About a third of the way through Plandemic: Indoctornation(or, as I like to call it, Plandemic 2: Electric Boogaloo or just Plandemic 2), the sequel to the conspiracyfest of a video called Plandemic that went viral in May featuring disgraced scientists Judy Mikovits that peddled virtually every conspiracy about the COVID-19 pandemic, the narrator attacks John Oliver for a segment that he did last month on coronavirus conspiracy theories. It’s a brilliant segment, and, in fact, you should watch it right now, before reading my discussion of Plandemic 2, because it will definitely put you in the proper mindset.
And here is Plandemic 2.
Besides in general just being peeved that John Oliver devoted an entire 22 minute segment to coronavirus conspiracy theories in general and spent time during that segment mocking and debunking the first Plandemic video in particular, Mikki Willis, the filmmaker responsible for Plandemic and Plandemic 2, takes umbrage at how Oliver began his segment with a litany of other conspiracy theories, including the moon landing hoax, noting that the “first thing to note here is that Mr. Oliver opens with commentary about conspiracy theories that are completely unrelated to coronavirus,” going on to complain, “This is a standard tactic used by propagandists to set a tone, so that anything that follows will be seen through the lens of absurdity.” After some 30 minutes or so of the conspiracy mongering of Plandemic 2, this struck me as a massive case of projection, a standard propaganda technique in which the propagandist accuses critics with the same sins against information, evidence, and logic that he is committing. Indeed, Plandemic 2 spends a good chunk of its running time going over conspiracy theories unrelated to coronavirus, including a favorite one from 110 years ago that John Rockefeller took over medical education through the Flexner Report and the American Medical Association in order to stifle “natural medicine” and promote petroleum-based pharmaceutical medicines.
Plandemic 2 is not as focused as the original Plandemic, likely partially because its run time is three times as long, but more importantly because it can’t seem to make up its mind what its central conspiracy theory is. So, like so many other quackumentaries, such as Del Bigtree and Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine conspiracy film disguised as a documentary (VAXXED), it throws everything its filmmaker can think of against the wall and hopes that something sticks. Unlike the first Plandemic video, in which Judy Mikovits was clearly the focus and the hero, there is also not a single or clear hero.
Overall, the basic idea behind Plandemic 2 is that COVID-19 was engineered and released into the world as part of a plot to control the world through more restrictive and authoritarian policies and laws instituted in response to the pandemic, restrictions on social media against the “truth” that led Facebook, YouTube, etc., to purge the original Plandemic video from their platforms, restrictions on old media (TV, news, radio, etc.) that prevents the “truth” about coronavirus from being disseminated, and through being pretext for forced mass vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccine, the purging of “natural treatments,” and the promotion of “toxic” and “dangerous” pharmaceutical treatments for COVID-19 over “natural” treatments.
Before we delve into this, first, let’s look at the villains. Of course, the CDC, the FDA, and the World Health Organization are demonized as villains complicit in this grand conspiracy. That’s to be expected. The main villain, however, the puppetmaster pulling most of the strings, is, according to Willis, Bill Gates. I guess that’s to be expected too in an antivaccine conspiracy film, and, make no mistake, Plandemic 2 is, at its heart, an antivaccine conspiracy film, as you will see.
The villain: Bill Gates
Bill Gates is, without a doubt, the biggest villain of Plandemic 2, which spends a lot of time launching ad hominem attacks about him that feature every conspiracy theory you’ve likely heard about him and his foundation, plus a few that you might not have heard of. To make all these insinuations of pure evil seeking population control, paralyzing children with oral polio vaccine, and working on weather control projects that even Doctor Evil might balk at (I kid you not) seem more plausible, there’s a prolonged segment that goes over the litany of Gates’ less savory business practices and activities during the time when he founded and ran Microsoft. For example, yes, we know that Bill Gates didn’t create MS-DOS, the operating system that became dominant and provided the base upon which Microsoft later developed Windows. We know that he purchased it and then licensed it to IBM for its PCs. We know that the Department of Justice launched an antitrust action against Microsoft in the late 1990s for monopolistic business practices. So what?
