Tag Archive for: Covid-19

Moderna CEO Said He Knew in 2019 a Lucrative Pandemic Would Happen

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During the January 18 World Economic Forum (WEF) panel State of the Pandemic at Davos 2023, Moderna CEO  said, “When the [COVID] pandemic happened, Moderna had made a hundred thousand doses in 2019 for the whole year. And I remember walking after those into the office of my other manufacturing and I say, ‘How we make [sic] a billion dollars next year?’ And they look at me a bit funny and say, ‘What?’ And I say, ‘Yeah, we need to make a billion dollars next year, there’s going to be a pandemic.’”

A very strange remark, yes? We know that Moderna was already working on a vaccine for COVID-19 before the virus was officially named, because Bancel also said that at Davos 2023. But for what was Moderna making a hundred thousand doses, when Moderna had no licensed product before the COVID vaccine? And how did Bancel know there was going to be a pandemic when he supposedly found out about COVID only in January 2020, and why would he have been excited about the prospect of a death-dealing disease of any sort?

Moderna, and Bancel, owe the world some answers.

This article was published by Pro Deo et Libertate and is reproduced with permission.

What the WHO Is Actually Proposing

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes

The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently developing two international legal instruments intended to increase its authority in managing health emergencies, including pandemics;

(1) Amendments to the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), and

(2) A pandemic treaty, termed ‘CA+’ by the WHO.

The draft IHR amendments would lay out new powers for the WHO during health emergencies, and broaden the context within which they can be used. The draft CA+ (‘treaty’) is intended to support the bureaucracy, financing and governance to underpin the expanded IHR.

These proposed instruments, as currently drafted, would fundamentally change the relationship between the WHO, its Member States and naturally their populations, promoting a fascist and neo-colonialist approach to healthcare and governance. The documents need to be viewed together, and in the far wider context of the global/globalist pandemic preparedness agenda.


The threat of pandemics.

The current rapidly increasing funding for pandemics and health emergencies is based on several fallacies, frequently repeated in white papers and other documents as well as the mainstream media as if they were facts, in particular:

  • Pandemics are increasing in frequency.
  • Pandemics are causing an increasing health burden.
  • Increased contact between humans and wildlife will promote more pandemics (as most are caused by zoonotic viruses).

The last pandemic to cause major mortality was the 1918-19 ’Spanish flu,’  estimated to have killed between 20 and 50 million people. As noted by the National Institutes of Health, most of these people died of secondary bacterial pneumonia, as the outbreak occurred in the pre-antibiotic era. Prior to this time, major pandemics were due to bubonic plague, cholera and typhus, all addressable with modern antibiotics and hygiene, and smallpox, which is now eliminated.

The WHO lists just 3 pandemics in the past century, prior to Covid-19; the influenza outbreaks of 1957-58 and 1968-69, and the 2009 Swine flu outbreak. The formers killed 1.1 million and 1 million people respectively, while the latter killed 150,000 or less. For context, 290,000 to 650,000 people die of influenza every year, and 1.6 million people die of tuberculosis (at a much younger average age).

In Western countries, Covid-19 was associated with deaths at an average age of about 80 years, and global estimates suggest an overall infection mortality rate of about 0.15 percent, which is similar to that for influenza.which is similar to that for influenza (0.3-0.4% with Covid in older Western populations).

Thus, pandemics in the past century have killed far fewer people and at an older age than most other major infectious diseases.

The Covid-19 event stands out from previous pandemics due to the aggressive and disproportionate responses employed, instituted contrary to existing WHO guidelines. The harms of this response have been discussed extensively elsewhere,, with little doubt that the resultant disruptions to health systems and increased poverty will cause far higher mortality, at a far younger age, than would have been expected from Covid-19 itself. Despite the historical rarity of pandemics, the WHO and partners are pushing forward with a rapid process that will ensure repetition of such responses, rather than first analyzing the costs and benefits of the recent example. This is clearly reckless and a bad way to develop policy.

The role of the WHO in public health.

The WHO, whilst having a role in coordinating cross-border health emergencies included in its Constitution, was founded on human rights principles and originally emphasized community and individual rights. These culminated in the Declaration of Alma Ata, emphasizing the importance of community participation and ‘horizontal’ approaches to care.

Apart from its basis in human rights, this approach has a strong public health basis. Improved life expectancy and major reductions in infectious disease in wealthier populations predominantly occurred through improved living conditions, nutrition and sanitation, with a secondary impact of improving basic health care and availability of and access to antibiotics. Most vaccines came later, though playing an important role in certain diseases such as smallpox. Basic nutrition and living conditions are still the predominant determinant of life expectancy, with GDP recognized as directly impacting infant mortality, in particular in lower income countries.

The emphasis of the WHO has changed over the past few decades in particular, associated with two major shifts in funding. Firstly, a large proportion of funding now comes from private and corporate sources, rather than being almost solely country-based at its inception. Secondly, most funding is now ‘specified,’  meaning it is given to the WHO for specific projects in designated geographies, rather than being used at the WHO’s discretion to address the greatest disease burdens. This is reflected in an apparent move from priorities based on disease burden to priorities based on commodities, particularly vaccines, that generate profit for its private and corporate sponsors.

In parallel, other ‘public-private partnerships’ have arisen, including Gavi, the vaccine alliance, and CEPI (dedicated solely to pandemics). These organizations include private interests on their governing boards, and address a narrow health focus that reflects the priorities of private sponsors. They influence the WHO through direct funding and through funding within WHO Member States.

Other UN agencies have evolved in similar ways, with UNICEF now heavily focused on implementing mass Covid vaccination among populations already immune, whilst children, its former focus, have had rapidly deterioratinhealth metrics. The World Bank has developed a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) to support related pandemic preparedness with the WHO as technical partner, in order to fund development of a surveillance, identification and response network as envisioned in the two WHO pandemic instruments (below) and backed by the recent G20 meeting in Indonesia.

