Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Quackery

Just because medical consensus evolves does not justify your quackery

Quacks have long tried to portray themselves as “innovators” challenging an ossified medical consensus for the good of patients. This tradition continues among COVID-19 quacks, in particular the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance and its founders.

If there’s one thing that I came to understand over my two-plus decades of critically evaluating the claims of “brave maverick doctors,” the vast majority of whom are really just quacks, it’s that quacks hate the very concept of scientific and medical consensus. Indeed, long ago I pointed out that hostility towards the very concept of scientific consensus is a red flag, a very good indicator that the person expressing such hostility is a science denier (or quack, if it’s a physician). Moreover, although I concede that anyone has the “right” to “challenge” a scientific consensus, the bigger problem in the age of social media is recognizing when someone doing the challenging has the necessary expertise to make a scientifically robust challenge, compared to the vast majority of such “challenges,” which are made by pseudoexperts in different fields who think they have the necessary expertise but do not or by lay people who don’t even have the basic expertise necessary. Unsurprisingly, we have seen this phenomenon play out in a world stage since COVID-19 was first declared a pandemic three and a half years ago. However, even though seeing pseudoexperts about COVID-19 and mRNA vaccines flourish during the pandemic did not surprise me, I will admit, though, that even I was somewhat surprised at the sheer scale and influence of the phenomenon and how much it bled into mainstream politics and culture this time.

As I was thinking about this last week, I remembered a Substack post that I had encountered recently that reminded me of a common technique of pseudoexperts and quacks challenging scientific and medical consensuses, namely to conflate their misinformation with “innovation” and the normal evolution of scientific and medical consensuses. The post appeared—because of  course it did—on the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care (FLCCC) Alliance Substack a couple of weeks ago and is entitled 25 Times Medical Consensus Had To Be Rethought, with its blurb giving the game away:

These examples are a reminder of the need for ongoing research, humility, and the willingness to challenge established beliefs for the sake of patient care.

Far be it from me to argue against “ongoing research, humility, and the willingness to change established beliefs for the sake of patient care,” but you can see the game right away: to deceptively conflate the quackery promoted by FLCCC doctors with normal medical innovation, while equating critics of the FLCCC and its quackery with the doctors who, for example, refused to believe the 19th century findings of Ignaz Semmelweis, who linked lack of handwashing by obstetricians with puerperal fever that killed newborns and attacked him for his findings. (Hint: FLCCC is not Semmelweis.) Remember, FLCCC is a conspiracy-mongering bunch of grifting quacks promoting disproven “repurposed” treatments for COVID-19, such as ivermectinhydroxychloroquine, and the grab bag of supplements and other repurposed drugs in their “early treatment protocols.” Indeed, two of FLCCC’s founders, Dr. Pierre Kory and Dr. Paul Marik recently reported that the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) had informed them that its Credentials and Certification Committee had recommended rescinding their board certifications, portraying the ABIM’s action as “persecution” by a corrupt organization.

Clearly, this Substack post on medical consensuses is part of the FLCCC’s campaign in response to the ABIM decision to portray its founders not as the quacks they are but rather as “brave maverick doctors” successfully challenging the medical consensus on COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. Unsurprisingly, the FLCCC spins a conspiratorial narrative that portrays quacks (like its very own Drs. Kory and Marik) as “innovators” and the scientific consensus as corrupt and riddled with conflicts of interest, often controlled by whatever “enemy” dominates the conspiracy theory; in the case of COVID-19 and antivax narratives, it’s usually—but not always—big pharma.

The false narrative equating FLCCC quackery to challenges to the scientific consensus

Right from the very beginning the Substack entry by FLCCC, the anonymous authors make it very clear what the FLCCC is about by proclaiming:

There’s been much debate lately about the value of medical consensus.

“What matters is consensus!” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson excitedly told Del Bigtree, on a recent episode of The Highwire. He seemed to be arguing that medical or scientific “consensus” is more important than the knowledge and experience of individual scientists.

Medical certification and licensing boards also claim that individual healthcare providers who share information that is contrary to “consensus-driven scientific evidence” are misinformation spreaders who cause so much potential harm that their certifications or licenses should be revoked.

discussed that episode of The Highwire myself not long after it was posted, pointing out that it was a huge mistake on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s part to agree to “debate” Del Bigtree. On the show Bigtree did his best to portray the scientific consensus about COVID-19 as not just wrong but disastrously wrong and existing solely to shut down “dissent,” while proclaiming how the cranks will someday be vindicated by overcoming the “consensus. However, as large a mistake as I thought it was for deGrasse Tyson to appear on Bigtree’s quackfest of a podcast, one thing that I thought deGrasse Tyson got right was his discussion of what a scientific consensus is and why it’s important, regardless of how much Bigtree tried to twist the narrative. (Unsurprisingly, Dr. Paul Marik was one of the “brave maverick” doctors listed as bucking the “consensus.”

Antivaxxers tried to cherry pick a single quote from Bigtree—”the individual scientist doesn’t matter”—that, taken out of context, can be misinterpreted as dismissing scientists who report findings that question the current scientific consensus. In fact, NDT spent considerable time explaining how and when an individual scientist does and doesn’t matter with respect to scientific consensus, in particular how hard it is to tell when an individual scientist’s finding that calls consensus into question is just an outlier or when it might be the first indication of an “emerging truth.” Personally, whenever cranks like the FLCCC question scientific consensus as a concept, I point out that a scientific theory is nothing more than the best existing scientific consensus concerning a particular area or question in science; e.g., the Theory of Relativity, the Theory of Evolution, etc. Back in the days when I used to write about evolution a lot, this explanation used to serve as a two-fer, too, because it effectively defangs the dismissal of evolution as “just a theory.” As I also like to point out, how you question a scientific consensus matters at least as much as the specific questioning. “Questions” about the scientific consensus from groups like FLCCC are often based on misrepresentations of what the consensus actually is, bolstered by cherry picked science, conspiracy theories, and poor reasoning.

As for the ABIM recommending revoking the medical license of two of FLCCC’s biggest quacks, Drs. Paul Marik and Pierre Kory, I wrote my detailed take three weeks ago. TL;DR version: It is appropriate for a certifying board like the ABIM to revoke the board certifications of doctors like these, but they should do it not just for spreading dangerous medical misinformation during a pandemic (the stated reason) but for practicing quackery, which I argue that Drs. Kory and Marik do, particularly given that spreading medical misinformation nearly always goes hand-in-hand with practicing actual quackery.

The FLCCC then predictably moves on to a common quack argument:

While some might argue in favor of the merits of consensus in providing timely guidance, it is important to correct for the many potential biases, beliefs, preferences, and conflicts of interest that could lead to subjective consensus decisions, and to ensure that consensus-based recommendations reflect the views of a heterogenous and diverse group of experts.

How can it be a consensus when all sides of an issue have not been considered and differing views are being censored? What about all the out-of-the-box thinkers in history who have challenged conventional thinking and moved the needle forward for all humankind?

Consensus is, in fact, a perfect cover for conflicts of interest like ties to pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, or other commercial entities, which compromise the integrity and impartiality of the consensus process. Or, some experts may be more inclined to favor consensus recommendations aligned with the interests of their research funding sources. Others may have intellectual biases based on long-standing beliefs or theories they are hesitant to challenge.

Perhaps, but that doesn’t justify pseudoscience and quackery. Again, quacks love to cite problems and shortcomings in how scientific consensus develop and evolve in order to give the appearance that these deficiencies imply that their quackery is a valid “challenge” to the consensus. Not that that stops FLCCC from doubling down:

And what about all the times in medical history when consensus beliefs were proven wrong, and patients were harmed in the process because the establishment clung to a flawed premise?

Once a consensus is reached, there is often resistance to updating recommendations based on new and emerging evidence, which leads to guidelines becoming quickly outdated and not reflecting the latest advances in science. Studies have shown that even after claims have been disproven in the medical literature, they often persist for years and even decades before they retreat from use.

Dr. David Sackett, considered one of the ‘fathers’ of evidence-based medicine, once had this advice for medical students:

“Half of what you’ll learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of your graduation; the trouble is that nobody can tell you which half – so the most important thing to learn is how to learn on your own.”

I’ve heard this quote before, and, quite frankly, have always thought it to be a gross exaggeration. Medical science does evolve, but not quite that rapidly. I like to cite my own specialty, breast cancer surgery, to point out that, yes, the surgical treatment of breast cancer is very different than it was when I graduated from medical school over three decades ago, but it actually took decades for those changes to manifest themselves. For example, five years after I graduated from medical school, the treatment was basically the same. Ten years on, for the evaluation of whether breast cancer had spread to the axillary lymph nodes under the arm or not, the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy (a technique that involves removing only one or a few targeted lymph nodes under the arm) instead of axillary dissection (in which all the lymph nodes under the arm are removed) was being tested clinical trials. By 15 years after graduation, the sentinel lymph node biopsy had largely replaced axillary dissection for axillary staging, although it wasn’t until well over 20 years after I had graduated from medical school that the NSABP-32 randomized controlled clinical trial was finally published and nailed down definitively the equivalence between the two techniques in terms of outcomes. In other words, medical practices most definitely do evolve in response to evidence, but most medicine doesn’t change nearly as quickly as Sackett claimed.