More disturbing is the not-so-subtle insinuation made in the film that Bill Gates is a pedophile. (A favorite tactic of cranks and conspiracy theorists—and, make no mistake, Plandemic 2 is, at its core, an antivaccine conspiracy film, as you will soon see—is to slime science advocates as pedophiles.) In the last third of the film, it’s pointed out that Bill Gates met with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein multiple times. This is, unfortunately, true, as reported last fall by the New York Times, and, worse, these meetings occurred after Epstein had been convicted of sex crimes. Sadly, he was not alone, as the NYT reported:
Over and over, Mr. Epstein managed to cultivate close relationships with some of the world’s most powerful men. He lured them with the whiff of money and the proximity to other powerful, famous or wealthy people — so much so that many looked past his reputation for sexual misconduct. And the more people he drew into his circle, the easier it was for him to attract others.
Gates later admitted that he had made a mistake meeting with Epstein, and apologized, further explaining that he had thought his discussions with Epstein could bring in billions of dollars for his foundation’s global health efforts, calling it a “mistake in judgment.” (Ya think?)
Personally, I like Seth Myers’ take on on Gates’ error:
Bill Gates said yesterday that he made a mistake when he met with sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein while fundraising for his foundation, adding, “But if it’s any consolation, I killed him.”
Nice subversion of the conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, there, Seth!
Plandemic 2 also claims that Bill Gates rode the “Lolita Express,” Epstein’s private jet. The insinuation (without actually stating it) is that Gates took the “Lolita Express” to Epstein’s private island, where he had engaged in sex trafficking. (Otherwise, why specifically refer to Epstein’s private plane as the “Lolita Express,” instead of just as Epstein’s private plane?) There is, however, no evidence that Gates ever visited Epstein’s island. Now, it is true that Gates flew on Epstein’s plane once, but it was to Palm Beach, not to Epstein’s island. He claimed he didn’t know that it was Epstein’s plane; whether you believe that denial is up to you.
None of this is to downplay the horror of what Jeffrey Epstein did or to excuse Gates (or any of the other wealthy and powerful men whom Epstein courted, such as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump) for having associated with him. Gates, however, I can sort of understand, although not excuse. He pointed out in his apology how even his foundation is resource-constrained given the global need, and he had been told that Epstein could put him in touch with a lot of other wealthy donors. That being said, that Plandemic 2 salaciously brought up this history was very clearly intended as a means of insinuating that Bill Gates is either a pedophile or doesn’t have a problem with pedophiles.
Basically every conspiracy theory that you can think of about Bill Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation makes an appearance in Plandemic 2; so I’ll just hit the high points (if you can call them that), the first of which involves the oral polio vaccine. Basically, at one point in the film Willis intones:
A 2018 scientific study released in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that over 490,000 children in India developed paralysis as a result of the Gates-supported oral polio vaccine that was administered between the years of 2000 and 2017.
Willis does his best to paint a portrait of “The Man” trying to “suppress” this study and concludes by bragging how it still exists on the NIH website, as if this represents “victory” for “The Truth.” Actually, it exists in the PubMed database, which is maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which is part of the NIH. (In fact, here’s the study.) Of course, the existence of flaccid paralysis as a complication of the oral polio vaccine (Sabin vaccine) is a risk of the vaccine that has been known for a long time. It’s a large part of the reason why we now use the injected Polio vaccine. Basically, in rare cases, the attenuated (weakened) live polio virus in the oral polio vaccine can revert to a form that can cause polio. In most developed countries, a killed polio vaccine is injected. So why is the oral polio vaccine still used in some countries? According to the WHO:
On rare occasions, if a population is seriously under-immunized, an excreted vaccine-virus can continue to circulate for an extended period of time. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more genetic changes it undergoes. In very rare instances, the vaccine-virus can genetically change into a form that can paralyse – this is what is known as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).
