Tag Archive for: CDCCovidFailures

Weekend Read: Pandemic Leaders Were Biodefense Puppets and Profiteers

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Scandalous incompetence. Profound stupidity. Astounding errors. This is how many analysts – including Dr. Vinay Prasad, Dr. Scott Atlas, and popular Substack commentator eugyppius – explain how leading public health experts could prescribe so many terrible pandemic response policies.

And it’s true: the so-called experts certainly have made themselves look foolish over the last three years: Public health leaders like Rochelle Walensky and Anthony Faucimake false claims, or contradict themselves repeatedly, on subjects related to the pandemic response, while leading scientists, like Peter Hotez in the US and Christian Drosten in Germany, are equally susceptible to such flip-flops and lies. Then there are the internationally renowned medical researchers, like Eric Topol, who repeatedly commit obvious errors in interpreting Covid-related research studies. [ref]

All of these figures publicly and aggressively promoted anti-public health policies, including universal masking, social distancing, mass testing and quarantining of healthy people, lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

It seems like an open-and-shut case: Dumb policies, dumb people in charge of those policies.

This might be true in a few individual cases of public health or medical leaders who really are incapable of understanding even high school level science. However, if we look at leading pandemic public health and medical experts as a group – a group consisting of the most powerful, widely published, and well-paid researchers and scientists in the world – that simple explanation sounds much less convincing.

Even if you believe that most medical researchers are shills for pharmaceutical companies and that scientists rarely break new ground anymore, I think you’d be hard-pressed to claim that they lack basic analytical skills or a solid educational background in the areas they’ve studied. Most doctors and scientists with advanced degrees know how to analyze simple scientific documents and understand basic data. 

Additionally, those doctors and public health professionals who were deemed experts during the pandemic were also clever enough to have climbed the academic, scientific, and/or government ladders to the highest levels.

They might be unscrupulous, sycophantic, greedy, or power-mongering. You might think they make bad moral or ethical decisions. But it defies logic to say that every single one of them understands simple scientific data less than, say, someone like me or you. In fact, I find that to be a facile, superficial judgment that does not get to the root cause of their seemingly stupid, incompetent behavior.

Returning to some specific examples, I would argue that it is irrational to conclude, as Dr. Prasad did, that someone like Dr. Topol, Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, who has published over 1,300 peer-reviewed articles and is one of the top 10 most cited researchers in medicine [ref] cannot read research papers “at a high level.” And it is equally unlikely that Anthony Fauci, who managed to ascend and remain atop the highest scientific perch in the federal government for many decades, controlling billions of dollars in research grants [ref], was too dumb to know that masks don’t stop viruses.

There must, therefore, be a different reason why all the top pro-lockdown scientists and public health experts – in perfect lockstep – suddenly started (and continue to this day) to misread studies and advocate policies that they had claimed in the past were unnecessary, making themselves look like fools.

Public health experts were messengers for the biodefense response

The most crucial single fact to know and remember when trying to understand the craziness of Covid times is this:

The public health experts were not responsible for pandemic response policy. The military-intelligence-biodefense leadership was in charge.

In previous articles, I examined in great detail the government documents that show how standard tenets of public health pandemic management were abruptly and secretly thrown out during Covid. The most startling switch was the replacement of the public health agencies by the National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security at the helm of pandemic policy and planning.

As part of the secret switch, all communications – defined in every previous pandemic planning document as the responsibility of the CDC – were taken over by the National Security Council under the auspices of the White House Task Force. The CDC was not even allowed to hold its own press conferences!

As a Senate report from December 2022 notes:

From March through June 2020, CDC was not permitted to conduct public briefings, despite multiple requests by the agency and CDC media requests were “rarely cleared.” HHS stated that by early April 2020, “after several attempts to get approvals,” its Office of Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs “stopped asking” the White House “for a while.” (p. 8)

When public health and medical experts blanketed the airwaves and Internet with “recommendations” urging universal masking, mass testing and quarantining of asymptomatic people, vaccine mandates, and other anti-public health policies – or when they promoted obviously flawed studies that supported the quarantine-until-vaccine biodefense agendathey were not doing so because they were dumb, incompetent, or misguided.

They were performing the role that the leaders of the national security/biodefense response gave them: to be the trusted public face that made people believe quarantine-until-vaccine was a legitimate public health response. 

Why did public health leaders go along with the biodefense agenda?

We have to imagine ourselves in the position of public health and medical experts at top government positions when the intelligence-military-biodefense network took over the pandemic response.

What would you do if you were a government employee, or a scientist dependent on government grants, and you were told that the quarantine-until-vaccine policy was actually the only way to deal with this particular engineered potential bioweapon?

How would you behave if an unprecedented event in human history happened on your watch: an engineered virus designed as a potential bioweapon was spreading around the world, and the people who designed it told you that terrifying the entire population into locking down and waiting for a vaccine was the only way to stop it from killing many millions?

More mundanely, if your position and power depended on going along with whatever the powers-that-be in the NSC and DHS told you to do – if your job and livelihood were on the line – would you go against the narrative and risk losing it all?

And, finally, in a more venal vain: what if you stood to gain a lot more money and/or power by advocating for policies that might not be the gold standard of public health, but that you told yourself could bring about major innovations (vaccines/countermeasures) that would save humanity from future pandemics?

We know how the most prominent Covid “experts” answered those questions. Not because they were dumb, but because they had a lot to lose and/or a lot to gain by going along with the biodefense narrative – and they were told millions would die if they failed to do so.

Why understanding the motives of public health leaders during Covid is so important

Paradoxically, deeming public health experts stupid and incompetent actually reinforces the consensus narrative: that lockdowns and vaccines were part of a public health plan. In this reading, the response may have been terrible, or it may have gone awry, but it was still just a stupid public health plan designed by incompetent public health leaders.

Such a conclusion leads to calls for misguided and necessarily ineffectual solutions: Even if we replaced every single HHS employee or defunded the HHS or even the WHO altogether, we would not solve the problem and would be poised to repeat the entire pandemic fiasco all over again.

The only way to avoid such repetition is to recognize the Covid catastrophe for what it was: an international counterterrorism effort focused myopically on lockdowns and vaccines, to the exclusion of all traditional and time-tested public health protocols.

We need to wake up to the fact that, since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (if not earlier), we have ceded control of the agencies that are supposed to be in charge of public health to an international military-intelligence-pharmaceutical cartel.

This “public-private partnership” of bioterrorism experts and vaccine developers is not interested in public health at all, except as a cover for their very secret and very lucrative biowarfare research and countermeasure development.

Public health was shunted aside during the Covid pandemic, and the public health leaders were used as trusted “experts” to convey biowarfare edicts to the population. Their cooperation does not reflect stupidity or incompetence. Making such claims contributes to the coverup of the much more sinister and dangerous transfer of power that their seemingly foolish behavior was meant to hide.


This article was published by the Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Weekend Read: The Four Pillars of Medical Ethics Were Destroyed in the Covid Response

Estimated Reading Time: 16 minutes

Much like a Bill of Rights, a principal function of any Code of Ethics is to set limits, to check the inevitable lust for power, the libido dominandi, that human beings tend to demonstrate when they obtain authority and status over others, regardless of the context.

Though it may be difficult to believe in the aftermath of COVID, the medical profession does possess a Code of Ethics. The four fundamental concepts of Medical Ethics – its 4 Pillars – are Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-maleficence, and Justice.

Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-maleficence, and Justice

These ethical concepts are thoroughly established in the profession of medicine. I learned them as a medical student, much as a young Catholic learns the Apostle’s Creed. As a medical professor, I taught them to my students, and I made sure my students knew them. I believed then (and still do) that physicians must know the ethical tenets of their profession, because if they do not know them, they cannot follow them.

These ethical concepts are indeed well-established, but they are more than that. They are also valid, legitimate, and sound. They are based on historical lessons, learned the hard way from past abuses foisted upon unsuspecting and defenseless patients by governments, health care systems, corporations, and doctors. Those painful, shameful lessons arose not only from the actions of rogue states like Nazi Germany, but also from our own United States: witness Project MK-Ultra and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

The 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics protect patients from abuse. They also allow physicians the moral framework to follow their consciences and exercise their individual judgment – provided, of course, that physicians possess the character to do so. However, like human decency itself, the 4 Pillars were completely disregarded by those in authority during COVID.

The demolition of these core principles was deliberate. It originated at the highest levels of COVID policymaking, which itself had been effectively converted from a public health initiative to a national security/military operation in the United States in March 2020, producing the concomitant shift in ethical standards one would expect from such a change. As we examine the machinations leading to the demise of each of the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics during COVID, we will define each of these four fundamental tenets, and then discuss how each was abused.


Of the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics, autonomy has historically held pride of place, in large part because respect for the individual patient’s autonomy is a necessary component of the other three. Autonomy was the most systemically abused and disregarded of the 4 Pillars during the COVID era.

Autonomy may be defined as the patient’s right to self-determination with regard to any and all medical treatment. This ethical principle was clearly stated by Justice Benjamin Cardozo as far back as 1914: “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body.”

Patient autonomy is “My body, my choice” in its purest form. To be applicable and enforceable in medical practice, it contains several key derivative principles which are quite commonsensical in nature. These include informed consent, confidentialitytruth-telling, and protection against coercion.

Genuine informed consent is a process, considerably more involved than merely signing a permission form. Informed consent requires a competent patient, who receives full disclosure about a proposed treatment, understands it, and voluntarily consents to it.

Based on that definition, it becomes immediately obvious to anyone who lived in the United States through the COVID era, that the informed consent process was systematically violated by the COVID response in general, and by the COVID vaccine programs in particular. In fact, every one of the components of genuine informed consent were thrown out when it came to the COVID vaccines:

  • Full disclosure about the COVID vaccines – which were extremely new, experimental therapies, using novel technologies, with alarming safety signals from the very start – was systematically denied to the public. Full disclosure was actively suppressed by bogus anti-“misinformation” campaigns, and replaced with simplistic, false mantras (e.g. “safe and effective”) that were in fact just textbook propaganda slogans.
  • Blatant coercion (e.g. “Take the shot or you’re fired/can’t attend college/can’t travel”) was ubiquitous and replaced voluntary consent.
  • Subtler forms of coercion (ranging from cash payments to free beer) were given in exchange for COVID-19 vaccination. Multiple US states held lotteries for COVID-19 vaccine recipients, with up to $5 million in prize money promised in some states.
  • Many physicians were presented with financial incentives to vaccinate, sometimes reaching hundreds of dollars per patient. These were combined with career-threatening penalties for questioning the official policies. This corruption severely undermined the informed consent process in doctor-patient interactions.
  • Incompetent patients (e.g. countless institutionalized patients) were injected en masse, often while forcibly isolated from their designated decision-making family members.

It must be emphasized that under the tendentious, punitive, and coercive conditions of the COVID vaccine campaigns, especially during the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” period, it was virtually impossible for patients to obtain genuine informed consent. This was true for all the above reasons, but most importantly because full disclosure was nearly impossible to obtain.

A small minority of individuals did manage, mostly through their own research, to obtain sufficient information about the COVID-19 vaccines to make a truly informed decision. Ironically, these were principally dissenting healthcare personnel and their families, who, by virtue of discovering the truth, knew “too much.” This group overwhelmingly refused the mRNA vaccines.

Confidentiality, another key derivative principle of autonomy, was thoroughly ignored during the COVID era. The widespread yet chaotic use of COVID vaccine status as a de facto social credit system, determining one’s right of entry into public spaces, restaurants and bars, sporting and entertainment events, and other locations, was unprecedented in our civilization.

Gone were the days when HIPAA laws were taken seriously, where one’s health history was one’s own business, and where the cavalier use of such information broke Federal law. Suddenly, by extralegal public decree, the individual’s health history was public knowledge, to the absurd extent that any security guard or saloon bouncer had the right to question individuals about their personal health status, all on the vague, spurious, and ultimately false grounds that such invasions of privacy promoted “public health.”

Truth-telling was completely dispensed with during the COVID era. Official lies were handed down by decree from high-ranking officials such as Anthony Fauci, public health organizations like the CDC, and industry sources, then parroted by regional authorities and local clinical physicians. The lies were legion, and none of them have aged well. Examples include:

  • The SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in a wet market, not in a lab
  • “Two weeks to flatten the curve”
  • Six feet of “social distancing” effectively prevents transmission of the virus
  • “A pandemic of the unvaccinated”
  • “Safe and effective”
  • Masks effectively prevent transmission of the virus
  • Children are at serious risk from COVID
  • School closures are necessary to prevent spread of the virus
  • mRNA vaccines prevent contraction of the virus
  • mRNA vaccines prevent transmission of the virus
  • mRNA vaccine-induced immunity is superior to natural immunity
  • Myocarditis is more common from COVID-19 disease than from mRNA vaccination

It must be emphasized that health authorities pushed deliberate lies, known to be lies at the time by those telling them. Throughout the COVID era, a small but very insistent group of dissenters have constantly presented the authorities with data-driven counterarguments against these lies. The dissenters were consistently met with ruthless treatment of the “quick and devastating takedown” variety now infamously promoted by Fauci and former NIH Director Francis Collins.

Over time, many of the official lies about COVID have been so thoroughly discredited that they are now indefensible. In response, the COVID power brokers, backpedaling furiously, now try to recast their deliberate lies as fog-of-war style mistakes. To gaslight the public, they claim they had no way of knowing they were spouting falsehoods, and that the facts have only now come to light. These, of course, are the same people who ruthlessly suppressed the voices of scientific dissent that presented sound interpretations of the situation in real time.

For example, on March 29, 2021, during the initial campaign for universal COVID vaccination, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky proclaimed on MSNBC that “vaccinated people do not carry the virus” or “get sick,” based on both clinical trials and “real-world data.” However, testifying before Congress on April 19, 2023, Walensky conceded that those claims are now known to be false, but that this was due to “an evolution of the science.” Walensky had the effrontery to claim this before Congress 2 years after the fact, when in actuality, the CDC itself had quietly issued a correction of Walensky’s false MSNBC claims back in 2021, a mere 3 days after she had made them.

On May 5, 2023, three weeks after her mendacious testimony to Congress, Walensky announced her resignation.

