Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Medicine

Steve Kirsch: Vaccines cause The Trans and The Gay!

Just when I thought Steve Kirsch couldn’t get any more ridiculous, he does another online survey linking vaccines to The Gay and The Trans, this one even more risibly incompetent than his usual.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived over three years ago, with COVID-19 vaccines arriving unexpectedly quickly nine months later, I’ve had a mantra about the anti-COVID-19 vaccine movement: Everything old is new again. In other words, there isn’t a single antivax trope created for COVID-19 vaccines that didn’t have clear precedents from long before the pandemic. Whether the trope was that the disease isn’t dangerous (to “most people”) or that COVID-19 vaccines permanently alter your DNA, kill you, cause cancer, make our women infertile, or any number of other bad things attributed to them, there truly was nothing new under the sun in that antivaxxers had been making the same claims about vaccines in general, particularly childhood vaccines, long before the pandemic. True, there were new twists added to old antivaccine tropes, such as the cancers caused by the vaccine not being your run-of-the-mill cancers but super-deadly “turbo cancers” and people weren’t just killed by vaccines, but they “died suddenly,” but overall every trope made up for COVID-19 vaccines was conceptually the same as old antivax tropes. Moreover, as I pointed out, the longer the pandemic went on, the more “new school” COVID-19 antivaxxers came to embrace “old school” antivax pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, including the false claims that vaccines turn our kids gay or transgender.

This time, it’s tech bro turned most rabid of rabid antivaxxers, Steve Kirsch, a man who is so deluded that he thinks that he can do epidemiology with online polls on his antivax Substack. Paddling boldly down the river of pseudoscientific antivax stupid, yesterday Kirsch pulled an “Oops, I did it again” and posted to his Substack the results of yet another online survey entitled Survey indicates sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender dysphoria are all primarily caused by vaccination that links vaccines to The Gay and The Trans, because, again, everything old is new again, and Steve Kirsch really is that deluded, incompetent, and downright stupid. Seriously, you might want to sit down before you read this (if you’re, for example, reading this on your phone while standing) and, if you’re in front of your computer or laptop, put down anything you might be drinking, as coffee or soft drinks do bad things to your keyboard if you spit them up in astonishment and shock that someone can write something so out of touch with science—nay, out of touch with reality. Ready?

Here we go:

Thanks to your help in responding to my last survey, it took less than 3 hours to answer the question as to whether sexual orientation, gender identity and gender dysphoria are influenced by vaccines.

The answer to all three is yes: the greater someone is vaccinated, the more likely they are to exhibit each of these traits. 

For all three measures, the odds ratios were 4.8 or higher which means that the attributable fraction is 79.2%. 

In other words, vaccines are responsible for nearly 80% of the effect size.

So the mystery is over. We now know the cause.

There’s nothing that screams “Good science!” to me faster and more intensely than an online poll analyzed after just three hours. (Seriously, Kirsch announced and posted the results of his “survey” on the same day, yesterday.) The hilarious thing is: Even if this poll sampled a group representative of the American population at large, it couldn’t do what Kirsch claims that it does. Let’s take a look at the actual survey, to show you why. Here is the entirety of the “survey” in screenshots:

Seriously, I kid you not. That’s it. That’s all. Do you also notice something? It’s a survey asked only of people or their immediate family members who are either gay/lesbian, nonbinary, or trans. He’s not even asking the same questions of people who could make up a control group, namely heterosexual people who are cisgender. Even if the data weren’t utter bullshit, how do you determine odds ratios from “data” like this?

No, seriously. Somehow Kirsch thinks he’s managed to calculate odds ratios:

Here are the odds ratio between the fully vaccinated/fully unvaccinated. Odds ratios >2 are traditionally associated with causality:

  1. Sexual orientation: 4.78
  2. Gender identity: 4.81
  3. Gender dysphoria: 5.54

These effects are huge and consistent.

Also, the odds ratios for partially vaccinated are in line with the fully vaccinated: in general, the greater the number of vaccines someone has, the more likely they are to have a trait that differs from traditional norms.

So the vaccines themselves are the elephant in the room here and the driver of the response, not environment, upbringing, social pressure, etc.