The WHO pandemic instruments

The WHO is pushing two instruments to enhance its role and authority in health emergencies including pandemics; (1) Amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) and (2) a new treaty-like instrument currently designated CA+.

The IHR (2005) currently has force under international law but is written as non-binding recommendations. The World Health Assembly (WHA), the governing body of the WHO, will only need a simple majority of States (97 of 194) to pass the amendments. Countries will then have 6 months in which to opt out, otherwise being considered to have accepted the amendments as existing signatories to the IHR. This opt-out period was reduced from 18 months by the WHA in 2022.

The CA+ (treaty) instrument is due to be presented to the WHA in May 2024. Adoption will require a two-thirds majority of Member States.

Both draft instruments are currently passing through a usual WHO process of open and closed committee meetings and internal and external reviews, after submission of proposals by various States. The IHR amendments process is under the Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005)n (WGIHR) while the CA+ instrument is under the International Governmental Negotiating Body (INB).

What the two WHO pandemic instruments will do.

As currently drafted, the CA+ and IHR amendments complement each other. The IHR amendments concentrate on the specific powers and processes sought by the WHO and its sponsors. The CA+ concentrates more on the governance and funding to support these. Specificities in both instruments will change between now and the WHA vote in May 2023 and 2024 respectively. However, in broad terms, they are currently written to achieve the following:

IHR draft Amendments:

  • Expand the definitions of pandemics & health emergencies, including the introduction of ‘potential’ for harm rather than actual harm. It also expands the definition of health products that fall under this to include any commodity or process that may impact on the response or “improve quality of life.”
  • Change the recommendations of the IHR from ‘non-binding’ to mandatory instructions that the States undertake to follow and implement.
  • Solidify the Director General’s ability to independently declare emergencies.
  • Set up an extensive surveillance process in all States, which WHO will verify regularly through a county review mechanism.
  • Enable WHO to share country data without consent.
  • Give WHO control over certain country resources, including requirements for financial contributions, and provision of intellectual property and know-how (within the broad definition of health products above).
  • Ensure national support for promotion of censorship activities by WHO to prevent contrary approaches and concerns from being freely disseminated.
  • Change existing IHR provisions affecting individuals from non-binding to binding, including border closures, travel restrictions, confinement (quarantine), medical examinations and medication of individuals. The latter would encompass requirements for injection with vaccines or other pharmaceuticals.

CA+ (treaty):

  • Set up an international supply network overseen by WHO.
  • Fund the structures and processes by requiring ≥5% of national health budgets to be devoted to health emergencies.
  • Set up a ‘Governing Body,’  under WHO auspices, to oversee the whole process.
  • Expand scope by emphasizing a ‘One Health’ agenda, being defined as a recognition that a very broad range of aspects of life and the biosphere can impact health, and therefore fall under the ‘potential’ to spread harm across borders as an international health emergency.

Both draft instruments remain under discussion, and further changes are likely. A recent external review committee report pushed back on some aspects of the IHR amendments in a report to the DG, but left much of the basis intact.

It is important to consider these texts together, and in the context of the wider pandemic preparedness agenda that includes agencies such as Gavi and CEPI, their private and corporate sponsors, and private industry lobby groups including the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF has been influential in promoting the agenda; CEPI was inaugurated at the 2017 WEF Davos meeting. The pandemic agenda must also be seen in the context of the unprecedented profits and wealth transfers, and the suspension of basic human rights that the Covid-19 public health response promoted.

The momentum behind the agenda

An international bureaucracy is currently being built with funding envisioned at up to $31 billion per year, including $10 billion in new funding. (For context, the entire current WHO annual budget is about $3.6 billion). This same bureaucracy will surveil for new and variant viruses, identify them, determine their ‘threat’ and then implement a response. This is essentially creating a self-perpetuating pandemic industry, with major internal conflicts of interest, funded by the world’s taxpayers but, being under a UN agency, having no national legal oversight and little accountability. Its justification for continued funding will rely on declaring and responding to perceived threats, restricting the lives of others whilst accruing profit to its sponsors through pharmaceutical recommendations and mandates.

While both texts are intended to have force under international law, countries can theoretically opt out in order to preserve their sovereignty and protect their citizens’ rights. However, low-income countries could potentially face financial pressures, restrictions, and sanctions from entities such as the World Bank that are also invested in this agenda. Of relevance, the 2022 United States National Defense Authorization Act (HR 7776-960) includes wording concerning adherence to the IHR, and action concerning countries that are uncooperative with its provisions.

What can be done

These initiatives, if continued, will reverse the direction of international public health and the WHO itself, driving back towards a colonialist and fascist approach to health governance reflecting values the world sought to put aside in the aftermath of World War Two. As the Covid-19 response demonstrated, they will have a wide and profound impact across society, removing basic human rights, increasing poverty and wealth concentration. They deserve global attention and a robust society-wide response.

Both draft instruments could be stopped by the IHR amendments failing to achieve 50 percent of Member States’ support, and the CA+ failing to achieve two-thirds majority, or, after adoption, failing to have a minimum 30 ratifications). While it is inevitable that some provisions will change prior to being put to a vote, and some amendments may fail to pass, the bureaucracy and mechanisms being built in parallel mean that the passage of any of the proposed provisions will further promote this anti-democratic approach to society. Blocking them seems vital, but the voting structure of the WHA (one country – one vote) makes international diplomacy by vested interests influential. Votes commonly depend on the views of a small group of health bureaucrats.

Blocking in national legislatures seems a very important approach, including the introduction of legislation to embed health policy including emergency responses within national jurisdictions, and specifically preventing national agencies from following external dictates.

While international coordination is important in public health, particularly in cross-border risks and disease spread, this must be at the behest of State parties. Such measures must respect the fundamental human rights principles established through the post-World War Two tribunals and treaties intended to stop colonialist and totalitarian approaches to individuals and international relations. This may require a different set of international agencies that have sufficiently strong constitutions to withstand private conflict of interest, and that cannot violate basic individual and national sovereignty. This may require defunding current agencies and replacement with structures more fit for purpose. If the world is not to be locked into a situation from which it becomes difficult to extract itself, this question must be addressed very urgently.