That’s not to say that change doesn’t sometimes happen rapidly. One example is chemotherapy for a type of breast cancer called “triple negative” (lacking estrogen and progesterone receptors and not expressing an oncogene called HER2), which had remained largely the same for decades. As a result of the reporting of the KEYNOTE-522 RCT in 2020, the standard of care changed very quickly to incorporate immunotherapy with chemotherapy, and now pretty much all patients with triple negative breast cancer receive immunotherapy as well as a variation of old chemotherapy regimens, with greatly improved results. (No doubt conspiracy theorists will blame big pharma, given that Merck Sharp & Dohme funded the study.)

The point is that it’s way more complicated than Sackett’s all too easy adage makes it seem. Some medical practices evolve slowly or even not at all. (After all, if a treatment works and no one has found anything better yet, why change?) Others evolve slowly, while a few change rapidly in response to evidence like the KEYNOTE-522 trial. Quacks love to imply that the rapid evolution of some medical practices is how all medicine evolves, all while portraying their quackery as being on the “cutting edge” that hidebound doctors, resist because they are blinded by habit and comfort with current consensus, as well as—of course!—conflicts of interest (i.e., they are pharma shills), and that is exactly what FLCCC is doing here.

The post concludes with a list of 25 times the “medical consensus had to be revisited,” repeating again that the list is a “reminder of the need for ongoing research, humility, and the willingness to challenge established beliefs in the pursuit of patient-centered healthcare.” I respond again that no one—I mean, no one—opposes the “need for ongoing research, humility, and the willingness to challenge established beliefs in the pursuit of patient-centered healthcare,” with perhaps the exception of arrogant quacks like Dr. Kory who proclaim themselves humble but then have the unfettered arrogance to think that they have come up with a highly effective treatment for a disease that no one else could develop or demonstrate to be effective. In fact, what we supporters of SBM oppose is quackery being misrepresented as “innovation.” As for the 25 times the consensus “changed,” the list represents a combination of legitimate examples described more or less correctly, legitimate examples described in a highly biased and misleading way, and dubious examples. Some of the legitimate, rather blandly described, examples include changes in cancer screening guidelines (e.g., PSA testing and mammography), changes in the definition of the blood pressure levels that constitute hypertension, high dose chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation for breast cancer, the use of aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, and routine opioid use for chronic pain. Neglected by Dr. Kory is the historical fact that the vast majority of these changes in medical consensus were driven not by “brave maverick” doctors like him, but by the slow, iterative accumulation of evidence from basic science and/or clinical observations and trials.

Some of the examples in the list are clearly meant to “poison the well” by equating distortions of medical history frequently cited by quacks as being the same as legitimate changes in the medical consensus.

One particularly dubious example is #5 (“Smoking and health risks”):

For much of the 20th century, the tobacco industry worked tirelessly to cast doubt on the harmful effects of smoking, while medical professionals were slow to recognize the dangers. Smoking was initially endorsed and even advertised as a harmless or health-enhancing habit. It wasn’t until landmark studies, such as the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, that smoking was unequivocally linked to lung cancer, heart disease, and a myriad of other health issues. The battle against tobacco use highlighted the dangers of delaying action due to industry influence and the importance of evidence-based decision-making in public health.

It is true that the tobacco industry did indeed “work tirelessly to cast doubt on the harmful effects of smoking,” but, as most cranks do, FLCCC conflates advertising that used models or actors playing doctors who endorsed smoking as, at minimum, harmless or even beneficial with the actual medical consensus. In reality, by the 1930s, medical science was noticing the harmful effects of smoking, and the scientific findings linking smoking to lung cancer predated the 1964 Surgeon General’s report by at least two decades. As documented in Robert Proctor’s book The Nazi War on Cancer (a book I highly recommend), in fact Nazi scientists had found evidence strongly linking smoking to lung cancer by the early 1940s, a finding confirmed in the early 1950s in studies by Sir Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford Hill showing a massively increased risk of lung cancer associated with smoking, to be followed by studies linking smoking to bladder and other cancers as well as cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the Surgeon General’s report in 1964 was a decade behind the science, which is one thing that could be criticized.

While I agree with the observation that the tobacco industry’s decades-long campaign against emerging scientific findings that increasingly found severely detrimental health effects attributable to tobacco use “highlighted the dangers of delaying action due to industry influence and the importance of evidence-based decision-making in public health,” I also point out that what the FLCCC is doing is more akin to what the tobacco company did than what Doll, Bradford Hill, and the Surgeon general did: Promote misinformation, bad science, and pseudoscience to cast doubt on scientific findings. In other words, FLCCC and its allied brave maverick doctors are not the heroes in this comparison.

Another questionable example is #1, thalidomide:

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, thalidomide, a sedative, and anti-nausea medication, was widely prescribed to pregnant women to alleviate morning sickness. Regrettably, it was believed to be safe for use during pregnancy, even though some animal studies indicated potential risks. Tragically, thousands of babies were born with severe limb deformities, known as phocomelia, because their mothers took thalidomide during pregnancy. This devastating outcome exposed the flaws in the medical consensus of the time and led to the establishment of stricter drug safety regulations.

There was never an actual medical “consensus” in the late 1950s and early 1960s about thalidomide. If anything, thalidomide is another cautionary tale about the dangers of marketing and physicians jumping on a medical bandwagon before there was adequate evidence. Indeed, while thalidomide was approved for use in Europe, it was never approved in the US at this time, largely thanks to the FDA doing its job by raising concerns about safety signals in the studies submitted by the manufacturer in its application for funding raised by the FDA scientist, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, reviewing the application for FDA approval. She (and the FDA) held firm in spite of huge pressure brought to bear on them over the course of a couple of years by the drug’s manufacturer William S. Merrell Company of Cincinnati, which had applied to market thalidomide under the trade name Kevadon. For having “prevented a major tragedy of birth deformities” (which she undoubtedly had), Dr. Kelsey was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the nation’s highest federal civilian service award, by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. It was an award that she richly deserved. Indeed, she didn’t retire until 2005, and in 2010 she was the first recipient of an FDA award named after her and continues to be awarded annually. When she finally passed away in 2015 at the ripe old age of 101, the tributes rolled in for her role in standing up for drug safety and preventing the thalidomide catastrophe from spreading from Europe to the US.

As a result of the thalidomide scandal, Congress passed the Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. These amendments required that drug companies not just show safety, as had been the case prior to the amendments, before their drugs could be FDA-approved, but also to provide substantial evidence of effectiveness for the product’s intended use. That evidence had to be in the form of adequate and well-controlled clinical trials, which at the time was considered a revolutionary requirement. (Believe it or not, no requirement for high quality clinical trials as a condition of drug approval existed before 1962.) This led to the current system of phase I, II, III, and IV clinical trials in force today. The amendments also included a requirement for informed consent of study subjects and codified good manufacturing processes, as well as the requirement that adverse events be reported. This has been, with some tweaking over the years, the law of the land regarding how the FDA approves drugs for specific indications. Again, the thalidomide scandal is far more of an example of the bad things that can happen when doctors and various regulatory agencies let actors promoting persuade doctors to start using inadequately tested treatments.

Lest you fail to get the message, there’s also #7 on the FLCCC list, bloodletting:

Bloodletting, the practice of deliberately withdrawing blood from a patient, was a widely accepted medical treatment for various illnesses in ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages. It was believed to restore the balance of bodily humors. However, with advancements in medical knowledge, the practice was eventually recognized as ineffective and potentially harmful, leading to its abandonment.

Got it? The medical consensus is just like bloodletting, a practice rooted in prescientific vitalism that persisted for millennia until the rise of scientific medicine in the 19th century finally all too slowly eradicated it. It’s hard not to note parallels between what the FLCCC advocates and bloodletting, namely the use of the personal anecdotal experience of physicians as all the evidence necessary to justify the use of a treatment, even though science shows how misleading personal anecdotal experience can be, given human cognitive tendencies such as confirmation bias and selective memory, as well as how regression to the mean can make an ineffective treatments like reiki and homeopathy appear effective.

I swear, I’m rather surprised that the FLCCC had the restraint not to include Ignaz Semmelweis’ observations and the reaction of the 19th century European medical establishment to them on its list. As I mentioned above, that is among the favorite examples cited by quacks.

“Brave mavericks” vs. the scientific consensus

Quacks like the FLCCC love to represent the medical consensus about the diagnosis and treatment of whatever disease is targeted by their quackery as a an inflexible, almost totalitarian, set of edicts that is designed far less to guide physicians in treating patients based on the most comprehensive synthesis of existing scientific and clinical evidence than to “censor,” “silence,” and “cancel” brave “mavericks” like them. Moreover, most medical consensuses express sufficient uncertainty that there is often a fairly wide latitude for doctors to choose different science-based treatments (or combinations of science-based treatments), and doctors as a group tend to be fairly reluctant to label even obvious quackery as quackery. As Dr. Val Jones wrote back in 2008, when it comes to a lot of quackery, most doctors tend to be “shruggies.” They recognize unscientific and pseudoscientific medical practices as bad, but tend to shrug their shoulders about them as in, “What can I do?” (or, worse, “What do you expect me to do about it?”)