It takes a long time for a cVDPV to occur. Generally, the strain will have been allowed to circulate in an un- or under-immunized population for a period of at least 12 months. Circulating VDPVs occur when routine or supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) are poorly conducted and a population is left susceptible to poliovirus, whether from vaccine-derived or wild poliovirus. Hence, the problem is not with the vaccine itself, but low vaccination coverage. If a population is fully immunized, they will be protected against both vaccine-derived and wild polioviruses.
Since 2000, more than 10 billion doses of OPV have been administered to nearly 3 billion children worldwide. As a result, more than 13 million cases of polio have been prevented, and the disease has been reduced by more than 99%. During that time, 24 cVDPV outbreaks occurred in 21 countries, resulting in fewer than 760 VDPV cases.
Until 2015, over 90% of cVDPV cases were due to the type 2 component in OPV. With the transmission of wild poliovirus type 2 already successfully interrupted since 1999, in April 2016 a switch was implemented from trivalent OPV to bivalent OPV in routine immunization programmes. The removal of the type 2 component of OPV is associated with significant public health benefits, including a reduction of the risk of cases of cVDPV2.
The small risk of cVDPVs pales in significance to the tremendous public health benefits associated with OPV. Every year, hundreds of thousands of cases due to wild polio virus are prevented. Well over 10 million cases have been averted since large-scale administration of OPV began 20 years ago.
Circulating VDPVs in the past have been rapidly stopped with 2–3 rounds of high-quality immunization campaigns. The solution is the same for all polio outbreaks: immunize every child several times with the oral vaccine to stop polio transmission, regardless of the origin of the virus.
Dr. Vincent Iannelli has more. Basically, in countries with a high prevalence of polio, the benefits the small risk of cVDPV is hugely outweighed by the benefit of preventing wild polio transmission. Once the level of polio falls below a certain point, then it makes sense to switch over to the inactivated polio vaccine.
But what about the claim in Plandemic 2 that the OPV is responsible for nearly a half million cases of paralytic polio between 2000-2017? The source of this claim is, unsurprisingly, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and WHO data only show 17 cases of vaccine-derived polio between 2000-2017. The study cited has also been criticized for its methodology. You can read all the criticisms here. Some of the key problems include the inclusion of children up to age 15, even though polio vaccination is targeted to children 0-5 years old; the correlation isn’t seen in four of the states in India; and how the proportions of actual diagnoses of acute flaccid paralysis cases have varied over time and what percentage fit into the classical criteria as practiced in the western countries to which the authors have drawn the non-polio AFP rate comparisons of India. Basically, the conclusions of this study are very questionable (at best), and it’s telling that Willis couldn’t find any other studies besides this cherry picked study to support his claims.
Here’s another of Willis’ claims:
In partnership with MIT, Bill Gates has developed a new technology that allows vaccines to be injected under your skin, along with your medical records.
Über-quack Joe Mercola was harping on this particular technology last week. It’s not nearly as nefarious as Willis and Mercola makes it sound. For one thing, knowing who’s already received a specific vaccine can protect that person from unnecessarily being advised to receive that vaccine again if there is uncertainty over whether he’s ever had it. Moreover, the technology doesn’t allow the “injection” of your medical records under the skin. It only allows a doctor to read whether you received a specific vaccine or not. The collaboration also started in 2016, long before the current pandemic started.
The litany continues, and includes fear mongering about Gates’ efforts to mitigate human-caused climate change and (if you believe the description) an effort to use genetically modified mosquitoes as vaccines in collaboration with a company called Oxitec. This is a misleading description. What Gates has really done is to support an effort to create genetically modified mosquitoes that can’t reproduce or are resistant to malaria so that they don’t spread it to humans and to explore a similar technology to modify mosquitoes so that they produce antigens in their saliva that could function as, in essence, vaccines. Another effort involves modifying protozoa that cause malaria to be weakened, so that if a mosquito with the organism bites a human there is no disease but an immune response is provoked. In other words, Willis did the same thing he accused John Oliver of doing: Throwing a bunch of fear mongering unrelated to coronavirus out there and then using it to paint the idea of using mosquitos as “flying syringes” against malaria as ridiculous and dangerous. It’s the same thing he did bringing up tired old claims that Rockefeller used the Flexner Report to declare war on alternative medicine and to parrot the old discredited trope that medical error is the third largest cause of death in the US.