IHR amendments

The IHR amendments contain the most important aspects of the WHO’s pandemic preparedness initiative.

They are summarized in a previous publication, and should be read and understood alongside the CA+ zero draft.

INB CA+ zero draft

Extracts from the INB Zero Draft of the CA+.

Article 4. Guiding principles and rights

17. Central role of WHO – As the directing and coordinating authority on global health, and the leader of multilateral cooperation in global health governance

Emphasizing the central ‘directing’ role of the WHO.

Article 6. Predictable global supply chain and logistics network

2. The WHO Global Pandemic Supply Chain and Logistics Network (the “Network”) is hereby established.

3. The Parties shall support the Network’s development and operationalization and participate in the Network, within the framework of WHO, including through sustaining it in inter-pandemic times as well as appropriate scale-up in the event of a pandemic.

(b) assess anticipated demand for, and map sources of, manufacturers and suppliers, including raw materials and other necessary inputs, for sustainable production of pandemic-related products (especially active pharmaceutical ingredients)

(c) develop a mechanism to ensure the fair and equitable allocation…

Requiring (shall) Parties to support the WHO’s proposed global supply network. 3 (b) seems to imply a role for the WHO in requiring production outside of market forces. 3 (c), while seemingly innocuous and fair, would take allocation out of country purview and could be used to require compliance with WHO dictates on distribution.

Article 7. Access to technology: promoting sustainable and equitably distributed production and transfer of technology and know-how

The Parties, working through the Governing Body for the WHO CA+, shall strengthen existing and develop innovative multilateral mechanisms that promote and incentivize relevant transfer of technology and know-how for production of pandemic-related products on mutually agreed terms, to capable manufacturers,…

4. In the event of a pandemic, the Parties:

(a) will take appropriate measures to support time-bound waivers of intellectual property rights that can accelerate or scale up manufacturing of pandemic-related products during a pandemic, to the extent necessary to increase the availability and adequacy of affordable pandemic-related products;…

(c) shall encourage all holders of patents related to the production of pandemic-related products to waive, or manage as appropriate, payment of royalties by developing country manufacturers on the use, during the pandemic, of their technology for production of pandemic related products, and shall require, as appropriate, those that have received public financing for the development of pandemic-related products to do so; and …

Reflecting IHR amendment provisions on requirement to give up intellectual property, but in this case time-limited (determined by?). Includes waiver of royalty payments. As with the proposed IHR amendments, these provisions seem to impact States’ intellectual property laws.

Article 8. Regulatory strengthening

2. Each Party shall build and strengthen its country regulatory capacities and performance for timely approval of pandemic-related products and, in the event of a pandemic, accelerate the process of approving and licensing pandemic-related products for emergency use in a timely manner, including the sharing of regulatory dossiers with other institutions.

This reflects the accelerated nature of vaccines during the declared emergency for Covid-19, and the reduced regulatory oversight and safety trials related to this. This greatly reduces costs to pharmaceutical manufacturers in particular, and undercuts decades of development of regulatory oversight.

Article 12. Strengthening and sustaining a skilled and competent health and care


3. The Parties shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing an available,

skilled and trained global public health emergency workforce that is deployable to support Parties upon request, based on public health need, in order to contain outbreaks and prevent an escalation of small scale spread to global proportions.

4. The Parties will support the development of a network of training institutions, national and

regional facilities and centres of expertise in order to establish common guidance to enable more predictable, standardized, timely and systematic response missions and deployment of the

aforementioned public health emergency workforce.

Investment in building the pandemic bureaucracy that will underpin this agenda.

Article 13. Preparedness monitoring, simulation exercises and universal peer review

4. Each Party shall provide annual (or biennial) reporting, building on existing relevant reporting where possible, on its pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and health systems recovery capacities.

The surveillance mechanism, which appears built on the model of the review mechanism of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Article 15. Global coordination, collaboration and cooperation

2. Recognizing the central role of WHO as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, and mindful of the need for coordination with regional organizations, entities in the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations, the WHO Director-General shall, in accordance with terms set out herein, declare pandemics.1

Article 17. Strengthening pandemic and public health literacy

  1. The Parties commit to increase science, public health and pandemic literacy in the population, as well as access to information on pandemics and their effects, and tackle false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation, including through promotion of international cooperation. In that regard, each Party is encouraged to:

(b) conduct regular social listening and analysis to identify the prevalence and profiles of misinformation, which contribute to design communications and messaging strategies for the public to counteract misinformation, disinformation and false news, thereby strengthening public trust; and,

2. The Parties will contribute to research and inform policies on factors that hinder adherence to

public health and social measures, confidence and uptake of vaccines, use of appropriate therapeutics and trust in science and government institutions.

Provisions on managing free speech.

Article 19. Sustainable and predictable financing

1. The Parties recognize the important role that financial resources play in achieving the objective of the WHO CA+ and the primary financial responsibility of national governments in protecting and promoting the health of their populations. In that regard, each Party shall:

(a) cooperate with other Parties, within the means and resources at its disposal, to raise

financial resources for effective implementation of the WHO CA+ through bilateral and

multilateral funding mechanisms; (b) plan and provide adequate financial support in line with its national fiscal capacities for: (i) strengthening pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of health systems; (ii) implementing its national plans, programmes and priorities; and (iii) strengthening health systems

and progressive realization of universal health coverage;

(c) commit to prioritize and increase or maintain, including through greater collaboration

between the health, finance and private sectors, as appropriate, domestic funding by allocating in its annual budgets not lower than 5% of its current health expenditure to pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and health systems recovery, notably for improving and sustaining relevant capacities and working to achieve universal health coverage; and (d) commit to allocate, in accordance with its respective capacities, XX% of its gross domestic product for international cooperation and assistance on pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and health systems recovery, particularly for developing countries, including through international organizations and existing and new mechanisms.

Setting up the financial structure, requiring certain levels of budgetary application to pandemics irrespective of burden.

