Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Hack conspiracy journalism: Paul Thacker vs. the definition of “physician”

I normally don’t publish email exchanges, but when someone like Paul Thacker misleadingly characterizes an email exchange with me, let’s just say that I will make an exception in his case.

I had a feeling that this week might be a weird one when, first thing Monday morning, I was greeted with an email from a most unexpected source, someone who has been featured on this blog a number of times for his misleading brand of “journalism” (if you can call it that). This time around, I’m referring to conspiracy theorist hack “investigative journalist” Paul Thacker, whom I first discovered and wrote about in 2016 after he had started attacking a scientist named Kevin Folta over GMOs based on the results of an abusive FOIA request. Mr. Thacker only got worse during the pandemic, for example, amplifying antivax messaging by attacking pro-vaccine doctors and scientists (and sometimes even parroting old antivax tropes himself) and publishing what was in my not-so-humble opinion a very deceptively reported exposé of Ventavia, one of the contract research organizations (CROs) hired to help Pfizer carry out the phase 3 randomized controlled trial of its new COVID-19 vaccine.

[NOTE: There is an addendum to this post.]

Truly, with cranks like Mr. Thacker, every accusation is a confession, such as his running a paid Substack entitled The Disinformation Chronicle, where, under the guise of exposing and combatting disinformation, he regularly lays down heaping helpings of it.

Early Monday morning, I got email

Normally, I do not publish private email exchanges without the permission of the person initiating it, but I do allow exceptions. One exception involves threats, be they legal or physical, which I sometimes like to publicize. Another is when the email exchange demonstrates that someone is either lying about or misrepresenting publicly something that I said. At this point, I’m sure you can see where this is going with Mr. Thacker, which is why I hope that at the end of this post you will see that he full deserves having his emails to me publicized.

But first, let me just note that Mr. Thacker emailed this to me at my university email address, cc’ing, as cranks often do to harass me at work, my medical school dean and my department chair:

Hello Gorski,

I’m working on a story, and I need comment back from you by Monday, 5pm EST. Because you have struggled in the past with posting false and defamatory comments about reporters and academic physicians, I’m looping in your department chair and dean to provide you with professional support.

Allison Neitzel has been forced to post an apology on her website and social media for making multiple false and defamatory statements.

Writing for your site, Allision Neitzel is listed as a “physician” which is false. Wisconsin law states that a physician has a medical degree and is licensed. Neitzel does not appear in the NPI registry of licensed physicians. To emphasize, Allison Neitzel is not a physician.

Why have you claimed Allison Neitzel is a physician, and do you plan to continue claiming Neitzel is a physician until she is licensed by either Wisconsin or another state medical board?

Again, I need your response by 5pm EST on Monday.

Thank you,

Paul D. Thacker
[email protected]

“Hello, Gorski”? Well, hello, Thacker, I guess. Whatever. And thank you too for allowing me the satisfaction of publicly responding. Also, for those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Dr. Allison Neitzel is a young physician who rose to prominence during the pandemic by becoming a leading voice combatting COVID-19, antivax, and public health disinformation messaging by people like—you guessed it!—Mr. Thacker, in particular in the fall of 2021 for her calling out of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers for his conspiracy mongering antivax nonsense. She recently posted an apology to the COVID-19 quack group of doctors, the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, and its founders, antivax quacks Drs. Pierre Kory and Paul Marik, that was obviously scripted by lawyers. (Click the link above and read it and see if you don’t detect lots of legal-speak.) More on that near the end.

I noticed this missive at around 5:30 AM Monday, when I was in the middle of a pre-work workout at the local gym, leading me to curse myself yet again for having succumbed to the temptation read email and peruse social media during my breaks between sets or while on the bike. At the time, I knew that I likely wouldn’t get to it until afternoon sometime, given that I had to finish my workout, get ready for work, drive to work, attend or cancer center’s breast cancer tumor board, and then go straight to the OR afterward for a relatively long case. I decided then that I’d respond if I had time but not worry overmuch about it if I didn’t. Out of curiosity, however, I did check out the post from the not-so-secret other blog that I edit, Repurposed to Radical: How drug repurposing created a global right-wing market for COVID early treatment fraud, to see just what the heck Mr. Thacker was blathering on about with respect to Dr. Allison Neitzel, whose SBM bio stated, rather blandly:

Allison Neitzel MD is a physician-writer who focuses on disinformation, dark money, and politics in public health with a focus on COVID-19, inspired by her medical school experience during the pandemic in Wisconsin.

There’s nothing objectionable there that I can see. I couldn’t even find any mention of certain people and organizations relevant to Dr. Neitzel’s apology other than a single mention of Dr. Pierre Kory and the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care (FLCCC) Alliance, a pseudomedical organization of COVID-19 quacks and antivaxxers founded by Drs. Pierre Kory and Paul Marik, to whom it was addressed.

Also note the deadline: 5 PM EST. Of course, in Detroit we are currently on Daylight Saving Time, not standard time, which, if I want to be pedantic (yes, I’m having a bit of fun with this word, as will soon become clear), he must mean 6 PM EDT. Finally, I know that Mr. Thacker lives in Madrid, which is 6 hours ahead of EDT. Again, why this is all relevant will become apparent—and hilariously so, I hope—by the end of the post.

Moreover, knowing Mr. Thacker’s history, I knew that his impending publication, most likely a post on his Substack, would be a hit piece, not any sort of real journalism. I learned yesterday, when he published his hit piece, that I was very correct, although I admit that being correct about a prediction that anything Mr. Thacker writes will be a piece of hack journalism is akin to being correct prediction that the sun will rise in the east a few hours from now.

Finally, before I discuss the accusations against Dr. Neitzel, other editors, and myself made in Mr. Thacker’s hit piece, Fake Physician Allison Neitzel Caught Running Real Medical Misinformation Site, I really do think that finishing my discussion of the email exchange with Mr. Thacker will be most illuminating as to the believability and reliability of his “journalism.” You can go and read it now, if you like, or wait until I start quoting it and read it then. It matters not to me, as the end result will be the same. I will demonstrate with examples just how much of a hack Mr. Thacker has become and how much he misleads, in this case mainly through omission.

