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AIER likens anti-“lockdown” cranks to abolitionists. Hilarity ensues

Cranks love a heroic persecution narrative, and the climate science-denying right wing think tank American Institute of Economic Research (AIER) has a doozy: COVID-19 “anti-lockdown” cranks like Scott Atlas and those behind the Great Barrington Declaration are the new abolitionists! This is a page from the antivax playbook.

I’ve commented multiple times on how much COVID-19 pandemic denialists, those who deny the efficacy of masks and other public health matters to slow the spread of coronavirus, who try to downplay or deny the harm caused by the pandemic (particularly by claiming that the virus is not that deadly), and in general engage in conspiracy theories about this being a “plandemic” or an excuse to impose “forced vaccination,” resemble the antivaccine movement. Indeed, it’s no surprise that one of the very earliest conspiracy theories about COVID-19 dates back to January, when the pandemic was still mostly confined to China and had not yet made its presence known in the US (although it was already here), was the claim that China had purchased more influenza vaccine than usual and the flu vaccine had made the people of Wuhan more susceptible to the novel coronavirus. By May antivaxxers were prominent attendees at antimask and anti-lockdown protests, having already launched a preemptive disinformation campaign against any coronavirus vaccine that might be developed, and now they routinely show up at such events, along with QAnon believers. The reason, of course, is that, at its heart, antivaccine beliefs are rooted in conspiracy theories, producing a natural affinity between COVID-19 cranks and antivaxxers. There are many other characteristics antivaxxers share with COVID-19 cranks, one of which is a persecution complex. This brings me to today’s topic, this doozy of an article by Stacey Rudin of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) likening “resistance” to public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 to abolitionists before the Civil War:

AIER, of course, is the right wing, climate science-denying, free market fundamentalist propaganda house disguised as a “think tank” behind the Great Barrington Declaration, a “declaration” that it spearheaded urging, in essence, letting COVID-19 spread through the population in order to achieve “herd immunity” with “focused protection” of those most vulnerable to severe disease and death from COVID-19, such as nursing home residents, the elderly, and the like. The long version of why it’s nonsense is here. The Cliffs Note version follows. Basically, as epidemiologists pointed out, it’s impossible to protect the “vulnerable” if COVID-19 is spreading unchecked through the rest of the population. Moreover, for there to be herd immunity, there must be immunity after infection. Although there does appear to be immunity as a result of COVID-19 infection in most people, we don’t know how long it lasts. It could well be fairly brief, as in months, as opposed to many years. That would mean that waning immunity would make those who recovered from COVID-19 susceptible again. It would particularly make one suggestion in the Great Barrington Declaration, that nursing homes be staffed only with those who’ve recovered from COVID-19, utterly ridiculous, given that many of them could well become vulnerable again within months. Again, we just don’t know yet. Finally, the whole “Great Barrington Declaration” was obviously propaganda more than science, given that, as a tactic, it closely resembled previous “petitions,” open letters, and “declarations” from science denialists as varied as creationists, HIV/AIDS deniers, and climate science deniers, who particularly love this technique of “magnified minority” to give the false appearance of scientific legitimacy to their views by posting a statement and having lots of scientists sign it, regardless of whether they actually have relevant expertise in the science being opined on or not.

Of course, antivaxxers like to view themselves in similar terms. Of course, Rudin and AIER, by likening themselves to abolitionists, are also likening those who support science-based public health interventions against COVID-19 to pro-slavery advocates and, by extension, those same interventions to slavery. In this AIER and other COVID-19 deniers are following a path well trod by the antivaccine movement, which has, as long as I’ve been able to remember, likened “forced vaccination” to all manner of evils, including slavery (including its modern variant, human trafficking), the Holocaust, rape, pedophilia (don’t ask), Nazi-ism, and…oh, I can’t keep listing them, at least not here.

I’ll give you a brief taste, before I go into Rudin and AIER’s propaganda. Back in 2015, after SB 277, the California bill that eliminated nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine requirements, had passed the legislature, I took note when antivaxxer Kent Heckenlively likened SB 277 to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, with antivaccine parents as the slaves and SB 277 the Fugitive Slave Act. I kid you not:

Consider the slave-owning South prior to the American Civil War. A trickle of slaves, perhaps 1,000-5,000 were escaping each year (out of an estimated population of 3,000,000 slaves), beginning their lives in the North, and speaking freely of what they endured under the lash of their slave-masters.

The escaped slaves presented no existential threat to slavery. For those in the North who didn’t quite know what to think about slavery, they were allowed to continue to exist in their state of uncertainty. Maybe slavery was good, maybe it was bad, but it was something that happened someplace else. They were not a part of it.

But that wasn’t enough for the South. The escaped slaves drove them crazy. Just like the 1.5% of California schoolchildren who have a philosophical or religious exemption. You see, most doctors claim that even if you believe in the mythical concept of “herd immunity”, it’s somewhere around 90-93%. I’m not a math teacher, but even if you take 1.5% away from 100%, I calculate it at 98.5%. Check my math to see if I’ve got it right.


The fact is, those parents with philosophical or religious exemptions drive people like Senator Richard Pan and his pharmaceutical cronies absolutely nuts, just like escaped slaves drove their Southern masters crazy. Many people credit the Fugitive Slave laws as hastening the start of the Civil War and the end of slavery. By the very act by with which they attempted to gain complete control, they created a destabilizing force which wiped then from the face of the earth.