Near the end of the film, Willis intones portentously:
Bill Gates is either one of the most misunderstood men alive, or one of the most convincing con men to ever live. Is he a benevolent hero or a malevolent opportunist?
Personally, I would love to believe that one of the richest men in the world is giving away his fortune for the betterment of humanity.
I want to believe that endearing smile.
I want to believe that his heart is as soft and warm as his sweater.
At the very least, I want to believe that he’s unaware of the damage he’s done.
I suppose that’s why throughout the film, Willis uses the most unflattering photos and film footage of Gates that he can find, including several shots of Gates rocking backwards and forwards in a chair clearly designed to suggest the “stimming” behavior common among people with autism, all with the video modified in that ominous style commonly used in political attack ads. (Like Del Bigtree, Mikki Willis is anything but subtle.) I suppose that’s why Willis regurgitates every conspiracy theory about the Gates Foundation he can find. I suppose that’s why he strongly insinuates that Gates is either a pedophile or has no problem with pedophiles like Jeffrey Epstein. That’s what one does when one truly hopes that someone like Bill Gates isn’t evil, right?
The COVID-19 pandemic was a plot!
Besides Bill Gates conspiracy theories, Plandemic 2 goes to great lengths to try to imply that COVID-19 comes from a lab and that it was intentionally released, the corollaries being that the CDC, Bill Gates, and other nefarious forces knew that COVID-19 was coming before it happened. To that end, a man named David E. Martin is introduced at the beginning of the film. It turns out that, of all the people interviewed for this conspiracy film disguised as a documentary, Martin by far gets the most screen time. No one else even comes close, not Judy Mikovits, not Meryl Nass, not Mary Holland. In fact, Martin gets at least as much screen time as the filmmaker Mikki Willis, if not more. It makes me wonder if Martin wrote the damned film!
At this point it’s worth mentioning that, with only one exception (bioethicist Art Caplan, who must have been tricked into being interviewed for this film the way that Richard Dawkins was tricked into appearing in the anti-evolution film Expelled!), every “expert” interviewed is an utter crank. Dr. Meryl Nass, for instance, has been mentioned in this blog before in the context of Ebola conspiracy theories. She was a legitimate scientist who published seminal papers on anthrax, but for many years has not exactly a reliable source. For example, she’s been known to show up on quack websites like Mercola.com spouting antivaccine tropes, to write a letter asking for help to the antivaccine website Vaccination News, and to write a great deal about mass vaccination programs, particularly anthrax vaccines in the military, viewing it as a cause of Gulf War syndrome. Indeed, she has her very own page on that granddaddy of conspiracy sites, Whale.to and did this video for Gary Null. Just a perusal of her blog Anthrax Vaccine reveals a whole lot of COVID-19 nonsense, including a ringing endorsement of hydroxychloroquine (which is the Black Knight of COVID-19 treatments and for which the randomized clinical trial evidence is increasingly negative). But she looks reputable on the surface. Then there’s Mary Holland, the antivaccine lawyer who’s been featured on this blog a number of times trying to be a scientist and doing it badly (and unethically). Then there’s Luc Montagnier, sufferer of the Nobel Disease, who believes in homeopathy, has become antivaccine to the core, and of late has been peddling conspiracy theories that coronavirus was made in a Wuhan lab.
Dr. Nass’s key claim is that COVID-19 was engineered. There is very good evidence that it was not, in particular a paper published in March in Nature Medicine in which investigators analyzed the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and found no evidence of human engineering. Oddly enough, she can’t come up with any good reasons why that paper’s conclusions are mistaken. All she can say is that the paper’s arguments “didn’t hold water” and “didn’t make a lot of scientific sense.” Tellingly, she doesn’t explain why, in her opinion, the paper’s arguments “didn’t hold water” and “didn’t make a lot of scientific sense.” Of course, her explanation is that “somebody” must have forced the investigators to publish this paper and “somebody” must have forced all the high-powered people (like Francis Collins) to say it’s great science.