I was curious how Kirsch calculated odds ratios from his “data.” His analysis, such as it was, was done using an Excel spreadsheet. Looking at his analysis, what I see is Kirsch dividing, for instance, the number of people who identify with their gender assigned at birth by the total number of responses to come up (I guess) with the percentage of people who are cisgender and then calculates it for each vaccine category. Then he does the same thing for people who are attracted to the opposite gender and then for people who are “happy with their biological sex” compared to total. No, I’m serious. It’s just that simplistic and stupid, as if asking people if they are “happy with their biological sex” is all that you need to do to diagnose gender dysphoria. If you don’t believe me, take a look:

If you’re a statistician or epidemiologist, try not to laugh too hard. Remember, I did tell you to sit down if you’re standing and to make sure that you don’t have a drink of any kind in your hand or mouth as you read this. Now, take extra caution. Kirsch claims that he can infer from his “data” a dose-response relationship between vaccination and the chance of being gay or trans. One wonders what statistical tests he did to demonstrate this, as he sure doesn’t lay them out. Of course, garbage in, garbage out; so it’s basically impossible to infer anything from Kirsch’s data, because, make no mistake, as data Kirsch’s results are the most rancid, putrid garbage you can imagine.

You know, I realize that I just used this video yesterday, but, truth be told, it’s even more appropriate to this. Heck, truth be told, it’s even more appropriate for basically everything Kirsch has been saying and writing about vaccines ever since COVID-19 vaccines were developed:

“…what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” Orac adds: If God exists, I don’t think that he will have mercy on Kirsch’s soul.

It gets worse, though. Seriously, it does. Not satisfied with his faux “survey,” he has to start doing what he always does and cherry picking pseudoscientific rubbish and anecdotes to support his claims:

There is a pediatric clinic which has not had any gender/sex cases in 25 years. They’ve had over 5,000 kids and no cases. They do not vaccinate.

The overall incidence of orientation traits is over .5%.

So in 5,000 unjabbed kids, they should have had 25 cases, but had 0.

This can happen by chance with probability 1.39e-11.

So this was not bad luck.

The only major thing this pediatric clinic did differently was they did not vaccinate.

So that’s an interesting datapoint that would be impossible to explain away if the primary cause (e.g., for 80% of the cases) was something other than vaccines.

Of course, this sort of nonsense claim for an alternative medicine clinic was a staple among antivaxxers before the pandemic. Just substitute “autism” for “sexual orientation,” “gender dysphoria,” and “gender identity.” Indeed, I well remember the late Dr. Meyer Eisenstein and his claim going back 20 years that he had no autistic children in his non-vaccinating practice or Dr. Paul Thomas, who makes a similar claim that his unvaccinated patients have a much lower prevalence of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders than his vaccinated patients. Of course, as I like to say, if you don’t look for a diagnosis, you’re far less likely to find it, and if you don’t think that gender dysphoria is real or that it should be treated with gender-affirming care you’re almost certainly not going to diagnose it correctly—or even at all. I don’t know which practice to which Kirsch is referring, but I do know that the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria have changed in 25 years, that we now screen for it in a way that we never did before, and that the treatment has evolved. What are the odds that an “alternative medicine” antivax clinic that doesn’t vaccinate (but I repeat myself) follows guidelines with respect to screening for and diagnosing gender dysphoria? Moreover, as I’ve discussed before, there is less of a stigma to being homo- or bisexual than there was even 25 years ago, especially among younger people. The same is true of being transgender, although those stoking the moral panic over transgender being a “social contagion” and the essentialist “gender critical fear mongering” portraying gender-affirming care some sort of affront to nature and/or God are trying their best to ramp up the stigma again.

None of this should surprise you. Antivax and transphobia are the two crappy tastes that taste crappy together, and antivaxxers ranging from Toby Rogers to Bill Maher have embraced transphobia along with their antivax views and started to blame the increased number of diagnoses of gender dysphoria on vaccines, because of course they are. As for the “biological plausibility” cited by Kirsch, he’s referring to a post by A Midwestern Doctor, an anonymous quack who totally buys into antivax lies like “shedding.” He might now be due for a heaping helping of not-so-Respectful Insolence later, as dealing with his long, pseudoscience-filled post would take longer than I have to write this one. Suffice to say that it’s bad. It’s really, really bad.

But, back to Kirsch. Even Kirsch, as deluded as he is, still seems to understand that there are…problems…with his “survey.” So, of course, he tries his best to address them with science, data, and reason.

Just kidding. This is how he addresses them:

I have more unvaccinated readers than most journalists. This enables me to get reasonable sample sizes for people in the fully vaxxed vs. unvaxxed cohorts with just 750 responses. Other writers would need 100X as many respondents to get an equivalent number of responses from fully unvaccinated people.