Paul Thacker and I have a…conversation, sort of

By mid-afternoon on Monday, I finally gotten out of the operating room. As there was still some time before Mr. Thacker’s “deadline,” I decided that I would respond after all, because I knew that if I didn’t at best he’d misrepresent my lack of response as evidence of “guilt” or “collusion” with whatever nefarious things he thought Dr. Neitzel had done (although collusion in what would be a very reasonable question). At worst, I knew that he would misrepresent it as something even more nefarious.

I also recognized two things. First, as so many cranks, quacks, and antivaxxers have done before, Mr. Thacker was clearly trying to intimidate me into silence—to cancel me, if you will (word choice intentional)—by harassing me at work or, failing that, at least to cause me agita and anxiety. It’s a ploy that cranks have employed to attack me many times going back to almost exactly 19 years ago (April 2, 2005, to be precise), when William P. O’Neill of the cancer quackery org Canadian Cancer Research Group emailed me legal threats, also cc’ed to my division chief, cancer center director, and department chair. In 2005, I was a newbie, having only been blogging less than four months; so the ploy scared me. Now? I chuckle at such obviousness and was amused when Mr. Thacker sent a reminder at 3:33 PM EDT, again cc’ing my bosses:

Hi Gorski,

You haven’t responded and it’s doubtful you will correct any errors, as your site is not noted for high ethical standards nor attention to factual detail.

But my editor says I have to remind you to reply.

Thank you,


Orac laughs. “My editor says”? In a moment, you will see why this was so funny to me.

By the time I saw this email, by coincidence I had just finished composing a reply and was proofreading it one last time before sending it. I reproduce it here in total and note that I sent at 3:50 PM EDT:

Mr. Thacker:

Your question is silly and pedantic, even by your usual low standards. It is also obvious to me that your completely unnecessary cc’ing my chair and dean about something unrelated to my work at WSU is a ploy to intimidate me. After all, it’s not as though you’re the first conspiracy theorist and medical misinformation spreader to do this. People like you have been trying to “cancel” me by complaining about my nonacademic publications and my blog and social media activity to my division chiefs, chairs, deans, and cancer center directors, both at my previous position and here, going back to 2005.

Even so, let me answer your question with a question: Did Dr. Alison Neitzel graduate with a valid MD from an accredited US medical school? (Hint: She did.) As you must certainly know, her bio in her guest post for Science-Based Medicine did not use the narrow, legalistic definition of “physician” that you are pedantically employing as part of what is no doubt a hit piece that you are writing about Dr. Neitzel (and possibly us at SBM). Let me give you another definition of the word. The AMA “affirms that a physician is an individual who has received a ‘Doctor of Medicine’ or a ‘Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine’ degree or an equivalent degree following successful completion of a prescribed course of study from a school of medicine or osteopathic medicine.” Note that there is no mention of licensure status or postgraduate training in this definition. We at SBM will continue to use the AMA definition of “physician” when identifying our guest contributors. I’m sure you’ll do you, though, and write your hit piece wrongly insinuating that we and Dr. Neitzel somehow did something deceptive.

Finally, I would also point out that, like Dr. Neitzel, someone whom you clearly admire given your recent appearance on his podcast (Stanford Professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya) has no postgraduate medical training beyond completing medical school either. (Look it up if you don’t believe me.) Yet Dr. Bhattacharya bills himself as a physician in his bio at Unherd, a publication with a much larger readership than SBM. Now that you know this, may I trust that you will also ask the editors of Unherd the same questions about Dr. Bhattacharya that you have asked me about Dr. Neitzel, given that the State of California defines “physician” similarly as “an individual issued a license allowing them to practice medicine”? After all, if it’s wrong or deceptive for Dr. Neitzel to bill herself as a physician-writer in her brief bio on our blog when she does not have a medical license, then it should also be wrong for Dr. Bhattacharya (who similarly has no medical license or NPI) to do the same thing in a publication like Unherd, shouldn’t it? And you are someone with integrity, who couldn’t possibly have a double standard about things like this, right?


P.S. Further communication from you at my job is unwelcome and will not be answered—but will be treated as harassment. If you wish to contact me about issues related to my hobby as SBM editor, use the appropriate email address listed on the blog, not my university email address.

Orac note: That part about Dr. Jay Bhattacharya is totally true. He is a “physician,” even though he too is unlicensed and never did postgraduate residency training after graduating from medical school. (Just look at his published CV, downloadable here, if you don’t believe me.) By Mr. Thacker’s own “reasoning,” both Dr. Bhattacharya and Neitzel are physicians, nor neither of them is. He can’t have it both ways, although I know that he’ll try.

I only regret that I didn’t also point out to him that the Brownstone Institute website also lists Dr. Bhattacharya as a “physician.” Mea culpa. I also whipped out this additional response because I was feeling a bit spicy:

I just responded. Also, you said 5 PM EST. I note that it is EDT now here in the States, so at worst 5 PM EST would have been 6 PM EDT.

Seriously, man. Learn what time zones mean.


Orac note: I wonder. Should I have been so sarcastic? Should I have taken such glee in being sarcastic? I think you know the answer to that one.

Also, yes, I did include my dean and department chair on the cc: of my replies, both of them. After all, I had nothing to hide, nor was I embarrassed. I was quite happy to point out that (1) Mr. Thacker was indeed using a picky, pedantic, legalistic definition of “physician” in order to falsely portray Dr. Neitzel as somehow “not a physician,” as had been immediately obvious to me, and (2) he’s a massive hypocrite as well.

Mr. Thacker was not the least bit pleased and quickly responded:

Thank you for explaining that the state law regulating you and Allison Neitzel is pedantic, as well as the lecture on time zones. We are in Europe where it is 10 pm, and have to check in a final time on deadlines before going to bed.

Have a great day,


Yes. I know. Mr. Thacker lives in Spain, to be specific, Madrid, if I recall correctly. That’s why I couldn’t resist one last rejoinder, given how obvious it was to me what Mr. Thacker was about:

Response to Thacker
I realize that this was a bit gratuitous, but, really, can you blame me for it? I also wasn’t sure when I sent this whether Mr. Thacker lived in Barcelona or Madrid. I know now, having looked it up.

At this point, can anyone blame me for posting this exchange here? A few of you still think it unseemly? Just wait. There’s a bit more. Mr Thacker was really not pleased, so at 5:32 AM EDT the next morning, he sent this:

Quite the long, extensive response to questions. More this morning, I see.