As a group we’re way too willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt when it comes to promoting dangerous misinformation, longstanding complaint of supporters of science-based medicine. As I like to say, if you practice so far outside of the medical consensus as to be accused of quackery and spreading dangerous misinformation, you are very far afield indeed from a rather wide, fairly loose set of generally science-based principles governing the treatment of the disease for which your quackery is intended. This was even more true in the early stages of the pandemic, when much less was known about COVID-19, including what might or might not be effective treatments.

I also like to point out that it is true that medicine and the medical consensus evolve—and that’s a good thing! If medicine didn’t evolve we might still be doing radical mastectomies for breast cancer, for instance. It might not happen as fast as we would like, and certainly the whole process is far messier than might be optimal, but medicine does ultimately evolve to embrace practices and treatments supported by emerging scientific evidence. It is also true that medicine is sometimes slow to change in response to evidence. That slowness does not mean that it is scientifically justified to adopt practices like FLCCC’s early treatment protocols and demonization of COVID-19 vaccination, just as the lack of effective treatments for deadly brain cancers like diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is justification supporting the use of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s antineoplaston quackery.

There is also an element of projection in these narratives. Quacks portray the supporters of medical consensuses as unthinkingly dogmatic and riddled with conflicts of interest, both ideological and financial. Those same quacks often profit handsomely from their quackery, with the FLCCC having constructed a whole business model based on their unproven protocols. Indeed, Dr. Kory himself, in a rant about his potential decertification in which he portrays the ABIM as his enemy, rife with financial conflicts of interest and acting to protect rigid medical dogma, basically admitted as much, albeit not directly:

There is only one silver lining here. One – the impending loss of my certifications does not affect me materially because I have a private fee-based practice due to my need for complete autonomy and lack of restrictions in empirically treating the vaccine injured with various repurposed and alternative therapeutics. I thus cannot and will not accept insurance, and secondly, my academic career is over – no longer will I ever enter back into the system of medicine.

See what I mean? Why should Dr. Kory worry about board certification when he’s raking it in hand over fist from his private cash (or credit card) on the barrelhead medical practice. The only thing he needs to practice is a state medical license, and unfortunately that appears not to be in any jeopardy at all, his carefully cultivated narrative of being a “persecuted” visionary notwithstanding. Moreover, Dr. Kory’s conflict of interest is perhaps more blatant than even doctors taking cash to speak for big pharma in that he has not only a financial interest in his quackery, but an emotional one as well in which he views himself as a superhero fighting medical orthodoxy in order to save lives, which is as good a time to remind you of some of the merch he sells in addition to the FLCCC protocol:

Basically, the FLCCC narrative is the same as that of quacks everywhere, one that portrays the quacks as heroic scientific visionaries persecuted by small-minded doctors riddled with ethical and financial conflicts of evidence because only they are willing to challenge medical and scientific consensus in order to help patients. It’s a classic conspiracy theory narrative, in which nefarious forces and their minions (in this case, doctors who support the scientific consensus and recognize quackery like that of the FLCCC when they see it) are doing evil and trying to “persecute” and “silence” the heroic doctors who have hidden knowledge about what is really going on, all in order to “cancel them.”

Same as it ever was—unfortunately.

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]

120 replies on “Just because medical consensus evolves does not justify your quackery”

Faced with the vague, and unhelpful nutritional guidelines previously presented, brave maverick Fjalar Clemes came up with the notion of presenting an idealized diet in a helpful and proportional triangle shape, rather than the Swedish national Board of Health and Welfare’s ‘pie’ shaped chart that lacked any sense of proportion and failed to provide people with a catchy way to remember the information conveyed. Not to mention the unhelpful and unhealthy implications of its pie like appearance.

The establishment of course, caught up in consensus rather than showing willingness to embrace new ideas, distanced itself from the pyramid rather than accept innovation when they saw it.

Now, the cutting edge and innovative food pyramid may be forced to cave to consensus as the food categories contained within have been deemed poorly delineated by closed-minded establishment, questionably funded ‘experts’, making claims that it lacks clear guidelines of what is a minimum and maximum number of servings within each category and downplaying the importance of variety in one’s diet, as well as trying to force the idea that not all fats are the same onto people.

Is that the kind of story you’re looking for about John or was there some other way you wanted your mix of facts and soundbites spun?

I could take it on a more scifi spin if you want, presenting the idea that the evil lizards who live in the center of the planet are trying to impose it on humanity in an attempt to make us more succulent and tender, improving our marbling and trying to give us a delicate, almost nutty flavor while still maintaining rich, mineral undertones comparable to fine Wagyu beef.

Speaking about food pyramid, Finland had North Kareliia project:
Cardiac disease mortality was reduced by 80 %.
Recommendations did include eating less refined carbohydrates, including, of course sugar. You seems to forget that part of food pyramid.
There are two things to avoid. Too complex idea for fad diets.

It is not. It is just carbohydrates. One would normally not eat just meat, dinner would be like potatoes, sauce and meat. Thus “overloading”.
Whole grain pasta is available. It tastes like pasta, too, if a little promotion is allowed,

Because historically city building civilizations depended on some form of grain to form the basis of their diet.


Consensus certainly has a very important place in life and science. As one commenter said in a comment to your earlier article, there is consensus that there is gravity and it works. Which we do not want to challenge by jumping from a 4th floor window.

There is also consensus on many biological topics, for example that viruses exist. There are pictures of them, fine filter experiments, sequences, scientists can buy virus samples from biolabs etc.

Regarding Covid-19: there is consensus about some aspects of it. For example, there is consensus that Sars-Cov-2 is a virus and not a bacterium or a fungus.

There is no consensus, however, about the following:

Sars-Cov-2 came from nature without lab research involvement
Ivermectin does not work
Masks prevent Covid-19
Covid vaccine is safe and effective

Highest luminaries of medicine and biological sciences, evidence based medicine etc, spoke against the above statements, the studies (such as the Surgisphere study) were fake, etc etc.

The so-called “Covid consensus” simply does not exist.

There is no consensus, however, about the following:

Sars-Cov-2 came from nature without lab research involvement
Ivermectin does not work
Masks prevent Covid-19
Covid vaccine is safe and effective

LOLOL. Actually, there is a fairly decent consensus about at least three, arguably all four, of your contentions and a strong consensus about at least two. Let’s see if you can guess which two.

“Highest luminaries”?

You mean the “frontline” doc who fulminated against Covid vaccination at an “open air mass healing and miracle service”, Trump’s “demon sperm” doctor, or the various cranks selling useless Covid meds and “spike detox” quackery?

Igor worships some pretty low-rent gods.

Consider Luc Montagnier, a 2008 Nobel prize laureate and a discoverer of HIV.

Luc Montagnier a “luminary of science” by any measure.

Luc Montagnier was one of the first people to explain that Sars-Cov-2 is a product of HIV-related lab research. So, he challenged one of the “consensus myths” I mentioned above.

(it is all in a wikipedia article about him).

Why was this Nobel prize laureate one of the first people (after Prashant Pradhan) to note HIV-related aspects of Sars-Cov-2? Because he was the foremost subject expert in the matter and had nothing to lose – his career was behind him.

Luc Montagnier a “luminary of science” by any measure.

Luc Montagnier was one of the first people to explain that Sars-Cov-2 is a product of HIV-related lab research. So, he challenged one of the “consensus myths” I mentioned above.

Hilarious. Luc Montagnier has long been my go-to example for how being a Nobel Laureate doesn’t necessarily insulate you from batshit bunkers conspiracy theories, quackery, and pseudoscience—even when one of those bits batshit bonkers conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and quackery is in your own field of expertise:

Although Orac’s posts are phenomenal, I doubt that Igor will read them or read them carefully enough to learn from them thus I suggest a quick glimpse into the depths to which Montagnier had fallen:
Luc Montagnier Wikipedia/ controversies
DNA emits radio waves? Homeopathy?

Monsieur Montagnier was also very old when he spouted those nonsenses. Perhaps age related cognitive decline was involved? Whatever the reason, appeal to authority doesn’t prove he was right …

Orac, I agree that getting a Nobel price does not lways make the scientist smarter or more humble and sometimes it increases overcomfidence. I read all your posts (since a certain point in time) and I remember that post. Another Nobel prize winner with a Vitamin C obsession (Linus) etc. We are all human. I am sure that when I eventually get a Nobel prize, my decision making would suffer also. (just kidding)

However, as far as “consensus” goes, Luc Montagnier’s opinion automatically means there is no consensus.

One crank, no matter how formerly credible a scientist, objecting to a scientific consensus does not mean that there is “no consensus.” That is, of course, what science deniers would have you believe about a scientific consensus, namely that a single scientist objecting to it means that there is no “consensus.” It’s nonsense. Just because Luc Montagnier in his dotage claimed that random short (and common) sequences found in the genome of HIV are also found in SARS-CoV-2 implied that SARS-CoV-2 had been engineered does not invalidate the existence of a scientific consensus among virologists that SARS-CoV-2 was not the result of genetic engineering.

igor, the habitually wrong, said

However, as far as “consensus” goes, Luc Montagnier’s opinion automatically means there is no consensus.

