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Paul Thacker amplifies antivaccine messaging by attacking science communicators

In his eagerness to attack skeptics for what, in the wake of reports of blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, he sees as “vaccine cheerleading,” anti-GMO hack Paul Thacker has inadvertently amplified antivaccine messaging. Or was it inadvertent?

It’s been a long time since I’ve paid much attention to—or any attention at all—Paul Thacker. Indeed, the only time I ever thought about Mr. Thacker enough to write about him was over five years ago, when he had been openly bragging about using abusive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the emails of scientists involved with research into genetically modified organisms (GMOs), working for public universities in states with laws that allowed for such requests, all in order to look for dirt with which to embarrass them. That dirt was usually in the form of any sort of conflict of interest (COI), either real or hyped up, with industry, especially Monsanto, then the Voldemort, Sauron, and Darth Vader of GMOs all rolled up into one. Indeed, he harassed one such scientist, Kevin Folta, until he found a relatively minor undisclosed COI in the form of an unrestricted educational grant from Monsanto. While it was a mistake of Dr. Folta not to have disclosed it (and it wasn’t a huge sum of money), it was clear that Mr. Thacker’s purpose wasn’t “transparency,” as he claimed, but rather to slime scientists involved in GMO research in the name of “transparency” in much the same way climate science denialists routinely try to slime climate scientists as hopelessly corrupt. That’s his M.O., to attack the science he views as “dangerous” by attacking scientists involved in that science, particularly those who are outspoken defenders of that science. Basically, Mr. Thacker is so blatant in doing this that, even when he is making a reasonable point about industry influence, he frequently comes off as a crackpot. That’s because he is a crackpot.

Unsurprisingly, he’s at it again.

This time, Mr. Thacker is not using abusive FOIA requests, though. Rather, this time he thinks that the recent pause by the FDA in using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (covered yesterday in depth by Steve Novella, Skeptical Raptor, and myself) was a great excuse to attack skeptics and science communicators, including, well, Steve Novella, Skeptical Raptor, David Grimes, Dorit Reiss, and myself in the form of an article he posted at his most Orwellian-named Substack site, Rare AstraZeneca Side Effect Exposes Vaccine Cheerleaders.

First, a bit of background…

Before I apply a bit of well-deserved Insolence to Mr. Thacker, let’s recap, so that if you’re not familiar with the story you don’t have to go and read multiple articles before understanding the background. Think of this as the CliffsNotes version. (The longer version is here and here.)

Basically, last month there were reports out of Europe of a rare form of clotting disorder associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, specifically cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a clot that forms in the major veins that drain blood from the brain. It’s a serious condition, and can be fatal. More unusual, these clots were associated with thrombocytopenia (a low platelet count, platelets being the blood cell that starts the clotting cascade), implying a potential immune mechanism activating platelets, causing clots, and in the process chewing them up, hence the low platelet counts. These clots were rare but concerning. Gavi The Vaccine Alliance, summarized the findings of the European Medicines Agency and other regulators thusly a week ago:

The EMA’s safety committee carried out an in-depth review of 62 cases of CVST and 24 cases of SVT reported in the EU drug safety database (EudraVigilance) as of 22 March 2021. Eighteen patients died. The cases were mostly identified through spontaneous reporting systems within the European Economic Area and the UK, where around 25 million people have received the vaccine.

However, WHO’s GACVS stated that more information from regions outside of Europe and the UK was needed to fully understand any potential relationship between vaccination and possible risk factors. Based on its analysis of more than 190 million doses of the vaccine being administered, 182 cases of thromboembolic events with thrombocytopenia had been reported. “If there is a causal link, the events are very rare and the risk is extremely low,” it said.

According to the EMA’s findings most of the clots reported occurred in women under the age of 60 within two weeks of vaccination. No increased risk was observed among older individuals who received the vaccine. Because of this, some countries have decided to restrict use of the vaccine in younger individuals.