Article 20. Governing Body for the WHO CA+

1. A governing body for the WHO CA+ is established to promote the effective implementation of the WHO CA+ (hereinafter, the “Governing Body”).

2. The Governing Body shall be composed of: (a) the Conference of the Parties (COP), which shall be the supreme organ of the Governing Body, composed of the Parties and constituting the sole decision-making organ; and (b) the Officers of the Parties, which shall be the administrative organ of the Governing Body.

3. The COP, as the supreme policy setting organ of the WHO CA+, shall keep under regular review every three years the implementation and outcome of the WHO CA+ and any related legal instruments that the COP may adopt, and shall make the decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the WHO CA+.

Establishing the governing body for health emergency surveillance and response (which appears intended to be within WHO).

Article 21. Consultative Body for the WHO CA+

  1. A consultative body for the WHO CA+ (the “Consultative Body”) is established to provide advice and technical inputs for the decision-making processes of the COP, without participating in any decision-making.

Another oversight body, part of this growing workforce supported solely for this purpose.

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

Hospitalized With, or Hospitalized For? (A COVID Revelation)

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

You can fool all of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” The fact that this quote is attributed either to Abraham Lincoln or P.T. Barnum perhaps testifies to its originator’s bona fides at fooling people.

Either way, the temporal element of the quote gets lost in discussing the respective magnitudes of those fooled. Nevertheless, in a practical application of it, the passage of time has resulted in the various governmental narratives regarding COVID having fallen apart. Except for a few hangers-on (the “some of the people all of the time”), most now acknowledge that lockdowns were a disaster; that school closures were never necessary and that they worsened educational outcomes and preexisting divides; that vaccine skeptics were justified and not monsters after all; and even that — as stated by the headline of a recent New York Times op-ed — “The Mask Mandates Did Nothing. Will Any Lessons Be Learned?”

It has been three years. Isn’t it about time we got more accurate data on COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths?

In the early weeks of the pandemic, many people wanting an accurate picture of the COVID’s scope sought out clear data. These people were not government health officials, but they had technical expertise in epidemiology, medicine, health, statistics, economics, child psychology, and many other fields — an illustration of the dispersed knowledge across society that Friedrich A. Hayek wrote about. Trusted with information as free citizens, they could get an accurate read on the situation and would even be able to explain it to others.

They were not trusted with information. Still, they knew enough to see that the official numbers were terribly muddied, so they probed on. Government officials and their media gatekeepers were discomfited and encouraged people and social media to “cancel” them and bury them with invective.

Among the muddied data were COVID hospitalizations and, consequently, deaths. Former AIER president Edward Peter Stringham wrote in July 2020 about what a Texas medical care facilities managing partner had told Alex Berenson (who later took Twitter to court for suspending him at the request of the Biden administration over his COVID questioning) about cases and hospitalizations. The partner said that “discharge planners are being pressured to put COVID as primary diagnosis — as that pays significantly better. … You open up your hospitals for normal medical care and you test everyone (sic) of those patients — the result is a higher percentage of patients who have COVID — now.”

As Stringham explained, “The hospitals are under financial pressure from having to mostly stop doing business for months, so they are classifying as many people as possible as a COVID case in order to gain the subsidy offered by the federal government.”

The federal CARES Act included a 20 percent increase on Medicare reimbursement rates to hospitals for patients with a COVID-19 diagnostic code. So hospitals did have financial incentive to exaggerate the number of COVID hospitalizations and deaths.

The politicians and public health officials had their own incentives for the same — the higher numbers kept people in fear, and a fearful populace was surprisingly acquiescent to authoritarian acts hitherto unthinkable in peacetime: strict curfews, dress codes, shutting down entertainment districts, and requiring official papers to shop, dine, attend school, or travel.

But not everyone. Throughout the country, people were asking questions and hearing strange, jarring tales that nevertheless proved true. “COVID hospitalizations and deaths” also included gunshot victims, “intentional and unintentional injury, poisonings and other adverse events,” a “90-year-old man who fell and died from complications of a hip fracture,” “a 77-year-old woman who died of Parkinson’s disease,” more gunshot victims, even “a guy who was struck by lightning, fell off a roof, admitted to the hospital with serious injuries from the fall.”

These bizarre attributions were the absurd ends of the problem of “hospitalized with” or “hospitalized for” COVID that plagued researchers and questioning citizens curious about the scope of the problem. All that was known was that some people listed in the official data had been admitted to the hospital not on account of a dangerous COVID infection, which is what most people assumed the data meant, but for some other reason. But how many? What proportion of COVID hospitalizations were “hospitalized with” vs. “hospitalized for”? We didn’t even know that.

We would get the occasional glimpse that the proportion of “hospitalized with” could be quite large. On July 26, 2021, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on “COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Case Investigation and Reporting.” The report noted that 26 percent of “breakthrough” (post-vaccination) COVID hospitalizations and 24 percent of breakthrough COVID deaths were “asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19.” But it was only concerned with COVID hospitalizations and deaths for individuals who had received vaccination, not all of them.

In September 2021, a preprint was released of a study examining Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitalizations related to COVID after vaccines became available. The study found that barely over half (52 percent) of COVID patients in the VA were hospitalized for COVID, while the remainder were there for some other reason and incidentally found to be infected. Study authors made a cogent point about the question of “hospitalized with” vs. “for”: “If hospitalizations are used as a metric for policy decision-making, patients hospitalized for the management of COVID-19 disease should be distinguished from patients who are hospitalized and incidentally found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2.”

Some areas did begin tracking the difference, including New York (57 percent “for” at the time of publication), Ontario (54 percent), and Massachusetts (30 percent).

On January 13, CNN medical correspondent Leana Wen publicly called for accurate accounting of COVID hospitalizations and deaths. In a Washington Post column, Wen highlighted data from Massachusetts showing that “only about 30 percent of total hospitalizations with COVID were primarily attributed to the virus” and discussed the problems from overcounting COVID hospitalizations.