Hell igor, not only do you not understand the science or basic statistics, you don’t even understand words.

Scientific consensus is the generally held judgment, position, and opinion of the majority or the supermajority of scientists in a particular field of study at any particular time.

You just keep demonstrating why nobody should take anything you say seriously.

Simply from a linguistic claim, a consensus refers to a Majority – not a Unanimity.
You can’t say that just because any single person, even a Nobel Laureate, disagrees with the consensus – the consensus does not exist.

Why was this Nobel prize laureate one of the first people (after Prashant Pradhan) to note HIV-related aspects of Sars-Cov-2?

French here. Wanna talk about a French Nobel prize?

Short answer: Montagnier was going senile.
His actual saying was, if you take the covid vaccine, go get tested for HIV. Or more charitably, maybe he was trying to say you will now be HIV-positive, as a false positive.

Either way, neither virology nor cross-identification work that way.

I also happens to work on protein sequences. Protein sequence homologies between different species is something I have to dealt with on a daily basis.
Again, Montagnier did not know what he was talking about.

Ivermectin does not work
Masks prevent Covid-19
Covid vaccine is safe and effective

These three questions have been asked and answered in well-designed studies. Ivermectin is indeed ineffective at treating COVID-19, masks DO trap droplets containing COVID-19, and at the very least significantly reduce its spread, and vaccines against COVID-19 are safe, and significantly reduce COVID-19 cases.
That you don’t like those answers doesn’t give you the right to spread falsehoods.

What evidence is there that the vaccines have actually reduced covid-19 cases?

As asked your question is this: If the number of covid cases is N and people get vaccinated, where’s the evidence the result a decrease in the number of cases to something below N.

Think about asking what you really mean instead of these questions that are in the style of “When did you stop beating your wife?”

It started with RCT. Vaccine did reduce COVID cases, which was reason it was approved.

What evidence is there that the vaccines have actually reduced covid-19 cases?

I have this nifty graph from my health agencies, from around sep 2021 to mid-2022, about the number of people in ICU.
Funny enough, when looking at the numbers of people in ICU coming from the population of vaccinated or those of unvaccinated people (both expressed as a proportion), there is this huge peak for unvaccinated people, as the covid’s 2021 winter wave is rolling past. The graph stays flat for vaccinated people.

Vaccinated people must have done something right and avoided hard covid cases.

A bit difficult to paste the graph here, but here are the sources for he data. Feel free to go check them.
“Tableau de bord” of the French governement:
Data repository:

There is no consensus, however, about the following:

Sars-Cov-2 came from nature without lab research involvement
Ivermectin does not work
Masks prevent Covid-19
Covid vaccine is safe and effective

Wow. Anything to keep feeding the suckers who read your subcrap the falsehoods they crave eh igor?

You missed one huge item for which there is consensus: that you’re pushing some of the most asinine BS and conspiracies in existence.

I’ve finally figured out what Igor reminds me of – a baby piano. (Not a baby grand piano, but a toy piano for a baby.)
You hit one of the four keys and it plays a single tone (like a piano) and then a little snippet of a tune (usually a classical piece or bit of children’s music).

Each little clip was competently played and recorded, but requires no actual skill by the player, and becomes painfully repetitive in a short amount of time.

Igor just keeps hitting the keys, spitting out the same little snippets without any real skill or understanding.

Igor just keeps hitting the keys, spitting out the same little snippets without any real skill or understanding.

Unlike Schroder who could play great music even without the black keys.

But that’s another kind of toy piano. Those didn’t play snippets of melodies, but just seperate tones and they had more keys. I think I remember those from my youth.

Sure. Let me hit one more baby piano key to produce this pleasant melody:

As of Sep 1, Australia does NOT recommend that ANY children under 5 receive COVID vaccines. ATAGI does NOT recommend that ANY healthy adult under 65 get a COVID vaccine, also.

Please debunk this!

Also please explain why does the USA want to give more “covid vaccines” to infants and everyone else? Because of science? Is Australia an antivaxx country?

Igor, your statement is false.
You said “As of Sep 1, Australia does NOT recommend that ANY children under 5 receive COVID vaccines.”
Then you included a link.
If you had actually read that link you would have seen that it was talking about who should get a second COVID booster in 2023.
It also said that this recommended was to be applied in addition to the Feburary recommendation (which was linked).
If you had followed that link you would have seen this statement: “At present, most at-risk children aged 6 months to <5 years who have received a primary course have done so within recent months and a booster dose is not recommended at present.”
In other words, the ATAGI is saying that it is expected that kids have already had their primary COVID series and it has not yet been 6 months from their last shot and therefore a booster is not recommended.

The very next paragraph states: “ATAGI continues to recommend a primary course of vaccination against COVID-19, followed by a booster dose for those eligible, even in individuals who have had past infection. ”

So, you are wrong and your statement is false.
Only you can know if it is false because you didn’t know any better and just hit that key like and infant kicking out to stretch their legs, or if you deliberately and intentionally created a falsehood for the purposes of advancing your own agenda.

You are not Galileo (or Semmelweiss) just by disarreing. You must b roght,
Lab leak hypothesis is difficult to disprove.But most of intelligence community disagrees.
None of of negative ivermectin studies were financed by Big Pharma, or by a big donor to Democratic party.
Surgeons use mask to stop spreading diseases, do you know that ?
There are many follow up studies of COVID vaccines, not financed by Big Pharma.

And, of course, the lab leak hypothesis doesn’t actually change anything we should be doing anyway. Treatment will be identical whether the virus is completely natural or artificially generated.

And once the virus started mutating in the field (and it’s an RNA virus, it was going to mutate pretty damn fast, why do you think we need different flu vaccines every year) then whether the original sequence was natural or artificially generated became even less important. Because at that point even if you somehow assume that this was some sort of bioweapon and its creators had a stock of perfect cures for themselves alone, what’s circulating isn’t the original design anymore.

Once the circulating virus was sequenced, any original design files that may have existed (but probably didn’t) became unnecessary anyway.

The lab leak hypothesis was always a distraction whose only real purpose was finger-pointing at this being someone else’s fault, and the typical conspiracy-theory self-reassurance that horrible things couldn’t possibly have happened by accident. (A lot of conspiracy theories seem to fundamentally start from the idea that many people feel better with the idea that someone is in control who hates them than the idea that nobody is in control, because at least then they have a target.) Because in the real world it never mattered whether there was a lab leak or not when it came to treating the results.

Yes! People have a very hard time with the fact that sh*t happens, and nature is out to get us. Not in a personal vindictive way, just in a “you’re in the way of an avalanche” kind of way.

It’s the dark side of the ‘just world’ fallacy. When your starting axioms are ‘the world should work in fair and understandable ways’ and ‘I am a good person’, then obviously anything bad that happens to you must be somebody else’s fault, and you just have to find out who and defeat them. And anybody who says that you’re not actually a good person must be working with your enemies.

The idea of a “just world” is very important for understanding how some people react as well as the idea that “things don’t happen by chance” but are the manipulations of a malevolent person/ cartel/ force. I glad you both brought that up. Subjects even imagine seeing “agency” when geometric objects move around randomly in a display as if one “chases” the other or “hides” from a larger one.

Amongst the anti-vaxxers and alt med folk I survey there’s an additional aspect of the “just world” that illustrates their own unrealistic self-appraisals: not only are they ‘good people that bad things happen to’ but they are extraordinary and are being cruelly persecuted for their superb revelations by evil perpetrators and eventually they will be vindicated”!
They will be shown to be correct, all of SBM will be shown to be a farce, research will be shown to be fraud, the evil ones will be found out, tried and probably hung publicly. They will take their place amongst the righteous: saviours and scientific visionaries. In a just world, their brilliance will not go unnoticed or unrewarded.
*Wait! You’ll see!
is the unwritten addendum to each Substack post.

Igor: Ivermectin worked just fine – it eliminated some of the more gullible from the gene and meme pool. Shouldn’t you be taking some more doses, or are you one of the guys who is paid enough to shill the stuff, but not enough to actually take it?*

*Like the guys who say that money will lose all value soon, and that only gold will be worth anything – but mysteriously are willing to sell their gold for worthless dollars.

There’s nothing fragile about the work and reliable results that go into the framework of building scientific consensus, but massive amounts of fragility can reliably be located in the egos of those who work feverishly to discredit it for either misguided or dishonest motivations.

–I like that Orac differentiates pseudoexperts and quacks; I would add alt med specialists- Quasi-quacks?- who aspire to quackdom but lack credentials instead relying upon nutritionist, ND, TCM or chiro degrees, as a subcategory.

–Hasn’t there been great evolution in medical treatment and understanding of the causation of gastric ulcers since the 1960s? My uncle had surgery ( in the late 1960s I think) and my cousin- not his child- age five ( 1970) had ulcers and was treated with an experimental drug from Sweden; in the 1980s, my father self medicated with aspirin, developed ulcers and was treated with new meds, anti-biotics etc. So both sides of my family have ulcers. So far, so good for me.