Truth-telling by physicians is a key component of the informed consent process, and informed consent, in turn, is a key component of patient autonomy. A matrix of deliberate lies, created by authorities at the very top of the COVID medical hierarchy, was projected down the chains of command, and ultimately repeated by individual physicians in their face-to-face interactions with their patients. This process rendered patient autonomy effectively null and void during the COVID era.

Patient autonomy in general, and informed consent in particular, are both impossible where coercion is present. Protection against coercion is a principal feature of the informed consent process, and it is a primary consideration in medical research ethics. This is why so-called vulnerable populations such as children, prisoners, and the institutionalized are often afforded extra protections when proposed medical research studies are subjected to institutional review boards.

Coercion not only ran rampant during the COVID era, it was deliberately perpetrated on an industrial scale by governments, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical establishment. Thousands of American healthcare workers, many of whom had served on the front lines of care during the early days of the pandemic in 2020 (and had already contracted COVID-19 and developed natural immunity) were fired from their jobs in 2021 and 2022 after refusing mRNA vaccines they knew they didn’t need, would not consent to, and yet for which they were denied exemptions. “Take this shot or you’re fired” is coercion of the highest order.

Hundreds of thousands of American college students were required to get the COVID shots and boosters to attend school during the COVID era. These adolescents, like young children, have statistically near-zero chance of death from COVID-19. However, they (especially males) are at statistically highest risk of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine-related myocarditis.

According to the advocacy group nocollegemendates.com, as of May 2, 2023, approximately 325 private and public colleges and universities in the United States still have active vaccine mandates for students matriculating in the fall of 2023. This is true despite the fact that it is now universally accepted that the mRNA vaccines do not stop contraction or transmission of the virus. They have zero public health utility. “Take this shot or you cannot go to school” is coercion of the highest order.

Countless other examples of coercion abound. The travails of the great tennis champion Novak Djokovic, who has been denied entry into both Australia and the United States for multiple Grand Slam tournaments because he refuses the COVID vaccines, illustrate in broad relief the “man without a country” limbo in which the unvaccinated found (and to some extent still find) themselves, due to the rampant coercion of the COVID era.


In medical ethics, beneficence means that physicians are obligated to act for the benefit of their patients. This concept distinguishes itself from non-maleficence (see below) in that it is a positive requirement. Put simply, all treatments done to an individual patient should do good to that individual patient. If a procedure cannot help you, then it shouldn’t be done to you. In ethical medical practice, there is no “taking one for the team.”

By mid-2020 at the latest, it was clear from existing data that SARS-CoV-2 posed truly minimal risk to children of serious injury and death – in fact, the pediatric Infection Fatality Rate of COVID-19 was known in 2020 to be less than half the risk of being struck by lightning. This feature of the disease, known even in its initial and most virulent stages, was a tremendous stroke of pathophysiological good luck, and should have been used to the great advantage of society in general and children in particular.

The opposite occurred. The fact that SARS-CoV-2 causes extremely mild illness in children was systematically hidden or scandalously downplayed by authorities, and subsequent policy went unchallenged by nearly all physicians, to the tremendous detriment of children worldwide.

The frenzied push for and unrestrained use of mRNA vaccines in children and pregnant women – which continues at the time of this writing in the United States – outrageously violates the principle of beneficence. And beyond the Anthony Faucis, Albert Bourlas, and Rochelle Walenskys, thousands of ethically compromised pediatricians bear responsibility for this atrocity.

The mRNA COVID vaccines were – and remain – new, experimental vaccines with zero long-term safety data for either the specific antigen they present (the spike protein) or their novel functional platform (mRNA vaccine technology). Very early on, they were known to be ineffective in stopping contraction or transmission of the virus, rendering them useless as a public health measure. Despite this, the public was barraged with bogus “herd immunity” arguments. Furthermore, these injections displayed alarming safety signals, even during their tiny, methodologically challenged initial clinical trials.

The principle of beneficence was entirely and deliberately ignored when these products were administered willy-nilly to children as young as 6 months, a population to whom they could provide zero benefit – and as it turned out, that they would harm. This represented a classic case of “taking one for the team,” an abusive notion that was repeatedly invoked against children during the COVID era, and one that has no place in the ethical practice of medicine.

Children were the population group that was most obviously and egregiously harmed by the abandonment of the principle of beneficence during COVID. However, similar harms occurred due to the senseless push for COVID mRNA vaccination of other groups, such as pregnant women and persons with natural immunity.


Even if, for argument’s sake alone, one makes the preposterous assumption that all COVID-era public health measures were implemented with good intentions, the principle of non-maleficence was nevertheless broadly ignored during the pandemic. With the growing body of knowledge of the actual motivations behind so many aspects of COVID-era health policy, it becomes clear that non-maleficence was very often replaced with outright malevolence.

In medical ethics, the principle of non-maleficence is closely tied to the universally cited medical dictum of primum non nocere, or, “First, do no harm.” That phrase is in turn associated with a statement from Hippocrates’ Epidemics, which states, “As to diseases make a habit of two things – to help, or at least, to do no harm.” This quote illustrates the close, bookend-like relationship between the concepts of beneficence (“to help”) and non-maleficence (“to do no harm”).

In simple terms, non-maleficence means that if a medical intervention is likely to harm you, then it shouldn’t be done to you. If the risk/benefit ratio is unfavorable to you (i.e., it is more likely to hurt you then help you), then it shouldn’t be done to you. Pediatric COVID mRNA vaccine programs are just one prominent aspect of COVID-era health policy that absolutely violate the principle of non-maleficence.

It has been argued that historical mass-vaccination programs may have violated non-maleficence to some extent, as rare severe and even deadly vaccine reactions did occur in those programs. This argument has been forwarded to defend the methods used to promote the COVID mRNA vaccines. However, important distinctions between past vaccine programs and the COVID mRNA vaccine program must be made.

First, past vaccine-targeted diseases such as polio and smallpox were deadly to children – unlike COVID-19. Second, such past vaccines were effective in both preventing contraction of the disease in individuals and in achieving eradication of the disease – unlike COVID-19. Third, serious vaccine reactions were truly rare with those older, more conventional vaccines – again, unlike COVID-19.

Thus, many past pediatric vaccine programs had the potential to meaningfully benefit their individual recipients. In other words, the a priori risk/benefit ratio may have been favorable, even in tragic cases that resulted in vaccine-related deaths. This was never even arguably true with the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

Such distinctions possess some subtlety, but they are not so arcane that the physicians dictating COVID policy did not know they were abandoning basic medical ethics standards such as non-maleficence. Indeed, high-ranking medical authorities had ethical consultants readily available to them – witness that Anthony Fauci’s wife, a former nurse named Christine Grady, served as chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, a fact that Fauci flaunted for public relations purposes.

Indeed, much of COVID-19 policy appears to have been driven not just by rejection of non-maleficence, but by outright malevolence. Compromised “in-house” ethicists frequently served as apologists for obviously harmful and ethically bankrupt policies, rather than as checks and balances against ethical abuses.

Schools never should have been closed in early 2020, and they absolutely should have been fully open without restrictions by fall of 2020. Lockdowns of society never should have been instituted, much less extended as long as they were. Sufficient data existed in real time such that both prominent epidemiologists (e.g. the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration) and select individual clinical physicians produced data-driven documents publicly proclaiming against lockdowns and school closures by mid-to-late 2020. These were either aggressively suppressed or completely ignored.

Numerous governments imposed prolonged, punishing lockdowns that were without historical precedent, legitimate epidemiological justification, or legal due process. Curiously, many of the worst offenders hailed from the so-called liberal democracies of the Anglosphere, such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and deep blue parts of the United States. Public schools In the United States were closed an average of 70 weeks during COVID. This was far longer than most European Union countries, and longer still than Scandinavian countries who, in some cases, never closed schools.

The punitive attitude displayed by health authorities was broadly supported by the medical establishment. The simplistic argument developed that because there was a “pandemic,” civil rights could be decreed null and void – or, more accurately, subjected to the whims of public health authorities, no matter how nonsensical those whims may have been. Innumerable cases of sadistic lunacy ensued.

At one point at the height of the pandemic, in this author’s locale of Monroe County, New York, an idiotic Health Official decreed that one side of a busy commercial street could be open for business, while the opposite side was closed, because the center of the street divided two townships. One town was code “yellow,” the other code “red” for new COVID-19 cases, and thus businesses mere yards from one another survived or faced ruin. Except, of course, the liquor stores, which, being “essential,” never closed at all. How many thousands of times was such asinine and arbitrary abuse of power duplicated elsewhere? The world will never know.

Who can forget being forced to wear a mask when walking to and from a restaurant table, then being permitted to remove it once seated? The humorous memes that “you can only catch COVID when standing up” aside, such pseudo-scientific idiocy smacks of totalitarianism rather than public health. It closely mimics the deliberate humiliation of citizens through enforced compliance with patently stupid rules that was such a legendary feature of life in the old Eastern Bloc.

And I write as an American who, while I lived in a deep blue state during COVID, never suffered in the concentration camps for COVID-positive individuals that were established in Australia.

Those who submit to oppression resent no one, not even their oppressors, so much as the braver souls who refuse to surrender. The mere presence of dissenters is a stone in the quisling’s shoe – a constant, niggling reminder to the coward of his moral and ethical inadequacy. Human beings, especially those lacking personal integrity, cannot tolerate much cognitive dissonance. And so they turn on those of higher character than themselves.

This explains much of the sadistic streak that so many establishment-obeying physicians and health administrators displayed during COVID. The medical establishment – hospital systems, medical schools, and the doctors employed therein – devolved into a medical Vichy state under the control of the governmental/industrial/public health juggernaut.

These mid- and low-level collaborators actively sought to ruin dissenters’ careers with bogus investigations, character assassination, and abuse of licensing and certification board authority. They fired the vaccine refuseniks within their ranks out of spite, self-destructively decimating their own workforces in the process. Most perversely, they denied early, potential life-saving treatment to all their COVID patients. Later, they withheld standard therapies for non-COVID illnesses – up to and including organ transplants – to patients who declined COVID vaccines, all for no legitimate medical reason whatsoever.

This sadistic streak that the medical profession displayed during COVID is reminiscent of the dramatic abuses of Nazi Germany. However, it more closely resembles (and in many ways is an extension of) the subtler yet still malignant approach followed for decades by the United States Government’s medical/industrial/public health/national security nexus, as personified by individuals like Anthony Fauci. And it is still going strong in the wake of COVID.

Ultimately, abandonment of the tenet of non-maleficence is inadequate to describe much of the COVID-era behavior of the medical establishment and those who remained obedient to it. Genuine malevolence was very often the order of the day.


In medical ethics, the Pillar of justice refers to the fair and equitable treatment of individuals. As resources are often limited in health care, the focus is typically on distributive justice; that is, the fair and equitable allocation of medical resources. Conversely, it is also important to ensure that the burdens of health care are as fairly distributed as possible.

In a just situation, the wealthy and powerful should not have instant access to high-quality care and medicines that are unavailable to the rank and file or the very poor. Conversely, the poor and vulnerable should not unduly bear the burdens of health care, for example, by being disproportionately subjected to experimental research, or by being forced to follow health restrictions to which others are exempt.

Both of these aspects of justice were disregarded during COVID as well. In numerous instances, persons in positions of authority procured preferential treatment for themselves or their family members. Two prominent examples:

According to ABC News, “in the early days of the pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo prioritized COVID-19 testing for relatives including his brother, mother and at least one of his sisters, when testing wasn’t widely available to the public.” Reportedly, “Cuomo allegedly also gave politicians, celebrities and media personalities access to tests.”

In March 2020, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine directed nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients, despite warnings against this by trade groups. That directive and others like it subsequently cost tens of thousands of lives. Less than two months later, Levine confirmed that her own 95 year-old mother had been removed from a nursing home to private care. Levine was subsequently promoted to 4-star Admiral in the US Public Health Service by the Biden Administration.

The burdens of lockdowns were distributed extremely unjustly during COVID. While average citizens remained in lockdown, suffering personal isolation, forbidden to earn a living, the powerful flouted their own rules. Who can forget how US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke the strict California lockdowns to get her hair styled, or how British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defied his own supposedly life-or-death orders by throwing at least a dozen parties at 10 Downing Street in 2020 alone? House arrest for thee, wine and cheese for me.

But California Governor Gavin Newsom might take the cake. At first glance, given both his BoJo-esque, lockdown-defying dinner with lobbyists at the ultra-swanky Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry, and his decision to send his own children to expensive private schools which were fully open for 5-day in-school learning during the prolonged California school closures, one might think of Newsom as a COVID-era Robin Hood. That is, until one realizes that he presided over those same punishing, inhumane lockdowns and school closures. He was actually the Sheriff of Nottingham.

To a decent person with a functioning conscience, this level of sociopathy is difficult to comprehend. What is crystal clear is that anyone capable of the hypocrisy that Gavin Newsom displayed during COVID should not be anywhere near a position of power in any society.

Two additional points should be emphasized. First, these egregious acts were rarely, if ever, called out by the medical establishment. Second, the behaviors themselves show that those in power never truly believed their own narrative. Both the medical establishment and the power brokers knew the danger posed by the virus, while real, was grossly overstated. They knew the lockdowns, social distancing, and masking of the population at large were kabuki theater at best, and soft-core totalitarianism at worst. The lockdowns were based on a gigantic lie, one they neither believed nor felt compelled to follow themselves.

Solutions and Reform

The abandonment of the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics during COVID has contributed greatly to an historic erosion of public trust in the healthcare industry. This distrust is entirely understandable and richly deserved, however harmful it may prove to be for patients. For example, at a population level, trust in vaccines in general has dramatically reduced worldwide, compared to the pre-COVID era. Millions of children now stand at increased risk from proven vaccine-preventable diseases due to the thoroughly unethical push for unnecessary, indeed harmful, universal COVID-19 mRNA vaccination of children.

Systemically, the medical profession desperately needs ethical reform in the wake of COVID. Ideally, this would begin with a strong reassertion of and recommitment to the 4 Pillars of Medical Ethics, again with patient autonomy at the forefront. It would continue with prosecution and punishment of those individuals most responsible for the ethical failures, from the likes of Anthony Fauci on down. Human nature is such that if no sufficient deterrent to evil is established, evil will be perpetuated.