The mix of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated respondents is irrelevant to the odds ratio calculation.

In other words, if all of my readers are all “anti-vaxxers” it simply doesn’t matter. If half of them are fully unvaccinated, it doesn’t skew the results at all; in fact, it makes the results more accurate.

So claims that the survey is unduly “biased” are without merit; all surveys are biased. The question is whether the biases impact the outcome.

If I got it wrong, please show us the correct data. 

AFAIK, nobody wants to collect the data for some reason.

So Kirsch is basically estimating that his readership is—shall we say?—100-fold enriched for antivaxxers compared to the average “journalist.” (Never mind that he isn’t a journalist by any stretch of the imagination.”) I also find it hilarious that he doesn’t realize that, by design, his “survey” doesn’t have a response set that could serve as a control group, namely people who identify as the same gender as their birth, are happy about it, and are heterosexual. More importantly, it occurs to him not at all that additional bias comes from the high likelihood that one’s beliefs about vaccines can influence how a respondent might answer some of these questions. Seriously, Kirsch is so ignorant that he doesn’t even have a whiff of a hint of knowledge of what he does not know about designing surveys and doing epidemiological studies, not that his black hole-level density of ignorance stops him from bolding making proclamations, like this one linking vaccines to The Gay and The Trans.

I’m also amused by his claim that all surveys are biased, which is true but there’s an entire set of disciplines in survey design and epidemiology that are designed to minimize biases inherent in carrying out surveys. Kirsch being Kirsch seems to think that it’s not up to him to show that his survey isn’t biased. It’s up to you. Moreover, he doesn’t even make an attempt, as epidemiologists and professional pollsters do, to demonstrate that whatever biases might exist in his poll don’t affect the result. He simply can’t imagine how they would and assumes that that’s enough and that odds ratios greater than two are associated with causality for The Gay and The Trans. (Let’s just put it this way. It’s way more complicated than that.) It’s also not as though there aren’t data out there about vaccine uptake as a function of sexual orientation. For example, there are data suggesting that uptake of COVID-19 vaccines is somewhat higher among gay and lesbian adults than among heterosexuals, but there was no difference noted between people who are transgender or nonbinary and those who are not, although among LGBTQ+ people there do not appear to be significant differences in the rate of being unvaccinated. It’s not my purpose here to do a full review on vaccine status versus sexual orientation and/or gender identity, just to point out that Kirsch didn’t even bother to look, so confident is he in his self-taught “epidemiology.” Overall, there is no good evidence to support a link between vaccines and the likelihood a child is gay or trans. Certainly, Kirsch’s “survey” doesn’t count as anything even resembling good evidence,

Then, Kirsch, as he likes to do, makes an appeal to incredulity, namely that he can’t imagine from his “data” any other explanation:

So if it isn’t the vaccine, I’m baffled as to what else it could be that fits the evidence.

So far, not a single person has suggested an alternative that is a better fit to the observed data.

So the vaccine is simply the most likely hypothesis because it’s the only hypothesis consistent with the data.

Kirsch can be as “baffled” as he likes. Again, garbage in, garbage out. If the design and execution of your survey are garbage, then nothing that comes from it, even if you analyze it seemingly correctly, will be anything but garbage.

In the end, I’m not at all surprised that Kirsch “went there” and did what he does best (carry out a risibly incompetent online survey, this one in record time, and make wrong conclusions from it that fit his preconceived bias) and tried to link The Trans and The Gay with vaccines. He has been going down this rabbit hole a quite a while, and it was only a matter of time before it led him here after he passed one of the other despicable antivax tropes a while back, namely that vaccines cause a syndrome misdiagnosed as shaken baby syndrome. Truly, there is no depth to which Kirsch will not descend, and he, more than almost anyone else, deserves the Billy Madison retort.

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]

76 replies on “Steve Kirsch: Vaccines cause The Trans and The Gay!”

I suspect the causation is reversed. Specifically the more alternative a person’s lifestyle the more they are to be a conformist with the narrative pushed by the left. Which today is an establishment narrative – do what the government tells you without asking too many questions. I bet in times gone by this survey would go differently as asking questions about vaccines wasn’t always deemed ‘white supremacy’ or crazy MAGA cult stuff, but simply not putting too much trust in pharmaceutical companies who 1) contribute to our politicians, 2) through this have managed to pass laws to shield them from full accountability for injury and 3) as a result can withstand quite a bit of said injury with little impact to their businesses. In short, skepticism of government narratives and powerful corporations used to be a lefty thing, but now it’s the opposite and in general the large majority of folks with alternative sexual orientations or gender identities align with that tribe.