Holland, meanwhile, claimed that India “kicked out” the Gates Foundations due to deaths that occurred during a trial of HPV vaccine in India. However, five of the seven deaths were not related to the vaccine, while for the other two investigators concluded that a link between the vaccine and the girl’s deaths was “unlikely.” More importantly, although the Indian Parliament did conclude that there were ethical problems with informed consent for the trial, the Gates Foundation was not “kicked out” of India.
But back to David Martin.
Martin is the founder of M-CAM International and describes himself thusly:
Dr. David E. Martin is the Founder and Chairman of M·CAM Inc., the international leader in innovation finance, trade, and intangible asset finance. He is the developer of the first innovation-based quantitative index of public equities and is the Managing Partner of the Purple Bridge Funds. He is the creator of the world’s first quantitative public equity index – the CNBC IQ100 powered by M·CAM. Actively engaged in global ethical economic development, Dr. Martin’s work includes financial engineering and investment, public speaking, writing and providing financial advisory services to the majority of countries in the world. Dr. Martin is the architect and founder of the Global Innovation Commons and is the author of the international legal framework for the Heritable Knowledge Trust and Heritable Innovation Trust programs. He has pioneered global programs to bring corporate and stock market transparency to multi-national extractive industries and has been instrumental in repatriating value to countries which have been subject to corporate and financial abuses. His work on ethical engagement and stewardship of community and commons-based value interests is at the forefront of global financial innovation. Dr. Martin is a Batten Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. He served as Chair of Economic Innovation for the UN-affiliated Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization and has served as an advisor to numerous Central Banks, global economic forums, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, and national governments.
If his role in Plandemic 2 is any indication, the man is a total crank, a conspiracy loon of the highest order, and I’d be highly skeptical of anything his company does. I mean, seriously, right from the beginning of the film, Martin and Willis go to great lengths to portray “Event 201,” an October 2019 exercise simulating a pandemic and the subsequent coronavirus crisis as evidence that it was all part of a plan.
But Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security, which hosted the event in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that it did not predict the current outbreak, and was instead aimed at highlighting “preparedness and response challenges that would likely arise in a very severe pandemic.”
The exercise’s “About” page said: “In recent years, the world has seen a growing number of epidemic events, amounting to approximately 200 events annually.”
“Experts agree that it is only a matter of time before one of these epidemics becomes global — a pandemic with potentially catastrophic consequences.”
I’ve noted before that Event 201 is one of the favorite things of COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, given that it was a simulation of a serious pandemic that occurred only five months before an actual serious pandemic was declared, but it did not, as is implied by Martin and Willis, predict the COVID-19 pandemic or that Anthony Fauci predicted the 2020 pandemic in 2017. Also, it’s not as though there haven’t been similar exercises:
Johns Hopkins has hosted other simulations with evocative names in recent years — including Dark Winter in 2001, Atlantic Storm in 2005, and Clade X in 2018. The World Economic Forum has said such simulations are important for preparing for the average of 200 epidemics that take place annually.
What about 2017, the year that Willis mentioned in his claim?
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a 2017 event at Georgetown University that there would be “a surprise outbreak” facing the Trump administration. But that doesn’t mean he predicted the coronavirus pandemic. Fauci talked about a wide range of diseases that emerged or intensified during his tenure at the institute, including HIV/AIDS and West Nile virus.
Martin goes back even further, though, implying that the origins of the COVID19 pandemic go back over 20 years, with Martin saying:
In 1999, patents on coronavirus started showing up. And thus began the rabbit trail…In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control saw the possibility of a gold strike. And that was the coronavirus outbreak that happened in Asia. They saw that a virus they knew could be easily manipulated was something that was very valuable, and in 2003 they sought to patent it, and they made sure that they controlled the proprietary rights to the disease, to the virus, and to its detection and all of the measurement of it.