Because I read Substack, I am amazed at how writers lack general information and assert the wildest ideas: a recent Naomi Wolf opus describes how people have been transformed since 2021 and no longer relate normally to babies or partners: she knows, she observed it. Something is amiss with their Chi because of vaccines.
Orac’s scoffers present similarly preposterous concepts.

Because I read Substack, I am amazed at how writers lack general information and assert the wildest ideas:

I keep thinking about the people who push “intelligent design” and their bogus definition of “information” and their similarity to folks (like igor and other anti-vaccination bs) who push things without any scientific basis. I’m sure some of the more scientifically/mathematically uneducated among them truly believe the stuff they say, but for the folks in each group that have some training: do they really believe it or, in spite of knowing better, are they parroting the disinformation and falsehoods because of the attention in brings them?

@ Idw56old:

I wonder about this myself: how can someone with a reasonably decent background in life science believe the things they promote? Are they all such good liars? Or has escalating ego growth crowded out long term memory of SBM med school/ training so that no information remains?
I think that most of the Covid contrarian doctors just lie. Also Mercola.

The less educated group is a different story: probably true believers who also mistakenly think themselves to be great detectives, investigative journalists and scientific revolutionaries. I routinely hear an altie recount his storied career: his research study numbers grow with each retelling, the number of people he ‘treated’ grows as well as does his list of places he worked/ types of work involved, awards won. Eventually, he came to believe his own – fantasised- press.

I submit a simple test for new sceptics for evaluating these creatures:
— do they earn money from their work?
— do they profess ideas that seem too good or unreal to be true? Hiv/ aids can be cured with diet, vaccines are dangerous, homeopathy works, meds harm more than help, doctors kill more people than disease does, germ theory denialism, natural cures, ancient cures, energy medicine.

Only medical science can turn well intended beliefs into quackery (bloodletting):

Bloodletting — the practice of withdrawing blood from a person’s veins for therapeutic reasons — was common for thousands of years.,favor%20with%20the%20medical%20community.

In continuation, only medical science can better understand allergies (i.e., a chronic disease) as immunotherapy.

Here’s my point, sometimes it’s extremely difficult to change the scientific consensus.

Blood letting was a part of prescientific medicine. Semmelweis did scientific observations, but did not know the cause, germ theory did not exist then.

@ Aarno Syvänen

In Europe, the practice continued to be relatively common until the end of the 19th century.

The Art of Medicine: Over 2, 000 Years of Images and Imagination: Julie Anderson, Emm Barnes, Emma Shackleton: ISBN 978-0226749365: The Ilex Press Limited, 2013.

@ Orac minions,

Hoping that Christmas comes early, MJD would appreciate a respectful or not-so respectful post from Orac on allergy-assisted cancer therapy.

“Bleeding” a patient to health was modeled on the process of menstruation. Hippocrates believed that menstruation functioned to “purge women of bad humours”. During the Roman Empire, the Greek physician Galen, who subscribed to the teachings of Hippocrates, advocated physician-initiated bloodletting.
Not very scientific.
19th century saw lots of other non scientific ideas.

And, of course, bloodletting is still done for perfectly valid, scientific reasons. My grandfather was actually treated with ‘bloodletting’, and for a time was having a pint of blood removed each week.

Of course, he had been properly diagnosed with haemochromatosis, a.k.a. blood iron overload, and removing blood from his body and forcing generation of new blood was the easiest way to get the iron concentration in his bloodstream back down to levels where it wasn’t potentially damaging his other organs.

(That’s pretty much the only reason I’m aware of for which just removing blood completely is still the recommended approach, as opposed to removing it, filtering it, and then putting it back in, which is possible for some other causes. Because in this case the whole point is to remove the red blood cells.)

I hope that Orac approves this comment. If I never see it posted, I will understand and no hard feelings.

I will keep it short. It is about INCELS.

We had a discussion in the previous posts’ comments about “incels”, where many people expressed feelings of disdain or even hatred of “incels”, displaying cartoonish understanding of who they are.

Anyway, I was looking for interesting topics to write a blog post about, concerning “Moonshot CVE” and searching wide for their PDF reports (which they hide). Moonshot CVE is a google and intelligence-related organization to prevent violent extremism and other undesirable things.

I found Moonshot’s PDF report to Canadian government regarding “incels”.

To my utter shock and surprise, this document is amazingly insightful, non-judgmental and offers a deep look into who “incels” are and how they become ones (the PDF explains that they are mostly younger men with mental issues or on the autistic spectrum).

As most of readers here are ideologically aligned with report sponsors and writers, you may find it very interesting. I literally spent an hour of my life reading it and do not regret at all.

Again, Orac if you do not want to approve this comment, I will totally understand.

“(the PDF explains that they are mostly younger men with mental issues or on the autistic spectrum).”

Where? I didn’t have much time but the section on risk factors didn’t contain anything about autism. I mean, it is early in the morning and the text was small…..

Note his Igor’s use of ‘mental issues or on the autistic spectrum’. That or is what’s allowing him to make his claim, because he wants to conflate autism with just about any other mental health issue he can to garner sympathy for the poor misogynists.

Which raises an interesting question, what does Igor himself think of women and how they should behave?

You can get some idea of how he views women from the way he describes them.

August 27, 11:53: (my emphasis)

I never said that the woman who asked for my number was attractive, she was not particularly attractive. She was not hideous, she was just an average middle aged woman you see at Costco.

Other examples are similar. It seems that to him women are objects to be described based on appearance rather than people one should get to know.

I have a lot of thoughts on this matter but have no intention of discussing them. I have been happily married for 24 years. That should tell you something, specifically that whatever views I have, work very well for me.

The fact that you’ve been married for some time does not remove at all the possibility that you view women as objects rather than people, and your previous references to women do not at all provide you any defense against that possibility.

However, the presence of neurodiversity within the incel community, and ASD in particular, is a topic that requires further study. A significant percentage of incel users online self-report as having ASD to some degree.

So the presence of ASD in the intel community requires further study, and the evidence that is present comes from self-reporting.

Igor, neither of those things support your claim that the PDF explains that they are mostly younger men with mental issues or on the autistic spectrum. Why do you think that your amazingly blatant misrepresentations of what a report actually says will not be noticed? Are you that accustomed to the suckers who pay for your blog of lies merely nodding and saying ‘yup, makes sense to me and my biases’?

You are grasping at straws, I am sorry to say – the report clearly supports my earlier statements, as the quote you cited proves.

“Incels”, lonely frustrated young men with mental issues, are demonized to be used in ideological struggles as a smear technique, which frankly is very nasty to them and does not do the world a favor.

By the way, the Moonshot CVE’s excellent writeup on them also mentions racism in dating, for example referring to struggles of Asian men or Black men. They are absolutely right about that. I totally missed that aspect earlier.

You are grasping at straws, I am sorry to say – the report clearly supports my earlier statements, as the quote you cited proves.

Wow — even caught in one of your most blatant lies about a paper you continue to triple down on your BS. Every day you show yourself to be more delusional than you seemed the day before.

‘Self-report as having ASD’ means absolutely nothing without some sort of actual diagnosis.

Anybody who has been around the Internet for a while has run into lots of people who self-report as having ASD because they’re anti-social (even when they pretty clearly aren’t on the spectrum based on other symptoms), just because ASD is something that everybody thinks they know about and it’s an excuse that lets them claim that they’re being misunderstood and persecuted, and allows them to continue being an asshole.

‘Asshole’ is not a mental illness.

I know lots of perfectly nice people with ASD. Honestly, they often tend to be explicitly more polite because they don’t always know when they screw up, so they’re a lot more consciously careful to stay away from possible boundaries.

…okay Igor, what are you suggesting women do to help these poor, discriminated against misogynists? I mean if you say that misogynists are unable to change their beliefs about women then that would mean that women need to change to conform to how misogynists want them to be.

Should I, a woman, stop being so attracted to women and start dating a man who hates me so that I’m not discriminating against him?

Wait, no, that wouldn’t work, I’m damaged goods for having sexual experience, something that incels tend to vehemently dislike in women. They want someone pure, who has never had a single dirty thought in their entire life, and has never had an opinion of her own either, and oh boy do I have opinions.

Seriously though dude, wife of how ever many years you say aside, the fact that you’re in such a hurry to defend men who can’t get with women because they hate women tells me you’re missing something in your life.

==> okay Igor, what are you suggesting women do to help these poor, discriminated against misogynists?

I would suggest to NOT demonize them needlessly, that’s all.

Even when they are so vile and despicable in their attitudes towards women that they deserve it, which is often the case?