I suspect the causation is reversed.

I agree. I think all this survey proved is that the average Gay, Trans, etc. person is much smarter than Kirsch.

“I suspect the causation is reversed. Specifically the more alternative a person’s lifestyle the more they are to be a conformist with the narrative pushed by the left”

Or that the right wing people who are stridently unvaccinated are also far less likely to be ‘out’ due to the fear of spending an eternity in hell after the local lynch mob knocks at the door.

So let me get this straight. “Alternative” people who you claim are motivated by a desire to reject the mainstream are only supporting vaccines because vaccines are mainstream. That’s quite a conclusion you’ve come to.

Do what government tells you to do ? Does this apply to Trump government ? Leftists may disboy him.
FDA must approve vaccines (you obviously speak about them) and there are followup studies.
Remember FOIA request of COVID vaccine trials data ? Was there any malfeasanc ? Have not heard anything of this matter for a very long tim.e

JLB, ignoring for a moment that your assertions are completely false, as usual, a question: you do realize that no voluntary response survey, which is what this is, is worth a hoot? That the responses can’t be used for anything other than observing what the people who respond say? Do you even know that even if you ignore the built-in response bias (people who read kirsch’s bullshit and choose to respond are not a representative sample of any larger population, probably not even representative of the entire population of his readership)? All of that makes any “analysis” completely worthless.

As stated, the rest of your comment (“laws to shield them from full accountability”, your implication that you and others in the co-mingled libertarian/authoritarian/white supremacist/conspiracy world are the sane people, “tribe” stuff — just more of your usual evidence free crap.

Yes I realize surveys, particularly on this sort of issue do not have good yield. But you are missing my point. I’ll bet you money that 1) LGBTQ+ folks are generally majority left-wing voters (not always, particularly wrt to gay men) 2) I’d also bet you money that covid-vax take-up was higher amongst left-wing voters (who like I said are no longer the anti-establishment group, indeed the opposite) and 3) that, assuming for the sake of argument that survey’s did yield reasonable data in this case, the foregoing explanation is a better one.

Nice bunch of guesses. Even if true, they do prove anything, You do not have even a correlation here.

“I’ll bet you money that 1) LGBTQ+ folks are generally majority left-wing voters (not always, particularly wrt to gay men) 2) I’d also bet you money that covid-vax take-up was higher amongst left-wing voters ”

Seems logical to me. Firstly, right wing politics is usually hostile to bodily autonomy when it conflicts with religious ideals. Meaning more LGBTQ+ people who are willing to be ‘out’ in public are less likely to be right wing. Secondly, we already know that predominantly right wing states suffered more from covid than predominantly left wing states. Which proves that right wing theories of disease prevention aren’t as good as left wing theories.

If you can say

that, assuming for the sake of argument that survey’s did yield reasonable data in this case, the foregoing explanation is a better one.

then you don’t really know that polls like this are worthless. And, if you had any grasp of statistics, you’d know that Excel is not a tool for any meaningful statistical work. Specifically, a joint statement from the ASA and the MAA on guidelines for programs and departments of undergraduate mathematical sciences you’ll find this:

Generic packages such as Excel are not sufficient even for the teaching of statistics, let alone for research and consulting.

Meaningful analysis simply is not done in Excel — which is why, no doubt, kirsch doesn’t state what work was done with his “data”.

What is Excel good for?
Showing you why you should be using a dedicated statistical software.

(Actually Excel is fine for lists, schedules, planning, and basic calculations. Just not statistics or decent looking graphs.)

Since Steve Kirsch was immunized against Covid-19 (Moderna mRNA vaccine), shouldn’t we expect him to become gay or transgender any day now?

We’ll get a hint when he starts posting selfies on Twitter modeling strapless evening gowns.

He probably thinks (or wants to think) that everyone in the old days was heterosexual and cisgender.

And he’s so homophobic and transphobic that he doesn’t even bother to state, let alone justify, his claim that being queer is a pathology. We know, unfortunately, that there are parents who would rather have a dead child than a trans, gay, or bi one.