Noting later:

The EMA says it has not yet identified any specific risk factors, such as age, gender or a previous medical history of clotting disorders, for these very rare events. Although most cases appear to be in women, it is hard to disentangle the association with sex-related differences in the immune response, or the role of hormonal contraceptives or other hormone therapies which are also risk factors for clots.

In brief, most of the cases were in women under 55, and, even though it was not entirely clear to regulators whether this frequency of clotting disorders and acute clotting events, recommendations were made that younger women not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, at least until these issues could be sorted out and it can be determined if there is a causative link. Meanwhile, a provocative paper published last week suggested, although did not quite prove, an immune-mediated mechanism in which the AstraZeneca vaccine might cause platelet activation and a condition similar to heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, which led to the recommendation not to treat these clots with heparin and the proposal of a name for the condition, vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).

Then, of course, on Tuesday the FDA announced its pause in using the J&J vaccine because of reports of 6 cases of CVST associated with thrombocytopenia within two weeks of vaccination, as I discussed on Wednesday. What made a link to rare clots more plausible were certain commonalities. For example, the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines are both adenovirus-based vaccines and no such clots have been observed after 180 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, both of which are mRNA vaccines. In addition, the clots occurred largely in the same group after both vaccines (premenopausal women), with the same association with thrombocytopenia. After a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday, the pause was extended, to allow for more data to be gathered. This is where we stood yesterday, as I wrote this. I also can’t help but again note that the ability of regulators to identify adverse events that are literally one-in-a-million after only a month and a half of use of the J&J vaccine and their clearly taking reports of even very rare adverse events very seriously indeed tell me that the vaccine safety monitoring system is working very well indeed.

Enter Paul Thacker, who seems rather proud of himself:

And seems to want to get a certain someone’s attention:

Oddly enough, I didn’t write the post to which Mr. Thacker, who clearly runs the Disinformation Chronicles Twitter feed, responded. Amusingly, this is not the first time he tried to get my attention:

In any event, after a lot of trying Mr. Thacker finally got my attention. He really should have been careful what he wished for, though, as you will see.

Paul Thacker grossly misrepresents what skeptics said about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

So let’s get back to Mr. Thacker’s attack on skeptics and science communicators. After a rather biased recounting of the events that I just recounted, Mr. Thacker makes his intent known:

This latest flurry followed a month-long drumbeat of concern after Denmark, Norway and Iceland temporarily suspended the vaccine and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) promised to look into blood clot reports.

But as soon as the EMA began investigating, vaccine cheerleaders hastened to protect AstraZeneca, downplaying safety reports and charging critics with antiscience.

It was all rather predictable from this odd, cult-like collective who Scientific American’s John Horgan dismissed some years back for navel-gazing tribalism and a need to regularly pat themselves on the back as smarter than everyone else:
I’m a science journalist. I don’t celebrate science, I criticize it, because science needs critics more than cheerleaders. I point out gaps between scientific hype and reality. That keeps me busy, because, as you know, most peer-reviewed scientific claims are wrong.

It’s funny that Mr. Thacker would cite that particular article by Mr. Horgan. I had a lot to say about that article at the time, not to mention a lot of fun (just look at the image I chose for the post!) deconstructing the so very many, many ways Mr. Horgan mischaracterized skepticism and made incoherent arguments—as did Steve Novella, for that matter. It thus should be no surprise that Mr. Thacker is apparently so enamored of Mr. Horgan’s “thinking” about skepticism, such as it is. His “thinking” on this matter is so much less clear that Mr. Horgan’s bloviation must have seemed like genius to the poor, benighted Mr. Thacker.

Interestingly, Mr. Thacker’s first target is not Steve Novella, or even me. It’s Skeptical Raptor. Of course, I know who Skeptical Raptor really is behind the pseudonym, but I get the feeling that Mr. Thacker really hates pseudonyms given the way he detests Orac, whose true identity is the worst kept secret in the skeptical blogosphere. Be that as it may, Mr. Thacker didn’t even bother to link to the Raptor’s post that he didn’t like, even as he mischaracterized it; so I will link to it.