Since you brought up the fact that you apparently were in surgery, can you explain how you have time for patients when you put in exhaustive hours every day running your website and multiple social media accounts? None of the academic physicians who have brought up your behavior to me understand how you do this. Several researchers have told me they think you don’t even treat people.

Most physicians I know–family members, for example–don’t even have time to monitor Twitter. They’re too busy being doctors and treating patients.



It hadn’t really been morning when I sent my last email, merely 4:21 PM EDT (my time), or 10:21 PM CEST (Madrid time). Also, let me just say: 2005 called. It wants its attack on physicians who blog back. Seriously, this one is very old, an attack that cranks like Mr. Thacker have been throwing my way ever since I started this blog in December 2004, and the funny thing is that these days I’ve been slowing down. I spend a lot less time on my blogs and social media activities now than I did, say 10-15 years ago, far from “exhaustive hours every day.” I was half-tempted to ask Mr. Thacker if he wondered how, for example, someone like Dr. Marty Makary, a surgical oncologist at Johns Hopkins who has come under a lot of criticism at my not-so-secret other blog for spreading COVID misinformation, has time for all his social media activity, appearances on Fox News and podcasts and other interviews and writings, but I decided that it just wasn’t worth continuing, because cranks never give up.

At this point, you might wonder why I thought Mr. Thacker’s reference to his “editor” was so funny. Simple. I wondered who Mr. Thacker’s editor was and strongly suspected that he was his own editor because he was planning on publishing his “journalism” on his Substack, which made his talking about himself in the third person cringeworthy and chuckle worthy at the same time. It turns out that my suspicion was almost certainly spot on. Mr. Thacker’s hit piece wasn’t published in any reputable magazine, website, etc. It was indeed, as I predicted, published on his Substack. Unless Mr. Thacker has hired someone as editor of his Substack (unlikely, but I must admit the possibility, however implausible), then he was pretending that his “editor” had told him to “remind” me.

As for the results, in the next section, I take a look at just how bad the product of Mr. Thacker’s “research” is.

Quoth Mr. Thacker, “pedantic” and “AMA”

With the above email exchange as background, let us return to Mr. Thacker’s actual hit piece. The headline, of course, tells you how in his post Mr. Thacker tries to portray Dr. Neitzel as “not a physician,” and after our email exchange I knew exactly how he was going to do it, and, predictably unimaginative conspiracist that he is, that’s how he did it.

Mr. Thacker started by quoting Tracy Høeg, of all people (and of whom I am not a fan). Dr. Høeg, it turns out, it still very upset that Dr. Neitzel once called her a “hag” and is quoted oh-so-condescendingly saying, “The fact she [Dr. Neitzel] has not nearly completed her training but has appointed herself as an expert physician in pointing out misinformation strikes me as both odd and ironic.” You know what else also strikes me as “odd and ironic”? It’s the fact that a sports medicine physician like Dr. Høeg, despite having studied epidemiology and having no relevant expertise in infectious disease, public health, or other aspects of epidemics or pandemics, someone who has even published mind-numbingly bad papers based on dumpster-diving in VAERS, has appointed herself as an expert on infectious disease epidemiology, public health, and even vaccines. That’s exactly what Dr. Høeg has done since the pandemic hit. Also mentioned, but portrayed as somehow unhinged and deceptive is Dr. Neitzel’s entirely appropriate, even fangirlish criticism of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ spreading of COVID-19 antivax misinformation in 2021, something that I have done myself.


Despite spreading false information about Rodgers, Neitzel’s letter and purported medical bona fides proved catnip to reporters at MedPage Today, Mother Jones, and NBC, who quoted her as a physician exposing medical misinformation. Columns Neitzel has written for websites WhoWhatWhy and Science-Based Medicine also claim she is a physician focusing on disinformation.

And this is where the circus fun begins, because famed medical misinformation expert Allison Neitzel is not now, nor has she ever been, a physician.

Orac note: WhoWhatWhy published an excellent exposé by Karam Bales of the Dr. Pierre Kory and the FLCCC’s promotion of ivermectin as a cure-all for COVID-19 that you should read.

Do tell, Mr. Thacker. And why? Let’s find out:

The first social media trace I could find for Allison Neitzel is a 2019 Facebook post by the Medical College of Wisconsin. “Third-year med student Allison Neitzel helped teach young students how to use blood pressure cuffs, listen to heart and lung sounds through the use of a stethoscope, how to perform CPR and more.”

But when Neitzel jumped into the national conscience in 2021, she began claiming she was a “physician.” A group called the National Association of Medical Doctors (NAMD) posted Neitzel’s letter criticizing Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in their Journal of Medicine, where she signed as “Allison Neitzel is a physician.”

Well, yes. If Dr. Neitzel was a third year medical student in 2019, then she should have graduated from medical school by May 2021 at the latest. A news report from the fall of 2021 lists her as a “recent graduate” of the Medical College of Wisconsin, which tells me that she graduated in the spring of 2021 and therefore was a physician when she wrote her letter to Aaron Rodgers.

Not that that stops Sherlock Thacker:

But when you look into Wisconsin law, you find the state defines a physician as “an individual possessing the degree of doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy or an equivalent degree as determined by the medical examining board, and holding a license granted by the medical examining board.”

So I looked up Neitzel in the National Provider Identifier Standard (NPI) which lists everyone licensed as a physician in the U.S. And guess what?

Allison Neitzel isn’t a physician.

As my email exchanged shows above, Mr. Thacker is just plain wrong here. The worst you can say about Dr. Neitzel is that she is an unlicensed physician. She is, however, still a physician, no matter how much Mr. Thacker tries to deny it.

Moreover, as Dorit Reiss pointed out on X, the hellscape formerly known as Twitter, Mr. Thacker’s definition was misleadingly cherry picked from Wisconsin law:

Not that that stopped not-a-physician (by Mr. Thacker’s definition) Dr. Bhattacharya from retweeting Mr. Thacker’s Tweet linking to his Substack article:

To be clear, Dr. Bhattacharya is a physician, too, but so is Dr. Neitzel. Word to Mr. Thacker: Once again, by your “reasoning,” either both are physicians or neither is a physician. But, then, I’m 99% sure that you do know that.

That amusing aside dispensed with, Dorit Reiss continued to explain.

I agree with this last part. Nowhere have I seen Dr. Neitzel represent herself or allow herself to be misrepresented as a licensed physician.