Unfortunately, within the medical establishment, there does not appear to be any impetus toward acknowledgement of the profession’s ethical failures during COVID, much less toward true reform. This is largely because the same financial, administrative, and regulatory forces that drove COVID-era failures remain in control of the profession. These forces deliberately ignore the catastrophic harms of COVID policy, instead viewing the era as a sort of test run for a future of highly profitable, tightly regulated health care. They view the entire COVID-era martial-law-as-public-health approach as a prototype, rather than a failed model.

Reform of medicine, if it happens, will likely arise from individuals who refuse to participate in the “Big Medicine” vision of health care. In the near future, this will likely result in a fragmentation of the industry analogous to that seen in many other aspects of post-COVID society. In other words, there is apt to be a “Great Re-Sort” in medicine as well.

Individual patients can and must affect change. They must replace the betrayed trust they once held in the public health establishment and the healthcare industry with a critical, caveat emptor, consumer-based approach to their health care. If physicians were ever inherently trustworthy, the COVID era has shown that they no longer are so.

Patients should become highly proactive in researching which tests, medications, and therapies they accept for themselves (and especially for their children). They should be unabashed in asking their physicians for their views on patient autonomy, mandated care, and the extent to which their physicians are willing to think and act according to their own consciences. They should vote with their feet when unacceptable answers are given. They must learn to think for themselves and ask for what they want. And they must learn to say no.

This article was published by Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

5 Takeaways From House Hearing on COVID-19 School Lockdowns

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Federal and state officials—as well as teachers unions—should be held accountable for the consequences of school closures, lawmakers on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic said Tuesday.

“Long-term closing of schools proved to be harmful for students—their academic, mental, and social development, and overall success,” Chairman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said. “We need to make every effort to not let this happen again for the sake of our future.”

In a March 8 hearing, the subcommittee probed the origin of COVID-19 in China.

The hearing held Tuesday by this subcommittee of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee peered into several aspects of the pandemic, including evidence ignored by public health officials, how COVID-19 aid dollars were spent, and how other countries addressed the public health crisis.

Here are five key takeaways from the hearing.

1. Masks, Social Distancing Not ‘Science Based’
Both masking and social distancing policies for schools weren’t based in science, Dr. Tracy Hoeg, an epidemiologist in the University of California-San Francisco’s department of epidemiology and biostatistics, told the subcommittee.

“Were those necessary to keep schools open?” Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the full House Oversight and Accountability Committee, asked.

“We had evidence prior to the pandemic that masks were largely ineffective at preventing community transmission of influenza and other upper-respiratory viruses,” Hoeg replied. “We did not obtain any new, high quality evidence in the COVID-19 pandemic that masks were effective strategy in schools or outside of schools.”

Comer followed by asking: “The mask guidance was not scientifically sound?”

“Correct. It wasn’t science based and the 6 feet of distancing was arbitrary. That was based on basically just looking at how far certain size droplets spread,” Hoeg replied, adding:

We ended up getting some pretty good observational data not finding correlation between 6 feet and 3 feet [of] distance and [COVID-19] case rates in schools. It wasn’t evidence based. It wasn’t necessary and wasn’t evidence based. We should have, by default, been keeping our schools open. Instead, we were requiring these non-evidence-based mitigation measures [and] strategies as a prerequisite for getting our children back in school. That’s a very harmful prerequisite.

2. COVID-19 Relief Goes to DEI, Anti-Racism Training
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., questioned the total expenses of COVID-19 aid that was intended to help schools reopen in a healthy way.

Instead, this money was diverted for other reasons, Malliotakis said, specifically calling out New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat.

“Instead of using that funding for its original intent, we see states like New York spending it on all sorts of stuff,” Malliotakis said, adding:

New York City allocated $12 million to go for a restorative justice program. They did implicit bias, anti-racism training. New York State Ed [the New York State Education Department] decided to put more money into diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. I don’t know what that stuff has to do with COVID.

Malliotakis also pointed to money allocated for other specific purposes that is going elsewhere.

“The inflationary American Rescue Plan, which the Democrats passed in 2021 with their one-party rule, was billed as a necessity for reopening schools after the COVID pandemic,” Malliotakis said. “They decided to spend this money despite $1 trillion sitting there unused from the previous packages. This provided another $122 billion for elementary and secondary schools. It was so critical. They needed this money. They couldn’t open the schools without it. Guess what? As of November, only 15% of that money has been spent.”

3. What Experts Would Tell CDC and Teachers Unions
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said she wished that Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, was answering questions from the panel.

Greene said she would like to hear from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I’d also like to point out how the teachers union—who by the way were getting paid to stay home and didn’t have to go to work—were the ones talking to the CDC about ‘When should schools open?’” Greene said.

The Georgia Republican asked each witness what he would say to Weingarten or Walensky if given the opportunity.

“I would ask Dr. Walensky why the evidence that existed in front of us, the real world observational evidence, was dismissed or ignored and instead we focused on projections and models about what would happen,” testified David Zweig, a journalist who writes for The Atlantic, New York Magazine, and The Free Press and the author of a forthcoming book on school lockdowns called “An Abundance of Caution.”

Hoeg said she had questions for both Walenksy and Weingarten.

“I would like to discuss with Randi Weingarten both the perceived risk to teachers and children, as I think there was a misunderstanding and a miscalculation about the many risks that our children face and also the risk that our teachers face from children,” Hoeg said.

“I would like to ask Dr. Walensky why, when she was issuing guidance for reopening schools in 2021, she was using the wording of the teachers unions in terms of requiring 6 feet of distance and not actually consulting the scientists and physicians that were doing the actual research looking at the distance and transmission in schools,” the epidemiologist added.

Virginia Gentles, director of the Education Freedom Center of the Independent Women’s Forum, directed her questions at the head of the American Federation of Teachers.

“If I had the opportunity to speak with Randi Weingarten, I’d ask her about what her conversations are like with teachers in urban districts that were closed and did not serve students,” Gentles said. “What is it like to talk to teachers in Baltimore in schools that have zero percent students proficient? What is it like to talk to students in Newark who have less than 2% proficiency in math?”

Everyone should look at taking a preventive approach, said Donna Mazyck, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses.

“From the federal, state, and local level, ask for a way to communicate lessons learned; after-action plans are very common in dealing with emergencies,” Mazyck said. “That needs to happen on all levels so that we know what to do the next time we have a pandemic.”

4. Increase in Abuse, Depression
Wenstrup, chairman of the subcommittee, said each state and school district should have asked how to keep schools open.

“In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lingering effects have been many—academic, mental, economic,” Wenstrup said. “There are also secondary harms from school closures that fell upon children. For example, abuse [and] poor nutrition [were] among them. We must strive to never let this happen again. Our children among us have paid the price and are continuing to pay the price.”

Zweig, during his opening remarks, said the school lockdowns had dire consequences.

“Educators represent around 20% of all official reports of child abuse or neglect. When kids were prevented from attending school, teachers were no longer able to act as a safety net for children being abused. Reports from New York to Chicago to California saw massive drops in reports of abuse,” Zweig said.

Rosado said depression and anxiety increased during the pandemic. He cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows body mass index—a measure of body fat based on height and weight—almost doubled compared to a pre-pandemic period for children in grades K-12.

Meanwhile, researchers from Johns Hopkins and Columbia universities found that from December 2020 through April 2021, “screen time” for kids ages 4 to 12 increased by about 50% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

5. What About Europe?
Most European countries kept their schools open and didn’t see an upsurge in problems for youth, Hoeg noted during her opening remarks.

“Unlike Europe, virtually all 55 million K-12 students in the U.S. remained out of school in the spring of 2020,” the epidemiologist said, adding:

In July of 2020, the CDC released a document supporting the reopening of schools; though this document has been removed from the CDC’s website, I retained a quote and the original link. Before fall of 2020, however, the CDC set reopening metrics based on community transmission and test positivity rates, without citing evidence behind them. These guidelines put about 90% of the country in a category considered ‘high risk’ for reopening schools [in] early fall of 2020. Initial data from Europe and elsewhere had shown in-school transmission to be limited and community case rates to be unrelated to opening or closing of schools.

Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., later griped about the cited comparisons to most European countries that didn’t close schools during the pandemic.

“All the evidence we have now, we did not have at the time of COVID,” Mfume said. “It was a learning process that we were all going through.”

The Maryland Democrat added:

I would also caution against always comparing what we did in the U.S. against what they did in Europe to suggest that somehow or another, it should have been the same. The United States is one country. Europe is 44 nations. So let’s be real careful about how we compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, and make sure we are talking about the same thing here.

But Zweig, the journalist and author, said it is an entirely appropriate comparison.

“Those are human beings. They are children,” Zweig said. “I’ve lived in Europe. They have very crowded cities. They do not have sophisticated HVAC systems in all their schools.”

He added:

That is real evidence in front of us. We are talking about the difference between looking at models and looking at projections over data, looking at theory over what we actually are observing.

We had actual, real world evidence from schools in countries throughout Europe with cities with very similar demographics to our cities. The class sizes were not three kids in a giant room. That evidence, for complex reasons, was disregarded.

This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

The Covid Skeptics Were Correct. When Do We Get an Apology?

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Here at The Prickly Pear, we were quite skeptical of the advice the US government was putting out about how to deal with Covid.  We particularly took the position that medical considerations could not be viewed in isolation from other factors such as the economy, personal liberty, and the education and welfare of children.

The approach being pushed by the medical establishment and government we thought was too extreme and narrow-minded.

We were one of the earliest and strongest backers of the Great Barrington Declaration.  In that statement, esteemed doctors argued that locking up the healthy, while not really protecting the vulnerable elderly was a bad thing to do.

Conversely, the Governor of New York Mario Cuomo was a study of bad policy,  devastating the elderly population in nursing homes.  For his egregious leadership, many on the left wished that he, Cuomo were President.  He spread falsehoods so effectively on television, the disgraced governor was awarded an Emmy.

While we fully recognized that in the very early stages, authorities did not know completely what was happening, and thus could be given the benefit of the doubt, it became clear early on that much of what they proposed was just nonsense that could be figured out by informed people who were not doctors. But it is equally well to say, if authorities did not know really what was going on with the virus, that this is even a better argument for going slow, protecting the economy and liberty, and not acting as arrogantly and arbitrarily as they did.

If you know in your heart you don’t really know what you are doing, don’t be so eager to cram your views down others’ throats.

We attacked the campaign for masks simply because it was clear that the virus was much smaller than the large pores in the masks, and concluded in one piece that it was “equivalent to putting up a chain link fence to keep out mosquitoes.”

Remarkably, the early recommendation of masking not only stuck despite subsequent evidence but in fact became a religious amulet of sorts for the Fauci followers.  One still sees masks on occasion as the Fauci followers practice their religion.  They still can be found worshipping outside while riding a bicycle or riding alone in a car. The holiest act it seems was to mask toddlers, a group hardly subject to the virus, yet very susceptible to having their social and speech development seriously impaired.  Many people were thrown off airplanes because parents could not keep their two-year-olds masked to the satisfaction of medical experts such as flight attendants and passengers.

It is refreshing to see some doctors admit their errors and apologize.

Then there was the “six-foot rule” that had people barking at you when you dared to step out of your assigned circle that was dutifully placed on floors in all manner of commercial establishments.

We always loved the rules in restaurants.  Come masked until reaching your table.  Remove said mask and talk loudly at close quarters with numerous friends for an hour or more sharing spittle, but then re-mask as you traverse the dangerous fifteen feet to the door.  That short distance to and from the table to the door had to be masked or mankind was surely doomed.

Even as long as a year ago, officials involved in these decisions began to admit they were wrong about this arbitrary and contradictory policy.

Officials cut off the ability to travel, and employment opportunities, and had people banned from social media, and other civil liberties if people had acquired natural immunity and claimed that equivalent to being jabbed.  They denied that natural immunity was better or at least equivalent to the flimsy and short-term “protection” provided by experimental vaccines with unknown side effects. But the short-term protection provided by “vaccines” was in fact admitted in the subsequent quest to get people frequently boosted.  Effective vaccines don’t need boosting.  Moreover, officials refused to allow any documentation of natural immunity to be used.  Only Covid vaccination “papers” were valid.  Well, this myth as well is dying.

Then there was the controversy over the origins of the pandemic.  President Trump suggested China was the source and was widely heralded as an idiot and racist.  Senator Tom Cotton got his share of grief as well even though simple logic suggested that the Wuhan Lab was the source of experiments on bat viruses that was conducted by the Chinese, apparently with funding provided by Dr. Fauci.  Of late though, reluctantly both the Department of Energy and FBI admit a lab leak is the most likely source of a pandemic that killed millions and upset the world economy.

Can we now talk about who pays for these mistakes?

More and more officials need to come forward and admit their errors and apologize to their fellow citizens whom they banned from Thanksgiving dinners, hospital visitations for dying relatives, through off airplanes, and cynically denied employment.  These officials destroyed public education and set loose a terrible inflation that has harmed the whole world.

A full public inquiry is necessary and we would also like an apology.

Weekend Read: Plausibility But Not Science Has Dominated Public Discussions of the Covid Pandemic

Estimated Reading Time: 22 minutes

“Attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science.” ~ Anthony Fauci, June 9, 2021 (MSNBC).


For one thing, Dr. Fauci has not reported accurately on scientific questions throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. For another, the essential dialectic of science is arguing, questioning, debating. Without debate, science is nothing more than propaganda.

Yet, one may ask, how has it been possible to present technical material to the American public, if not to the international public, for almost three years and achieve a general understanding that the matters were “scientific,” when in fact they were not? .I assert that what has been fed to these publics through the traditional media over the course of the pandemic has largely been plausibility, but not science, and that both the American and international publics, as well as most doctors, and scientists themselves, cannot tell the difference. However, the difference is fundamental and profound.