The following day, CNN anchors questioned her assertions, with Poppy Harlow asking if she had “thought about” whether her information might “give fodder to conspiracy theorists and those who downplay COVID, to anti-vaxxers.” Wen, to her credit, noted that others’ criticism was that “You should have said this two-and-a-half years ago.” Wen said, “I think at the end of the day we just need the truth.”

On that count, Wen is right. We just need the truth.

This article was published by American Institute for Economic Research and is reproduced with permission.

Department of Energy’s Lab Leak Bombshell Exposes the Utter Bankruptcy of ‘Experts’ and the Media

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In 2020, if you thought it was possible COVID-19 came from a lab in China you were labeled a conspiracy theorist, a peddler of misinformation, “bonkers,” and a racist.

Facebook and other social media removed the lab leak claim from their apps or slapped “misinformation” labels on it. Facebook did so in lockstep with the government.

So according to the standard set in 2020, the Department of Energy just came out as a racist purveyor of misinformation this week.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that, according to a classified intelligence report provided to the White House and Congress, the Department of Energy concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic likely came from a lab leak.

“The Energy Department’s conclusion is the result of new intelligence and is significant because the agency has considerable scientific expertise and oversees a network of U.S. national laboratories, some of which conduct advanced biological research,” the Wall Street Journal report said.

Most Americans with common sense surmised two years ago that there was a pretty decent chance that a strange, new virus with unusual properties coming from Wuhan, China, may have had some connection to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Ah, but according to the venerated defenders of free speech in the press, thinking that a ruthlessly authoritarian regime could possibly have a virus leak from a lab and cover it up was just crazy talk. Only a racist would think that. All right thinking, not racist people, were better off assuming the virus came from someone in China eating a bat or a pangolin.

“Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not today,” wrote New York Times COVID-19 reporter Apoorva Mandavilli on Twitter in 2021.

Now, the Department of Energy didn’t confirm that COVID-19 came from a lab. There is still a great deal we don’t know, and the Chinese Communist Party has made it difficult to ascertain what really happened. In fact, we may never know what happened.

That a virus may have leaked from a lab and killed millions of people is a huge story with potentially massive geopolitical implications. But it’s still not my biggest takeaway from the Wall Street Journal report.

The big story is that when the pandemic began, when governments began instituting lockdowns and mandates, when our economy was shut down and our society sent into convulsions, the idea that the virus leaked from a lab was treated as a “conspiracy theory.” Powerful actors and interests in the United States—in the media, the government, and in Big Tech, thought it was better to suppress and denounce the story rather than seek the truth and let the American people decide what to do.

“Sen. Tom Cotton Repeats Fringe Theory of Coronavirus Origins,” read a headline in The New York Times.

“Scientists have dismissed suggestions that the Chinese government was behind the outbreak, but it’s the kind of tale that gains traction among those who see China as a threat,” a subheading on the article read.

Good work, “scientists.”

National Public Radio, you know, the outlet that continues to get millions in taxpayer dollars, was particularly aggressive in denouncing any idea that a lab leak was possible.

“Scientists Debunk Lab Accident Theory of Pandemic Emergence,” read one headline. NPR had another piece on “bonkers” conspiracy theories, which included an inset about “misinformation” like “COVID-19 was created in a lab in China.”

Even more, and this really gets to the heart of the problem, most corporate media was quicker to denounce the lab leak idea as fundamentally illegitimate than to press our government and Chinese authorities to find out if the idea was true. It was more important to “debunk” former President Donald Trump and the right-wing bad guys than to pursue truth. That was the impulse.

Don’t take it from me. MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan admitted this after the Wall Street Journal report broke.

“The simple reason why so many people weren’t keen to discuss the ‘lab leak’ *theory* is because it was originally conflated by the right with ‘Chinese bio weapon’ conspiracies and continues to be conflated by the right with anti-Fauci conspiracies,” Hasan wrote on Twitter. “Blame the conspiracy theorists.”

It’s your fault they had to censor the truth! They just couldn’t let the bad guys win. Hasan followed up, writing, “It’s hard to have a good faith disagreement about a major issue if the issue itself has been hijacked by bad faith folks.”

That’s actually true. It is hard to have a “good faith” disagreement when bad faith people in our media and institutions are willing to circle the wagons for a narrative and silence those who disagree.

“Multiple major liberal media figures are now publicly admitting their side couldn’t fathom a real discussion about lab leak theory because of Trump,” New York Post reporter Jon Levine tweeted. “In 5 years these people will look you in the eye with a straight face and say there was never any effort to shut down speculation about the covid lab leak theory and that people only think that because of right wing misinformation.”

How many times have we seen this sequence of events play out in the last few years?

Remember this in the future when you are force-fed stories about how the “experts” say this and the “scientists” say that. Left-wing institutional gatekeepers think it’s more important to give the public a bogus story or to hide from the truth because they think the most important thing in this world is to “own” the conservatives and promote their own ideology.

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

A Contagion of Cowardice

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Jordan Peterson’s interview with Jay Bhattacharya is one of the more insightful conversations to come out of the post-pandemic period. It’s fascinating to see Peterson coming to terms with the sheer scale of the lockdown during which time he was rather sick. We could have used his voice then and I have no doubt that he would have been fantastic.

Fortunately for the whole world, we did have Jay. It’s not just his credentials or his position at Stanford University. It’s his erudition that gave him the reach to make sense of our times. In this interview, Jay explains the unfolding of events in ways I personally found compelling.

Summing up his message, the response upended a century of public-health practice based on computer modeling that was not informed by any medical knowledge or public-health experience. That modeling came to be fused with a military-style response that waged a war on a pathogen with no exit strategy. Powerful industrial interests saw their chance to realize every hidden agenda.

That was further complicated by severe political division. Even though the lockdowns began under the Trump administration, opposing them mysteriously came to be seen as “right-wing” even though the pandemic policies violated every civil liberty, massively harmed the poor, divided the classes, and trampled essential freedoms, which one might suppose were concerns of the left, once upon a time.