From a publication with very different politics than mine, a fairly comprehensive new article on why “lab leak” is almost certainly nonsense.
The Lab-Leak Illusion
The laboratory accident hypothesis of COVID-19’s origins is a bust, but the popular consensus is unwilling to accept it.
Jamie Palmer
19 Aug 2023 · 53 min read

…. The lab-leak hypothesis may also be appealing for a more human reason—just as many people were reluctant to believe that someone as important as Kennedy could be murdered by someone as unimportant as Lee Harvey Oswald, perhaps the search for a human agent who can shoulder the blame for the pandemic relieves us of the idea that we live on a dangerous and chaotic planet, fraught with natural risks we do not yet properly understand and which we are presently powerless to control.

my comment:

[I agree with the second part of the conclusion, but it’s worth remembering that RFK, the original, immediately suspected the CIA killed his brother – not because of trauma or reading dumb Facebook posts, but because he deeply knew the agency was furious at the administrations efforts to end the Cold War and normalize relations with Castro, among other heresies. He told trusted aides that if he won the Presidency he planned to reopen the investigation. This is not a “theory.” It’s the one place where I agree with RFK Junior, who was told as a child by his family that this was their conclusion but he was also told not to speak about it in public. Maybe that’s why he’s so upset about alleged censorship given that he spent most of his life censoring himself.]

Oswald was not unimportant, he was a CIA asset.

Instead of “psychoanalyzing conspiracy theorists”, it helps to first review facts with an open mind. This applies both to the President Kennedy murder, which I generally do not pay attention to, and to the origin of Sars-Cov-2, on which my interests are focused.

Sars-Cov-2 perfectly fits the description of the DEFUSE proposal to develop it, and appeared in the location where the proposal said it would be developed. Much prior literature exists about recombinations of HIV with coronaviruses also, possible use of coronavirus vector as a HIV vaccine etc.

SC2 was developed intentionally to be a pandemic pathogen.

Maybe you should also psychoanalyze yourself and ask, how can you believe an obviously nonsensical idea that “SARS-COV-2 is a natural bat virus that first appeared in Wuhan without lab involvement”

Maybe you should also psychoanalyze yourself and ask, how can you believe an obviously nonsensical idea that “SARS-COV-2 is a natural bat virus that first appeared in Wuhan without lab involvement”

Because, contrary to the support-free notions you spread (“Sars-Cov-2 perfectly fits the description of the DEFUSE proposal to develop it, and appeared in the location where the proposal said it would be developed.”) the data is leading in the direction of natural origin and not in the direction of your favorite conspiracy wet dream.

Okay, I’ll humor your idea that the virus was created in a lab if you can explain to me why the hell someone would go through all that trouble to make such an absolute rubbish biological weapon. An actual explanation, not just ‘who knows what goes on in the minds of those people’.

But if you can’t come up with an explanation just drop it already.

===> Okay, I’ll humor your idea that the virus was created in a lab if you can explain to me why the hell someone would go through all that trouble to make such an absolute rubbish biological weapon.

Just to be clear, I did not assert in my above reply that Sars-Cov-2 is a bioweapon. You brought it up, and it is a good question.

People often have a misconception about what the word “bioweapon” means. Many believe that this word only describes super deadly pathogens targeting only one ethnic group. That belief is based on cheap movies and novels and medieval use of smallpox by settlers in North America, and does not apply to the current day.

The United Nations defines “bioweapon” as follows:

Biological and toxin weapons are either microorganisms like virus, bacteria or fungi, or toxic substances produced by living organisms that are produced and released deliberately to cause disease and death in humans, animals or plants.

Biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin and plague can pose a difficult public health challenge causing large numbers of deaths in a short amount of time. Biological agents which are capable of secondary transmission can lead to epidemics. An attack involving a biological agent may mimic a natural event, which may complicate the public health assessment and response. In case of war and conflict, high-threat pathogens laboratories can be targeted, which might lead to serious public health consequences.

The definition does not say that bioweapons necessarily must kill all infected people, just that they kill some people. Sars-Cov-2 certainly does kill some people.

It was definitely designed deliberately, as the DEFUSE documents, and many other pieces of evidence show.

The big mystery about it is not its lab origin. The big mystery is: was it an accident, or was it deliberately released? I do not have an answer to this question.

I have a strong dislike of my fellow travelers Covid deniers and people who say things like “Covid is just a cold”, because, sadly, it is not just a cold.

No, there is little mystery about a lab origin, because the evidence does not support a lab origin. It overwhelmingly supports natural origin and always has. Even though it is possible that there was a laboratory origin, that explanation is far less likely and has basically no evidence to support it compared to a natural zoonotic origin. It is, however, unsurprising that lab leak became the dominant conspiracy theory about COVID origins. Every epidemic since the science of molecular biology allowed scientists to genetically manipulate organisms started to arise in the mid-20th century has spawned conspiracy theories that the pathogen causing the epidemic or pandemic was made in and/or released from a laboratory, either intentionally or accidentally. The list is long: every new influenza pandemic (e.g., H1N1), HIV, Ebola, etc. So of course conspiracy theories arose that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab, I was writing about at least one of them in January 2020, before the then-new disease had even been declared a pandemic, when James Lyons-Weiler claimed to have found plasmid sequences in the newly published nucleotide sequence of SARS-CoV-2 and wildly (and inaccurately) speculated that the virus had been made in a lab and was the result of a failed attempt to make a vaccine against the original SARS that caused the 2003 epidemic but fortunately fizzled before it became a pandemic.

“The definition does not say that bioweapons necessarily must kill all infected people, just that they kill some people. Sars-Cov-2 certainly does kill some people.”

So does every other virus, to a greater or lesser extent. Also traffic, guns, pollution, alcohol, smoking, narcotics and age. Are they all bioweapons, released by your political enemies, targeted at you specifically, because you’ve been identified as the John Connor of 2023?

“It was definitely designed deliberately, as the DEFUSE documents, and many other pieces of evidence show”

Yeah but no. I really don’t know where you get your ideas of evidence from but a blueprint for a black hole generator doesn’t prove that missing persons have been sucked into one. First prove it was built, then prove it was used. Neither of which has been done by your juvenile reasoning. I’d say that you’d have to be taking the piss to write such amateur drivel but your past history belies this.

Okay, but why was it made? That is what I am asking. If it is not a bioweapon, why the hell was it made?

No one does anything so time and resource intensive with such potential to go badly wrong in so many ways for no reason. I am asking what the purpose of it is.

Again, do not say, ‘who knows?’ I want an answer.

I get the people who follow your writings take ‘just because’ or ‘for the evilulzs’ as answers, but I’m looking for a better explanation than that.

@ Silex:

Of course, altie thought leaders like Mike Adams, know exactly why the virus was created: to kill off most humans and clear the earth for alien cities OR because Bill Gates wants to destroy freedom and earn money OR to please their Lord and Master, Satan. Or all three simultaneously!

I imagine that with your formidable skills, you can easily conjure a more engaging scenario. Obviously, Orac could probably write wicked sci fi. I have toyed with ideas about an imaginary society where children are forced into difficult decades long training/ educational regimes to become exactly what their parent/s desire or that brain implants will fix people’s weaknesses but we already witness the first every day and Elon thinks he can accomplish the second soon.

Alt med/ anti-vax/ CT writers capture audiences who mistake their feeble attempts at sci fi for actual science: if you follow these creatures, you’ll hear stories that echo sci fi or horror films/ video games as well as spy novels and international or business intrigue. Now, many paint tales of end times inspired by Revelation or recent films about the demise of present day society after atomic war, pandemic or zombie apocalypse.

Basically, they fill a template already worn out by bad writers.
I read a few Substacks searching for an iota of creativity but it is lacking. Few seem to understand that sometimes bad things happen and that events can be attributed to multiple sources.

It’s much easier to have ready made motivated protagonists and 3 – or 5- acts to deliver a tired plot.
Vaccines diminish Qi and kill babies? Evil businessmen want to take over the world? The Second Coming?

SARS CoV 2 has only short sequence similarities with HIV:
There a call for investigation of origi of SARS CoV 2:
“We do know that the insertion of such FCS sequences into SARS-like viruses was a specific goal of work proposed by the EHA-WIV-UNC partnership within a 2018 grant proposal (“DEFUSE”) that was submitted to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) (25). The 2018 proposal to DARPA was not funded, but we do not know whether some of the proposed work was subsequently carried out in 2018 or 2019, perhaps using another source of funding. ”
There were indeed mouse virua with ACE2 receptor But its sequence is very dissimilar to SARS CoV 2. It us mouse virus afer all. eve you,
We do not believve you, because you do not give any evidence. Try that.

The search function of documentcloud does not work well. This is why you could not find mention of “furin cleavage site”.

Furin cleavage site of the viruses they promised to develop is mentioned thusly:

We will analyze all SARSr-CoV gene sequences for appropriately conserved proteolytic cleavage sites in S2 and for the presence of potential furin cleavage site. SARSr-CoV with mismatches in proteolytic cleavage sites can be activated by exogenous trypsin or cathepsin L.

Where mismatches occur, we will INTRODUCE appropriate human-specific cleavage sites and evaluate growth potential in Vero cells and HAE (humanized airway epithelium – Igor) cultures. In Sars-cov, we will ablate several of these sites based on pseudotypes particle studies and EVALUATE THE IMPACT OF SELECT SARSr-Cov changes on virus REPLICATION and pathogenesis

That “DARPA did not find this proposal” is a poor excuse when the pandemic pathogen is as described in the DARPA proposal. The work was done anyway. Someone funded it!

Well, the Sars-Cov-2 virus is exactly as defined in the DEFUSE proposal, right?

I understand that you refuse to think and add 2+2 and you are awaiting for your partisan “experts” to tell you how to think. That’s okay with me – ultimately it only affects you.

