anti-vaccine.
They use sources that leave much to be desired. Indeed, if readers followed their advice about health care they might have made poor choices that could conceivably have harmed them or their children.

So why do they do this? Are they bad people? Or, do they honestly believe that they are informing the public and enlightening women? All have sold books and written articles in magazines. Substack allows writers to distribute short articles frequently and monetise them. General educational material might seem taboo in the age of edge lords/ ladies who need to display the right amount of rebellion or a paradigm shifting ambiance. They need to stand out amongst other stand outs and out edge the others.

I think they enjoy the fandom and adulation in the comments. I think they like that their numbers are rising even if most of them aren’t paid subscribers. They attract the like-minded and spin a cozy web of mutual admiration.

Is that what you want for yourself? Why do you interact with Orac and company where you might get scorn and criticism? I suspect you are looking for more than just agreement and easy followers.

** and occasionally your own

I feel that I am obligated to tell my readers the truth, and it is impossible to fulfill this goal without having my views challenged, such as here. That’s partly why I am here.

@ Igor:

How do you know if your sources purvey the truth or possibly mis-interpret the findings of research because they do NOT sufficiently understand what the results mean?

Actually, Orac and Company give you a unique opportunity to up your game without attending classes for years: they spend time explaining things to you and recommend selected articles and books.

Do you think Orac et al lie about vaccines? Who are your sources for contrary opinions? Are they people who have been discussed at this blog? I notice that Substack writers mention your account BUT
are they people who know what they’re doing or perhaps far out of their realm of expertise? If Naomi Wolf liked my work I would seriously reconsider my path in life because she is not a worthwhile source on most subjects outside of a few literary or cultural ones.

Unlike many of the altie/ anti-vax writers I read, I do have background in relevant areas involving bio/ physio so I imagine that I could concoct an alternate hypothesis of autism or vaccine “damage” that would sound a lot more convincing than what I read which would involve twisting reality and insinuating malfeasance by experts BUT
why would I want to mislead people? To get a few thousand subscribers? Or a little money?

I once had to create instructional material for people who did not have higher education about risk of a serious illness:
my first rule was always give them facts as up to date as possible
and put it in a form that they could easily understand because this information could greatly affect their health. When people listen to you, what you say counts because if may affect what they do and have consequences– your position gives you authority and others may follow your lead.

You often sound like you want to frighten people away from vaccination: is this what you want? Do you know the consequences that might happen if certain people reject vaccines?
Ask some of the doctors who comment here or Orac himself.

How do you know if your sources purvey the truth or possibly mis-interpret the findings of research because they do NOT sufficiently understand what the results mean?

That reminds me of something.

@ Narad:

How are you doing? You sound like yourself which is good.

More for Igor!

I looked at your most recent post about the drop in birth rates:
in the graph for NSW, there is a 15% drop HOWEVER you include a graph that, while truthful, chops off the bottom and utilises very light numbering so that the decline looks precipitous! It appears far worse than it is : a better graph would show the entire range of numbers 0-20K and/ or show a cut off area, signified by dashes- say at 5000-10000- and focus upon the 10K to 20K or suchlike. Also there is variability in the rate in earlier years – it’s not a straight lie.

Seems like you might want to scare people.
There are many reasons for a drop in birth rates that aren’t nefarious such as people recovering from the financial repercussions of the pandemic like job loss, greater expenses, relationship problems and perhaps choosing not to procreate for other reasons.
If you use a graph of that nature without explaining, it makes you look manipulative.

HOWEVER you include a graph that, while truthful, chops off the bottom and utilises very light numbering so that the decline looks precipitous! It appears far worse than it is :

NO, not truthful. Deliberately removing a portion of the range on either axis is done to give a dishonestly misleading message, nothing else, no matter who created it or reposts it. That’s a Stat 1 lesson.

@ Idw56old:

What I meant to say is that the numbers are real- so is 15%- but the manner of presentation is deliberately misleading.
Graphs should be presented whole or not at all.

@Denice, you do have a point from the graph, however it comes from a article – I did not produce it myself – and people can read numbers

How are you doing?