Of course, intellectual honesty is not Mr. Thacker’s intent here. Attacking Dr. Neitzel’s credibility, by whatever misleading means he can, is, which Mr. Thacker starts to do by first complaining mightily about how in stories by reporters Kiera Butler and Brandy Zadrozny Dr. Neitzel was described as a “physician,” the implication being that the press is trying to mislead you and elevate Dr. Neitzel by somehow lying about her professional status. After that discussion, in light of our email exchange, let me quote the passage relevant to my not-so-secret other blog. You can decide for yourself who is the misleading one:

Neitzel also wrote a column for the site “Science-Based Medicine” where her bio states she is a physician. Science-Based Medicine is a marketing site for the biopharmaceutical industry run by David Gorski, a Wayne State University surgeon, self-described “misinformation debunker,” and ardent vaccine cheerleader.

After the European Medicines Agency concluded in April 2021 that unusual blood clots should be listed as a very rare side effect for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, Gorski called foul on the regulator. The UK government eventually stopped offering the AstraZeneca vaccine, and The BMJ reported last year that dozens of patients had launched legal action against AstraZeneca after suffering the same vaccine side effects that Gorski claimed were nonexistent.

In an email to Gorski, I asked why he lists Neitzel as a physician when she doesn’t meet the legal requirements for a physician in Wisconsin where both he and Neitzel reside.

Gorski called the question “pedantic” and said he will ignore Wisconsin law in favor of a definition for “physician” that he found on the website for the American Medical Association.

Note: That accusation against me (and Steve Novella) about me having “called foul on the regulator” was answered in depth in this post.

Seriously. Go back and read my response to Mr. Thacker and then reread the passage above. Then decide (1) whether my calling the question “pedantic” was justified and (2) which of us comes off looking more credible. Also, note that I do not reside—nor have I ever resided—in Wisconsin. Some “investigative reporter”! Everyone who knows my real identity knows the university where I am faculty and the cancer center where I practice are located in Detroit. That’s why I screenshot the post, so that when he inevitably changes it to cover up the shoddiness of his research, I still have a record. I’ve also downloaded the web archive.

Orac in Wisconsin
According to Mr. Thacker, apparently I should be wearing a cheesehead hat rather than the Old English D. (Speaking of the Old English D, how ’bout them Tigers thus far? I need to have the opening day game on the radio in my office and lab tomorrow afternoon.) Would it be too…pedantic…of me to emphasize again that I do not reside, nor have I ever resided, in Wisconsin? Nothing against Wisconsin. (I’ve been there. I like Madison a lot, for example.) I’ve just never lived there.

NOTE ADDED on 4/5/2024, 12:25 PM EDT:

In the day or so since my post was published, Mr. Thacker has altered its text to remove his sloppy mistake about my state of residence without—of course!—noting anywhere that he had altered it and admitting his error (as an honest journalist would do), and I just had to insert a screenshot here:

Thacker lies
Seriously, Mr. Thacker. You’re too cowardly to just ‘fess up to your sloppy error. Instead, you just change the text but make no note of the change or your error, as I predicted that you might. That’s why I kept a screenshot. At least I know you saw my post, though, and that both satisfies and amuses me.

After this interruption, Orac now returns you to the text of the rest of the original post…

Even more hilarious, Mr. Thacker had been emailing the editor of MedPage Today, even though, as Dr. Neitzel notes, her article on Aaron Rodgers had not been published on MedPage Today but on Medscape:

Seriously, how “sloppy” can a “journalist” be?
I get the feeling that Dr. Neitzel is enjoying this.
Yep, she’s definitely enjoying this, as she should. I know I’m enjoying watching Mr. Thacker get deservedly dragged.

Truly, the sloppiness of methodology exhibited here by Mr. Thacker should be a rebuke to The BMJ, which published his nonsense about Ventavia and then, when criticized for it and found Mr. Thacker’s article labeled as misleading by Facebook, defended its peer review and Mr. Thacker’s journalism, while lashing out at Mark Zuckerberg. Between publishing Mr. Thacker’s deceptive “muckraking” and its having hired an antivax-adjacent editor, I no longer take The BMJ‘s “journalism” seriously, nor should you.

Given all this, I was thinking that maybe I should have done the same as all the editors and reporters whom he contacted for having described Dr. Neitzel as a physician and ignored his emails.


Here’s the thing, though. I probably would have just ignored Mr. Thacker’s email if he hadn’t decided to try to intimidate me by gratuitously cc’ing my bosses. Even though I know that my department chair is very familiar with people like Mr. Thacker trying to harass me through him—he ignores them and sometimes makes bemused remarks about them—our dean is still relatively new in his position. Although I suspect he’s likely more than savvy enough to have recognized Mr. Thacker’s email for what it was, I still thought it better not to take the chance that, like many high ranking academic physicians, he might be oblivious to the tactics of misinformation merchants like Mr. Thacker. So I seized the opportunity to demonstrate to him who people like Mr. Thacker were; that is, if he bothered to read at all, given the deluge of email that he likely gets every day.

Thanks, Paul, for giving me the chance to show people who you really are!

And who he is is a conspiracy theorist who is either dishonest or unteachable, take your pick, as shown by his exchange on X:

Thacker’s response was disingenuous in the extreme:

Given that Mr. Thacker lives in the EU, in Spain, it would indeed be interesting to see how he would fair under European libel laws. (Maybe someone knowledgeable in Spanish law could let me know in the comments.) Unfortunately, we will probably never know, at least not on this case. However, as Dorit Reiss notes:

I would be more than happy to provide my email exchange to Dr. Neitzel, complete with headers, should she ever decide to sue Mr. Thacker.

That being said, this exchange brings up something else. To me, Dr. Neitzel’s “apology” sounds very much like the result of some sort of legal settlement with the FLCCC. If you don’t believe me, read the apology for yourself. It has all sorts of indications of having been carefully crafted by lawyers—or at least written with the heavy input of lawyers. Why would that be? Of course, I can’t know for sure given that there is no public trail that I have yet been able to find, but it seems likely to me that Dr. Neitzel was being threatened with legal action by the FLCCC and Drs. Kory and Marik. I further speculate that, being young and fresh out of medical school (as well as not being able to practice medicine), she likely did not have the resources to defend against the lawsuit being threatened. Of course, I could be mistaken. If I am indeed mistaken, I’m sure that Mr. Thacker or the FLCCC will be happy to provide me with evidence to show me that I’m mistaken and specifically what my mistakes are in thinking that Dr. Neitzel’s apology was forced as the result of legal threats, so that I can correct any errors in what I have written here.