I prefer Rudolf Steiner’s warning that vaccines make people against religion. Reprised recently by world famous medical expert Dr. Stella Emanuel (although she’s famous for the wrong reasons). Thoughts and prayers.

Wait, does this mean that the Greeks had vaccines thousands of years ago and never told us?? Shame!

I wonder if he will admit the error, at least, if not having a control group.

This is so stupid you almost feel like he’s making it all up to troll people.

Almost. It’s Steve Kirsch. Given his history, I have no doubt he thinks he’s made some sort of amazing discovery.

I had a long talk during lunch about this with my husband, reading him parts of this post. My husband has a Ph.D. in computer science and his area is databases.

He mentioned that Computer Science degrees do not require training in statistics, and even graduate degrees do not have research methods courses, and other departments’ research methods courses are considered not applicable. Kirsch does not have a Ph.D., and although I do not know what courses he took, he would likely not have had to take statistics or research methods in any of his courses. He was one of the inventors of the optical mouse in the 1980s, and my husband says that those were mostly mechanical – today they are programmed in ways that do use some statistics, but that was not true at the time.

So he would have not had to have any training in statistics or research methods, which is one difference, potentially, between computer science degrees and biological science degrees – I am guessing, and would like some input from those who took them. We had to take research methods and statistics for my Ph.D., though I would not try to do any serious empirical work today without a collaborator with the relevant training.

The problem here too may be that he is not aware of, or does not ascribe importance to, the limitations in his training and knowledge.

That’s false. Most Computer Science and engineering programs require some statistics to graduate. That said, Software Engineering, save the more recent data intensive fields (data science and ML) day to day is not particularly deep or heavy on statistics.

Most Computer Science and engineering programs require some statistics to graduate

My BSc is in Computer Science, and it didn’t. I’m going to take the word of someone with an actual Doctorate in the subject over a random internet commentator.

My BS in CS did. This data is easily attainable. And it may have changed since folks like Kirsch and myself went to school 25 years ago. I bet if your CS degree is part of the engineering school at the university, it does. (Mine was).

FWIW this is what ChatGPT has to say on the matter:

Do most computer science programs require statistics classes?

Many computer science programs do include statistics classes as part of their curriculum, especially those that focus on areas such as data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computational biology. Understanding statistics is crucial for analyzing data, making informed decisions, and developing algorithms in these fields. However, the exact requirements can vary depending on the specific program and its focus. Some programs might offer statistics courses as electives rather than mandatory components. It’s always a good idea to check the curriculum of the specific program you’re interested in to see what courses are required.

Do not change fact that Kirsch does not use statitsics He cannot with data like that.

Precisely. I keep challenging him to tell me which statistical test he used (on Excel!), and the answer remains…vague.

Why would you ask a LLM to answer a factual question?

Chat GPT is not a search engine! It is a hallucination machine!

ChatGPT qualifies as evidence just as much as poorly done internet surveys.

Many computer science programs do include statistics classes as part of their curriculum, especially those that focus on areas such as data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computational biology.

Those are hardly traditional computer science programs.

I’m not sure where you got that.
Here is Stanford; no statistics.,43%20units%20of%20core%20depth.



MIT allows you to select statistics but you don’t have to:

Where did you have in mind?

Some do and some don’t require stats. Without a detailed survey that’s all we can say I guess. Also, it’s not just where, it may be when. For me when was 1982 and where was the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and I did have to take a stats course, but not a research methods course. Of course, n = 1, and UoG isn’t a computer science powerhouse. Had I gone to Waterloo, that might be a different story.

“That’s false”.

followed by…

“Computer Science and engineering programs require SOME STATISTICS to graduate. That said, Software Engineering, save the more recent data intensive fields (data science and ML) day to day is NOT PARTICULARLY DEEP OR HEAVY ON STATISTICS”.

I’m thinking you could probably have left out the “That’s false”.

There’s a very real reason here to wonder if Mr. Kirsch has a serious mental health problem beginning to appear. His metacognition seems… lacking. I mean, it could certainly be flat out crankery, but it also has some worrying facets of dementia.

Possibly, but it could also be that he just found a new way to get attention rather than just be an has-been.

Don’t get me wrong, I think something is wrong with him, too, though I don’t know enough to identify what, but I expect he’s also getting a lot of positive feelings out of the attention this is getting him.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but when I read stuff like this from him, I’m left with the thought, “Boy, this guy can do better than this. Why isn’t he?”