I also wanted to point out that the only thing proven by “Sars-Cov-2 matches earlier proposals to develop it” is that SC2 was developed in a lab.

We do not have answers to:

1) Who ultimately led the final steps of development
2) Was it released by “accident” or intentionally
3) Why exactly was it released, if it was intentional
4) What was the exact intent to release it
5) What the location of where it presumably appear, purposely chosen to hide its origin.

Many mysteries remain uncovered!

What we know is that in Sep of 2019, Bill Gates very serendipitously invested in BioNTech, a mRNA company that to date made no vaccines ever – and made over 30x return on investment. He got very lucky that a pandemic happened, mRNA technology was favored for vaccines, and that BioNTech was given the genetic code for the “Covid vaccine” by the NIH. Probably a total coincidence. Right?

There is more but I do not want to overload you.

1-5: Bats.
Stop touching bats. Leave them alone and (as a genus) they tend to prevent human disease by eating arbo-vectors.

Touch them and you get all kinds of fun terrible diseases. This is not news. It’s been on the radar of the emerging infectious disease community since the 1980’s! Land sakes.

As for Bill Gates: 1) yo, the 90’s called and wants their super-villain back. 2) Bill Gates personally invested, or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invested? There’s an important difference there, mostly that the Gates Foundation is a major investor in vaccine technology, including new vaccine technologies, and has been for decades. 3) What else did Bill Gates invest in in September 2019? Did all of those investments make money?

Good grief. Look, Bill Gates is a smart guy, but he’s not that smart, nor can he see the future. And while all billionaires are a least somewhat evil, for his cohort he’s not that bad. (Which mostly speaks to the current crop of billionaires.)

“I understand that you refuse to think and add 2+2 and you are awaiting for your partisan “experts” to tell you how to think.”

Heh heh heh.

Firstly, you and your experts are also partisan. So, no moral high ground for you there. Secondly I ain’t the one unable to tell the difference between opinion and proven fact.

“Well, the Sars-Cov-2 virus is exactly as defined in the DEFUSE proposal, right?”

So… mean a proposal to simulate real possibilities means that the real possibilities couldn’t happen? If you say that they can’t then justify that statement. If you agree that they can, then you cannot be sure that they didn’t.

Igor, your denial of reality in favor of your baseless conspiracies is astounding. If only you had put such dedication into your education perhaps you wouldn’t be such a sucker for and spreader of bullshit.

This is the problem with this sh*t. It looks fishy as hell and allows whackadoodles like our pal, here, to extrapolate that it all must have been planned and part of some conspiracy to stop Trump when he was perfectly capable of proving his ineptitude and boundless stupidity without the help of the CCP.

What if they did cook this virus up doing research to protect us from coronaviruses and it just plain got away from them? Is that possible, Igor?

Conversely, if you want to know if a plumber has done a good job, presumably the best person to ask is a brickie?

No. A brickie would have far too much expertise, you need a telemarketer to tell you what is really wrong with the plumbing – what plumbers won’t tell you.

Tell page us where your citation appeared.

Page 13

Aarno, honestly you are being ridiculous. Sars-Cov-2 is a synthetic virus whose design is described in a proposal for development of synthetic viruses. (DEFUSE proposal)

The virus that appeared two years later matches the proposal. It infects ACE2, DC-SIGN (this is what the HIV inserts do – they have a purpose – to interact with DC-SIGN mentioned in the DEFUSE proposal), has a described-in-proposal furin cleavage site, etc.

It appears in the city where the institute mentioned in the proposal is located (Wuhan).

Which is 1,000 km from bat caves where the bats live, mind you.

The above proved lab origin of Covid-19.

Trusting “virologists” assurances that “virologists arenot at fault” shows credulity, given the above circumstances.

“Trusting “virologists” assurances that “virologists arenot at fault” shows credulity, given the above circumstances”

So…..if you get a leak and ask a plumber to check a previous plumbers work you expect a glowing report, every time? Do they earn a reward for protecting their distant colleagues? That they’ve probably never met.

Conversely, if you want to know if a plumber has done a good job, presumably the best person to ask is a brickie?

Speaking about virologists, there is their take on furin cleavage site:
Except for one codon (cgu that encodes arginine 685), each of the codons for RRARSVAS is different in human ENaC and SARS-CoV-2 (Fig. 1B).
Splicing inserts codons. Many codons code same amino acids, so comparing just amino acids is misleading.
I do not trust someone who thinks that Gates rules the world. Do you not understand how ridiculous you are ?
Wuhan work was not related to DEFUSE. It used mouse virus backbone and result has only 80% sequence similarity to SARS CoV 2.
People can travel berween bat caves and Wuhan have you thought that ?


Except for one codon (cgu that encodes arginine 685), each of the codons for RRARSVAS is different in human ENaC and SARS-CoV-2 (Fig. 1B).

Rober Garry covered up a lot of other things besides the origin of Sars-Cov-2, but I digress. Read his letter closely.

He argues that the FCS was not designed to mimic human sodium channel “ENAC”. Which is not something I even discussed – that is not related to the issue we considered, which is lab origin of SC2.

The title of Garry’s article does not even match its content.

Wuhan work was not related to DEFUSE. It used mouse virus backbone and result has only 80% sequence similarity to SARS CoV 2. People can travel berween bat caves and Wuhan have you thought that ?

They experimented on HUMANIZED mice having human-like lungs – so it is possible that the SC2 virus was indeed made using humanized lab mice. The original SC2 infected humanized mice.

DEFUSE refers to HAE mice, where HAE is Humanized Airway Epithelium.

The BANAL-52 virus may indeed be an ancestor to Sars-Cov-2

Trusting “virologists” assurances that “virologists arenot at fault” shows credulity, given the above circumstances.

There’s Igor’s whole thing: you shouldn’t trust experts in disciplines [because they’re somehow tainted?], you should trust a failed economist with no knowledge of the relevant material but does have a long history of misrepresenting things he’s tried to read.


There’s Igor’s whole thing: you shouldn’t trust experts in disciplines [because they’re somehow tainted?], you should trust a failed economist with no knowledge of the relevant material but does have a long history of misrepresenting things he’s tried to read.

I am not asking you to trust me, I am asking you to start thinking.

Which you stubbornly refuse to do, instead clinging to “experts”

@ Idw56old:

The anti-expert trend has been brewing for some time amongst alties/ anti-vaxxers:
one I survey spends most of his broadcasts asserting that the media, experts, governments and researchers have always been wrong so no one should believe them.
So, instead, we should believe an uneducated poseur who tricks his followers into buying overpriced supplements/ films and who has unwittingly poisoned himself with one of his own products?

Another claims that science really knows nothing at all. NN

Yet they also claim expertise in everything.

DC-SIGN is a transreceptor implicated in tens of dozens of viral illnesses, including MERS that long predates COVID. I’m sure ANY coronaviruses interact with it and have since before we crawled out of the trees. Hell, even MARBURG interacts with it. In plain terms-no one needed to “put” it there or “teach” COVID to interact with it. You really are out of your league.

Why are you people so fixated on HIV, anyway?

Why are you people so fixated on HIV, anyway?

It is part and parcel of how they view their identity. HIV is a disease “from” the gay community in the US. It is not a disease that wholesome people who believe in guns and God get. Therefore, anything that can be linked to HIV is more evidence of a nefarious leftist plot to take away their rights to be misogynistic, white supremacists and feel good about it.

Did I miss anything?

I am not asking you to trust me, I am asking you to start thinking.

I am thinking Igor. First level: why believe a failed economist with a known history of lying about some studies and misrepresenting others, in addition to having zero knowledge of the subject those studies address [that person is you].

Second level: What do the studies say? That’s where understanding the statistics, which I do and you clearly don’t, comes in. Nothing in them matches your output about them.

Third level: I’m not a conspiracy monger — you are. Your repeated, completely asinine, comments about Bill Gates and various international organizations somehow working behind the scenes on, well, everything related to covid and life in general are simply too fantastical for any rational person to believe.

Summary: you are not a reliable broker about anything: you lie about some studies — easily verified by checking what their authors say and comparing to what you say, you misrepresent what other studies say, you spew purely imaginary horrors about what Gates and some organizations are up to. There’s nothing to your messages that reflects reality. That’s probably why people subscribe to your blog: they don’t like reality either and value the “brave outsider take” you provide them, despite how worthless it is. Toss in your fictions about family and friends being in terrible medical straights but suddenly recovering when some voodoo or magical woo helps them, and the intelligent verdict is clear: you’re a desperate little clown seeking attention, nothing else.


I am thinking Igor. First level: why believe a failed economist with a known history of lying about some studies and misrepresenting others, in addition to having zero knowledge of the subject those studies address [that person is you].

That’s not thinking, that’s “expert picking”. You are saying “I do not trust you because my “experts” beg me not to trust you.

Denice does the same thing, endless talk about “trusting experts” and no thinking whatsoever.

As for being a failed economist, take a wild guess at my net worth. (I will not correct or comment on your guess)

What Igor says about me is correct.. only if “experts” is a short way of saying what the accumulated data/ evidence shows at the present time.