Whatever the events that led to Dr. Neitzel’s apology might have been, whether he was ever a decent journalist or not before he started slagging scientists almost a decade ago (and I’m beginning to suspect not), Paul Thacker has since degenerated into the worst kind of conspiracy-mongering hack. From my perspective, he ceased to be any kind of legitimate journalist long ago, assuming that he ever was one before, and has since become a propagandist more than anything else, barely a step removed from Alex Jones or Mike Adams. His credibility is subterranean, and this latest interaction with him followed by the results of his “investigation,” namely a hit piece on Dr. Neitzel that is John Stone-level misleading removed any doubt in my mind.

If you don’t know who John Stone was, know that back in the day in the beforetime (before the pandemic, that is) he was a rather prolific faux “journalist” for that wretched hive of scum and antivax quackery of an antivax blog, Age of Autism, and then just search this blog or Left Brain Right Brain if you’re curious what a dishonest antivax fake “journalist” Mr. Stone is. To get you started, I’ll just cite a post of mine from 2010 making fun of Mr. Stone for not knowing what a corresponding author and this lrbr post on his cluelessness about autism.

Finally, again, this ain’t my first rodeo, nor is Mr. Thacker anywhere near the first conspiracy mongering crank looking to smear me or cause me trouble at work. I survived Mike Adams. Dealing with Mr. Thacker will likely be super easy, barely an inconvenience.

ADDENDUM 4/7/2024: Finally! I have confirmation that the FLCCC and Drs. Kory and Marik definitely threatened Dr. Neitzel with legal action, forcing her under threat of litigation to publish that “apology.” It comes from Russ Baker, founder, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of WhoWhatWhy, the nonprofit, noncommercial online news organization devoted to covering and uncovering stories and angles ignored by the media that Dr. Neitzel had contributed to. In an article on his Substack entitled Contrived Anti-Vaxxer “Exposé” on WhoWhatWhy Writer Reveals Movement Strategy, Mr. Baker notes:

Two doctors promoting the counter-scenario aggressively pursued her, and a process server even gained access to her apartment building to dramatically serve her at her door.

And — on advice of counsel to avoid a long, drawn-out litigation (though they were certain she would win) — she agreed to a very measured apology of sorts in return for their dropping their action. 

The apology relates to minor mistakes or transgressions — trivial in their impact compared to the consequences of the allegedly bad science that Neitzel was calling out.

I agree. The “errors” that Dr. Neitzel was forced to “apologize” for were really mostly minor rookie mistakes coupled with intemperate speech. No doubt Mr. Thacker knew damned well that her “apology” had been forced, as did all the antivaxxers trumpeting it as some sort of vindication.

Also, more than ever, I’m sure that Drs. Kory and Marik targeted Dr. Neitzel because she was young, female, and not affluent. It has been my observation that bullies like them only rarely go after old established white dudes like me.

Also of interest, Mr. Baker relates how Mr. Thacker used exactly the same stupidly implausible shtick on him that he used on me:

On Easter Sunday evening, a non-working email address at WhoWhatWhy (the news organization I founded and lead), received what presented as an urgent request.

It was addressed to an independent writer, Allison Neitzel, a 31-year-old from Wisconsin who has contributed several essays to us — all concerned with the ongoing public debate about deceptive information promoting anti-vaccine positions. This young woman has dedicated years of her life to investigating and clarifying what people need to know about the COVID-19 scourge.

The email had an arresting subject line: False claims of being a physician. Need response by Monday 5pm EST.

It stated that she had until 5 p.m. the following day, a Monday, to comply with a demand to submit her answer to a question for an article the sender was writing.

The next morning, I personally received a similar note. The deadline was still 5 p.m. that day.

What was so urgent? Why such a tight deadline? Why reach out with this demand the holiday night before? The man didn’t say. And then came another email:

Hi Russ, my editor said to remind you that we need a response.

What editor? What publication? He didn’t say.

The answer came soon enough. The publication was…. his own personal substack, The Misinformation Chronicle; thus, it would seem, he is his own editor, or at least has final decision-making authority.

I laughed. So Mr. Thacker pulled the same bullshit act about his “editor” with Mr. Baker. Of course he did.

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]

62 replies on “Hack conspiracy journalism: Paul Thacker vs. the definition of “physician””

Oh, wow–Thacker’s editor sucks. Rife with errors… He seems to have low quality editors everywhere he goes. It’s weird. His stuff is constantly full of misinformation and disinformation. The trail of this is long–I know. He’s been lying about me for years. He created a fake ID at Sourcewatch to enter misinformation about lots of us (and SBM, of course). And then he uses those links as “evidence” to support his bogus claims. Quite the “Stephen Glass” system. I have all the receipts if any actual investigative journalists want to dig in to it.

You can also find his “editor” of his Wikipedia page with Madrid IP address. Odd, that.

Anyway: I hear that defamation claims might be treated differently in Spain. More to come on that.

If it’s his blog on Substack, the claim of a deadline is also nonsense. He sets his own deadlines.

As to the location, he emailed you and your bosses at your university. Maybe he did not know where that was initially, but once you answered, your signature likely included those details. Email signatures do that. A quick glance should have shown him. He was just – as you point out – sloppy in several places.

All in the service of targeting a young woman who stands alone because she criticized a group of quacks. I wonder if he’s proud.

Good point. My .sig file does indeed include the names of my university and cancer center, although not their addresses. Apparently, Mr. Thacker thought that they are both in Wisconsin.

Another point: To find out the email addresses of my dean and chair, he would have had to search the university website, which should have told him where it was.

After reading the original monday morning email I was under the impression that Dr. Neitzel resided in Wisconsin, which would be the obvious reason for Thacker to mention that state’s definiton…

I think the “ignoring Wisconsin law” is about Thacker thinking that you should abide by his misinterpretation of the law in the state in which the physician he wants to smear resides, when naming said physician.

That’s one hell of a convoluted sentence, but then again, I was trying to get in Thacker’s mind…

The bit you didn’t mention in your tweets is that, if you understand how to read statues (which he does not) 448.01(5) reads “In this chapter: “Physician” means an individual possessing the degree of doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy or an equivalent degree as determined by the medical examining board, and holding a license granted by the medical examining board. This subsection does not apply in s. 448.980.”