Science starts with theories, hypotheses, that have examinable empiric ramifications. Nevertheless, those theories are not science; they motivate science. Science occurs when individuals do experiments or make observations that bear upon the implications or ramifications of the theories. Those findings tend to support or refute the theories, which are then modified or updated to adjust to the new observations or discarded if compelling evidence shows that they fail to describe nature. The cycle is then repeated. Science is the performance of empirical or observational work to obtain evidence confirming or refuting theories.

In general, theories tend to be plausible statements describing something specific about how nature operates. Plausibility is in the eye of the beholder, since what is plausible to a technically knowledgeable expert may not be plausible to a lay person. For example—perhaps oversimplified—heliocentrism was not plausible before Nicolaus Copernicus published his theory in 1543, and it was not particularly plausible afterward for quite some time, until Johannes Kepler understood that astronomical measurements made by Tycho Brahe suggested refining the Copernican circular orbits to ellipses, as well as that mathematical rules seemed to govern the planetary motions along those ellipses—yet reasons for those mathematical rules, even if they were good descriptions of the motions, weren’t plausible until Isaac Newton in 1687 posited the existence of a universal gravitational force between masses, along with a mass-proportional, inverse-square distance law governing the magnitude of the gravitational attraction, and observed numerous quantitative phenomena consistent with and supporting this theory.

For us today, we hardly think about the plausibility of elliptic heliocentric solar system orbits, because observational data spanning 335 years have been highly consistent with that theory. But we might balk at thinking it plausible that light travels simultaneously as both particles and waves, and that making measurements on the light, what we do as observers, determines whether we see particle behavior or wave behavior, and we can choose to observe either particles or waves, but not both at the same time. Nature is not necessarily plausible.

But all the same, plausible theories are easy to believe, and that is the problem. That is what we have been fed for almost three years of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact though, we have been fed plausibility instead of science for much longer.

Cargo-Cult Science

Charlatans purporting to bend spoons with their minds, or claiming to study unconfirmable, irreplicable “extrasensory perception” were very popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Strange beliefs in what “science” could establish reached such a level that physics Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman delivered the 1974 Caltech commencement address (Feynman, 1974) bemoaning such irrational beliefs. His remarks were not aimed at the general public, but at graduating Caltech students, many of whom were destined to become academic scientists.

In his address, Feynman described how South Sea Islanders, after World War II, mimicked US soldiers stationed there during the war who had guided airplane landings of supplies. The island residents, using local materials, reproduced the form and behaviors of what they had witnessed of the American GIs, but no supplies came.

In our context, Feynman’s point would be that until a theory has objective empirical evidence bearing upon it, it remains only a theory no matter how plausible it may seem to everyone who entertains it. The Islanders were missing the crucial fact that they did not understand how the supply system worked, in spite of how plausible their reproduction of it was to them. That Feynman felt compelled to warn graduating Caltech students of the difference between plausibility and science, suggesting that this difference was not adequately learned in their Institute educations. It was not explicitly taught when this author was an undergraduate there in those years, but somehow, we were expected to have learned it “by osmosis.”

Evidence-Based Medicine

There is perhaps no bigger plausibility sham today than “evidence-based medicine” (EBM). This term was coined by Gordon Guyatt in 1990, after his first attempt, “Scientific Medicine,” failed to gain acceptance the previous year. As a university epidemiologist in 1991, I was insulted by the hubris and ignorance in the use of this term, EBM, as if medical evidence were somehow “unscientific” until proclaimed a new discipline with new rules for evidence. I was not alone in criticism of EBM (Sackett et al., 1996), though much of that negative response seems to have been based on loss of narrative control rather than on objective review of what medical research had actually accomplished without “EBM.”

Western medical knowledge has accreted for thousands of years. In the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 21:19), “When two parties quarrel and one strikes the other … the victim shall be made thoroughly healed” [my translation] which implies that individuals who had types of medical knowledge existed and that some degree of efficacy inhered. Hippocrates, in the fifth-fourth century BCE, suggested that disease development might not be random but related to exposures from the environment or to certain behaviors. In that era, there were plenty of what today we would consider counterexamples to good medical practice. Nevertheless, it was a start, to think about rational evidence for medical knowledge.

James Lind (1716-1794) advocated for scurvy protection through the eating of citrus. This treatment was known to the ancients, and in particular had been earlier recommended by the English military surgeon John Woodall (1570-1643)—but Woodall was ignored. Lind gets the credit because in 1747 he carried out a small but successful nonrandomized, controlled trial of oranges and lemons vs other substances among 12 scurvy patients.

During the 1800s, Edward Jenner’s use of cowpox as a smallpox vaccine was elaborated by culturing in other animals and put into general use in outbreaks, so that by the time of the 1905 Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Chief Justice could assert that smallpox vaccination was agreed upon by medical authorities to be a commonly accepted procedure. Medical journals started regular publications also in the 1800s. For example, the Lancet began publishing in 1824. Accreting medical knowledge started to be shared and debated more generally and widely.

Fast-forward to the 1900s. In 1914-15, Joseph Goldberger (1915) carried out a nonrandomized dietary intervention trial that concluded that pellagra was caused by lack of dietary niacin. In the 1920s, vaccines for diphtheria, pertussis, tuberculosis and tetanus were developed. Insulin was extracted. Vitamins, including Vitamin D for preventing rickets, were developed. In the 1930s, antibiotics began to be created and used effectively. In the 1940s, acetaminophen was developed, as were chemotherapies, and conjugated estrogen began to be used to treat menopausal hot flashes. Effective new medications, vaccines and medical devices grew exponentially in number in the 1950s and 1960s. All without EBM.

In 1996, responding to criticisms of EBM, David Sackett et al. (1996) attempted to explain its overall principles. Sackett asserted that EBM followed from “Good doctors use both individual clinical expertise and the best available external evidence.” This is an anodyne plausibility implication, but both components are basically wrong or at least misleading. By phrasing this definition in terms of what individual doctors should do, Sackett was implying that individual practitioners should use their own clinical observations and experience. However, the general evidential representativeness of one individual’s clinical experience is likely to be weak. Just like other forms of evidence, clinical evidence needs to be systematically collected, reviewed, and analyzed, to form a synthesis of clinical reasoning, which would then provide the clinical component of scientific medical evidence.

A bigger failure of evidential reasoning is Sackett’s statement that one should use “the best available external evidence” rather than all valid external evidence. Judgments about what constitutes “best” evidence are highly subjective and do not necessarily yield overall results that are quantitatively the most accurate and precise (Hartling et al., 2013; Bae, 2016). In formulating his now canonical “aspects” of evidential causal reasoning, Sir Austin Bradford Hill (1965) did not include an aspect of what would constitute “best” evidence, nor did he suggest that studies should be measured or categorized for “quality of study” nor even that some types of study designs might be intrinsically better than others. In the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Margaret Berger (2011) states explicitly, “… many of the most well-respected and prestigious scientific bodies (such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the Institute of Medicine, the National Research Council, and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences) consider all the relevant available scientific evidence, taken as a whole, to determine which conclusion or hypothesis regarding a causal claim is best supported by the body of evidence.” This is exactly Hill’s approach; his aspects of causal reasoning have been very widely used for more than 50 years to reason from observation to causation, both in science and in law. That EBM is premised on subjectively cherry-picking “best” evidence is a plausible method but not a scientific one.

Over time, the EBM approach to selectively considering “best” evidence seems to have been “dumbed down,” first by placing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) at the top of a pyramid of all study designs as the supposed “gold standard” design, and later, as the asserted only type of study that can be trusted to obtain unbiased estimates of effects. All other forms of empirical evidence are “potentially biased” and therefore unreliable. This is a plausibility conceit as I will show below.

But it is so plausible that it is routinely taught in modern medical education, so that most doctors only consider RCT evidence and dismiss all other forms of empirical evidence. It is so plausible that this author had an on-air verbal battle over it with a medically uneducated television commentator who provided no evidence other than plausibility (Whelan, 2020): Isn’t it “just obvious” that if you randomize subjects, any differences must be caused by the treatment, and no other types of studies can be trusted? Obvious, yes; true, no.

Who benefits from a sole, obsessive focus on RCT evidence? RCTs are very expensive to conduct if they are to be epidemiologically valid and statistically adequate. They can cost millions or tens of millions of dollars, which limit their appeal largely to companies promoting medical products likely to bring in profits substantially larger than those costs. Historically, pharma control and manipulation of RCT evidence in the regulation process provided an enormous boost in the ability to push products through regulatory approval into the marketplace, and the motivation to do this still continues today.

This problem was recognized by Congress, which passed the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 (FDAMA) that established in 2000 the ClinicalTrials.gov website for registration of all clinical trials performed under investigational new drug applications to examine the effectiveness of experimental drugs for patients with serious or life-threatening conditions (National Library of Medicine, 2021). For related reasons involving conflicts of interests in clinical trials, the ProPublica “Dollars for Docs” website (Tigas et al., 2019) covering pharma company payments to doctors over the years 2009-2018 and the OpenPayments website (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2022) covering payments from 2013 through 2021 were established and made publicly searchable. These information systems were created because the “plausibility” that randomization automatically makes study results accurate and unbiased was recognized as insufficient to cope with research chicanery and inappropriate investigator conflict-of-interest motives.

While these attempts to reform or limit medical research corruption have helped, misrepresentation of evidence under the guise of EBM persists. One of the worst examples was a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine February 13, 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, titled, “The Magic of Randomization versus the Myth of Real-World Evidence,” by four well-known British medical statisticians having substantial ties to pharma companies (Collins et al., 2020). It was likely written in January 2020, before most people knew that the pandemic was coming. This paper claims that randomization automatically creates strong studies, and that all nonrandomized studies are evidentiary rubbish. At the time of reading it, I felt it to be a screed against my entire discipline, epidemiology. I was immediately offended by it, but I later understood the serious conflicts of interest of the authors. Representing that only highly unaffordable RCT evidence is appropriate for regulatory approvals provides a tool for pharma companies to protect their expensive, highly profitable patent products against competition by effective and inexpensive off-label approved generic medications whose manufacturers would not be able to afford large-scale RCTs.


So, what is the flaw of randomization to which I have been alluding, that requires a deeper examination in order to understand the relative validity of RCT studies vs other study designs? The problem lies in the understanding of confounding. Confounding is an epidemiological circumstance where a relationship between an exposure and an outcome is not due to the exposure, but to a third factor (the confounder), at least in part. The confounder is somehow associated with the exposure but is not a result of the exposure.

In such cases, the apparent exposure-outcome relationship is really due to the confounder-outcome relationship. For example, a study of alcohol consumption and cancer risk could be potentially confounded by smoking history which correlates with alcohol use (and isn’t caused by alcohol use) but is really driving the increased cancer risk. A simple analysis of alcohol and cancer risk, ignoring smoking, would show a relationship. However, once the effect of smoking was controlled or adjusted, the alcohol relationship with cancer risk would decline or disappear.

The purpose of randomization, of balancing everything between the treatment and control groups, is to remove potential confounding. Is there any other way to remove potential confounding? Yes: measure the factors in question and adjust or control for them in statistical analyses. It is thus apparent that randomization has exactly one possible benefit not available to nonrandomized studies: the control of unmeasured confounders. If biological, medical, or epidemiological relationships are incompletely understood about an outcome of interest, then not all relevant factors may be measured, and some of those unmeasured factors could still confound an association of interest.

Thus, randomization, in theory, removes potential confounding by unmeasured factors as an explanation for an observed association. That is the plausibility argument. The question though concerns how well randomization works in reality, and who exactly needs to be balanced by the randomization. Clinical trials apply randomization to all participating subjects to determine treatment group assignments. If in the study outcome event individuals comprise a subset of the total study, then those outcome people need to be balanced in their potential confounders as well. For example, if all of the deaths in the treatment group are males and all in the placebo group are females, then gender likely confounds the effect of treatment.

The problem is, RCT studies essentially never explicitly demonstrate adequate randomization of their outcome subjects, and what they purport to show of randomization for their total treatment groups is almost always scientifically irrelevant. This problem likely arises because the individuals carrying out RCT studies, and the reviewers and journal editors who consider their papers, do not sufficiently understand epidemiologic principles.

In most RCT publications, the investigators provide a perfunctory initial descriptive table of the treatment and placebo groups (as columns), vs various measured factors (as rows). That is, the percent distributions of treatment and placebo subjects by gender, age group, race/ethnicity etc. The third column in these tables is usually the p-value statistic for the frequency difference between the treatment and placebo subjects on each measured factor. Loosely speaking, this statistic estimates a probability that a frequency difference between treatment and placebo subjects this large could have occurred by chance. Given that the subjects were assigned their treatment groups entirely by chance, statistical examination of the randomization chance process is tautological and irrelevant. That in some RCTs, some factors may appear to be more extreme than chance would allow under randomization is only because multiple factors down the rows have been examined for distributional differences and in such circumstances, statistical control of multiple comparisons must be invoked.

What is needed in the third column of the RCT descriptive table is not p-value, but a measure of the magnitude of confounding of the particular row factor. Confounding is not measured by how it occurred, but by how bad it is. In my experience as a career epidemiologist, the best single measure of confounding is the percentage change in the magnitude of the treatment-outcome relationship with vs without adjustment for the confounder. So for example, if with adjustment for gender, treatment cuts mortality by 25% (relative risk = 0.75), but without adjustment cuts it by 50%, then the magnitude of confounding by gender would be (0.75 – 0.50)/0.75 = 33%. Epidemiologists generally consider more than a 10% change with such adjustment to imply that confounding is present and needs to be controlled.

As I have observed, most RCT publications do not provide the magnitude of confounding estimates for their overall treatment groups, and never for their outcome subjects. So it is not possible to tell that the outcome subjects have been adequately randomized for all of the factors given in the paper’s descriptive table. But the potential fatal flaw of RCT studies, what can make them no better than nonrandomized studies and in some cases worse, is that randomization only works when large numbers of subjects have been randomized (Deaton and Cartwright, 2018), and this applies specifically to the outcome subjects, not just to the total study.