With that background of antivaxxers likening vaccine mandates to slavery and measures to decrease exemptions from vaccine mandates to the Fugitive Slave Act in mind, now let’s look at Rudin’s take at AIER, in which she argues that AIER and other “antilockdown” advocates deserve your trust because, like abolitionists before the Civil War, they are taking an unpopular stand. (No, her argument really is that simple—and ridiculous.) After pretentiously quoting stoic philosopher Epictetus regarding the importance of character, specifically how we can’t control how others perceive us and therefore should concentrate on character, not reputation and dismissing many “affluent Americans” as prioritizing reputation over character, she opines:

In the COVID debate, there is a mainstream, “popular” narrative, and a competing, “unpopular” narrative — a “fringe.” The former exploits the common, mediocre desire to be “popular.” Joining the movement is easy. It results in back-pats, validation, and requires no uncomfortable confrontations. This narrative states that it is impossible for humanity to survive the COVID19 pandemic without a vaccine, lockdowns, and masks, some combination of which will be required into the indefinite future. The narrative supports blaming others for “infecting you” with diseases, rather than encouraging personal responsibility for immune and general health.

Proponents of the competing narrative, on the other hand, must stand up to massive social forces simply to make their arguments, which are not radical: they support a return to classic pandemic management tools, the same ones used by Sweden and other states and countries which did not lock down for COVID19, which resulted in average mortality for 2020. They do not believe this pandemic warrants a complete overhaul of the economic, social, and educational systems. They believe that every human being should be empowered with truthful information about risk and how to best care for personal health, and to make his or her own choices.

Of course, this is the classic false dichotomies that pandemic public health science denialists love to use: Lockdowns versus everything else. They also love to cite the example of Sweden, which didn’t actually pursue an open policy to achieve herd immunity and, more importantly, did do pretty poorly with respect to COVID-19 while not doing any better economically as a result of its more open policies. Moreover, no one—I repeat, no one—wants to lock down indefinitely or continue these policies indefinitely. In fact, here in my state we haven’t been on any sort of lockdown since June. As for “empowering” people about risk and “encouraging personal responsibility,” that doesn’t help if the information being given is questionable, as much of AIER’s information is. In any case, notice the similarity to antivaccine rhetoric. AIER is painting itself as a defender of freedom against those supporting conventional science and medicine, who are painted as dogmatic fascists who want to shut everything down and control you—yes, you!—with public health interventions, who want you to “conform”:

Faced with these competing narratives, we must consider motives and costs. The force of social pressure to conform with the mainstream narrative is large, so we know from the outset that the people willing to argue against it are either insane, or extremely driven, courageous, and strong. It is easy to eliminate the possibility that they are crazy — many of them, such as Elon Musk and the scientists who drafted the Great Barrington Declaration — are giants in their fields. They risk everything, weathering exhausting personal attacks from all sides, in order to battle the crowd.

Ah, yes! The “brave maverick” narrative, the “great man” (or “great woman”) narrative, in which the iconoclast triumphs, despite going against conventional thinking and weathering all manner of attacks. This is, of course a variant of what I like to refer to as the “Galileo gambit,” in which cranks paint themselves as “scientific heretics” who are being persecuted because they buck the consensus. The problem, of course, is that to be Galileo you have to turn out to have been right, or, as Michael Shermer once put it:

For every Galileo shown the instruments of torture for advocating scientific truth, there are a thousand (or ten thousand) unknowns whose ‘truths’ never pass scientific muster with other scientists.

And, as I’ve put it in the past:

For every Galileo, Ignaz Semmelweis, Nicolaus Copernicus, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, etc., whose scientific ideas were either ignored, rejected, or vigorously attacked by the scientific community of his time and then later accepted, there are untold numbers of others whose ideas were either ignored or rejected initially and then were never accepted–and never will be accepted. Why? Because they were wrong! The reason the ideas of Galileo, Semmelweis, Copernicus, Darwin, Pasteur, et al, were ultimately accepted as correct by the scientific community is because they turned out to be correct! Their observations and ideas stood up to repeated observation and scientific experimentation by many scientists in many places over many years. The weight of data supporting their ideas was so overwhelming that eventually even the biggest skeptics could no longer stand.

This brings us to back to AIER and Rudin’s “slavery gambit.” Rudin quotes Princeton professor Robert P. George, a specialist in moral and political philosophy and the theory of conscience in which he describes an exercise he does in his classes in which he asks the students what their position on slavery would have been if they had been white and living in the South before the Civil War. Naturally, they all say they’d be abolitionists and would have spoken out against it, to which Prof. George responds:

Of course, this is nonsense. Only the tiniest fraction of them, or of any of us, would have spoken up against slavery or lifted a finger to free the slaves. Most of them — and us — would have gone along. Many would have supported the slave system and happily benefited from it.

So I respond by saying that I will credit their claims if they can show evidence of the following: that in leading their lives today they have stood up for the rights of unpopular victims of injustice whose very humanity is denied, and where they have done so knowing: (1) that it would make them unpopular with their peers, (2) that they would be loathed and ridiculed by powerful, influential individuals and institutions in our society; (3) that they would be abandoned by many of their friends, (4) that they would be called nasty names, and (5) that they would risk being denied valuable professional opportunities as a result of their moral witness. In short, my challenge is to show where they have at risk to themselves and their futures stood up for a cause that is unpopular in elite sectors of our culture today.

This is certainly true and a good cautionary tale for those of us who would imagine ourselves as more moral than people living at any one time. Another good example would be Nazi Germany. As much as we like to tell ourselves that, had we been alive and adults when Hitler came to power, we would have spoken out. We would have resisted. Maybe, but far more likely the vast majority of us would have gone along. After all, after Hitler had been in power only a few months, by speaking out against the regime you would have risked ending up a political prisoner in a concentration camp like Dachau at the worst; at best you would likely have been ostracized and likely risked losing your job and other privileges. Hitler was actually quite popular early in his regime.