So unless he’s suggesting that Science-Based Medicine is somehow part of Chapter 448 of the Wisconsin Statutes, when you look at it in that context, you don’t need a legal background to recognize it’s not relevant.

It just occurred to me that by his criteria and assumptions, since you, Dr. Gorski, likely won’t show up as licensed in Wisconsin, you aren’t a physician either.

Maybe he’s concerned about the wrong thing in relation to your point about being in an operating room.


‘How do you find the time?’
‘Answer me with a thoroughly motivated reply within a few hours or else!’

Yeah… sounds like a person who’s really interested in the truth.

Impuning that Dr. Gorski somehow is a fraud because he has very incredibly busy, long, productive days approaches the epitome of ridiculous. Thacker must have a metabolism of a sloth to believe others can’t accomplish a lot more than he does on a daily basis.

Reminds me of people who flounce off when on the losing end of a long, long online debate, proclaiming sniffily that they have better things to do with their time. 😉

Frankly, Thacker and the FLCCC (notably, assuming they threatened her with legal action, they seemingly went after a single woman, considering the carefully worded apology, instead of bigger media outlets with bigger reach) are nothing more than overgrown richkid highschool bullies who can’t handle being called out.

As a side note, I can’t believe Thacker expected you to respond at all, considering the way he worded his email. I’d be embarrassed to send such an email to anyone.

Yes, conspiracy theorists like Mr. Thacker and the FLCCC are nothing more than bullies at heart. It appears to me that what very likely happened is that the FLCCC and its founders went after Dr. Neitzel because she is a young, fresh-out-of-medical school female doctor who, they assumed, probably had few resources to defend herself. I’m guessing that they thought that they could score a relatively easy propaganda victory by forcing her to “apologize” and then trumpeting her forced apology all over social media. However Dr. Neitzel’s apology came about, that’s exactly what Thacker, the FLCCC, and its allies are doing, trumpeting her apology all over social media as though it discredits her (which it does not) and exonerates them of promoting COVID-19 misinformation and antivax quackery (which it most definitely does not).

I see through Mr. Thacker. He is a pathetic individual, in my estimation, and Dr. Neitzel is a far better person than he will ever be.

Hœg the “epidemiologist” being upset is always worth the read. Jerks like Thacker and Hœg are flogging a dead horse at this point. But they’re trying to stay relevant which makes it even funnier.

There’s so much here, L-rd** help me!

Again, a storied “investigative journalist” misses great amounts of information – the funniest is NOT getting where Orac lives and works!
I note the recent tendency of alt med/ anti-vaxxers/ contrarians to label more reality based writers as mis-informers or dis-informers and SBM itself as mis-information when they advocate critical thinking and scepticism.

Also, he carps about Dr Neitzel as a non-physician ( when she is one) whilst he prognosticates about medicine when he is not a physician or med student in any way, shape or form. According to his bios, he has a BS in bio, no higher degrees listed. Despite a career in journalism, he misleads readers through his nit picking, pedantic style. Critics of SBM often have lower level and/or irrelevant degrees. Note to Thacker: don’t play word games with Dr DG: you have no chance at all because he is a grand master of language*** as well as of SBM/ bio.

Of course, like many alt med activists who can’t illustrate their position through data, he relies upon legal suits to attack Dr Neitzel. They sue people to diminish their effectiveness as critics. I find myself assiduously stepping around possible legalistic language traps and finding other ways to effectively call out altie mis-informers.

-btw- doesn’t this attack on a so-called “non-physician” echo altie attacks on a non-lawyer, Prof Dorit? As usual, the target is female. With expertise and a terminal degree. Who labels them correctly and succinctly.

** probably non-existent
*** I actually know something about evaluating this

Also, he carps about Dr Neitzel as a non-physician ( when she is one) whilst he prognosticates about medicine when he is not a physician or med student in any way, shape or form.

Making statements to demonstrate their superiority when they have no expertise is quite common, yes. Recently Ian Miles Cheong, spewer of a variety of misinformation and hate, posted this on X.

Excuse me, Apple, why is the calculator wrong?
When you key in 50+50 and hit the equals key, you get 100. Multiply by 2 and you get 200. That’s correct.
But type in 50+50*2 and it spits out 150. What gives?

Perhaps the only positive trait of folks like chong, igor, and the rest of these clowns is that they are so willing to demonstrate their ignorance, letting people with understanding see it and try to get corrections out.

Obviously we can’t say with 100% certainty the post was not meant to be sarcasm, but I do not believe it was sarcasm. IMC has such a long record of making amazingly stupid comments about so many things [let alone his horrid comments on race, religion, etc] that I believe it was a serious attempt at ‘getting’ Apple. For what reason I couldn’t begin to guess.

Good for you. He once lied to me about people in the White House closely following a rather in the weeds debate we were having about climate scientists getting hit with FOIA requests. He’s a former Senate investigator and might be used to intimidating and bigfooting people. Glad more people are catching on to his unethical and downright weird behavior.

HuffPo let him publish stuff without verifying it, including the claims of exchanges he had with people who don’t seem to exist.

His editors–real and imagined–are terrible.

Thank you for continuing to document his tactics. His misunderstanding of law is almost laughable. A lawyer once sent me an email because I said someone was a head of a company, which I was mistaken about. The guy had left the company a year or two before. Quick and easy fix. Thacker took the letter and claimed it was proof of harassing the guy. When the word harassment didn’t appear anywhere in the letter. It was literally a one word correction and the article stayed until I stopped paying for the webpage my blog was at.

Thank you for staying in the fight. He and his cronies worked hard to hit me at work the same way. I voluntarily stopped fighting when Thacker decided to track down middle school students of mine on Twitter and harass them. My admin offered to call the police for me. I said not to worry, my students were more important than continuing.

I did get a provisional restraining order. The judge world have given me a longer term one, but with him hiding in Madrid it couldn’t be served.

So the bloke’s not British, but still …

You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God! the British journalist
But seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

Mr. Thacker also said he did a search in the NPPES NPI registry. Just for kicks, I searched that registry for Dr. Bhattacharya, and he also has no record, to reinforce your point.

Of course, here, too, he is misusing the site out of context. The site explains that it’s a site of “of all active National Provider Identifier.” It does not claim to be a listing of all physicians in the U.S., or a place which defines who is a physician.

In fact, the purposes of the database are different.