Consider flipping a coin ten times. It might come up at least seven heads and three tails, or vice versa, easily by chance (34%). However, the magnitude of this difference, 7/3 = 2.33, is potentially quite large in terms of possible confounding. On the other hand, occurrence of the same 2.33 magnitude from 70 or more heads out of 100 flips would be rare, p=.000078. In order for randomization to work, there needs to be sizable numbers of outcome events in both the treatment and placebo groups, say 50 or more in each group. This is the unspoken potential major flaw of RCT studies that makes their plausibility argument useless, because RCT studies are generally designed to have enough statistical power to find statistical significance of their primary result if the treatment works as predicted, but not designed to have enough outcome subjects to reduce potential confounding to less than 10% say.

An important example of this issue can be seen in the first published efficacy RCT result for the Pfizer BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 vaccine (Polack et al., 2020). This study was considered large enough (43,548 randomized participants) and important enough (Covid-19) that because of its assumed RCT plausibility it secured publication in the “prestigious” New England Journal of Medicine. The primary outcome of the study was the occurrence of Covid-19 with onset at least seven days after the second dose of the vaccine or placebo injection. However, while it observed 162 cases among the placebo subjects, enough for good randomization, it found only eight cases among the vaccine subjects, nowhere nearly enough for randomization to have done anything to control confounding.

From general epidemiologic experience, an estimated relative risk this large (approximately 162/8 = 20) would be unlikely entirely to be due to confounding, but the accuracy of the relative risk or its implied effectiveness ((20 – 1)/20 = 95%) is in doubt. That this vaccine in use was observed not to be this effective in reducing infection risk is not surprising given the weakness of the study result because of inadequate sample size to assure that randomization worked for the outcome subjects in both the treatment and placebo groups.

This “dive into the weeds” of epidemiology illuminates why an RCT study with fewer than, say, 50 outcome subjects in each and every treatment arm of the trial has little to no claim to avoiding possible confounding by unmeasured factors. But it also makes evident why such a trial may be worse than a nonrandomized controlled trial of the same exposure and outcome. In nonrandomized trials, the investigators know that many factors may, as possible confounders, influence the occurrence of the outcome, so they measure everything they think relevant, in order to then adjust and control for those factors in the statistical analyses.

However, in RCTs, investigators routinely think that the randomization has been successful and thus carry out unadjusted statistical analyses, providing potentially confounded results. When you see RCTs paraded as “large” studies because of their tens of thousands of participants, look past that, to the numbers of primary outcome events in the treatment arms of the trial. Trials with small numbers of primary outcome events are useless and should not be published, let alone relied upon for public health or policy considerations.

Empirical Evidence

After reading all of the foregoing, you might think that these arguments concerning randomized vs nonrandomized trials are very plausible, but what about empirical evidence to support them? For that, a very thorough analysis was carried out by the Cochrane Library Database of Systematic Reviews (Anglemyer et al., 2014). This study comprehensively searched seven electronic publication databases for the period from January 1990 through December 2013, to identify all systematic review papers that compared “quantitative effect size estimates measuring efficacy or effectiveness of interventions tested in [randomized] trials with those tested in observational studies.” In effect a meta-analysis of meta-analyses, the analysis included many thousands of individual study comparisons as summarized across 14 review papers.

The bottom line: an average of only 8% difference (95% confidence limits, −4% to 22%, not statistically significant) between the RCTs and their corresponding nonrandomized trials results. In summary, this body of knowledge—the empirical as well as that based upon epidemiologic principles—demonstrates that, contra so-called “plausibility,” randomized trials have no automatic ranking as a gold standard of medical evidence or as the only acceptable form of medical evidence, and that every study needs to be critically and objectively examined for its own strengths and weaknesses, and for how much those strengths and weaknesses matter to the conclusions drawn.

Other Plausibilities

During the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous other assertions of scientific evidence have been used to justify public health policies, including for the very declaration of the pandemic emergency itself. Underlying many of these has been the plausible but fallacious principle that the goal of public health pandemic management is to minimize the number of people infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

That policy may seem obvious, but it is wrong as a blanket policy. What needs to be minimized are the harmful consequences of the pandemic. If infection leads to unpleasant or annoying symptoms for most people but no serious or long-term issues—as is generally the case with SARS-CoV-2, particularly in the Omicron era—then there would be no tangible benefit of general public-health interventions and limitations infringing upon natural or economic rights of such individuals and causing harms in themselves.

Western societies, including the US, take annual respiratory infection waves in stride without declared pandemic emergencies, even though they produce millions of infected individuals each year, because the consequences of infection are considered generally medically minor, even allowing for some tens of thousands of deaths annually.

It was established in the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic that the infection mortality risk varied by more than 1,000-fold across the age span, and that people without chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer history etc., were at negligible risk of mortality and very low risk of hospitalization. At that point, it was straightforward to define categories of high-risk individuals who on average would benefit from public health interventions, vs low-risk individuals who would successfully weather the infection without appreciable or long-term issues. Thus, an obsessive, one-size-fits-all pandemic management scheme that did not distinguish risk categories was unreasonable and oppressive from the outset.

Accordingly, measures promoted by plausibility to reduce infection transmission, even had they been effective for that purpose, have not served good pandemic management. These measures however were never justified by scientific evidence in the first place. The Six-Foot Social Distancing Rule was an arbitrary concoction of the CDC (Dangor, 2021). Claims of benefit for wearing of face masks have rarely distinguished potential benefit to the wearer—for whom such wearing would be a personal choice whether or not to accept more theoretical risk—vs benefit to bystanders, so-called “source control,” wherein public health considerations might properly apply. Studies of mask-based source control for respiratory viruses, where the studies are without fatal flaws, have shown no appreciable benefit in reducing infection transmission (Alexander, 2021; Alexander, 2022; Burns, 2022).

General population lockdowns have never been used in Western countries and have no evidence of effect for doing anything other than postponing the inevitable (Meunier, 2020), as Australia population data make clear (Worldometer, 2022). In the definitive discussion of public health measures for control of pandemic influenza (Inglesby et al., 2006), the authors state, “There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza. A World Health Organization (WHO) Writing Group, after reviewing the literature and considering contemporary international experience, concluded that ‘forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical.’ … The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.”

On travel restrictions, Inglesby et al. (2006) note, “Travel restrictions, such as closing airports and screening travelers at borders, have historically been ineffective. The World Health Organization Writing Group concluded that ‘screening and quarantining entering travelers at international borders did not substantially delay virus introduction in past pandemics … and will likely be even less effective in the modern era.’” On school closures (Inglesby et al., 2006): “In previous influenza epidemics, the impact of school closings on illness rates has been mixed. A study from Israel reported a decrease in respiratory infections after a 2-week teacher strike, but the decrease was only evident for a single day. On the other hand, when schools closed for a winter holiday during the 1918 pandemic in Chicago, ‘more influenza cases developed among pupils … than when schools were in session.’”

This discussion makes clear that these actions supposedly interfering with virus transmission on the basis of plausibility arguments for their effectiveness have been both misguided for managing the pandemic, and unsubstantiated by scientific evidence of effectiveness in reducing spread. Their large-scale promotion has demonstrated the failure of public-health policies in the Covid-19 era.

Plausibility vs Bad Science

An argument could be entertained that various public-health policies as well as information made available to the general public have not been supported by plausibility but instead by bad or fatally flawed science, posing as real science. For example, in its in-house, non-peer-reviewed journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, CDC has published a number of analyses of vaccine effectiveness. These reports described cross-sectional studies but analyzed them as if they were case-control studies, systematically using estimated odds ratio parameters instead of relative risks to calculate vaccine effectiveness. When study outcomes are infrequent, say fewer than 10% of study subjects, then odds ratios can approximate relative risks, but otherwise, odds ratios tend to be overestimates. However, in cross-sectional studies, relative risks can be directly calculated and can be adjusted for potential confounders by relative-risk regression (Wacholder, 1986), similar to the use of logistic regression in case-control studies.

A representative example is a study of the effectiveness of third-dose Covid-19 vaccines (Tenforde et al., 2022). In this study, “… the IVY Network enrolled 4,094 adults aged ≥18 years,” and after relevant subject exclusions, “2,952 hospitalized patients were included (1,385 case-patients and 1,567 non-COVID-19 controls).” Cross-sectional studies—by design—identify total numbers of subjects, whereas the numbers of cases and controls, and exposed and unexposed, happen outside of investigator intervention, i.e., by whatever natural processes underlie the medical, biological and epidemiological mechanisms under examination. By selecting a total number of subjects, the Tenforde et al. study is by definition a cross-sectional design. This study reported a vaccine effectiveness of 82% among patients without immunocompromising conditions. This estimate reflects an adjusted odds ratio of 1 – 0.82 = 0.18. However, the fraction of case patients among the vaccinated was 31% and among the unvaccinated was 70%, neither of which is sufficiently infrequent to allow use of the odds ratio approximation to calculate vaccine effectiveness. By the numbers in the study report Table 3, I calculate an unadjusted relative risk of 0.45 and an approximately adjusted relative risk of 0.43, giving the true vaccine effectiveness of 1 – 0.43 = 57% which is substantially different and much worse than the 82% presented in the paper.

In a different context, after I published a summary review article on the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for early outpatient Covid-19 treatment (Risch, 2020), a number of clinical trials papers were published in an attempt to show that HCQ is ineffective. The first of these so-called “refutations” were conducted in hospitalized patients, whose disease is almost entirely different in pathophysiology and treatment than early outpatient illness (Park et al., 2020). The important outcomes that I had addressed in my review, risks of hospitalization and mortality, were distracted in these works by focus on subjective and lesser outcomes such as duration of viral test positivity, or length of hospital stay.

Subsequently, RCTs of outpatient HCQ use began to be published. A typical one is that by Caleb Skipper et al. (2020). The primary endpoint of this trial was a change in overall self-reported symptom severity over 14 days. This subjective endpoint was of little pandemic importance, especially given that the subjects in studies by this research group were moderately able to tell whether they were in the HCQ or placebo arms of the trial (Rajasingham et al., 2021) and thus the self-reported outcomes were not all that blinded to the medication arms. From their statistical analyses, the authors appropriately concluded that “Hydroxychloroquine did not substantially reduce symptom severity in outpatients with early, mild COVID-19.” However, the general media reported this study as showing that “hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work.” For example, Jen Christensen (2020) in CNN Health stated about this study, “The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine did not benefit non-hospitalized patients with mild Covid-19 symptoms who were treated early in their infection, according to a study published Thursday in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine.”

But in fact, the Skipper study did report on the two outcomes of importance, risks of hospitalization and mortality: with placebo, 10 hospitalizations and 1 death; with HCQ, 4 hospitalizations and 1 death. These numbers show a 60% reduced risk of hospitalization which, though not statistically significant (p=0.11), is entirely consistent with all other studies of hospitalization risk for HCQ use in outpatients (Risch, 2021). Nevertheless, these small numbers of outcome events are not nearly enough for randomization to have balanced any factors, and the study is essentially useless on this basis. But it was still misinterpreted in the lay literature as showing that HCQ provides no benefit in outpatient use.


Many other instances of plausible scientific claptrap or bad science have occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. As was seen with the retracted Surgisphere papers, medical journals routinely and uncritically publish this nonsense as long as conclusions align with government policies. This body of fake knowledge has been promulgated at the highest levels, by the NSC, FDA, CDC, NIH, WHO, Wellcome Trust, AMA, medical specialty boards, state and local public health agencies, multinational pharma companies and other organizations around the world that have violated their responsibilities to the public or have purposely chosen not to understand the fake science.

The US Senate recently voted, for the third time, to end the Covid-19 state of emergency, yet President Biden stated that he would veto the measure because of “fear” of recurring case numbers. My colleagues and I argued almost a year ago that the pandemic emergency was over (Risch et al., 2022), yet the spurious reliance on case counts to justify suppression of human rights under the cover of “emergency” continues unabated.

Massive censorship by the traditional media and much of social media has blocked most public discussion of this bad and fake science. Censorship is the tool of the undefendable, since valid science inherently defends itself. Until the public begins to understand the difference between plausibility and science and how large the effort has been to mass-produce science “product” that looks like science but is not, the process will continue and leaders seeking authoritarian power will continue to rely on it for fake justification.


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This article was published by Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

It Was Politics that Drove the Science

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Most academic scientists spend a lot of time writing grants that have very little chance of being funded. Because the funding environment is so competitive, many scientists feel pressure to emphasize the most positive, sensational results they can produce. Some academic scientists take this too far, by ignoring conflicting results or even fabricating data. Research fraud that goes unreported can upset decades of research, which happened recently in the field of Alzheimer’s research.

What happens if you take away scientific competition? There is indeed a way to do this, and that’s by working in a government agency. Being a government scientist is not a bad deal for a lot of people. The pay is good, the job is secure, and the expectations aren’t high. Securing funding is pretty easy and completely backward from academia—you often get the funding first and justify it with a “grant” later.

The perceived impact of your publications doesn’t matter, any journal is sufficient. In the case of my position at CDC-NIOSH, mechanistic science wasn’t encouraged. Instead, there was a lot of emphasis on toxicology, which simply involves exposing an animal or tissue to a compound or microbe and determining if there is an adverse effect. If there was, taking further steps to determine why there was an adverse effect wasn’t necessary. It was a simple exposure, assess, report, rinse and repeat process.

I wasn’t in my government post-doc position long before I realized that government work wasn’t my calling. It’s not that it wasn’t challenging, it was just challenging in the wrong way. Government scientists often spend more of their time fighting government bureaucracy than scientific problems. In such a red tape-clogged system, self-motivated people eventually get discouraged, while unmotivated people get to coast.

There were many examples of bureaucratic dysfunction and waste. In one department, staff members came across a storage room filled with brand new boxes of obsolete computers that had never been opened. No one seemed to know how they got there. Similarly, it wasn’t a rare occurrence to encounter large stores of expensive reagents in a freezer or storage room that had expired without being opened. These examples were simply a function of shifting funding and priorities. Congress would periodically throw money at the agency so everyone could claim they were doing something about a highly visible health problem. If you didn’t spend it, it went away.

In another instance, government officials decided they needed an online travel booking program for employees similar to Orbitz for Business. The result was underwhelming–millions of dollars and years later, there were still serious problems with it that resulted in travel delays. Everyone complained about having to use it. They could’ve just used Orbitz for Business, if only it had been allowed.