But back to slavery and abolitionists. You can see where this is going, right? I know my longtime regular readers can. AIER and Rudin want to portray themselves in general and, in particular, the scientists behind their Great Barrington Declaration, to be the abolitionists, suffering the slings and arrows of rejection and persecution from the pro-slavery public health establishment:

While this path leads to wisdom and self-respect, Epictetus recognizes that it carries a tremendous social cost — which is why only a minority choose it. “You may be ridiculed and even end up with the worst of everything in all parts of your public life, including your career, your social standing, and your legal position in the courts.” This happened to the abolitionists for decades, and it is happening to COVID dissenters now: Dr. Scott Atlas was smeared by 100 of his colleagues at Stanford, who then refused to debate the substance of their claims against him; one Google search will reveal dozens of smears against the Great Barrington Declaration and its authors.

Ah, yes, the “all truth comes from public debate” gambit so beloved of cranks, or, as I like to call this gambit “Debate me, bro!” or “Come at me, bro!” There are a whole lot of memes to describe this gambit:

AIER: The "Debate me, bro!" anteater
AIER: Debate me, bro!
AIER: Mom says you have to debate me
AIER: Come on, debate me!

Of course, cranks love “debates,” for reasons that I’ve explained time and time again. Many are the example I’ve discusse, such as, for example., when antivaccine guru Andrew Wakefield challenged Dr. David Salisbury to a “live public debate” about whether the MMR vaccine causes autism or not. (Hint: It doesn’t.) Then there was the time when all-purpose quack Julian Whitaker debated Steve Novella at FreedomFest in 2012. Sometimes cranks have tried to trick me, such as when an HIV-AIDS denialist tried to lure me into a “debate” with HIV-AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore back in 2007. Then there were Michael Shermer’s “debate” with Deepak Chopra; antivaccine propagandist David Kirby debating author Arthur Allen; and, of course, antivaccine activist Nick Haas’ challenge to have a blogger from Science-Based Medicine do a live public debate about vaccines. As I’ve pointed out before, time and time again, I don’t “debate” cranks, at least not live on stage in such artificial events, because such events (1) make it appear that there is an actual scientific debate when there is not and (2) give the crank the freedom to Gish gallop to his or her heart’s content. Apparently, the Stanford faculty who pointed out how wrong Scott Atlas was understand this. Dr. Atlas is a neuroradiologist with no particular expertise in infectious disease, epidemiology, pandemics, or public health, but somehow he’s become the “expert” to whom the Trump administration listens over Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx when it comes to the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, crank that he is, Dr. Atlas also sees himself (falsely) as Galileo:

I remembered Shermer’s retort to the Galileo gambit and laughed out loud when I saw that Tweet by Dr. Atlas. He certainly has a high opinion of himself! I suppose it’s not that surprising, given that he is basically Dunning-Kruger incarnate and has worshipful minions like Stacey Rudin at AIER telling him how great he is and how he’s a modern day Galileo. More and more, he’s reminding me of Andrew Wakefield and Del Bigtree. If Trump is defeated, even though he’ll lose any influence with the new administration come January 20, he won’t go away. Unfortunately, a hell of a lot of damage has already been done, thanks to Dr. Atlas, as pursuing “herd immunity” à la the Great Barrington Declaration has clearly become the de facto policy of the Trump administration.

Now here’s the hilarious part. AIER and Rudin claim that the antilockdown crowd is fighting for the little person:

Anti-lockdowners get to stand up for the least powerful in our society. For those who have no voice. For the people who are desperate for their industries to survive. For the small business owners who make just enough to feed their children. For the “essential workers” who stand in the supermarket checkout day in and day out, while their children stay home playing video games in place of school. For the kids in developing countries who walk for miles through fields just for a WiFi signal. For the frightened elderly people who haven’t hugged a family member in eight months. For the hospital patients who will die alone and afraid. For the religious congregations prevented from doing outreach.

For the families foregoing holidays, birthdays, and travel. For the socially isolated. For the babies who are growing up without seeing smiles. For the special needs kids deprived of their therapies, for the women and children locked home with abusers. For the new patrons of the food bank, for the formerly proud career men newly sunk to the unemployment line. For those driven to drugs or drink, for those whose rehab was suspended. For those considering suicide. For those whose vaccinations and medical treatments have been delayed or cancelled. For those wondering if life will ever again be worth living. For those who feel there is nothing left to rely on, now that lives, livelihoods, and educations can be decimated at government whim.

That’s really rich coming from AIER, which is a right wing free market fundamentalist think tank funded by the Koch brothers dedicated to denying anthropogenic global climate change because any mitigation attempts would represent a threat to the profits of the billionaires and fossil fuel companies behind AIER. AIER’s “declaration” is far more about conservative economics than it is about public health or even herd immunity. Indeed, there’s a reason why the Great Barrington Declaration has been likened to eugenics. If the virus spreads unchecked, it will be the poor and minorities who suffer the most from it, not the well-off, self-satisfied “scholars” at AIER likening themselves to abolitionists. As was reported in the NY Times, the signatories themselves don’t even have a clue how “focused protection” would work:

Scientists who have signed the declaration did not offer many details for putting its ideas in place. “I don’t know exactly how it would work,” said Gabriela Gomes, a mathematical modeler at the University of Strathclyde in Britain and one of 42 co-signers. Another supporter, Paul McKeigue, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said, “Specific control measures for preventing coronavirus transmission are not my area of expertise.”