Martin then opines that you can’t patent a natural DNA sequence, “reasoning” further that, if the coronavirus patented by the CDC was natural then it was illegal to have patented it or, alternatively, that if the sequence was patentable it must have been engineered, adding that if it was manufactured it was a violation of international laws against biological weapons. Basically, the whole premise is based on poorly (and dishonestly) interpreted patent searches.
I’m tired at this point; so I’m just going to quote a lot of the refutation to this nonsense, which Martin surely knows is nonsense. (If he doesn’t, he has no business running the sort of organization he runs.) First, though, let me point out that in 2003 it was legal to patent a naturally-occurring DNA sequence that you isolated. In fact, I am co-inventor on a patent of just such a sequence from my graduate school days in the 1990s, a patent that presumably is no longer valid since 2013, when the Supreme Court ruled that naturally occurring nucleotide sequences can’t be patented. Here’s the story:
SARS was first reported in Asia in 2003, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus is believed to have spread from bats to civet cats to humans, according to Nature.
Per the Wall Street Journal, the CDC applied for a patent covering both the coronavirus that causes SARS and its genome in 2003. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, as well as researchers in Canada and Hong Kong, also filed SARS-related patent applications, NBC News reported. The CDC was granted its patent in 2007 but, contrary to what Martin suggests, the CDC holding the patent isn’t evidence SARS is “manufactured.”
While patents on genetic material have been granted in the past, current law no longer allows DNA in its natural form to be patented, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 held that a “naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.” The CDC applied and received its SARS-related patent prior to that ruling.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, the then-CDC director, said in a 2003 media briefing that the public health organization pursued the patent to “get information about SARS and the SARS genome and the SARS coronavirus into the public domain as quickly as we possibly can.”
“The concern that the federal government is looking at right now is that we could be locked out of this opportunity to work with this virus if it’s patented by someone else,” Gerberding said. “By initiating steps to secure patent rights, we assure that we will be able to continue to make the virus and the products from the virus available in the public domain, and that we can continue to promote the rapid technological transfer of this biomedical information into tools and products that are useful to patients.”
“The CDC does hold some patents on life forms, but it generally does this for the common good, so a commercial company can’t come along and patent it,” David Sanders, an associate professor of biological sciences at Purdue University, told Newsmax Health in 2014 regarding an Ebola virus strain patent held by the CDC. “The CDC lets researchers work with the strain without fees.”
Truly, I facepalmed epically when I first watched Martin make this claim, and this was before later in the movie, when the same old claims of vaccines as “population control” were trotted out, along with invocation of the specter of the use of black people as “guinea pigs” for a new coronavirus vaccine.
Plandemic 2: Electric Boogaloo
When Plandemic 2 hit the web three days ago, I was all hyped to take it down. However, given that it was a 75 minute movie and I was fairly busy at work this week, a couple of days went by before I could watch the whole thing, and I noticed something. What I noticed is that this movie didn’t go anywhere near as viral as Plandemic did, almost to the point where I said, “The hell with it!” and didn’t bother to do a post on it. This is likely because it’s really, really hard to get lightning to strike twice in the same place, but also likely because social media companies were more ready to prevent the spread of this disinformation on their platforms than they were in May, when Plandemic first went viral
Ultimately, the sunk cost of having watched the damned thing led me to finish my post early this morning and to realize that conspiracy movies like Plandemic 2 are all depressingly the same. They link together disparate events in a misleading manner to imply an overarching conspiracy and then finish, as Plandemic 2 does, on a hopeful note, with The People becoming aware and rising up. In fact, Plandemic 2 is very explicit about “that moment when the hero rises from defeat,” with the narrator hopefully intoning that the “story is not over” and the “climax has yet to come” over images from a variety of movies showing just that: Heroes at the moment they rise from seeming defeat. There are sports heroes too, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy, and Black Lives Matter protesters, all before a fade to black and a screen of text defining “plandemic.”
Subtle, this movie ain’t. Nor is it honest. It’s deceptive in the extreme, pure disinformation. The good thing is that it’s nowhere near as influential as its predecessor.