At one point, traveling to a foreign country to give a research seminar required giving notice one year in advance. This included the title of the talk. Who knows what they are going to talk about one year in advance?

One of my favorite horror stories about government bureaucracy was about a CDC employee who got fired accidentally by an unnamed bureaucrat. He didn’t even realize he had been fired until one day his paycheck wasn’t deposited and his security badge stopped working. It took months to get him rehired. The great irony of that story is that it’s nearly impossible to fire someone intentionally. I’m not sure how anyone could do it accidentally. But apparently, it happened.

At the CDC branch where I worked, we had a histology core run by a technician who didn’t like his job, and knew he couldn’t get fired. I would send tissue samples and they’d take months to get processed and stained. When I did get them back, there were some curious things about the slides I would notice. Some of the different samples would appear identical on the cut slides.

The histology tech was just cutting the same block over and over to make slides and labeling them differently. When I brought up this behavior to my boss, it didn’t surprise him. He told me that the guy was bitter and intended to metaphorically give us all a big middle finger, and there was no way we could stop him. We ended up contracting the nearby university core to do the same work. Meanwhile, worthless histology tech continued to get paid for doing even less.

Once, a CDC pathologist tried to report him for “destruction of government property.” She was one of those self-motivated people who took her job seriously and could be relied upon by others, and at the same time was naïve enough to expect the same. What happened when she raised a stink about lazy histology tech guy? She was reprimanded and labeled a “troublemaker.” Probably because the bureaucrats recognized that her attempt at whistleblowing would just create work for them, and would not actually result in any meaningful change.

Once I got reprimanded by my boss for a reason that I cannot clearly recall. Much like the honorable yet naive pathologist, I was calling BS on something and thus not endearing myself to the front office. Although I can’t recall much of the dressing down I received, one thing he said stuck with me: “You can’t change the system from outside the system,” He meant it was pointless for someone in my lowly contract position to fight anything, it would do nothing and only hurt me and annoy everyone else.

Later, I realized that something he didn’t mention was also true–it’s impossible to advance within the system by promising to change it. If you wanted to advance within the CDC or another government agency, you have to demonstrate your dedication to the status quo. That powerful incentive ensures the system is preserved, with perverse incentives fully intact.

This dynamic was painfully obvious as I watched the government pandemic response unfold. In the beginning, when uncertainty was the greatest, many leaders seemed reasonable and cautioned against panic, because they knew there was a potential for severe collateral damage. Once more particulars about the virus were known, especially the steep age-stratified risk of severe disease, competing political interests emerged, and as a result messaging and decision-making became distorted. 

In normal times, large bureaucratic health agencies driven by political interests do not directly affect the daily lives of most Americans. During a natural disaster, however, these agencies will continue to be driven by politics, not public health, because they are not capable of adapting to a crisis. That’s when the cracks begin to show, and everyone is affected.

A prime example is the CDC’s flagship journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). According to the CDC, MMWR exists “…to report events of public health interest and importance to CDC’s major constituents—state and local health departments—and as quickly as possible”, and to distribute “… objective scientific information, albeit often preliminary, to the public at large”.

The key word here is “objective”, which is apparently used unironically. Here are MMWR editors describing how they determine what content is suitable for publication:

Several other differences [between the MMWR and medical journals] exist. A major one is that, unlike medical journals (with a few exceptions, i.e., certain special supplements such as this one), the content published in MMWR constitutes the official voice of its parent, CDC. One sign of this is the absence in MMWR of any official disclaimers. Although most articles that appear in MMWR are not “peer-reviewed” in the way that submissions to medical journals are, to ensure that the content of MMWR comports with CDC policy, every submission to MMWR undergoes a rigorous multilevel clearance process before publication. This includes review by the CDC Director or designate, top scientific directors at all CDC organizational levels, and an exacting review by MMWR editors. Articles submitted to MMWR from non-CDC authors undergo the same kind of review by subject-matter experts within CDC. By the time a report appears in MMWR, it reflects, or is consistent with, CDC policy.

Did you catch all that? There is nothing “objective” about how the CDC determines what is published in their flagship journal. They choose to publish only results that support their policy and are completely open about it.

This is backward from how health policy should be determined. Science should drive policy recommendations, yet at the CDC, the policy recommendations drive the science. 

Once this fact is acknowledged, much of the more controversial “studies” published in MMWR begin to make complete sense. For example, many mask studies claiming significant universal or school masking efficacy published by the CDC (some that I have previously discussed) were poorly designed and executed and easily debunked by outside observers. That’s because the “rigorous multilevel clearance process” involved no concern with the actual methodology of those studies. There was simply a set of predetermined conclusions from CDC directors in search of supporting data. Nothing objective about it.

Politically driven science at the CDC and other government health agencies was not limited to mask studies. Risks of severe or long COVID and benefits of COVID vaccines in children and healthy adults were also greatly exaggerated. Worst of all, basic tenets of immunology (e.g. infection-acquired immunity) were denied. Immunologists were expected to go along with it. Many did.

Science is a perfect process complicated by flawed human practitioners. Wherever there are people, there will be politics, and wherever there are government health agencies, their political interests will trample any conflicting science. As with any big problem, the first step is admitting there is a problem. After accepting the fact that health agencies are political organizations, the next steps should explore ways to ensure bipartisan administration and remove perverse incentives. Separating research and policy arms of each agency, term limits for administrative positions, and approval of directors by Congress might be a good start. 

Obviously, no meaningful change in government health agencies is going to happen without overcoming massive bureaucratic opposition. But a meaningful change is the only outcome we should accept, or we can expect more of the same when the next pandemic comes.


This article was published by The Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

There Was No Pandemic Mastermind

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn


There is a lot of celebratory football-spiking going on in COVID response-skeptic social media circles.

When two groups of people are diametrically opposed to one another on a singular issue, and the beliefs of one of those groups is validated by events, the other group may just wish to slink away and “put everything behind them.”

I think this is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic. After years of misleading, politically-driven information campaigns designed to increase vaccine uptake, the CDC has finally admitted something that everyone knew, but most couldn’t say: that SARS-CoV-2 infection-acquired immunity protects against severe disease upon reinfection just as well or even better than vaccination.

The problem wasn’t just the messaging on protective immunity. From pushing damaging and unsustainable lockdowns to contriving a false consensus on masks to massively inflating risks of COVID-19 in children and schools, the CDC’s record has been utterly dismal.

After the reality-mugging of the last two and a half years, I’m sure many people in the CDC and other government agencies would like to quietly move on, much as the rest of the world already has.

But that can’t happen just yet. Some very tough and pointed questions need to be asked about the decisions that led to shutdowns and mandates and who made, influenced, and benefited from those decisions. The pandemic exposed a dysfunctional, politicized and risk-averse health bureaucracy with little incentive to act beyond its own naked self-interests. A bright and continuous spotlight on the systemic failures of government agencies is only the first step to meaningful reform. But it has to happen.

The temptation to place the blame for these failures on a single person or a small, yet powerful group of people will be irresistible. The concept of an evil mastermind or a sinister cabal of deep-state Illuminati pulling all the strings to shut down the world, hurt working-class people, and keep poor children out of school has been a reflexive way for many people to make sense of the messy world we’ve lived in since March 2020.

There are some problems with this way of thinking. The fact that most Western governments acted in a very similar manner—initially trying to reassure the public, then panicking and issuing lockdowns and other damaging policies and blaming the people when they didn’t work—raises an important question. How could a single person or group of people orchestrate all that so quickly?

When people are angry about so much needless destruction and waste, they want to put a face to that anger, to identify a target. They need someone to blame, someone to put on trial, condemn and cancel. It’s much more difficult to put institutions, systems, or culture on trial, and much less satisfying.

There were certainly many people who took advantage of pandemic chaos in rather dubious ways. They stockpiled masks or drugs to resell at huge profits, were compromised by ties to pharmaceutical companies, or gained notoriety by feeding the media’s insatiable appetite for sensationalized predictions of doom. Those representing special interests lined up to use the crisis to their advantage, and when they were successful, lobbied for more. This misbehavior should certainly not be ignored.

Yet if all the blame for the disastrous pandemic response is successfully put on one person or a group of people, it ensures there will be a scapegoat and only that. They might be put on trial, demonized, and canceled, a process that many of us would enjoy watching. But the systems and culture that incentivized them to behave badly will remain in place.

The CDC has already started the process of rebranding itself in light of its admitted failures. Predictably, it involves some cosmetic reorganization yet otherwise increases institutional power and reach. With these superficial changes, the ossified, dysfunctional culture will continue to balloon and lumber on, consuming more and more resources with an ever-decreasing net benefit, waiting to be exposed again by another crisis. Rinse and repeat.

Accepting the CDC’s faux contrition and bogus pledge of reform would be a mistake. The organization is in need of a serious overhaul. The conflict of interest that results when government organizations make policy recommendations and fund research to support those recommendations needs to be removed by separating both functions. Positions should not be guaranteed for life, but subject to periodic renewal, and easier to terminate. The power of permanent bureaucrats to micromanage national health policy should be minimized as much as possible.

Most skeptical readers will read the above and say, “Yeah, right. Not gonna happen,” and I would tend to agree with that. In fact, I think the problem is even more intractable than just institutional reform. After all, as many people in the CDC and other government agencies liked to remind us during the pandemic, they only make recommendations. They didn’t force the federal government, states, and cities to implement and enforce mandates. All of those places did so on their own, unfortunately with great energy and enthusiasm. For many aspiring totalitarians, CDC recommendations were merely a convenient foil for increasing their own power and influence.

Perhaps the most important question is, where would leaders get the idea that all of this behavior was, not only acceptable but commendable?

The answer is—they got the idea from us. The public long ago accepted that government organizations like the CDC have assumed responsibility for their well-being, during normal times and in times of crisis. If the CDC can’t protect us and provide the absolute certainty we demand during times of crisis, then what are they good for? An excellent question.

The pandemic has shown that government agencies cannot, in fact, do those things very well at all. Even if they could protect people and provide them with absolute certainty, they wouldn’t be incentivized to do so. Instead, in a crisis government agencies will follow the path of least resistance, in this case providing an illusion of safety, security, and control for politicians and the public. All one had to do was believe the illusion. Because of the absolute terror of the unknown and complete ignorance of the risks of severe disease and death, most people were more than willing to take comfort in CDC recommendations and subsequent government mandates without the slightest hint of skepticism or protest. A pervasive safety-at-all costs culture enabled all of it.

By all means, we need to take a very long and hard look at the leaders and bureaucrats that took the easiest, yet the most damaging path of lockdowns and mandates. We need to expose all of their corruption, incompetence, and hypocrisy. It’s going to be a huge task that will take a considerable amount of time, and it has to happen.

Yet ultimately, when looking for someone to blame for the disastrous pandemic response, the most important place we need to look is in the mirror.


Steve Templeton is Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Indiana University School of Medicine – Terre Haute. Formerly CDC/NIOSH. Immunology of Infectious Disease.


This article was published by the Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Mandatory Mis-Remembering on Natural Immunity

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

“The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” ― George Orwell, 1984


Releasing new pandemic guidelines last week, the CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti divulged to reporters what many experts have long been saying: there is no difference between a COVID-19 vaccine and prior infection.

“Both prior infection and vaccination confer some protection against severe illness,” Massetti told reporters. “And so it really makes the most sense to not differentiate with our guidance or our recommendations based on vaccination status at this time.”

Major media outlets such as NPR, CNN, Washington Post, and the New York Times, dutifully repeated back new statements from CDC officials, without noting they had reported the complete opposite last year: COVID-19 vaccines provided much better protection than prior infection. See this CNN interview last August, for example, where Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy allegedly shot down an “antivaxxer’s claim” about natural immunity.

“We are seeing more and more data that tells us, that while you get some protection from natural protection, it’s not nearly as strong as what you get from the vaccine,” Dr. Murthy told CNN at the time.

CNN Murthy

While the natural immunity versus vaccination debate has been controversial over the last year, what is not debatable is that midterm elections are coming this November. And with a majority of Americans unhappy with the President’s pandemic policies, perhaps the CDC is relying on “midterm science” to guide their new appreciation for natural immunity.

The media’s forgetfulness of what they reported just last year on vaccines and prior infection is part of the pandemic’s Great Misremembering, collective amnesia where we march in step with government messaging while failing to recall prior statements and moments of glaring contradiction. For example when the media reported that the NIH’s Anthony Fauci was fully vaccinated and still got COVID-19, and then they misremembered to report his prior statement, “When people are vaccinated, they can feel safe that they are not going to get infected.”

“CDC’s COVID-19 prevention recommendations no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status because breakthrough infections occur, though they are generally mild,” the agency now says in new guidelines. To help everyone join the Great Misremembering, here are some incidents you must fail to recall.

Mother Jones early out the gate

In the first few confusing months of the pandemic, when and researchers were still trying to understand the outbreak, Mother Jones crack reporter Kiera Butler already figured out the greatest threat to pandemic science: the ubiquitous “antivaxxers” pushing a dangerous “theory” called natural immunity. Note the scare quotes in the title around natural immunity.

dangerous natural immunity

According to Butler, this “dangerous theory” just might go mainstream. She ended her article quoting an expert who warned that if the natural immunity idea takes hold, it could persist even after the coronavirus pandemic dies down. “Those of us in this field will be cleaning up these messes for years to come,” Butler’s expert told her.

This “mess” now includes the CDC’s latest guidance.

John Snow Memorandum

Late in the pandemic’s first year, a group of researchers released a statement called the “John Snow Memorandum” that helped to shape American policy, as many of the signers had large social media followings. Among the signatories was Rochelle Walensky, then a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and now the Director of the CDC. “Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed,” reads the statement signed by the current CDC Director.

You know nothing Jon Snow

Yes, the very same person who runs the CDC that now tells us to not differentiate between the vaccine and natural infection warned us early in the pandemic that any pandemic policy that relies on natural infection is flawed.

As you read the CDC’s new guidance, please remember to misremember the memorandum previously signed by the current CDC Director.