To which this is the best response:

So, according to AIER and Rudin, COVID-19 denialists get to feel good about themselves for supposedly standing up for science, right, and the underdog, even though they do none of these and are only deluding themselves that they are. So what do those who support science-based public health measures, including masks, social distancing, contact tracing, and, if absolutely necessary (but never as a first measure), targeted lockdowns get out of this? Take a guess:

What do the lockdowners gain? To answer this question, we need only consider who the the acceptance of their program benefits. Tech interests, billionaires, pharmaceutical companies, certain political parties. The 1% — the same people who can easily work from home, who are not harmed by lockdowns, who consider themselves so smart that their decision as to “what should be scary” must hold for every single person on the planet. No votes are needed, because their judgment is so good. Whatever businesses and educational systems and social structures need to die, must die, because they say so. All they need to do to push this system is gain the cooperation of the media, which can be done with dollars alone.

This is basically the “pharma shill gambit” in a modified form. I’m surprised Rudin was able to restrain herself from mentioning Bill Gates in there somewhere. It’s also risible that AIER would invoke the “1%” given that it exists to promote the interests of the “1%,” who basically want to be able to force all those “essential workers” back to work, whether adequate safety and mitigation measures are in place or not, all to forestall the demand that the government provide more aid and to get their profits flowing again. In any event, the conspiracy mongering would be right at home on an antivax blog or social media feed.

AIER and Rudin conclude with a statement so utterly daft and risible, so off the wall, so absolutely wrong that I feel the need to warn you before I quote it. You have been warned:

Ask yourself, who deserves your trust? I would argue that anti-lockdowners are today’s abolitionists — people willing to take up an unpopular cause at incredible risk. Lockdowners may currently be “popular,” but they are on the wrong side of history.

Here’s the thing. The popularity or lack of popularity of an idea has little or nothing to do with whether that idea is scientifically valid. New Age quackery is incredibly popular, but it is pseudoscience and quackery, for example. The popularity of Dr. Oz’s show is also evidence of this. Astrology is also very popular and even more wrong. Belief in psychics is so popular that a number of television shows about “psychics” get good ratings and even Dr. Oz features them on his show from time to time. AIER and Rudin want to portray COVID-19 cranks and grifters like Dr. Atlas and the useful idiots who put together the Great Barrington Declaration at its behest as abolitionists saving you—yes, you!—from the “slavery” of public health measures to slow the spread COVID-19. In reality all they are doing is deluding themselves while at the same time showing how much like antivaxxers they are.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

65 replies on “AIER likens anti-“lockdown” cranks to abolitionists. Hilarity ensues”

The question is whether lockdowns work.
In theory, if each person were put in a hermetically sealed chamber for 2 weeks, the new case rate would fall to zero. Now, if we open the chambers, what is likely to happen? First we need to look at the person. If the person was not infected, they will remain not infected. If the person was already infected, and assuming a competent immune system, and without over susceptibility to the virus, such as interferon deficiency, the person will develop immunity and eliminate the virus. In theory this person is no longer infectious. But what about the inside of the chamber? The virus can survive up to 28 days on most surfaces. If the person, although already immune, touches the infected sides of the chamber, the virus will transmit to the skin and now that person will become a nidus of infection. So what is gained in the most ideal situation: a delay in the contagion of the virus and nothing else.

Now let’s compare person A, who went into the chamber infected. He/she comes out immune. But person B who went into the chamber does not have immunity and cannot develop immunity in a hermetically sealed chamber. When that person emerges they are now susceptible to infection. Where does this infection comes from? The virus is ubiquitous and survives in every nook and granny of the environment for 28 days.

Okay. Let’s extend the isolation chambers to 30 days (just to make sure the virus is dead; disregarding the philosophical position as to whether the virus was ever alive). A person needs food and water in their chamber. Where does this food and water come from ? Well, it comes from essential workers.

But what’s the problem with this? Each essential worker is a potential nidus of contagion to a non-immunized person emerging from their chamber and contamination of the environment by the surface, which will also serve as a nidus of infection for the virus.

What does this thought experiment tells us? A highly contagious virus, that is already ubiquitous in the environment, cannot be eliminated by a lockdown.

You are right to say lockdown wont eliminate the virus but no one is arguing that. Its to slow the spread until an effective vaccine is found. As it is hospitals in Europe, specifically Spain Italy and Scotland are near capacity, and that is with restrictions. Others will follow. With your plan of herd immunity these hospitals would soon have to turn sick people away as the numbers increase fast.

Well, the Dutch hospitals are near capacity as well, Delaying up to 75% of other treatments, sounds to me as near capacity. We are moving patients to German hospitals. We count around 11,000 positive tests daily, with a population of 17,000,000 and it looks like we are losing track, because tests that are done by private companies are not always included and the only people that are tested are those who have symptoms. And yes we have restrictions, though perhaps a bit less than France or Spain. Even in Germany they have upscaled the restrictions to a level above the restrictions in The Netherlands., while the numbers are lower than in the Netherlands. Actualy the numbers are higher, but considering Germany has a population of 81,844,000 (on December 31 2011), 16.000 positive cases daily and going up, could be some indication they are doing better.