He’s done all this productive stuff, what’s happened in his head that made this possible? Even being antivaccine, can’t he do better than this?

It’s arrogance.
Kirsch was successful (and became extremely wealthy) in one field. That made him believe that he was smart enough to pontificate on other things. It’s sadly common.

I agree- it’s probably more than metacognition.

I wonder why a person with so much money fiddles around writing excessively stupid Substack articles and accumulating fans as if he had nothing better to do. He could travel, start businesses/ charities, fund worthy projects, STUDY for real, give scholarships, write tech instruction manuals, sail boats… anything he likes. Doesn’t he have a building named after him at MIT already? Build more!

His audience attracts alt med/ anti-vaxxers representing a highly select group that leans right, contrarian or libertarian. I don’t want to give him ideas but aren’t there loads of venues and groups that cater to them? Wouldn’t his fabulous** skills work incredibly** well for stock market/ commodity prediction/ investment? He could support a political party …
oh, wait…

** in the earlier sense

So it’s only an auditorium. Also something in Cupertino.
He wants adulation on a daily schedule.

“Wouldn’t his fabulous** skills work incredibly** well for stock market/ commodity prediction/ investment?”

He bragged about shorting Moderna stock, so no telling how much $$ that earned.

Kirsch’s Substack and other enterprises no doubt bring in substantial money. You can never have too much.

Far more important to him is the attention he gets.

No one talks or cares about well-off has-been techies. But now he has a small legion of adoring fans, and people quote and write articles about him. It doesn’t matter that he’s a laughingstock in the world of science and medicine.

Heady times for Steve.

I suppose Kirsch can always do a new survey to determine the fate of the economy so his followers will know what steps to take to secure their future:
possible questions –
Will the dollar totally collapse before 2025?
Will gold reach 5000 USD this year?
Will the DJIA fall to 10000?
Will unemployment reach 30%?
Are you personally stockpiling canned goods, fuel and ammo?
Have you bought farm land?
Will AI destroy us all or just take our jobs?

I wonder why a person with so much money fiddles around writing excessively stupid Substack articles and accumulating fans as if he had nothing better to do.

Excellent question. I suspect that it’s ego gratification more than anything else.

What will he be without this? A had-been. Now he gets to be someone, especially in the quackosphere.

I’m usually suspicious of people who seek out adulation – although I might give a slight pass to performers because that’s what defines their profession- I imagine that something is missing. They perhaps lack validation, needing outside permission to feel better about their own value.

I’m worth a fraction of what he is but I wouldn’t write articles to get others to accept me and pay me a pittance. He could actually advise students or business acolytes that would help them get ahead in the real world. They would probably thank him but that isn’t as visible as his name on a building or a Substack.

Throwing money at RFKjr’s fanciful but dangerous campaign isn’t a great move either. They both seem to be screaming “I know better than everyone”. Not a good look.

During the pandemic, some hospitals brought back retired docs who still had licenses to “Help.” Some really did-especially Peds docs. Some you couldn’t figure out what they were doing there. Some clearly came back just to put the white coat (which I never wear) back on, hold court, and lecture everyone about their “Theories.” One infamous case was a guy who had several lakefront properties at which he could be riding out the pandemic at in style; but who, instead, insisted on coming in and boring us all with his delusions about the virus being payback for Christian missionary work in China for a century (or some nonsense.) The last straw was when he was going around interrupting central line placements demanding we do them by landmark and “Lose that stupid ultrasound.” He was quietly ushered back to his Mercedes. I agree, Denice-some people just love the sound of their own voice.

@ Dr Yeti:

Right, it’s not just alties who are insufferable know-it-alls but actual doctors who may speak as if ex cathedra.
Orac writes about the Covid/ vaccine denialist ones ( McCollough, Malone etc) . Someone on QuackWatch ( perhaps Dr Barrett?) once wrote a piece about why he thought professionals – who should know better– sometimes go alt med/ woo.

I am not sure I can forgive you. I may never recover from the destruction brain cells caused by just reading the reporting about the stupidity described in yesterday’s and today’s blog posts. Of course, I then think of the damage cause to Orac by reading the original material.

What is it with the question about the vitamin K injection for newborns? Does he count that as a “vaccine”? Is he actually that thick?

These are the same kind of people who think that learning about Einstein’s relativity makes people moral relativists. If two things have anything in common, then there must be a connection. If it goes in with a needle, it must be a vaccine. Mental shortcuts are their bread and butter.