Jay knew from the beginning that these policies were a disaster but his method of dissent was to stick with the genuine science. He worked with colleagues very early in the pandemic on a study from California that proved that this war on the “invisible enemy” was futile. Covid was everywhere and only a mortal threat to a narrow group in the population needed to have its guard up while the rest of society moved on. That study was released in April 2020 and the implications were undeniably devastating to the war planners and the lockdown pushers.

The conclusion of the study seems rather commonplace now: “The estimated population prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in Santa Clara County implies that the infection may be much more widespread than indicated by the number of confirmed cases.” But at the time, when dissent was rare if non-existent in scientific literature, and when the planning elite had declared its number one goal was to track, trace, and isolate, and thereby minimize infections through compulsion while we wait for a vaccine, this conclusion was anathema.

That’s when the attacks began. It was like he had to be shut down. The popular press began to go after him savagely, smearing both the study and his motivations (this later became outright censorship). At this point, he began to realize the intensity of the campaign against dissent and the push for full unity in favor of the policy response. It was not like normal times when scientists could disagree. This was something different, something fully militarized, when a “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” consensus was being demanded by every institution. That meant no heresies against orthodoxy were allowed.

At this point, the interview breaks and Peterson begins to ask probing questions of the sort he likes concerning the spiritual struggle all of us face in life, a subject that clearly consumes him. Peterson believes that all seeming political struggles are ultimately personal ones. Do we back off and acquiesce to conventional wisdom or do we continue to walk toward the light as shown by our conscience?

He asks Jay if he faced this moment, and Jay admits that he did indeed face this. He realized that continuing in this direction – researching to discover facts and telling the truth as he saw it – would massively disrupt his career, his life, and everything he had worked for. Everything would be different, away from comfort and into an uncertain and isolated frontier.

He faced that choice and made the decision to go ahead, undeterred. But the decision cost him dearly. He could not sleep. He lost tremendous amounts of weight. He faced social and professional ostracism. He was dragged through the mud daily in the press and scapegoated for every policy failure. He was accused of conspiring with the purveyors of dark money and every other form of professional corruption. He found himself vexed beyond which he had ever been in his entire career. But still he forged ahead, eventually gathering with other scientists to make what is now a famous statement of public health that has stood the test of time.

It’s fascinating to consider how few in academia and professional life made this choice. And the reasons why are also intriguing. Many in these high-end professions, particularly in academia, have far less job flexibility than we think. We might suppose that a tenured professor in the Ivy League could and would say anything he wants.

The opposite is true. They are not like the barber or auto mechanic who can leave one job and easily start another a few blocks away or in a different town. They are, in many ways, trapped in their own circle of influence. They know this and dare not depart from industry norms. And too often those norms are formed by funding. Yale University, for example, gets more overall revenue from government than from tuition. That’s typical among such institutions. And now we know that media and tech are also on the payroll.

These conflicts of interest combined with careerism played themselves out in brutal ways over the last few years. The high-end professionals who left their jobs to work in the Trump administration, for example, found that they had no jobs waiting for them at all when that presidency came to an end. They were not welcomed back, certainly not by academia. They were discarded. I personally know of many cases where people on advanced career tracks lost all merely by agreeing to what they believed would be public service.

The lockdowns era made this much worse. All over the country, scientists, media figures, writers, think-tank officials, professors, editors, and influencers of all sorts were pressured to go along. Not just that: they were threatened to go along. And it wasn’t just the opinions that mattered. There were all sorts of compliance tests along the way. There was the “social distancing” test. If you didn’t practice in it, that somehow marked you as an enemy. The masking was another: you can tell who was who and what was what based on the willingness to cover one’s face.

The vaccine mandate, appallingly, became another wedge issue that enabled all kinds of professions to purge people. Once the New York Times claimed (summer 2021) to have evidence that the unvaccinated were more likely to be Trump supporters, that did it. The Biden administration and many university administrators felt that they had the ultimate weapon to achieve the purge about which they had longed dreamed.

Comply or get tossed out. That was the new rule. And truly this largely worked. Diversity of opinion in many sectors of society – media, academia, corporate life, the military – is dramatically reduced after this epoch. It doesn’t matter that courts later came along to say it was all bad law. The damage had been done.

Still, we have to be curious about those who did not go along. What drove them to depart from their fellows? This is why Gabrielle’s Bauer’s book Blindsight Is 2020 is so valuable. It doesn’t cover them all but it does highlight the voices of many who dared to think for themselves. And yet here is the truth: among this dissident set, very few aren’t doing something completely different today from what they were doing in 2019. They have changed jobs, changed professions, changed towns and states, and even seen families and friendship networks shattered.

They all paid a huge price. I’m not sure I know any exceptions to the rule. Going against the grain and daring to stand up for truth in a time of totalitarianism is exceedingly dangerous. Our times have proven that. (Brownstone’s Fellows program is designed to give many of these purged people a bridge to a new life.)

I titled this article a contagion of cowardice. It might be too severe to call it that. Many people went along for entirely rational reasons. Another point to consider is that moral teaching in the great religions has not typically required absolute heroism. What it does require is not doing evil. And those really are different things. Staying quiet might not be evil; it’s only the absence of being heroic. St. Thomas even writes this in his treatise on moral theology: the faith celebrates but never requires martyrdom.

And yet it is also true that heroism in our times is absolutely necessary for the preservation of civilization when it is so brutally under attack. If everyone chooses the safe path, and crafts one’s decisions around the principle of risk aversion, the bad guys truly do win. And where does this land and how far can we slide into the abyss under those conditions? The history of despotism and death by government reveal where this ends up.

The best case for heroism over careerism and cowardice is to look back over these three years and observe just how much difference a few can make when they are willing to stand up for truth even when there is a big price to be paid for doing so. Such people can change everything. This is because ideas are more powerful than armies and all the propaganda that a machinery of power can muster. One statement, one study, one sentence, one small effort to puncture the wall of lies can bring down the whole system.