If the person was already infected, and assuming a competent immune system, and without over susceptibility to the virus, such as interferon deficiency,

That’s a lot of “if”.
For about 80-99% people, depending on the age group, that would be the case.
For a good chunk of the rest, they will need some medical assistance.
For a little chunk, they will have long-term troubles.
The latter two are medically manageable, but to be taken into account either way in the context of the available resources, lockdown or not.
A tiny chunk will not make it. Between 0.3 and 1%. No big deal, let’s not try to keep these numbers down, I guess?

the virus will transmit to the skin and now that person will become a nidus of infection.

So don’t shake hands with people coming out of the chamber.
At least not until they washed their hands.

So what is gained in the most ideal situation: a delay in the contagion of the virus and nothing else.

That’s the whole point of a lockdown, yes.
You are belaboring the obvious. Bashing unlocked doors, we French say.


“A highly contagious virus, that is already ubiquitous in the environment, cannot be eliminated by a lockdown.”

Fine. Let us look at successful countries which did not ‘lock down’.

Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea. Why did they succede? Cultural advantage because slanty eyes know how to ‘smile’ better behind a mask thus their boyfriends don’t kill themselves as much?? Taiwan is 24 million people. To-date deaths is, what, seven??

But far right countries embracing populism and nationalism such as Brazil and ‘merica lack the self-discipline to replicate these results. Too many fukkin’ Trump nutters* running around in chin diapers and facebook karens storming city hall hearings.Thus “It didn’t put the facemask on it’s skin so it gets the lockdown again”.

Scott Atlas {probably not his real porn name, as sadmar pointed out} is a god damned foxnews-doctor-stooge/tool. I would not fuck him with your SATA port connector and Orac’s blinky ass-probey anti-static guide-thing pushing.

A second Trump term would probably see Dr. Phill as Surgeon General and there would be twelve more years of deep dives into improper daughter/son-father relationships with creepy “show me” touch dolls (not that it is always boring. sometimes it makes for great afternoon tv). But I think we can do better.

Parse that, MF; I hear Azure cloud is the lowest of gutter-slut compute but the best your handlers could get for about tree fiddy.

*remember, Trump laid it out early on and stated that he thought people were not wearing masks for fear of the virus but to disrespect him. He didn’t even have to be a damned foghorn of a dog wistle; He just stated it out right.

That a virus can live for 28 days on various surfaces does not mean that it will or is even likely. As China, S Korea and NZ have shown a lockdown if implemented thoroughly enough does eliminate the virus so you are simply wrong. However now the virus has reached the wider world where such thorough measures are not feasible I would agree that this horse has bolted. The point, as Fergus points out, is that this is all about managing the virus within the capability of the health system and minimising its impact until hopefully a vaccine is developed.

New Zealand, of course, had the advantage of being an island, which meant that it could control who comes in, meaning that if the virus were to be eliminated or brought to a very low level, the government could keep it from being reintroduced.

Indeed I frequently lambast those who use NZ as the example we should have followed in the UK, it is horses for courses. My point however was that Pathcoin was simply wrong; a lockdown can and has worked in various countries, notwithstanding the potential for the virus to survive. This is not to say I would advocate a lockdown now in our respective countries as a means of eliminating the virus, as we cannot be draconian enough and it cannot be extended to the wider world we depend on. Thus the lockdown only serves to protect the health system from being overwhelmed.

But what about the inside of the chamber? The virus can survive up to 28 days on most surfaces. If the person, although already immune, touches the infected sides of the chamber, the virus will transmit to the skin and now that person will become a nidus of infection. So what is gained in the most ideal situation: a delay in the contagion of the virus and nothing else.

Yes, you can detect viral RNA sequences on some surfaces days or even weeks after they land there—under laboratory conditions—and these findings are frequently reported by the press sensationalistically, even though the actual significance of the finding is unclear or unknown. Whether these virus particles remain infectious or in a concentration sufficient to be in infectious inoculum on most surfaces is very much unclear. More recent epidemiological research suggests that fomites really aren’t a major means of COVID-19 transmission from person to person. It’s not that fomites can’t spread COVID-19 from person to person; it’s that transmission via fomites appears not to happen very frequently in comparison to transmission via large respiratory droplets and aerosols. In brief, it is not necessary to disinfect your groceries, and frequent hand washing/sanitizing does a fine job of cutting off this infrequent potential means of transmission.

As for lockdowns, the purpose is not to eliminate the virus, and no reputable epidemiologist recommends indefinite lockdowns. However, targeted lockdowns of specific duration can definitely decrease the rate of virus transmission to low levels, to the point where hospitals are not overwhelmed and other, less drastic, public health means can keep it in check, including masking, social distancing, contact tracing, etc. No reputable epidemiologist has ever advocated lockdowns as the be-all and end-all of stopping COVID-19 transmission or as a means of eliminating the virus, and the WHO says lockdowns should be a last resort.(That lockdowns are the main means of slowing COVID-19 spread is the huge straw man that the Great Barrington Declaration attacks.)

Basically, if you have to lock down, things have gotten too bad for lesser measures to work quickly enough to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. Moreover, in the US, we haven’t been on anything resembling a lockdown since June at the latest, May in many other places. So there’s another straw man.

Wow, I get to be the first to comment on this?

Why don’t we solve the problem by placing all those in favor of the anti-mask, anti-lockdown “herd immunity” solution in one area of the country, so they can run their experiment on themselves if it is such a great idea?

I mean Trump via Mark Meadows said “We are not going to control the Pandemic. We are going to control the FACT that we get vaccines…”

Don’t you just love someone that wants to control the facts? Of course, now after the uproar over that statement, trump is saying Meadows said that stuff all on his own, like any of us believe that.