First, here’s Mr. Thacker:

Skeptical Raptor lived up to Horgan’s critique for unflinching science absolutism by alleging that AstraZeneca’s vaccine was on a “hit list.” (Who created this scary “hit list” is unknown.) According to the blogger, Nordic country medical experts’ alarming reports of blood clots were just  “post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which states that because one event precedes another event, they must be linked.”

After questioning whether blood clots were linked to the vaccine, Skeptical Raptor then provided the answer in skeptic catechism: “Spoiler alert – the answer is no.” This post generated 3.6 thousand Facebook shares among the faithful, and was promoted by Dorit Reiss on Twitter.

That bit about the Raptor saying that the AstraZeneca’s vaccine was on a hit list is particularly disingenuous. The Raptor’s post starts out:

Next up on the COVID-19 vaccine hit list is that the AstraZeneca (Oxford University) vaccine causing blood clots (thrombus). Spoiler alert – no it probably doesn’t.

Does anyone interpret that opening paragraph as meaning that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is on a “hit list” of some sort? I didn’t, but leave it to Mr. Thacker to make a mountain out of an anthill. In the meantime, he leaves out the fact that the Raptor did leave open the possibility of causation. (Heck, the word “probably” should tell you that much!)

Then there was this later in the Raptor’s post:

At this point in time, there just doesn’t seem to be overwhelming clinical or scientific evidence that there is a causal link between the vaccine and blood clots. But as more data is gathered, maybe it becomes more of a concern. But right now, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any risks, real or imagined.

Which is an entirely reasonable thing to have said after the first reports from Europe. Sure, at the time he wrote that post, the Raptor obviously thought it unlikely that there was real association, but it was definitely true at the time that the evidence for a link between the vaccine and these clots was not particularly strong, and it was certainly true that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks. (They still do.)

Again, disingenuously, Mr. Thacker ignores later posts by the Raptor, going for a post a couple of days later:

Skeptical Raptor doubled down on the March 17 claims, with another post 11 days later arguing that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is probably not linked to blood clots, terminating any need for further investigation.

Oddly enough, Mr. Thacker completely ignores this post, in which Skeptical Raptor stated:

Admittedly, I am deeply troubled by the data out of Germany that shows a strong correlation with sinus vein thrombosis with the vaccine, especially in some women.

If this link is supported by more data in more countries (observations in one country can be affected by all kinds of bias), then AstraZeneca must be transparent in what is being observed and give warnings to healthcare workers to prepare for it.

Do I distrust AstraZeneca? I am getting really close to that. With their massive issues with their clinical trial design (which would not have any impact on safety just effectiveness), the issues with clotting, and their lack of an application to the Food and Drug Administration for an Emergency Use Authorization, I’m moving from a lukewarm supporter of this vaccine to stating that a lot more research needs to be done and fast.

And later:

Would I get the vaccine? No, unless there were no choices. The risk of these thrombosis events after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is just high enough that I’d rather get the other COVID-19 vaccines. But if there is no choice, I would be fine with the AstraZeneca version. But, I’m still troubled by AstraZeneca’s actions throughout this process.

Basically, Mr. Thacker, as is his wont, obviously cherry picked statements from Skeptical Raptor and used them to paint him as an uncritical cheerleader for the AstraZeneca vaccine. It’s an intellectually dishonest gambit, but “intellectually dishonest” is an excellent description of Mr. Thacker. To him, apparently, if you don’t view this incident as proof positive of the depredations of big pharma trying to cover up horrific harm by a vaccine, then you must be a “vaccine cheerleader” (and probably a pharma shill as well). Never mind that you started to change your mind as more data came in, as Skeptical Raptor did.