And then the contagion of cowardice comes to be replaced by a contagion of truth. Those who stood up for that form of contagion deserve our respect and gratitude. They also deserve to survive and thrive in the new renaissance that so many today are working to build.

More than people right now are willing to admit, civil society as we knew it collapsed over these three years. A massive purge has taken place within all the commanding heights. This will affect career choices, political alliances, philosophical commitments, and the structure of society for decades to come.

The rebuilding and reconstruction that must take place is going to rely – perhaps as it always has – on a small minority who see both the problem and the solution. Brownstone is doing its best and the most possible given our resources and the time in which we’ve had to operate. But much more needs to be done. The rebuilding requires a spiritual-level commitment to intelligence, wisdom, bravery, and truth.

This article was published by Brownstone Institute 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.

Natural Immunity Wins Again

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

A new study in The Lancet has confirmed that natural immunity from COVID infection is at least as protective and durable against severe complications as vaccination.

Yet again, another COVID “conspiracy theory” has become today’s “The Science™.”

Natural immunity has long been a well known and accepted part of immunology, despite rabid, frenzied attempts to discredit it.

Anthony Fauci himself publicly discussed the importance of infection-conferred immunity.

It may seem impossible to believe that basic immunology could be described as a dangerous “theory,” but that’s exactly what certain media outlets claimed during the pandemic.

Mother Jones, which describes itself as “A voice of reason,” and “a daily dose of sanity,” was one such example. In May 2020, they headlined a story, “Anti-Vaxxers Have a Dangerous Theory Called ‘Natural Immunity.’ Now It’s Going Mainstream.”

Of course, Dr. Fauci contributed mightily to the misinformation. In May 2021, Business Insider explained how Fauci viewed natural immunity. Spoiler alert: he maintained that the COVID vaccines were better.

“Dr. Fauci explains why COVID-19 vaccines work much better than natural immunity to protect you from the coronavirus“

The article begins with another declarative statement from the country’s leading medical expert.

“Dr. Anthony Fauci is calling it: mRNA COVID-19 vaccines can provide people with better protection against new viral variants than a prior coronavirus infection alone can.”

“Vaccines, actually, at least with regard to SARS-CoV-2 [the coronavirus] can do better than nature,” stated Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert.

“You had interesting increased protection against the variants of concern.”

Even so-called “experts” from Johns Hopkins were patronizingly dismissive of natural immunity. The Mother Jones story quoted an epidemiologist shrugging off the importance of infection-conferred protection.

“This is the coronavirus edition of their pervasive belief in ‘natural immunity,’ said Rupali Limaye, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist. “We have heard from those that are concerned about vaccines the argument that they prefer to allow their immune system to be naturally exposed to a specific pathogen to gain immunity.”

New information emerged recently confirming that a group of government experts also worked together to publicly dismiss the importance of natural immunity.

Unsurprisingly, former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx consistently dismissed natural immunity.

Repeatedly, “fact-checkers” labeled posts as “misleading” for claiming that natural immunity was highly effective and could provide similar protection as vaccination.

Except they’ve all been proven wrong.

The Lancet study examined 65 studies from 19 different countries to determine the level of protection from infection against severe illness from COVID.

And they found that natural immunity was extremely protective against further complications, even for newer variants.

The study’s summary reads, “Protection against severe disease remained high for all variants, with 90·2% (69·7–97·5) for ancestral, alpha, and delta variants, and 88·9% (84·7–90·9) for omicron BA.1 at 40 weeks.”

Not exactly a “dangerous theory,” is it?

COVID Vaccines Less Effective
Even more importantly, the study found that natural immunity was “at least” as protective as vaccination against all variants. And frequently more so.

“Past COVID-19 infection against re-infection, symptomatic disease, and severe disease for ancestral, alpha, delta, or omicron BA.1 variants, appears to be at least as protective as two-dose vaccination with the mRNA vaccines for all vaccines and outcomes,” their results explain.

And it gets better.

Beyond being as least as protective, natural immunity was potentially longer lasting than protection from vaccination.

“Furthermore, although protection from past infection wanes over time, the level of protection against re-infection, symptomatic disease, and severe disease appears to be at least as durable, if not more so, than that provided by two-dose vaccination with the mRNA vaccines for ancestral, alpha, delta, and omicron BA.1 variants,” the study says.

Figures from the study show that previous infection was significantly more protective in all aspects of protection against all variants, for a substantially longer period of time than vaccination.

The most profound and important graphic is the comparison for Omicron immunization.

Against the currently dominant variant, past infection thoroughly outperformed Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA vaccination in both re-infection and symptomatic disease.

It’s almost impossible to be more wrong than Fauci, Birx, Mother Jones, dismissive “experts” and “fact-checkers” have been over the past few years.

With regards to masks, vaccine passports, school closures, lockdowns and natural immunity, for every single pandemic question the ‘experts’ formulated the wrong answer.

Vaccine Mandates Ignored Natural Immunity

As abhorrent, unacceptable vaccine mandates proliferated throughout society, a common, unfortunate feature took hold among US organizations: to ignore natural immunity.

The CDC and Biden Administration still refuse to accept natural immunity for international travelers entering the country.

Novak Djokovic, who was recently allowed to compete in COVID-authoritarian Australia, is still not allowed into the US despite having previously contracted the disease.

Even other pandemic extremist countries like Canada have relented, accepting the protection it provides.

The US remains staunchly committed to ignoring science in favor of promoting endless booster doses. Booster doses that don’t actually work particularly well.

Even this study’s authors admit that the US is an international outlier in ignoring natural immunity.

“Second, restrictions of movement and access to venues based on immune status and vaccine mandates for workers should take into account immunity conferred by vaccination and that provided by natural infection,” they write.

Huge numbers of people were coerced into compliance with vaccine mandates. Many others were fired or denied opportunities because they refused to comply. All based on the lie that natural immunity was a “conspiracy theory,” or less protective than vaccination.

Yet other documents such as the Great Barrington Declaration pointed out the importance of natural infection to build up immunity. Only to be summarily ignored.