The NPI is a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Administrative Standard. An NPI is a unique identification number for covered health care providers, created to help send health information electronically more quickly and effectively. Covered health care providers, all health plans, and health care clearinghouses must use NPIs in their administrative and financial transactions.

The HIPAA Administrative Simplification provisions required the use of a standard, unique health identifier for each health care provider. The 2004 NPI Final Rule made NPIs the standard.

CMS developed the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) to assign NPIs. For more information on how to apply for an NPI, visit the NPPES webpage.

Basically, the NPI number has become a unique identifier for each licensed physician participating in federal healthcare plans, mainly used for reimbursement by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health insurance plans. It’s also used now by most private health insurance plans as well. Whenever I phone in a prescription to a pharmacy, if I’m not in that pharmacy’s database they’ll ask me for my NPI number.

I remember Allison because 2.5 years ago I searched for her face using AI face matching and found a website containing a VERY weird personal past story about someone with pseudonym “Hannah” whose photograph matched Allison’s face. Based on that story I concluded that Allison has mental issues. I will not provide a link due to privacy, and I did not provide it to my antivax friends, so if you choose not to believe me, that’s fine. I have that story archived just in case, however.

I am not entirely convinced that Allison actually graduated and received her MD, either.

She is not evil, but is a person with mental problems and I hope that some day she finds peace in her soul.

Many of us have issues of one sort or another, but Allison definitely has bigger issues.

You are one creepy dude. Seriously, just listen to yourself. Why’d you do Google image searches of her face? Looking for compromising photos? Ugh. As I said, creepy af.

So misogyny’s part of your “charm,” too, it would appear. I notice how you ignore all of Paul Thacker’s offenses against evidence and journalistic ethics in favor of smarmily smearing the young woman (“I hope that some day she finds peace in her soul”) who was the target of his misleading hit piece as being mentally ill and “doubting” that she had ever graduated from medical school and gotten her MD.

Stay classy, Igor. Stay classy.

I am VERY far from being a perfect human, that’s for sure. I am guilty of many “isms” and “phobias”

Several times in the comments on this blog you have provided insight into what a creep you are.

I for one am glad that I don’t have to interact with you in real life. When David decides he has had enough of your puerile commentary and shows you the door, I will not be missing you.

It makes me wonder if Igor found this blog by some complication of putting in the terms “breast” and “vaccine” into a search engine inadvertently…given our host’s specialty…

Looking for compromising photos?

I know you realize this, as do the other sane posters here, but it should still be pointed out: even if something like that had been found, something igor objected to: so effing what? Absent of harm to anyone else, what person A does is no business of person B, especially if person B is someone as dishonest and objectionable as Igor.

Based on that story I concluded that Allison has mental issues. I will not provide a link due to privacy,

Probably more due to the fact that you have no basis for that accusation at all. It’s a fair bet that the reason for this is that she knows enough to point out that the type crap you usually post about vaccines and covid is completely wrong, points it out, so you need to smear her to appease your followers.

I am not entirely convinced that Allison actually graduated and received her MD, either.
She is not evil, but is a person with mental problems and I hope that some day she finds peace in her soul.

No surprise you doubt reality — that’s your whole shtick.

I don’t know how you came about your view [repeatedly demonstrated whenever you post about women] that women don’t need to be viewed as people, simply as objects, sometimes to criticize based on your opinion of their appearance, other times, like this, simply because they are more educated than you and so pose a threat to your messages. Whatever the reason for your behavior, just as your willingness to put the health of your readers at risk with your “advice”, just as your fictions about people who’ve dropped dead after vaccination or had serious health issues that you magically reversed, it’s disgusting. Your life choices seem to have lead you to a complete abandoning of any bit of decent behavior.

==> It’s a fair bet that the reason for this is that she knows enough to point out that the type crap you usually post about vaccines and covid is completely wrong, points it out, so you need to smear her to appease your followers.

As soon as I found what I found out about Allison (which I am not sharing because it is a very private story), I decided not to write about her.

She needs a top-notch dedicated mental health care team, possibly had a bad childhood also. I would not want to touch her and her “issues” with a 10 foot pole, and I should not discuss her in a blog with 53k subscribers.

So I never wrote anything about her on my blog.

She is not a Covid criminal, she is merely a greatly suffering individual.

Since she defamed actual doctors, it is a good thing someone pushed back and got an apology from her, but I would rather not engage with such a person if I have a choice. I have a family, a life and net worth that is more important.

Stop, Igor. Seriously, dude, just stop. I’m becoming increasingly disgusted with your misogyny, and my tolerance is not without limit.

“I decided not to write about her, but I’m here insinuating nasty things about her based on sources I am not sharing and that you have every reason to suspect I’m making up, because that’s okay, apparently.”

There are multiple sad and disgusting things about your post that contains She needs a top-notch dedicated mental health care team, possibly had a bad childhood also., regardless of whether there is really anything about her or there is not.

Your repeatedly refer to Dr. Neitzel as though she is not a doctor, contrary to all signs that she is. The fact that you don’t like that she works showing the things you [and other anti-vaxx deniers] are completely false does not justify dismissing her training as you do. It’s pretty clear you think you can do it simply because she’s not a guy
Your repeated, certainly unjustified, attacks on her ‘mental health’ and childhood are disgusting. Again, given your history, the most likely reason you feel you can sling those ideas is due to your view of women in general as lesser than you
It’s pretty clear that your only goal in all of this was to toss baseless accusations at her because she is, rightfully, pushing back against the dangerous misinformation you and people similar to you spread, and whether you could find anything fact based or not you were going to do it

But perhaps the most disgusting thing about your posts here is the fact that you think it’s perfectly fine to do the things you admitted to. Just when I think from one series of posts “Well, there’s no way igor can drop any lower on the integrity/decency scales, you show those scales go far deeper underground than I ever imagined.

Like most of Igor’s posts, I have serious doubts about the veracity of Igor’s claims. I would not surprise me one bit to find that “Hannah” had nothing to do with Allison Nietzel.

Do we really know, can we be sure that Igor and “Hannah” aren’t one and the same?

Her biggest issues are a$$holes like you and mr. Thacker. Despicable excuses for human beings.

“Many of us have issues of one sort or another, but Allison definitely has bigger issues”

Heh. While we are diagnosing each other’s mental problems, how are you getting on with your egocentric narcissism?