Next up, Mr. Thacker attacks Dorit Reiss for having Tweeted a link to Skeptical Raptor’s first post and later mentioning that vaccines generally don’t have long-term latent effects, which is, contrary to Mr. Thacker’s characterization, correct. He cited a Tweet from last year:

While ignoring a later Tweet:

Basically, the issue is that most known harms from vaccines happen soon after vaccination. Antivaxxers love to blame autism, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and more on vaccines administered years or even decades before. Basically, they try to blame damned near every malady on the planet on vaccines, and that was what Dorit was responding to.

Mr. Thacker really stretched to find the example of inclusion body encephalitis due to measles vaccine. It’s a very special case. Of course, one can’t help but note that measles itself can cause inclusion body encephalitis, but this complication happens almost exclusively in immunosuppressed patients, such as this woman with AIDS or this child with leukemia. It also generally does not occur more than 6-12 months or so after the measles, which is not exactly very long term. According to the CDC, there have only been three published reports of this complication happening to vaccinated people, with only one of them from the measles vaccine strain of virus, and attenuated live virus vaccines like the MMR are not recommended for patients with severe immunodeficiency. In fact, this example basically supports Dorit more than him. Ditto Mr. Thacker’s invocation of of reactivation of the vaccine strain of varicella (chickenpox) virus. The CDC notes three case reports of this phenomenon of the vaccine strain of virus setting up a latent infection and then reactivating. (In other words, it’s very rare.)

Mr. Thacker also cites the reports of narcolepsy after H1N1 vaccination as if it were slam dunk evidence of longterm effects from the vaccine. Interestingly, one of his targets, Steve Novella, wrote about the issue of narcolepsy after Pandemrix, the specific H1N1 vaccine whose use in Scandinavian countries was fond to be associated with narcolepsy. (The is, after all, a neurologist.) He did not dismiss it. Mr. Thacker also fails to note that there is still considerable scientific uncertainty over this link, the legal issues and the discontinuation of the vaccine notwithstanding. A critical appraisal from 2016 noted a number of serious problems with the epidemiological studies that found an association between Pandemrix and narcolepsy, including ascertainment bias, confounding, information bias, recall bias, and selection bias, with all of the major studies suffering from one to several of these problems:

In summary, there are limitations to the observational studies of the association between Pandemrix™ and narcolepsy, putting into question whether the relative risks observed in them reflect the true risk associated with Pandemrix™ vaccination. No systematic assessment was done of the potential impact of all potential biases or confounders. The consistency of the findings, as well as the strength of the association have been repeatedly mentioned as arguments toward a true association.23 But consistency in bias and confounding may also lead to consistently false positive results. While we acknowledge that a single confounder or bias may not explain the risk estimates observed, the combined effect of several confounding factors should not be underestimated. We advocate that researchers engage in a collaborative effort involving all stakeholders (vaccine manufacturers, academia, public health and regulators) to examine the possibility of reanalysing the data using designs that may be less prone to bias, and perform more systematic sensitivity analyses to assess the potential role of these biases. Whether the observed strength of the association will still stand after the use of more appropriate designs and adjustment is an open question. As a minimum, better estimates of the attributable risk will allow for a more informed assessment of benefit-risk.

No doubt Mr. Thacker will dismiss this review out of hand because of ties of several of the authors to GlaxoSmithKline, but I found their analysis compelling, and I really don’t have a dog in this particular hunt, contrary to what Mr. Thacker seems to think. In fact, I’m even willing to concede that there probably is an actual association, given reported genetic associations while noting that the average time to onset of symptoms was within seven weeks after vaccination with Pandemrix, which is not what I’d call a “long term side effect.” What impresses me more about Mr. Thacker’s examples is how far he had to stretch to find them. I’m betting that they were very best he could find, too, which makes his response even more pathetic.

Then Mr. Thacker makes the mistake of going after Steve Novella:

Another favored venue for skeptics is the ironically named Science Based Medicine, a group blog and Skeptic Bible run by David Gorski and Steve Novella, professors of medicine at Wayne State and Yale university, respectively. Neither Gorski nor Novella publish much of anything on vaccines in peer-reviewed academic journals, choosing instead to harangue actual experts from the safety of their skeptic website. Novella’s piece on AstraZeneca made this point rather clear.