“The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.”

Fauci, the public health class, and major institutions subsequently unleashed a ferocious, relentless, fanatical campaign demanding that everyone be vaccinated. And then boosted. Then boosted again. And then boosted with a targeted, bivalent dose.

They ignored natural immunity because it conflicted with the behavior they wanted to compel. They’ve once again been proven wrong.

But if you were hoping this would lead to a permanent discrediting of these institutions and “experts,” don’t hold your breath.

One of the most consistent features of the COVID era has been “experts” lying to the public, while steadfastly refusing to ever admit they were wrong.

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

Gates Foundation CEO Demands Social Credit Score for ‘Low- and Middle-Income’ Countries

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman insisted that there has to be “digital infrastructure” in “low- and middle-income” countries. What does that mean? A social credit score for African, Asian, and South American countries, of course. Nothing like digital imperialism.

This is what Suzman said, in a Dec. 1 press release:

“How we think about infrastructure for development is changing. Beyond roads and bridges, we also need digital public infrastructure (DPI) that can support a range of applications, from mobile banking and social welfare to disease surveillance.”

“Mobile banking” means your financial transactions are tied to your digital profile and thus what the government and tech companies want you to say and buy. Same for social welfare.

Also, Bill Gates was accused of genocide in an international court for pushing the deadly Covid vaccines and has a history of being tied to vaccine scandals in Africa and Asia, so I really don’t think we can trust his foundation on disease surveillance.

“[Suzman:] DPI, which is often based on open-source software, has significant potential for accelerating improvements in health and economic welfare. We saw this during the COVID-19 pandemic—countries with digital infrastructure were able to quickly send stimulus payments to their most vulnerable populations.

But how do we as funders support public and private partnerships that build DPI in a cohesive, scalable way? Germany is among the countries taking the lead in answering this question through its newly launched digital development strategy.”

Germany, which is currently in economic crisis. I don’t think they’re a stellar example of success in anything at the moment.

“At our foundation, we believe that DPI can help countries unlock new opportunities, particularly for women. Today, we are announcing a US$20 million grant to Co-Develop, a new multi-donor fund that will support DPI efforts in low- and middle-income countries.

Multi-donor funds such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have helped bring about transformative advances in global health; with Co-Develop, we can do the same for digital infrastructure. This will help us have a massive impact on the economic mobility of women in low-income countries.”

The press release didn’t explain exactly how increased surveillance and online social credit scores help women, of course. Just trust Suzman and Gates.

I guess Suzman is on the same page as the United Nations, which recently released a report on how Nigerians need to have fewer children. The UN pushed abortion and contraception for Asia and Africa, and the Gates Foundation wants to push digital surveillance on low- and middle-income countries. Neither has any right to do so.

The Gates Foundation, under the leadership of Bill Gates and Suzman, is trying to spread Marxist tyranny around the world.

This article was published by Pro Deo et Libertate and is reproduced with permission.

The Government Conspired with Big Tech to Infringe on Free Speech

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

The defenders of censorship hate the sunlight from @elonmusk. They complain “but Twitter was a private company!”

US case law throws cold water on this defense! “A fundamental principle of the First Amendment is that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen.” Packingham vs NC.

Bottom line: the government conspired to remove valid public health messages and social media posts by myself and others, because they disagreed with the viewpoint which contradicted the federal government’s COVID-19 public health message and views.

It is the policy of the United States “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet” that is “unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(b)(2).

“While in the past there may have been difficulty in identifying the most important places… for the exchange of views, today the answer is clear. It is cyberspace — the ‘vast democratic forums of the Internet’ in general… and social media in particular.” Packingham vs NC

The federal government publicly criticized and exerted pressure on Twitter/META and other platforms for allowing views opposed to the federal government’s COVID-19 public health message to be posted on the Internet.”

In private communications, the federal government held regular BOLO “be-on-the-lookout” warning meetings with social media companies and overtly instructed them on the specific types of so called COVID-19 “disinformation” or “misinformation” that should be excluded from their platforms.

Twitter and Facebook even adjusted their policies and algorithms on valid public health messages and acceptable viewpoints on the Internet to align with the federal government pre-approved COVID-19 public health message and viewpoint.

Here’s the infographic which triggered my account suspension by Facebook. Every single point here is valid and backed by data, articles and peer-reviewed studies.

Facebook further acquiesced under duress by giving the government agencies millions of dollars in free advertising on their platforms so the government’s COVID-19 public health message would not be challenged on the Internet.

This is discriminatory collusion between private social media companies and the federal government. “It is axiomatic that the government may not regulate speech based on its substantive content or the message it conveys.” Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the Univ. of Va.

Under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, “discrimination against speech because of its message is presumed to be unconstitutional.”

A conspiracy between private and governmental actors satisfies the joint action test when they have had a “meeting of the minds” to “violate constitutional rights.” Fonda v. Gray, 707 F. 2d 435, 438 (9th Cir. 1983)

When a government actor has “so far insinuated itself into a position of interdependence” with private actors it is recognized as a joint participant in the challenged constitutional deprivation. See Gorenc v. Salt River Project Agr. Imp. & Power Dist., 869 F. 2d 503, 507

Such joint action between government and private parties transforms private actors into state actors. See Pasadena Republican Club v. W. Justice Ctr., 985 F. 3d 1161, 1167 (9th Cir. 2021).

When the federal government admits to conspiring with social media companies to censor messages on the Internet with which it disagrees both the government and the private companies are guilty of unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

Joint action exists where the government . . . encourages . . . unconstitutional conduct through its involvement with a private party . . . .” Ohno v. Yasuma, 723 F.3d 984, 996 (9th Cir. 2013).

Joint action further occurs when there is “substantial cooperation” between the private and state actors, or their actions were “inextricably intertwined.” Brunette v. Humane Society of Ventura Cnty., 294 F. 3d 1205, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002).

In short, don’t get gaslit! The government pressured Twitter to confirm and it did so infringing our rights!

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

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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