CNN’s Maggie Fox: reliable press release journalism

Few reporters worked harder on behalf of vaccine manufacturers and the federal government to give full-throated support to vaccines than CNN’s Maggie Fox. As I previously reported, CDC Director Walensky divulged earlier this year that she had been overly optimistic about the efficacy of Pfizer’s vaccine after she saw a report on CNN. When I tracked down CNN’s article, I found that it had been written by Maggie Fox and was little more than a regurgitation of Pfizer’s own press release that had gone out earlier on the same day of her story.

In short, Pfizer’s press release became CNN headline, eventually becoming the CDC’s optimistic vaccine pandemic policy.

Shortly after the COVID-19 vaccines became available, Science Magazine published a study that found lasting immunity after recovery from infection. “Several months ago, our studies showed that natural infection induced a strong response, and this study now shows that the responses last,” the study’s lead author told the National Institutes of Health. “We are hopeful that a similar pattern of responses lasting over time will also emerge for the vaccine-induced responses.”

Further evidence accumulated in May when researchers published a study in Nature that concluded, “Overall, our results indicate that mild infection with SARS-CoV-2 induces robust antigen-specific, long-lived humoral immune memory in humans.”

Proceeding with little caution, CNN’s Maggie Fox tweeted the following July, “No valid scientific study has found that natural immunity protects better than vaccination does.” She then went on to write several stories throughout 2021 that continued to promote the notion that vaccination was superior to natural immunity.

Meg Fox

Fox left CNN sometime around the end of the year, and wrote this January on her personal website:

But vaccinated people have more protection against severe disease than people who are unvaccinated – including those who have been infected once or more already. That’s because vaccines boost the immune system better than natural infection does.

With CDC guidelines that “no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status” I tweeted to Fox asking if she wanted to update her previous opinion that seemed to ignore relevant science on natural immunity.

Finding some disparity in the meaning between “difference” and “differentiate”—the first is a noun, the second a verb—Fox tweeted back that I was trolling and attacking her, and that the CDC did not state what it stated.

Meg Fox 2

COVID fact checks, of course

No aspect of the Great Misremembering would be complete without being careful to forget all the amazing fact checks out there. They function, of course, by carefully choosing the most extreme statement to carefully pick apart, and then implying that anyone even remotely associated with such thinking is a complete nutter.

So it’s not surprising to find some nitpicking at both LeadStories and Health Feedback.

LeadStories is funded by both Facebook and a Chinese company cited by the U.S. government for national security concerns. Writers at the website recently falsely attacked researchers for using a database on vaccine safety that they didn’t actually use.

Last August, LeadStories posted one of their typical fact checks that is difficult to follow and cherry picks information to come out in support of vaccines.

fact check, oh no!

Since the CDC now says to not differentiate between prior infections and vaccination, one wonders if LeadStories is going to now fact-checking the federal government.

Health Feedback is a Facebook fact-checking service run by Emmanuel Vincent, who has been hiding throughout Paris to avoid appearing in court for possibly colluding with the U.S. federal government to ban people from social media and deny them their First Amendment rights. This fact check appeared just a few months ago, in April, and one wonders if they are going to update it to reflect the CDC’s new guidance.

freedom works

Don’t hold your breath!

How will we forget the Twitter experts?

Ryan Marino is a medical toxicologist and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University, who has been making a name for himself as a “pro science” communicator when reporters need an expert to quote in some pointless, nutty story like Lyme Disease is not an “intergalactic substance.”

Ry Marino

And here

Ry Marino Two

After making a name for himself debunking Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop, Canada-famous law professor Timothy Caulfield pivoted to position himself as a COVID-19 expert, and quickly dismissed as a “conspiracy” the idea that the pandemic could have started from a lab. Caulfield almost never upsets powerful corporations in biomedicine, and managed to do so again by promoting vaccines.

Timmy Caulfield

And of course, Twitter’s very online resident gynecologist, Jen Gunter, who rarely misses an opportunity to jump into the middle of a controversy—any controversy. With a typical lack of self-restraint, Gunter slapped down a critic who pointed to the importance to natural immunity some months back.

“Vaccine induced immunity is superior,” the gynecologist tweeted. “So yeah, maybe come at me with a different argument.”

JenJen Gunter

That different argument would be the new CDC guidelines, of course. But let us all forget.


This article was published by The Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Documents Reveal Collusion Between CDC, Big Tech During Pandemic

Estimated Reading Time: 14 minutes

Documents newly obtained by America First Legal Foundation reveal deep collusion between public officials and allies in Big Tech to silence dissenting voices.

The documents lay bare efforts by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to push social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to censor so-called medical misinformation.

John Zadrozny, deputy director of investigations at America First Legal Foundation, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss how deep the collusion goes and what it all means.

Listen to the [second] podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Doug Blair: My guest today is John Zadrozny, deputy director of investigations at America First Legal Foundation. John, welcome to the show.

John Zadrozny: Hey, Doug, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

Blair: Of course. Well, we have to talk about this massive thing that you guys have found out, which is this trove of documents detailing the super cozy relationship between Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] officials and Big Tech over their efforts to censor what is called misinformation surrounding COVID-19.

So just to start out with, could you give our listeners a broad overview of some of the revelations that these documents revealed?

Zadrozny: Absolutely, Doug.

So basically, you may recall last year that when she was still White House press secretary, from the White House podium in mid-July, Jen Psaki basically admitted to the public that they were working, colluding, I guess you could say, with Big Tech to make sure that “misinformation” was not spread on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

And we were immediately piqued by this, so I think we sent a [Freedom of Information Act] request literally the next day to several agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC. Not surprisingly, they were not tripping over themselves to release those documents because they were damning.

We filed a lawsuit this year and we have since been able to get documents as a result of being in court with the agency. They released a batch to us in July and we were able to roll out about 286 pages of initial production from the agency last week.

And what they show, Doug, it is pretty damning. It basically shows exactly what we thought—file this under horrifying but not surprising. They were in very close coordination with Google, Twitter, and Facebook. For emphasis, we don’t know if other Big Tech companies were involved yet. This is just what we were able to get our hands on to date.

Examples of what the communications showed were very close, frequent coordination between the government and officials at Google, Twitter, and Facebook. Very excited willingness on the part of officials at those three Big Tech companies to work with them.

In other words, it wasn’t a government strong-arming companies and them reluctantly going along. It was them saying, “We’re eager to work with you and help you.”

There were instances of basically the government told these agencies what to say in terms of vaccine safety. They basically told them what to say and concealed the origins as federal.

The CDC reached out to … Twitter, saying, “Hey, we found these posts. These are misinformation.” And then Twitter immediately proceeded to not only pull them down, but then suspend the accounts of some of those users.

The interaction, the degree of interaction and the type of interaction, Doug, is pretty gross. And it’s a reminder that we’re in a very dangerous time. It’s not just a question of an abusive government, but it’s an abusive government in cahoots with a large, monopolistic tech industry that has no interest in free speech for the public.

Blair: That sounds incredibly dangerous. And I think the fact is that it sounds like the government is skirting around First Amendment protections for speech by kind of nudge, nudge, wink, winking to these Big Tech companies and having them do the dirty work for them. So it’s not the government doing the censorship, it’s Twitter doing the censorship or YouTube doing the censorship.

Zadrozny: Yeah. Doug, that’s a great point. But I would counter that and say the following: There’s obviously a debate on the right about the private sector’s discretion to do what it chooses as the private industry, as nongovernmental. Remember, the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights, all those amendments are designed to curtail government conduct.

However, two things, one of which is, take the government out of it, in a vacuum these companies have reached a size and dimension, and reality in our modern digital age, where they are essentially the digital town square. There is no real public media forum absent these social media platforms.

And an argument could be made, it’s not uniform, there’s definitely disagreement on the right about this, but an argument could be made that they’re essentially, at this point, quasi-utilities.

Imagine a scenario where a phone company was cutting off phone calls of people when they didn’t like what they were saying. We would be aghast at that, and yet somehow this is considered OK.

But it’s even worse than that, Doug, because basically, I think the argument here is that the federal government, by interacting with these companies, whether voluntarily or not, has deputized them as an extension of the government. And so, I think the First Amendment argument is very much in play here.

They can’t say, “Well, we’re private.” Maybe, maybe they could have gotten away with that if they were doing this of their own volition. But it’s pretty clear they were working hand-in-glove with federal officials telling them what to say and not say.

Blair: How long and how extensive do these ties go back? And are there going to be any sort of implications between people like Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and other government officials that were directly responsible for this?

Zadrozny: Well, that’s a great question, Doug. We have other, for clarity, we have other letters out to other agencies to find out the degree to which they were involved in manipulating these Big Tech companies and their speech.

Troublingly, if you go look at the documents that we’ve produced, remember it’s only 286 pages, I suspect we’ve only scratched the surface. Some of those communications do go back to 2020, and so I think some of the people might say, “Well, gosh, doesn’t that mean the Trump administration was doing this?”

I think the answer is, if, based on all we saw during the Trump administration, and I was part of it, there are a lot of secretive nefarious actors who were not working in conjunction with the political leadership of the administration and doing what they wanted.

I suspect these ties existed between these officials and the employees of these companies for years. … Gosh only knows what else they were doing behind the scenes, Doug, to undercut the administration while the administration was happening. But it picked up another few notches in speed once we were gone, in order to facilitate the Biden administration’s rollout of the vaccine.

The horrible part about all this, Doug, is that the Biden administration and the Big Tech companies, they wouldn’t need to do any of this if they had anything resembling credibility on any issue, including the vaccine issue. But the reality is, when you’re in a position where nobody believes anything you’re saying, you have to censor—at least if you think like the left does.

And that’s exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing. Instead of having a full and open public debate, saying, “Look, these people who are critical of the safety of the vaccines, they’re completely wrong. Here are the data. We’re in the right. Trust us,” they can’t do that because the data don’t support them. And so, they’ve had to engage in this conduct.

And again, I really think we’ve only scratched the surface. Again, it’s only the first 286 pages and that’s just from the CDC, so there’s a lot more going on.

And Doug, I can break some news for you. We are issuing a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general, [Christi] Grimm, asking her to conduct an investigation of this. We think this is clearly illegal, clearly inappropriate. And with any luck, we’ll get a serious response from the IG. We’re really hoping that we do.

Blair: Well, John, that’s incredible news. And I guess, if you could go a little bit more in depth about what you’re hoping to find with that letter, what you’re hoping to find with these sort of revelations here?

Zadrozny: Yeah. So, I think what we’re hoping is that the inspector general’s investigation is not only able to bring to light some of the other components of HHS that were involved in this—again, we only were talking about CDC, which is technically under HHS. We sent letters to the National Institutes of Health. We sent letters to HHS headquarters and other federal officials and federal agencies.

She may be able to pull it all together in her investigation. But also, she’ll have access to documents that we don’t. And with any luck, she’ll actually bring to light the full scope of this.

We had to use what’s called the Freedom of Information Act to get the documents that we’ve got, and even then we had to take this all the way to a federal judge. She doesn’t have those constraints. With any luck, she’ll actually do her job. We’ll see.

Blair: Now, it sounds like she’s obviously not likely to do that, unless she’s forced to do so. What does it say about this administration that it seems like these revelations have to come out through the work of citizen journalists and organizations like yours, instead of them just saying, “Look, we have a vested interest in this policy going this one way”? What does that say about how this administration is viewing this topic?

Zadrozny: What it says to me, Doug, is that they view themselves as on the wrong side of the issue where they need to hide from the truth. And they can’t have an open conversation and win a credibility-based conversation with the American public.

And I think you could, unfortunately, I think you can apply this to almost every issue area in their purview right now—energy production to national security and so on. They’re too busy throwing, I guess, American parents who attend school board meetings in jail as domestic terrorists to focus on actual medical safety and integrity.

I think another lesson, too, Doug, if I may, is I think we’re probably seeing what happens when we have a federal government that’s just way too large.

People on the right for years—and to their credit, it’s a good argument, it just hasn’t really fallen on ears and it hasn’t resonated—the small government argument has always been a fiscal one. The argument has always been, “We spend too much money. We spend too much money.” Well, that’s all true.

And we may actually be seeing, we may have finally hit the point in the United States where we are starting to see those proverbial chickens come home to roost with high inflation, etc. But it doesn’t resonate.

And I think it’s partly, without getting too much into it, I think it’s because most Americans don’t deal with anything near those numbers of that type of money. Those numbers just kind of glaze over—a trillion here or a trillion there.

But I think the argument that really does resonate with Americans across the country at home in small communities is this is what happens when you have a government that’s too large, and has too much money, and has too many employees, it becomes too radical. And you need to rein it in.

And the only way to really rein it in, it’s not a bunch of old white guys wagging fingers at oversight hearings. It’s shrinking federal agency budgets, saying, “Look, you’re being punished for not doing your jobs. In fact, you’re being punished for using money for things that are dangerous, unconstitutional, and suppressing rights.”

I think it’s one of the most serious conversations we need to have over the next 10 years, Doug, is have we reached the point where we’ve seen too much? We’ve seen what a big federal government really means for the republic, it’s not good and it needs to be shrunk.

Blair: Right. Now, John, that raises an interesting point. We have this information, it sounds like you are taking action, specifically with this letter to the IG, but what can conservatives do? We have the proof now, we have the evidence to show that there was collusion between these massive government bodies and Big Tech. What do we do with that information?

Zadrozny: That’s a great question. That’s the million-dollar question, right? I think for now, because Republicans, conservatives don’t run the executive branch, there’s nothing that can be done there.

In theory, Republicans, if they are to win control of Congress and take it seriously, and actually push back against the corruption of this administration, they could cut budgets. There could be some oversight. Maybe they could recommend potential civil or criminal action against people who have potentially violated federal law.

That’s obviously not going to be acted on by this current administration, but you can put a file together and have it sit there and wait for the right time. And then say, “Look, this person should be looked at for civil violations. This person should be looked at for criminal violations.”

I think this information opens doors for states and even private litigants to possibly file their own litigation. And so I am tempted to say, I’m sure you are too, “Well, so what, John? Another lawsuit?” It does add up. And having been on the inside of an administration, every time you get sued, it takes attorneys and people away from doing X or Y because they have to deal with a lawsuit.

And if it’s not a frivolous lawsuit—and they shouldn’t be frivolous lawsuits, they should be legitimate lawsuits—you’re going to find a lot. There’s going to be a lot to talk about and there’s going to be a lot to answer for.