Place Trump with all his fans in their own state, and watch the fun happen….withoutvPPE of course, since they do not need it. Now I need to do, is find a Magic Wand and make it a reality……

Laugh now, but it’s only a matter of time till these Kmart Rouge drag all you real scientists out to the paddy fields for disposal, just so they can dress up and play at being scientists themselves.

Except that respiratory viruses aren’t “naked” when they are expelled from the mouth and nose. They are in droplets, ranging from aerosol range to much larger droplets. Masks stop those pretty effectively. And THAT’s science.🙄

I am British; we do not joke. Just don’t come here in hopes of asylum as Airstrip One is right behind ya.

I’m about ready to call for a ban on the word “aerosol.”

Anti-maskers now seem to use the term frequently and claim that cloth masks and surgical mask are not suitable for stopping aerosols. The problem is that aerosol has only a vague definition. Airborne, with regard to infectious disease transmission seems to fairly consistently mean droplets or particles of up to 5 µm. I’ve now seen aerosol used to describe droplets up to 100 µm. 100 µm is a big droplet. No minimum size was specified in what I saw.

The recent discussions of COVID-19 being airborne seem to be using this very much broader definition, based, as far as I can tell, on work that shows droplets much larger than 5 µm can stay aloft for much longer than seemed to be generally accepted. That is a very different thing from very tiny droplets being significant in transmission.

I’m sure abolitionists got some level of satisfaction from banding together, but no question in my mind that the moral justification for their cause was what drove them. On the other hand, those who fancy themselves to be modern-day Galileos and their fans seem driven by a desire to be identified as outsiders and their causes are simply a reason to band together. Could be any cause as long as it makes them feel different and powerful in some way.

Well, sure, there’s that, but there’s also the financial incentive. Most of those driving the antimask, COVID-19-denying “herd immunity” narrative tend to be right wing free market fundamentalist types. They’re in it to “restart the economy” and start making money again or just to oppose the government. Then, of course, there are the grifters, like Joe Mercola, who’s started going antimask because he sees profit potential and a chance to expand his brand.

“…the ‘brave maverick’…in which the iconoclast triumphs despite going against conventional thinking and weathering all manner of attacks.” Orac

Funny though, how all of these innovators and revolutionaries sound remarkably alike. .
There’s a reason that woo-meisters/ anti-vaxxers ideas are so “outside the box”: it’s because most of them have little or no background in relevant areas of investigation but originate instead from business, law, education, alt med or vaguely related science/ technology; even physicians like Andy ( GI, not neurology) or Atlas ( radiology, not epidemiology). Leaders like Del, RFKjr, Larry, Gary, Kent and Mike “educate” their followers who link to their talking points. Actually, followers mimic their leaders and consider themselves heroes “fighting the power” and demonstrating the failures of the entrenched power of the elite, orthodoxy or scientism.. .. .

Speaking of Brave Mavericks:

RI’ers should spring to the defense of Moses Turkle Bility, a University of Pittsburgh PhD who has just published a groundbreaking work entitled “Can Traditional Chinese Medicine provide insights into controlling the COVID-19 pandemic: Serpentinization-induced lithospheric long-wavelength magnetic anomalies in Proterozoic bedrocks in a weakened geomagnetic field mediate the aberrant transformation of biogenic molecules in COVID-19 via magnetic catalysis”.

The paper claims that:

“Nephrite-Jade amulets, a calcium-ferromagnesian silicate, may prevent COVID-19.”

Dr. Bility* is not reacting well to criticism from Evil Skeptics, noting that historically, those who challenge the established paradigm face attack, and besides, if you question him you’re denigrating black people.

*looking as the U. of Pittsburgh page describing his work, he seems quite sane. Wonder what happened. Regardless, the name Moses Turkle Bility is wonderful.

Believe it or not, healing with gems, is well regarded in Ayurvedic medicine: there are numerous websites ( easy to find) explaining which gems to use for what illness which also somehow incorporates astrology. In addition, they sometimes use metals ( rings, bracelets) to cure problems and not just gold and silver but iron, i wondered why ( usually) Indian-born male workers in convenience stores and gas stations wore dull looking bracelets, now I know.

Well, technically speaking, completely surrounding yourself with rock would prevent viral transmission.

Also, oxygen.

Of course, framing the debate around the question of lockdowns is a propagandistic falsehood. Atlas is all-in on a ‘let er rip’ play for herd immunity, meaning he’s arguing against ANY form of mitigation for the general population. No masks. No testing and contact tracing (which would, after all cost$$). Just today CNN reported how Atlas has influenced Trumpy governors like Ron DeSantis (FL) to eschew testing, with resulting spikes now causing hospitals to overflow.

Yep. The problem, of course, is that you can artificially make the number of cases seem smaller by not testing, but you can’t hide the increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

. . . you can’t hide the increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

Does that apply if the hospitals no longer report to the CDC, but to another system at Health and Human Services . . . I mean the Ministry of Truth?


But if you test less then the deathrate increases, right? Same amount of people die, but with less cases, oops.

I guess trumpf can not win. Either the nation is lousy with COVID-19 cases, or else the deathrate goes through the roof.

Just saw a patient through a video visit who had a close contact and was worried well…for now. She was all in for the “Trump is right-this is baloney” business until her husband got it (He’s now in the ICU) and gave it to her elderly, live-in mother (She was flown to a nearby tertiary care center and died en route.) She has no idea what to do. They were partially relying on her mother’s income from her social security and the patient’s deceased-father’s military pension to stay afloat. That’s all gone, now. Hubby got COVID being a big tough guy who doesn’t need masks while going about his day fixing plumbing all over the place, insisting that none of his workers wear a mask either. His income is gone and he may well be next from what the critical care doc told her.