Thanks for asking. I got out of the hospital on Tuesday after an end-of-The Exorcist fall. Hyponatremia again. I’m still very sore.

Denice, my apology if it seemed I was being harsh to you (and I can see, on rereading, that it would seem that way).

My point was that the source should have known better than to do that. Igor probably didn’t understand that it is misleading and even if he did, he wouldn’t care.

That’s good of you. But we both know that your audience doesn’t read your newsletter to understand the science, but for you to confirm their bias. And that’s the ‘truth’ that you don’t tell them.
As for science, we don’t use terms like ‘truth’, but terms like evidence. Can you understand the difference?

I thought I was up on metaphors and similes. I have to ask though; what is firehosing?

I’m assuming it’s akin to a Gish Gallop but, as always, I’m here to be educated.

“Firehosing” is basically now the preferred term in the academic literature about misinformation and disinformation, instead of the Gish gallop. They basically mean the same thing, more or less.

My understanding of the terms is that Gish Gallop mainly applies to real time conversation and debate, a rhetorical device employed by an individual in a specific instance: spewing so many different dubious claims so quickly the other person can’t respond effectively. Though that may also be labeled firehosing, the parent concept of ‘firehose of falsehoods’ is closer to the Big Lie, i.e. an overall propaganda strategy that straddles different voices and channels to overwhelm the public. It differs from the Big Lie in that instead of propagating one preferred ‘alternative truth’ the hose spews a range of differing and often contradictory BS. Thus, I wouldn’t say a Fox host monologue Gish Gallops necessarily, but I might say Fox News firehoses overall. YMMV.

I suppose Firehosing is more drowning someone with all kinds of information, which might even contradict eachother, like Russia did with MH17, just creating so much confusion, that one doesn’t know what is the truth and what not and Gish Gallop is more like drowning someone with a lot of information, which is just to much to refute. The idea still is that one has to be believed.
Short: Firehosing – Just creating doubt
Gish Gallop – Promote an alternative thruth.

Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m defenitly not an expert and always willing to learn.

Kirsch seems disappointed that his ‘research’ ( or confirmation bias) hasn’t been taken seriously…

And he’s gone from swimming with the fishes to…swimming with the fishes. Same mentality as Kirsch: I know more than the experts, and don’t need to be handcuffed by the “proper” way of doing things.

Someone apparently referred to Kirsch on Twitter as “evil incarnate”, so Steve gleefully posted a poll asking how his followers viewed him – as a “good guy”, “mix of good and bad” or “evil incarnate”.

Unfortunately, “sleazy disinformation specialist” and “clueless self-promoting tech bro” were not alternate poll choices.

Skeptical Raptor just posted a new article on the “vaccines cause autism” claim. It lists 164 studies that show there is no link!

In addition, Satterstrom et al (DOI: found that

102 genes implicated in risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD genes, FDR ≤ 0.1)

Most are expressed and enriched early in excitatory and inhibitory neuronal lineages

Most affect synapses or regulate other genes; how these roles dovetail is unknown

Some ASD genes alter early development broadly, others appear more specific to ASD

and Sandin et al (doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.1411) found that

In a large population-based multinational cohort study including more than 2 million individuals, 22 156 of whom were diagnosed with ASD, the heritability of autism spectrum disorder was estimated to be approximately 80%, with possible modest differences in the sources of autism spectrum disorder risk replicated across countries.

Of course, anti-vax mothers despise the “wasted money* spent on genetic research and early identification of autism ( studies of gaze, movement etc) because they illustrate exactly what SBM knows:
autism originates prior to vaccines and is not “brain damage”.

-btw- on the recommended TWiV, participants noted that the general public has problems with the concepts they discuss – in that case about origins of COVID- but I’d add about vaccines, autism and research in general.

The sad thing is that these studies should never have been done. There was no reason to suspect a link in the first place. All of this to undo the damage of one fraudulent paper. What a waste, and all to satisfy the egos of the arrogant and ignorant.