You’re just mad because she handed you your nuts cooked well done on a platter on X, Igor.

Serves you right. Shall I post the link?

Hi Igor,

I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about with this “Hannah” thing. You and I both know that’s utter nonsense. In the future keep my name out of your mouth.

Get help,

I suspect that what happened is that this blog’s favorite epitome of Dunning-Kruger did a Google Image Search on your photo (which I find creepy af, BTW), found a young woman named Hannah who resembles you, and, big brain that he is, concluded without corroborating evidence that it was you. That’s how Igor operates.

Anti-vaxxers out and about on a Thursday

— Shedding and DNA damage are real according to Naomi Wolf ( Substack)
— Mike Adams ( NN) interviews “trends forecaster” Gerald Celente, Null’s fave non-tech bro
— Del Bigtree ( The Highwire) compares Bill Maher’s assertations ( ” I was right about Covid”) to his own; complete with video clips. Enjoy!
— Igor ( RI) doubts a doctor really graduated and questions her mental health.
Oddly, both Orac and Dorit accept her status; from all the sites I looked at, she appears to be a physician, writer and researcher. Not all MDs treat patients. She co-wrote an article March 2023 that describes common anti-vaxxer traits- such as lower intelligence and personality issues at age 18- that is rather instructive.
-btw- usually educated, trained psychologists do not diagnose people they have never met so should amateurs do so? ”
Is “mental issues” a catch-all phrase that signifies something else?

“Igor ( RI) doubts a doctor really graduated and questions her mental health.”

It’s a fair bet, given the tone of his past posts about women, that the primary reason for this is that she is a woman — he clearly views women as not deserving of any amount of respect.

@ Idw56old:

I’m sure some regulars know that there is at least a 50 year history of research concerning how people attribute women’s success:
some deny it or attribute it to factors unrelated to ability or effort- it was purely good luck or unseemly actions ( sleeping with professors).

Actually, I knew a conservatively bent family who believed I was accepted ( and succeeded) at “elite” universities because my father paid them off.
Of course, their family members weren’t considered because of these universities’ “prejudice”.. prejudice? against a bunch of whiteys?

OH Look! An earthquake!

how people attribute women’s success

True, and also how they “explain” the lack of women in as being due to some inherent issue with women themselves rather than a subtle to not so subtle cultural discrimination. It’s gotten better, but there is still a long way to go.

When I saw Paul Thacker’s tabloid tripe of Dr. Neitzel, it immediately stirred bad memories of him trolling Gregg Gonsavles two months prior in a Brownstone Institute article. That’s when a “What if?”crept up.

After reading what he wrote about Dr. Neitzel, I checked Thacker’s Substack to see who else he trolled. Turned out Thacker’s trolling of Gregg Gonsavles was published in his Substack two days before Brownstone published it. I saw other familiar names getting trolled too on the Substack.

At first, I thought Brownstone Institute would grab Thacker’s latest tripe and publish it, given it goes with the “medical freedom” and “persecution” rhetoric Brownstone is known to hype.

But thanks to Orac, a law professor, and others noticing so many serious flaws in Thacker’s latest troll piece, I’m skeptical Brownstone’s editor and neo-confederate vampire (seriously- I’ve seen photos where he looks like Count Dracula) will publish Thacker now.

While going through comments in Thacker’s Substack (check “Rare AstraZeneca Side Effect Exposes Vaccine Cheerleaders” – April 13, 2021), a paid subscriber referenced an article from Dr. Novella’s own blog on April 15, 2021 about COVID vaccines and Thacker’s trolling. Thacker replied he “had to delete your comment linking back to Steve Novella because that piece has factual inaccuracies…” (now there’s a Godzilla facepalm moment!)

Thing is what Dr. Novella wrote then rings all too true today:

“But we no longer live in an age where most people get most of their science news from edited science journalists. Most get their news online, from a range of sources, some good, some bad, some acting in bad faith or filtered through an intense ideological filter, and many just trolling. There are even “pseudojournalists” out there, reporting outside any kind of serious review. One such pseudojournalist is Paul Thacker… ”

I wouldn’t be so sure that Brownstone won’t publish Thacker’s hit piece on Dr. Neitzel. It often doesn’t republish Substack posts by its contributors for several days. Also, there’s no bottom at Brownstone. They’ve published worse than this.

When I first ran into Thacker after he published his now retracted piece in PLOS biologue, I felt he was just misguided. After having seen some of his more recent writing, I have concluded he is instead dishonest. He knows what he writes is untrue, but writes it anyway.

I am getting some amusement from Thacker’s pivot to the Brownstone Institute. Surely writing for the Brownstone Institute must rate as a true low for anyone witH any integrity.

For sure. Thacker is now a propagandist, and this latest run-in with him confirms what I had long suspected. He doesn’t care if what he prints is accurate or true, only that it support his ideological narrative and that he can cherry pick enough “evidence” to make it seem at least plausible to his readers.

To qualify as a physician, you must be recognized on Paul Alexander’s list of Horsemen of the Covid Apocalypse:

There are now 73 on his list, which includes such pro-vaccine luminaries as Paul Offit and Peter Hotez, but also an array of non-physicians (Alexander just added Randi Weingarten for some obscure reason).

I can only hope to be honored some day in the distant future, if Alexander gets around to it before finally blowing a main fuse and having his Substack go dark.

Note the addition to the post (in bold). Thacker got my state of residence wrong, but has, since this post went live, quietly deleted the part where he says I reside in Wisconsin, but without noting that he had made an error.

On a related note:

I’ve been looking at personality differences between conservatives and liberals- there is ample research**- and what stands out is how fear -of a dangerous environment or people- is defining of conservatives; there are even differences in their brains! Other factors include greater disgust at ickiness ( blood etc), valuing purity, order and tradition as well as sympathy for people who are just like them.

It seems to define alt med/ anti-vax as well: so much of the material I survey is fear mongering about “dangerous” substances and lately, of “dangerous” people, places or situations. The values of the past: religiosity, conformity and traditional roles/ social structures, are lauded as superior to what we’ve got now.
Is it any wonder that alt med/ anti-vax advocates drift into this territory? Some, warily, preface their prejudices by saying that they actually support women, minorities and LGBTQ+ BUT they’ve gone too far, don’t respect important values or are too woke.

** RI regulars know how to find studies/ reviews; scoffers are supposed to be such great investigators so go ahead….

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