Who knows how many people these guys exposed to COVID in the typical four or five days being infectious and asymptomatic? I’m still trying to track down his employees who are, you guessed it – undocumented. “Build the wall” indeed. The worst part is they still have a trump flag flying outside of their home…I could see it in the background on the video. I don’t even know what else to say about this but this is one out of about a half- dozen of these I deal with daily at present…

“insisting that none of his workers wear a mask either”

I’m done on sympathy for these people, gleefully hurting others for ego and spite. Fuck ’em. The world is improved by their deaths. Let the 6Bn less privileged take their turn; hopefully they’ll appreciate it.

“This narrative states that it is impossible for humanity to survive the COVID19 pandemic without a vaccine, lockdowns, and masks,”
Technically they’re right about this. Technically humanity would probably survive doing nothing about COVID.
Not civilization as we know it now.
Look at what plague did to the Byzantine empire. (The final fall of Rome during the reign of Justinian, for non-history nerds.)
Be honest, would you have wanted to live in Oxford or Venice in 1360? You’d’ve had 6 whole years to get rid of the corpses.
WWI makes it hard to tell which major social changes in the early twentieth century were due to the war vs the influenza, but it was significant.

Sometimes, eventually, the catastrophic changes caused by a major die off end up being a good thing. End of feudalism. Or they can be unpredictable. The Reformation (and all the wars that came from that, yay). But I don’t think anyone who has studied epidemics or pandemics in history would try to claim it was a good thing at the time.
And since we’re still in the middle of this thing, how about let’s not make it worse?

Attn: Covid Vaccine trials update

And now she’s dead.

It is unclear whether she received the Covid-19 vaccine or the “placebo” aka meningitis vaccine. She died from transverse myelitis. Probably just a coincidence. Sad. And the trial marches on….shares down 1% for AstraZeneca.

I regret not investing in Abbott labs back in the day. I had a hunch about those guys. To those who smartly invested….MUST BE NICE!

Oh well….


“We describe the third reported case of transverse myelitis in a patient with the onset of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Although it is a well-known fact now that strains of SARS-CoV-2 can cause neurological manifestations such as anosmia and dysgeusia, recent literature has found complex neurological disease associations such as Guillain–Barré syndrome and early-onset large-vessel strokes (Xydakis et al., 2020; Oxley et al., 2020; Toscano et al., 2020). It has become apparent that Covid-19 causes an inflammatory cascade that results in multiple organ system being affected. In this case, inflammatory complications affecting the myelin in spinal cord occurred without the classic Covid-19 symptoms.”

Meningitis vaccine has known side effects. So, you can deduce problems covid vaccine caused.
Meningitis vaccine is used, because otherwise people in control group would notice that they are in control group.

A meningitis vaccine as a “placebo”????

Who are they kidding? A Placebo is not supposed to have any active ingredients in it, it should have been plain saline solution.

What a farce, they can not even run a vaccine trial correctly.

This is not the first case of transverse myelitis, there was a woman in Britain in the AstraZeneca trials who got transverse myelitis but luckily did not die….

“A Placebo* is not supposed to have any active ingredients in it, it should have been plain saline solution.”

Actually, as Aarno indicated, saline solution has disadvantages for use as a placebo and may not be appropriate in some vaccine clinical trials.

Determining what placebo to use in a study is related to the need for proper “blinding”. A placebo that is less likely to result in side effects than the real thing can be distinguished by the recipient who may then decide to drop out of the trial. Conversely, a trial participant who gets the real thing may have or at least perceive a better clinical outcome based on experiencing temporary arm soreness or swelling at the injection site. A placebo that has a known mild side effect profile (like one containing only vaccine adjuvant, or even another type of vaccine) can be compared to the new vaccine under study without alerting participants as to what they’re getting and thus biasing results.

Using a different vaccine as a placebo has been done before; for example, in trials of a new leprosy vaccine in India an existing vaccine (BCG) was used. In that instance, a known but low efficacy vaccine was compared to a new candidate to look at how much better the new candidate was.

Antivaxers frequently use the “no true placebo” argument to dismiss clinical trials of a vaccine in which saline was not used (as in the case of some studies of HPV vaccines), but they’re being ignorant or deceptive in their arguments, or more likely both.

*what’s with the random Capitalization of words to no Useful purpose, Aelxa?


Random Capitalization is due to me be taught to capitalize Nouns, and it gives Narad something to comment on from time to time.

And the old “the patient will notice if their arm does not hurt” routine is another excuse. I never had arm pain from any of my vaccinations. Even the Smallpox was a not painful beyond the few scratches itching while healing, as all scratches itch during healing.

Inject enough saline under the skin and it will hurt, try it and see. One cc (ml) should be sufficient. You want their arm to burn? Use some capsaicin in the alcohol wipe.

And the so-called “inert” ingredients are not inert. They are adjuvents made to challange the immune system to pay attention, and that response jacks up the immune system to notice the virus molecule injected along with them to make antibodies.

Tell me, what will the immune system respond to when the virus is not injected along with it? It will definitely try to do something.

And you can not compare even knowing the reactions to the meningitis vaccine, as they range wildly…….

The idea is you know the placebo group injected with saline can have no reactions, so any reactions in that group are not from the saline itself.

Amazing what excuses people try to pass off for using all sorts of stuff as a “placebo”. We did not try this stuff with the rats and mice in studies.