This was tried with climate change via the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which was supposed to resolve all the technical complaints about reconstructions of the surface temperature instrumental record. Prominent deniers promised to accept the results, whatever they were. BEST did come up with several interesting technical improvements, resulting in (IMO) the best analysis to date–and it basically agreed with NASA, NOAA, Hadley, etc. Settled nothing. Deniers recanted, and went back to complaining about supposed deficiencies in the NASA/GISS reconstruction, completely ignoring that practically everything they complain about was addressed by BEST, and it produced a result they didn’t like.

[…] On Paying Residuals The impossible paradox of car ownership Platforms are Abandoning U.S. Democracy Now Steve Kirsch wants to “collaborate” with provaccine scientists? Steve Kirsch is known for hi… Federal Officials Hatch a Three-Pronged Defense Against Another ‘Tripledemic’ How Mississippi […]

Kirsch: “Debates won’t change anything.”

Predictably, a few days after posting that, Steve is once again demanding a debate, this time featuring him and MAGA Jr. against Skeptical Raptor.

Consistency (among many other things) is not Steve’s strong point.

*his major freakout currently is over The Lancet pulling an awful pre-print about autopsies supposedly proving Covid vaccines are killing people right and left, with a list of crankified authors including Peter McCullough and William (Every Death Is Due To Covid) Makis. Kirsch, outraged, is fishing for evidence of “corruption” at The Lancet.

“Purebloods”? LOL! Rowlings’ problematic recent comments about transgender women aside, the villains in the Harry Potter universe referred to themselves as purebloods. They really didn’t think that through.

A $66.6 million lawsuit? “Word Magic: The Powers and Occult Definitions of Words”? “right of protection and preservation of the vessels of my bloodline [and] … the vessels of the souls of my children.”?

And antivaxers assure us that their opponents are practicing a religion.

They need to get Sherri Tenpenny up there to conduct a seance, so that the souls of the Unvaccinated Undead can wreak terrible vengeance. Come to think of it, Andrew Wakefield (head of 7th Chakra Films) could produce and direct the movie.

That’s funny:
I just wrote a long comment about how to spot anti-vax/ altie easily ( crank magnetism, personal injuries by vaccine stories and mystical beliefs) and POOF! it disappeared.

I may re-construct if I can ( RFKjr’s very early anti-vax leanings and Naomi Wolf’s spiritual experiences post near death)

Maybe I’ll try to do parts:
easy ways to spot BS-
— crank magnetism- more than one CT or wacky idea. Anti-vax then obsessive concern about purity of foods/ bizarre diets. It’s not that bad ideas attract each other like vaccines and car keys BUT they reflect the believer’s underlying inability to discern realistic material. Most anti-vax sites include other dodgy beliefs about health, society, education.
If you see anti-vax, expect even worse.

The powers of the universe or internet seem averse to allowing me to write about RFKjr ( 2 attempts foiled) so I’ll discuss-
Naomi Wolf who nearly died and has decided to reveal her experiences with subtle energies, spiritual presence, hauntings and synaesthesia** which make her so special.
I suppose this will alert you to her astonishing abilities to discern truth, malevolence and the underlying value of human beings.

Other alties and anti-vaxxers talk about energy healing and finding spiritual guidance from mystical events. Leaders often rely upon religious themes and references.

** disclosure: I may have an extremely minor form of synaesthesia involving moving patterns of light tracings in my mind’s eye in response to particular patterns in music ( not looking at all like note patterns would in sheet music). Nothing extravagant.

I honestly don’t know what happened. I’ve checked my comment spam folder, and there’s nothing there but obvious spam and—yikes!—a rather long comment from sadmar from a few days ago that I released. I’d add the email addresses of certain longtime commenters to an “always trust” list, but WordPress appears not to let me do that.

@ Orac:
It’s fine.
I think how my comments came through – piece by piece- might be even better than what I originally wrote.

I suppose a confluence of “sovereign citizens” and antivaccine cranks was inevitable.

–although RFKjr claims that women approached him at a speech he gave about environmental pollution with stories of vaccine “injuries”, I’ve also found that his son had severe peanut allergies that necessitated emergency care more than 20 times- given his son’s age, this was long ago.
RFKjr himself said that his vocal problems followed a flu vaccine ( late 1990’s?); he was researching a possible case and saw the condition listed as a possible side effect.

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