If you think a bunch of entitled people sit around a table and agree on something, you are gonzo.

“You are saying “I do not trust you because my “experts” beg me not to trust you.”

Not at all. I don’t trust you because of your long history of dishonesty and just being flat out wrong about COVID, vaccines, and everything else you talk about.

@Igor Chudov You are connecting dots. This is not thinking. Thinking is critical evaluating he evience. Try this.

2Igor Chudov As I said Wuhan work was not related o DEFUSE, So humanised mouse was not used. I waas BALB/c:—
Read the original article.
Argument was that proposed sequence similarity between ENaC and SARS CoV 2 are presenr only in protein sequence. That evidence gone, try go give other.
Garry actually does no give any ansers

Aarno, thanks for looking up, you found a good description of DC-SIGN.

Now scroll down to the section “Role in HIV infection” and read it.

This molecule is involved in the initial stages of the human immunodeficiency virus infection, as the HIV gp120 molecule causes co-internalization of the DC-SIGN molecule and HIV virus particle (virion).

Now note that the DEFUSE proposal, Page 13:

… we will sequentially introduce clade 2 disrupting residues of Sars-CoV and SHC014 and evaluate virus growth in Vero cells, nonpermissive cells ectopically expressing DC-Sign, and in human monocytes and macrophages…

evaluating virus growth efficiency in human airway epithelium, Vero cells, or nonpermissive cells w ectopic DC-sign expression.

So they were looking to make a virus infecting cells via DC-SIGN, like HIV.

A study in Nature, co-written by no one other than the China “bat-woman” Shi Zheng-li, indeed found that Sars-Cov-2 infects T-cells.

==> ACE-2 Independent infection of T lymphocytes by Sars-Cov-2

So…simulating exactly what happens in nature then?

Hey guys, we’re proposing an experiment where we stab people in the eye with a stick to see if running through a forest could be dangerous.

Nope. Sounds like torture. We won’t fund that.

Igor: Guy injured by wooden stick proves that the experiment was done and all stick related injuries are deliberately caused.

“I am not asking you to trust me, I am asking you to start thinking.”

“Thinking” in Igor’s world means trust in pseudoexperts and ludicrous misinterpretations of data.

One of the first painful steps toward rational thought is to realize what you don’t know and show some humility when confronted with the conclusions of highly trained and qualified experts (epidemiologists, statisticians, infectious disease MDs etc.) who have amassed evidence that contradicts your cherished but wrongheaded beliefs.

Igor is a very long way from taking that essential first step, fixated as he is on his Substack mini-echo chamber and fantasies of admiring glances from the Babes of Costco.

Babes of Costco.

Hey, a saw a show by the Babes of Costco a couple years ago. It was in a cheap little bar in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Don’t dis ’em. 🙂

Your thinking is fundamentally broken. You are just looking for someone to “trust”.

Thinking is not about “trusting experts”. It is about

1) Reading
2) Asking “how could this be true” when reading nonsensical claims
3) Trying to put two and two together.

You are bound to make some mistakes thinking this way, but at least you will live your life as a thinking individual.

You are possibly too old to change your way of cognition, but at least recognize the limitations of “trusting experts” without critically reading news.

Igor, you are not even wrong.
Many subjects require years of study in depth to properly understand, and this is one of them. Without that, it is possible to gain a shallow understanding, believe you know more than you do, and jump to erroneous conclusions. The reason we rely on experts in these fields is because they have thoroughly studied these subjects and understand the ins and outs in a way that a novice never could. Sometimes, “thinking for yourself” is a self-made trap.

@ Julian Frost:

Well put. As usual.

Amongst the anti-vaxxers I survey**, NEVER do I hear or read about developmental phenomena that illustrate why it is incredibly unlikely that vaccines cause autism. It’s as though they totally disregard areas of research that are fundamental to the study of children’s eventual categorisation as being autistic or not.

There are entire bodies of literature comprising of thousands of studies showing differences in people’s brain development that are supported by a confluence of evidence in diverse areas of research such as comparative ( animal) physiology, studies of abortion/ autopsy, prenatal exposure to meds/ poisons/ infection, imaging studies / pre and post natal, physiognomy research, genetic studies, and observational studies of young children prior to vaccination.

But you never hear about this! I don’t even hear key words or names of famous scientists/ research universities*** mentioned but these studies have been going on for over 40 years! Somehow they just sail right over these multiple volumes of studies!

Why is that? Blindness? Or inability to deal with complexity and finely detailed research? No, it doesn’t fit into their cherry picked agendas. They stay far away if they even know about its existence.

** angry mothers, television producers, supplement salesmen, disgraced doctors, rabble rousers and scions of wealthy families.
*** those would be big tells that they at least saw the research

Thinking is not about “trusting experts”.

Marginally true — you don’t blindly trust someone who claims to be an expert, and (IMO) you don’t automatically trust an expert if/when that person is the only one espousing a viewpoint. You look for support and data.

It is about

1) Reading
2) Asking “how could this be true” when reading nonsensical claims
3) Trying to put two and two together.

Aaah yes, your [probably fictional] reference to your “critical reading” bullshit. Yes, you have to read things. About #2: If you don’t have any expertise in an area many things can seem nonsensical; I think about many of the things I read about relativity and other areas of physics, or astronomy. They seem nonsensical, but as I look around I find they are supported by researchers around the world and often by years of experimental data. Do things seem nonsensical and difficult to believe? Does that mean you declare them wrong [when you’re not trained in the area]? No.

Trying to put two and two together — if by that you mean that when things seem nonsensical and so they have to be wrong — that is the approach you seem to take — that is a foolish way to live. The fact that anyone who hasn’t studied a discipline to decide that existing research results have to be wrong simply because they seem wrong is a foolish way to go — but that’s exactly what you do. You don’t like a study showing effectiveness of a vaccine? It must have been paid for by some shady group of “others” and the results can’t be trusted. You don’t like efforts to broadcast that quacks are spreading worthless and probably dangerous claims about “alternative” treatments? Cry censorship and at the same time make up stories about people you know who were miraculously saved by said alternatives.

No igor, you’re not a critical thinker. You’re not capable of understanding the studies you rail against. You’re just a source of mis- and disinformation to suckers who are as uneducated in science as you are.

“You are bound to make some mistakes thinking this way, but at least you will live your life as a thinking individual”

Not some mistakes. Huge numbers of mistakes. You think a bit of home reading can make you as knowledgeable as a supreme court judge? A tax lawyer, a geologist working in oil exploration?

If you do, then who wrote the books that you learned from. Experts. Could you write those books yourself? If not, you ain’t as good and it’s the height of arrogance to assume you are.

Thinking is a meaningless concept the way you use it. Flat earthers think they are thinking. Creationists think they are thinking. People who believe aliens built the Pyramids think they are thinking. They are. They just aren’t good at self checking.

I don’t expect experts to get it right all the time. I know that I couldn’t do their job better though. Neither can you.

I like that you are thinking about this.

As you pointed out, it is indeed impossible to be an expert in everything. If you make a lot of decisions, sometimes trusting experts is necessary. I trust experts, sometimes, also.

However, when trusting experts, it is essential to be PICKY about which experts to trust, are the people claiming to be experts actually experts (or quacks) and where and WHEN doubt and perhaps a second opinion is warranted.

Examples of such situations include

1) Financial conflicts of interest, such as when an “expert” has something to sell to you, or his TV station is getting paid by Pfizer, etc

2) Whether the “expert” is clearly beholden to some extreme ideology, either willingly or due to blackmail (example is: cancel culture)

3) An expert is making outlandish, unlikely claims (such as “a vaccine based on a novel technology with an uninterrupted history of failure, tested for only three months per study subject, is definitely safe and effective”)

4) Instead of a healthy debate where all people, smart and stupid, can discuss something freely, censorship is instituted. This is always an alarm signal. Any sorts of ideas promoted in such manner should automatically be questioned.

When faced sith such situations, extreme caution is warranted, “trusting experts” is unwise, and “doing own research” is advised, despite the need for significant investments of personal time for said research.

“PICKY about which experts to trust”

“Whether the “expert” is clearly beholden to some extreme ideology”

“An expert is making outlandish, unlikely claims (such as “a vaccine based on a novel technology”

Here’s the problem. In order to know which expert to trust and whether the expert is putting ideology above fact or making wild claims, you need to be able to understand what they are saying, the background of what they are saying and evaluate the facts.

Can you see the problem here? If you validate an expert because they share your politics or say what ‘feels’ right to you, you aren’t critically evaluating them. You’re stroking your bias. That’s not logical, clear thinking. It’s prejudice. The only answer is cold, hard data. As soon as you use terms like outlandish and unlikely, without the skills and data to back those words up, you’ve eliminated yourself from the useful source pool.

Actually this is not thinking. You need evidence oo. Infamous fact checking, you know..

I imagine that CT pushers include hiv to scare the uninstructed about COVID because they can then -falsely- attribute its characteristics to COVID such as the fact that it is a retrovirus – and we all know what retroviruses can do- when Corona viruses are NOT; some of things they say about COVID sound like retroviruses.
Of course, hiv is frightening in other ways as well such as destroying the immune system.

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