Clinical trials use control group. Relevant data is how many percent of the group get chills, not does a person get chills or not.
Effect of aluminium adjuvant is explained here:
Eisenbarth SC, Colegio OR, O’Connor W, Sutterwala FS, Flavell RA. Crucial role for the Nalp3 inflammasome in the immunostimulatory properties of aluminium adjuvants. Nature. 2008 Jun 19;453(7198):1122-6. doi: 10.1038/nature06939. Epub 2008 May 21. PMID: 18496530; PMCID: PMC4804622.
In brief, inflammasomes are a component of the innate immune system. They promote secretion of interleukins, among other things

@EmJay – So…did someone else die? Your article mentions a 28 year old male, resident dying from the Covid. The article I cited states the death of a female pediatrician, Monica Levi.

Witch costume? “Which” costume? You mean the Guy Fawkes mask? Remember, remember the 5th of November…bonfires/bone-fires.

Good day and good health to you.

“The idea is you know the placebo group injected with saline can have no reactions, so any reactions in that group are not from the saline itself.”

Another demonstration of ignorance about placebos.

Supposedly “inert” saline solution can cause a variety of signs and symptoms.

Saline placebo intra-articular injection has been known to cause pain relief in osteoarthritis patients, so it’s been argued that it’s not a dependable placebo when evaluating therapies for OA.

Maybe it’s time for antivaxers to admit they don’t have a clue when it comes to whining about placebo use in vaccine trials, and stick to their old dependables, like Toxins and Overloading The Immune System.


Gee, with all those side-effects why would you not use plain saline since it fits all your criteria for using a substance that causes discomfort to the guinea pigs?

And if saline gave lasting relief from joint pain, my bone doc would not have to use expensive joint fluid replacement instead every three months.

Your excuses suck.

We gave the rats and mice placebo group plain water, and the test rats and mice the real thing in their water.

We did NOT use another drug in the placebo rat and mice group. The idea of doing so is beyond stupid.


Placebos are supposed to be INACTIVE , another vaccine is NOT an inactive placebo. Adjuvents are not inactive either, they are made to stimulate the immune system.

I have done studies from the researcher side. Go teach a snake to suck eggs.

Aelxa Placebo group is control group. It enough if side effects of placebo group are well known. As I said, in this case, blinding was the problenm.
MenACWY, the control group, is tested against saline placebo:
Lee HJ, Chung MH, Kim WJ, Hong YJ, Choi KM, Lee J, Oh CE, Welsch JA, Kim KH, Hong KB, Dagnew AF, Bock H, Dull PM, Odrljin T. Immunogenicity and safety of a novel quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY-CRM) in healthy Korean adolescents and adults. Int J Infect Dis. 2014 Nov;28:204-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2014.06.008. Epub 2014 Oct 12. PMID: 25316331.
You would notice that saline placebo does cause immune reaction (Check table 3). This is because needle causes tissue damage.
(if placebo would cause no effect, it would be no point to use it. Just put zero to all rows).

@ Aarno writes, “Do this mean that Gardasil prevented deaths ? Or simply that if you have group of thousands of people, some deaths will always happen.”

Yes, Aarno people die everyday. I’m sure it is just a coincidence when someone dies during a vaccine trial. All the candidates are screened and deemed to be healthy with no underlying conditions. I mean just because the manufacturer runs the clinical trials, they remain objective and are up front with results. They do not conceal information or cook the numbers to make a product look better than it actually is because that would be illegal and unethical…and multinational corporations rarely do anything illegal or unethical. Thank goodness they have teams of attorneys to defend them from coincidences and keep the cash flowing.


blockquote>I’m sure it is just a coincidence when someone dies during a vaccine trial.


Every single death in a vaccine trial is properly investigated. In the overwhelming number of cases, it turns out to be just coincidence.
Take your sarcasm and shove it.

All the candidates are screened and deemed to be healthy with no underlying conditions

In a conference I was attending, the lecturer had this little sarcastic sentence following their description of getting a control group of healthy adult people:
“meaning, I selected male adults around 30-40 years, having one or many of the following conditions: baldness, joint aches, back pain, overweight, shortsighted or longsighted, tooth decay…”

Meaning “deemed healthy” doesn’t mean they are supermen. Just ordinary folks seem representative of the general population, who don’t seem like about to fall down. And don’t have a visible condition likely to put them more at risk in the trial.

If you care to read my link, under table 43 there are reviewer’s comments. There were lots of underlying conditions, after all. Of course, the vaccine manufacturer did not do the review, it is FDA’s responsibility


There are two natural treatments that stop HPV, Boron which I have posted about before and AHCC………

So while Boron interferes with HPV viral replication, AHCC has been found to eradicate the HPV virus from the body in patients.

The answer is not always a vaccine, especially since over 150 HPV viruses exist. Taking something like AHCC which improves the immune system, can eliminated persistent HPV infections.

I will stick to Boron and AHCC for me. They do not recommend the vaccine for people after 18 y.o. anyway.

@Aelxa To repeat, do you know that boron is a metal ? Your data is about less cancer (not HPV) around borax lakes, so borate is involved. So you should take it. Can you tell what is the active substance in you supplement ?
You of course a review by a master of divinity but have no clinical data. You do not even know the compound involved.

”I’m sure it is just a coincidence when someone dies during a vaccine trial.”

How coincidental is it that when a death is reported sometime around when a vaccine was given, antivaxers rush to blame vaccination and refuse to accept that other factors were causative (a good example being the frenzied reaction when a 14-year-old girl, Natalie Morton died in 2010 after getting an HPV shot)?


There are over 150 strains of HPV.

Gardisil 9 protects against 9 strains.

What is the point when there 141 strains not protected against????

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