So for now, I think that’s the best-case scenario. But I would also say that the one thing everyone can do—public, anyone listening here, anyone who cares about this issue or any of these issues—just pay attention to all of this. And then when the time comes, make sure we remember all of this to take action inside the executive branch. An awful lot of people are going to need to be fired.

Blair: Now, as we’re having this conversation, it seems so odd to me that there’s been no, I don’t want to say justification because it doesn’t really sound like it’s justifiable, but there’s nothing coming from the administration to say, “Yeah, we own up to this.” They’re almost trying to push back. Has Big Tech even tried to justify this or are they just hoping this blows over?

Zadrozny: It’s to be determined. I haven’t really seen anyone on the government side respond to this in any meaningful way. And I suspect that private companies, the Big Tech companies are going to say exactly what you mentioned in the beginning, saying, “Well, we’re private. We can do what we want.” Although at the same time, it’s interesting because they’re in an interesting spot.

There are some Republicans, not all, it’s not a uniform opinion, but some Republicans have proposed getting rid of Section 230 of the federal Communications Act, which would strip the Big Tech platforms who operate via the internet with some of their protections.

Don’t forget the whole justification for Section 230 is immunity from content. So they got a lot of benefits by saying, “Look, we’re just kind of the Wild West forum. We don’t police.” Well, now they’re policing, and they’re policing at government direction, and it changes the equation.

And getting rid of Section 230 may or may not be a helpful thing. I actually defer to others on that. But I do think that the private sector’s going to say, “We can do what we want.” But then if you dare say, “Well, we have to change how you’re regulated,” I’m sure they’ll bristle at that.

I don’t expect the federal government to own up to any of this. But the reality is, again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. These people are very comfortable.

It’s pretty clear, too, by the way, there’s no concealment in these documents of their conduct. In other words, it’s not like we got five emails back and all of this happened by phone. They see no problem with this. And so, I don’t suspect that they are willing to say [they’ve] done anything wrong, because they probably don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.

I’m sure they had couch it as, “We’re doing this for the right reasons.” But as you know as well as I do, Doug, the road to hell is in fact paved with good intentions. And so, just because you feel like doing something and you think it’s a good thing, it … doesn’t mean it’s constitutional.

Blair: Right, right. I wonder if there was even some success to this. One of the arguments that I’ve almost heard a couple of different times from people on the right is that when you start to push censorship, it becomes much more difficult for you to justify yourself as the person in the right. To be super nerdy for a second, the quote from “Game of Thrones,” “If you rip a man’s tongue out, you’re afraid of what he has to say.”

It almost sounds like maybe there’s this sense of, “Well, we know we’re not in the right here, so we’re just going to do it anyway.” And that actually creates a backlash. What are your thoughts on that?

Zadrozny: No, I think you’re correct. Except the problem is I get the sense that the Biden administration, as the metaphor for the left writ large, is just kind of going for broke on all things right now. Because I think it’s a combination of things, at least that’s my theory.

One is, I think they see the writing on the wall for the fall elections. Now, Republicans can be weak at times, but I think at the end of the day, they’d still rather have control of Congress, and they’re not happy with the possibility of a wild card Congress asking a lot of questions, and obviously ruining their chances of winning reelection in 2024.

But I don’t think they see that they’ve done anything wrong. I think they’re just … going to double down or triple down. And they have to do a lot of this stuff, because I think to some degree on this issue and many, many others, the gig is up. And the more is exposed, the more it reveals the brokenness of federal government and the need to do things more than just wag fingers at oversight hearings.

And I’m hoping that what this does is actually get people to realize we can’t just do things the way we used to. The same old, same old is just not going to work in a future Congress, in a future administration. This federal government needs to be scrubbed and reassembled for the benefit of the American people.

Blair: And do you think that removing things like Section 230 or taking action against Big Tech companies that do this type of thing would be an acceptable solution?

Zadrozny: I think putting them in a place where they have to consider liability for removing people inappropriately or otherwise could actually be helpful. Why is it so that they get this protection that allows them to be immune from content?

In a way, you would think that if they had this immunity, this would be their way of responding to the federal government, “Look, sorry, Mr. President, we’re not going to work with you guys because we don’t want to lose our 230 status. We want this to be sort of a Wild West medium of communication.”

So yeah, I think that’s one thing that would make a difference. I think if you want to drive a point home, point at their dollars. And their ability to make money here is something that’s a big deal.

I’ve often thought, one thing, if governments—and I don’t just mean the federal government, I mean the state governments, local governments—they want to make a difference, I think one thing you could do is just get rid of your Twitter accounts, get rid of your Facebook accounts. Why are these governments that proclaim to be opposed to what these platforms are doing still on them?

Now, the devil’s advocate argument is, well, you might as well use their medium against them. But the reality is, once you start using their medium against them to an effective degree, you get pulled off. So why give them the revenue? Just get out of it.

And at some point I’d love to see the federal government deal with this when there’s an administration that is not interested in supporting these platforms anymore, and we’ll see what happens.

But yeah, follow the money. If you can make it painful for them economically, they’ll stop their behavior.

Blair: Now, as we begin to wrap-up here, I want to give you an opportunity to really focus in and highlight on what you think people should be looking at. So first off, where can people, if they want to look at these documents for themselves, where can they go? And then, what do you recommend they really pay attention to as they’re troving through these? As you mentioned, there’s quite a few of them. So what do you think they should be looking out for?

Zadrozny: Well, Doug, one thing I would strongly recommend is if people do want to see the documents—and thank you for the plug—please come to aflegal.org. That’s aflegal.org. You can see the work we’ve done on this and also many, many other things, everything from immigration to national security to education.

But in terms of this trove, again, we’re going to need some eyes, and people’s expertise and thoughts based on their conduct. So when you go look at these emails, please, please, let us know if you see anything of interest.

For example, … you’ll see names in these emails, but not all of them, because some of them are redacted. So if anyone has any information about any of the names around those FOIA exemptions the agency used to cover other people’s names, let us know.

One thing I’m curious to know is, are there any professional or economic connections between the people in the federal government and these companies? For example, it identifies by name some people who work for Twitter, Facebook, and Google, who interact with the federal government. But do they have a spouse at the CDC? Do they have a spouse at NIH? These are things that are frequently concealed.

And it’s funny because the leftist administrations always tend to have couples involved in things. And sometimes that manifests in the form of Mr. Jones works at the Department of Treasury and Mrs. Jones works on the White House counsel staff. But sometimes it’s not even all in government. So for example, maybe the federal job of Mr. Jones is dependent upon Mrs. Jones at Twitter, doing what the federal government says.

If it’s the stuff that we don’t know—in fact, the best way I could say it, Doug, is, it’s the unknown unknowns in the production. And if anyone’s got any thoughts, and also if you happen to be one of these people who are working for these Big Tech companies who are familiar with some of this, come reach out to us.

You don’t exist, we will make sure you don’t exist, but we could use your help and information, and anything you’ve got to offer. Because really, it comes down to the people behind the scenes who say, “Hey, I know I’m part of this. I’ve seen this, it’s wrong. I want to help.”

If you’re willing to come check out those documents, please give us a shout and keep your eyes out for further tranches of documents and further information from these agencies and hopefully an honest inspector general’s report regarding the content of this whole scandal across the Department of Health and Human Services.

Blair: Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for Americans to get involved. That was John Zadrozny, deputy director of investigations at the America First Legal Foundation. John, very much appreciate your time.

Zadrozny: Thank you, Doug, for your time. I appreciate it.


This article was published by the Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

Why Should We Have Confidence in Public Health Officials?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Among the many casualties of government reaction to the Wuhan virus, has been the prestige of the public health establishment.  This is true in the U.S. and elsewhere as well.

They lied about the origins of the virus and continue to do so.

Those that do acknowledge that it likely came from a lab leak, most refuse to ask who funded the research that lead to the escape and who should be held responsible for damages to the world.

In the US, we were told masks were effective at stopping the virus.  And so it was said internationally. We now know, that except under hospital circumstances, that simply was not true.

To be fair, President Trump made some stupid remarks about ultraviolet light. Some suggested he said to inject bleach. But his ideas were dismissed promptly with contempt because he was not a doctor or a public health official. In fact, the press howled if he didn’t follow their expert advice. His first instinct, you might recall, was “two weeks to bend the curve”. It turned out to be two years and the curve is still there to some extent.

But in the end, who did more damage to our society: the amateurs or the professionals?

We now know, because of the self-congratulating book by Dr. Deborah Birx, that much of public health advisories were simply made up. The effectiveness of the 6-foot circle, the vaccines, and the boosters to the vaccines were all said to be vital to public health.

The Scarf lady said so. And it made such an impression on the public, that one still sees mask wearers, peddling their bicycles alone, outside in 110-degree heat. Media-induced brain damage apparently is permanent for some.

President Biden said if you get the vaccine, you won’t get Covid. He is twice vaccinated, twice boosted, and has Covid. He is a walking refutation of the BS peddled by Public Health officials and swallowed uncritically by most of the medical profession. Few seem to acknowledge that the President’s very condition destroys everything the man had said on the matter.

Here we have a 79-year-old man, fully vaccinated and boosted, living in a controlled masked-wearing environment, with an attending physician at his elbow, and he gets the virus. And at this juncture, he appears to be doing fine with it.

If that is true, is it worth shutting down society again as suggested recently by the New York Times and Dr. Fauci on his new media tour?

Their lame excuse is all the vaccines and boosters made the condition less lethal. How do we know that? The virus keeps mutating, and the vaccines and boosters may not be effective against the variants at present and the variants to be. And besides, he was taking therapeutics as he should. But if he is taking effective therapeutics, that could account for the milder symptoms. Also, it could be just a milder variant.

That the public, through fear, lost all ability to think critically. That too is a story worth telling.

But to stay on point, it is doubtful many of us can ever look at doctors, and “scientists” the same way ever again. If they can lie so easily, or more charitably, be that gullible, leap to conclusions without scientific basis; why should we believe them about anything?

They divided the American people and it has ruined relationships between relatives and friends. That rift continues today.

They may well have wrecked the global economy, which will cause great pain and likely echo for years to come.

They trampled our liberties: our freedom to assemble (unless you are rioting on behalf of BLM), to worship, and even to conduct our business. They shut down arbitrarily some businesses and left others alone. They interfered in the mortgage markets, interfered with private contracts between renters and owners, shut down schools, destroyed domestic and international supply chains, and contributed to great inflation.

Their policies may well have killed more people than the virus. Millions did not show up for checkups for their heart conditions, cancer, and other maladies. There has been a surge in suicide and drug abuse, spousal abuse, and child abuse. Why are not these issues matters of public health?

They did this in the name of lockdown. But now we have the data. There is virtually no difference in outcomes between harsh lockdown states such as California and more freedom-loving states like Florida. The same is true internationally. Soft lockdown countries such as Sweden had better outcomes than countries like New Zealand.

They said if you get the vaccine, you won’t get Covid. Then they said if you get the vaccine, you won’t spread Covid. The latter statement put responsibility that was misplaced on those who preferred not to take an experimental possibly gene-altering drug. It is you vaccine refusniks that are spreading Covid! The President said it was a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Members of the armed forces were dismissed, nurses were fired, and tennis stars were denied entry into countries and competitions.

The “logic” seemed to suggest the unvaccinated were spreading the virus to those already protected by the vaccine? How could that be if the vaccine is effective for those who took it? None of it made any sense, but non-mask-wearing individuals were subject to at a minimum the “stink eye”, but also emotional retribution, and at worst, job dismissal. No one has said they are sorry. And as suggested earlier, it hasn’t ended. Los Angeles seems to want to crank up mandatory mask wearing again and the left’s chief spiritual leader, the New York Times, wants to bring lockdown back.

It would seem evidence of failure is no deterrent to those who heard the original incorrect statements by health officials. For them it seems, it is cast in stone as the tablets delivered on Mt. Sinai.

James Agresti has an excellent service called Just Facts Daily. One of his more recent ones asked this question: In the United Kingdom during 2022, what portion of all deaths involving Covid-19 have been among people who were fully vaccinated and boosted? Was it about 25%, 50%, or 75%?  Which percentage is closer to actual results?

Yours truly pondered that we know vaccines were not effective, but likely they would not be worse than having not taken the jab at all, so I picked 50%. I was wrong.

The correct answer was 75%. Thus in the UK, public vaccinations may have made more people ill and killed more people than if they had done nothing. The other way to spin it is it was precisely those most vulnerable who took the jab, and thus it is the frailties of this group that accounts for greater deaths. That may possibly be true. But if it is true, why the push to vaccinate everyone, of every age, and of every condition?

Remember it was part of Covid policy to keep everyone at home (except made-up definitions of whose job was critical), to mask everyone, and to jab everyone, repeatedly. It was not limited to the elderly or those with co-morbidities.

Recall as well, that it was important for people to be able to go to titty bars, but not to church? Looking back, these officials look worse than silly.

The latest push is to vaccinate babies, a group that has not shown vulnerabilities. This is from the same people that disrupted schools for two years, stunted language development in formative years, and touched off a record of teenage suicides. Well, they had our interests at heart, did they not?

Getting back to the specific British study, here are supporting statements from Mr. Agresti:

An accurate measure of the vaccine status of people who die with Covid-19 is available from the United Kingdom, where government keeps detailed healthcare records on nearly all citizens. The latest data from the UK Office of National Statistics shows that 74% of all deaths involving Covid-19 from 1/1/22 to 5/31/22 were among people who were fully vaccinated and boosted. As the UK Health Security Agency has explained, “it is expected that a large proportion of cases, hospitalisations and deaths would occur in vaccinated individuals, simply because a larger proportion of the population are vaccinated than unvaccinated and no vaccine is 100% effective. This is especially true because vaccination has been prioritised in individuals who are more susceptible or more at risk of severe disease.”

Documentation of this ia at the following link: Latest UK DataData & Calculations (Excel)Not a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated.

Sadly, it would seem the reason we cannot have faith in public health officials is they destroyed their own credibility. The media spread their falsehoods and the politicians enforced them.

Stand by for the next crusade. It looks like it will be about global warming!