He knows it’s not a vaccine but the anti vax community has started to treat it as one (i.e. as a horrible killer).

Vitamin K use in newborns involves an injection with a Scary Needle, so antivaxers reject it on principle.

Though I’ve also seen cases where moms turn down oral administration. It’s not natural, you see.

Same. I talked myself blue in the face to a couple of them back when I was a resident and had the time and inclination. They were convinced it was some nefariousness and couldn’t possibly be beneficial because “Kids never needed it hundreds of years ago” or something

I don’t understand people like that. In 1920, the mortality rate for children under 5 was 18.5% in the US. Now, it’s what — less than 1%?
And honestly, don’t the want their children protected from as many diseases/conditions as possible?

Just in case Orac’s point will be misused, this is a reminder that most developed countries have comprehensive health insurance, which we do not, and lower levels of poverty than we do.

We have higher infant mortality than countries with similar vaccination schedules, and are lagging behind, as Orac pointed out, other developed countries.

Just when I thought Steve Kirsch could not go any lower, he goes there. I need to update my expectations of Kirsch some more.

This effort by Kirsch is so bad, I am tempted to fail him on the spot.

The “science” is pretty awful, but the bigotry is to be expected. Once you decide one group of people is unacceptable (antivaxxers are inherently ableist), it’s a very short journey to start finding other groups unacceptable as well.

This explains so much. I have been a trans gay dead person for years as my cruel mother marched us down to the doctor with every announcement of a new vaccine. Not even to mention all the damage done by the military killing us before we even got to the battlefield with all the vaccines that they forced us to take. I am sorry that I have attributed a long and happy life due to those harmful shots that I was forced to take before knowing how bad that they were for me. I will be looking forward to the new revelations that non-science will bestow on us.

Wonkette published at not-so-respectfully insolent article on this. It includes some of the comments made by people responding to the survey.

Oy. To quote Jed Bartlett, “These people don’t vote, do they?”

Can Vaccines Give You The Gay? An Anti-Vaxxer’s ‘Groundbreaking’ Survey Of People Who Read His Blog!
(The subtitle mentions that Kirsch is a top funder of RFK Jr.’s campaign.)

“Kirsch is a top funder of RFK Jr.’s campaign.”

A demonstration of the greater fool principle.

It’s a minor point in a stew of crappy, but given the “Are they trans?” question is ” Is the reported person happy with your biological sex?” and the survey is meant to be filled out about yourself or others (we don’t know the proportions, Kitsch didn’t bother to ask), wouldn’t a lot of trans people be left out by that screening question, since they’re not trying to get the respondent to transition?

Like, even if we accepted his methods (which we shouldn’t), there’s a glaring flaw in the survey questions.

I’m guessing that JLB’s inferiority complex and basic cowardice is causing him to take whatever views he thinks are safer to take. Since antivaxxers and anti-LGBTQ folks are clearly violent thugs, JLB has sensibly protected himself by cosying up to them; that’s consistent with the behavior I’ve seen him exhibit in person.

How does he even know that respondents were giving honest answers? As Kirsch says himself, he has a lot of antivax followers, & that cohort in general does seem to be quite invested in showing vaccines to be Bad. What better way (in their minds) to help do that than to complete his “survey” in a way that would give the responses Kirsch & they expect?

Or am I being overly cynical here?

Kirsch knows the answer are honest, because they are what he wants to hear.

That’s not cynical. That’s literally Basic Survey Design 101.

It’s been a very long time since I studied this stuff or had any involvement in doing surveys, so I’m not any kind of expert. But the danger of a biased sample is literally one of the very first things I learned about survey design.

It’s a solicited survey of self-selected responders from the audience of a niche website. The whole thing is complete garbage from the get-go.

Of course. Yet, whenever that very basic fact about survey design is pointed out to Kirsch, he denies that bias, even if it exists, affects the results of his “study.”

Vaccines don’t cause autism, that ship has sailed a long time ago.
Just because some people can’t get rid of this idea, doesn’t make it true.


If vaccines cause autism as I truly believe…

Your belief is, as best we can tell, wrong. Multiple well-designed studies have looked at if vaccines cause autism. At least one meta-analysis had literally millions of subjects. Every one gave the same answer to the question.
No correlation.
it doesn’t matter how truly you believe it. Vaccines do not cause autism.

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