“The countries who have suspended use of the vaccine have been highly criticized for their decision, given that it is not supported by the science,” wrote Novella, on March 17, only a few short days after the EMA began investigating. “This is the background noise that experts monitoring the safety of the vaccines, or any medical intervention, have to deal with.”

Amusingly, all Mr. Thacker can criticize me for is a single Tweet that promoted Dr. Novella’s March 17 post. The reason, of course, is that I never wrote about the association of clotting disorders with the AstraZeneca vaccine until after the same problem had been reported with the J&J vaccine. Don’t ask me why I never covered the issue. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m too US-centric. Maybe it was other things. The time when that story was active also just so happened to coincide with a grant deadline and a particularly fallow time on this blog. Mea culpa. I probably should have addressed it at the time and tried to make up for it with Wednesday’s post.

My failure to jump on the AstraZeneca story in a timely fashion aside, I still find it very funny how Mr. Thacker completely ignores Dr. Novella’s followup post from April 7 on the topic. In this post, Dr. Novella notes:

Amidst this uncertainty, however, the EMA has signaled it will officially report today or tomorrow that they are now ready to conclude that there is a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and an increased risk of CVST in people under 55. However, they also stress that the benefits of getting the vaccine (the risk of not getting it) is greater than this risk of rare blood clots. That is turning out to be a hard sell, and many people are forgoing the vaccine because of this possible risk.

There are a few points worth emphasizing here. First, we do not know what the ultimate answer is, in terms of if there a genuine increased risk, in which populations, and due to what specific mechanism? Each step of the way scientists are giving the best answer possible based on the currently available evidence, which includes a wide range of uncertainty.

In normal times, the precautionary principle would prevail in such cases. However, during a pandemic the risk of delaying the vaccine will definitely lead to otherwise preventable deaths. If you are dead, it doesn’t matter if you were killed by COVID or a rare vaccine side effect. So we should take whichever course leads to the fewest deaths, which is clearly on the side of getting the vaccine, even in the worst-case scenario in terms of risk of CVST.

Again, as is usual coming from Dr. Novella, this is an entirely reasonable take, which Dr. Novella later amplified in his post about the J&J vaccine and CVST on Wednesday. I’ll let Mr. Thacker’s failure to include that post slide, as Mr. Thacker’s post was written on Tuesday. However, there’s no excuse other than deception, laziness, or sloppiness for him not to have noticed Dr. Novella’s other followup on the AstraZeneca vaccine. I call intellectual dishonesty. Again.

Mr. Thacker reserves the bulk of his bile for David Grimes, an Irish science writer with training in physics and cancer biology who’s written an excellent book on critical thinking, The Irrational Ape: Why Flawed Logic Puts us all at Risk and How Critical Thinking Can Save the World. (In the interest of full disclosure in case Mr. Thacker finds photos of us somewhere on Twitter or Facebook, I’ll state right now that I hoisted several pints with David in Manchester in 2017 when we were both speakers at QEDCon. It was a fine time.)

Mr. Thacker really didn’t like this from Mr. Grimes:

Not content with merely dismissing safety concerns, another skeptic, physicist David Grimes wrote for the Irish Times that reports of blood clots were—get this—a public health danger because “anti-vaccine activists will weaponize AstraZeneca’s suspension.” Much like Gorski and Novella, Grimes eschews peer reviewed medical journals when making his vaccine arguments, writing for the newspaper that safety precautions are “no substitute for evidence-based decision-making.” (Note to Grimes: op-eds don’t substitute for peer-reviewed research.)

Again, the this op-ed was written at the time of the first reports out of Europe and well before the EMA report in early April. Again, a month ago it was even less clear than it is now whether the clotting disorders reported were due to the vaccine or not, and Mr. Grimes correctly noted that stopping vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine, particularly in Europe, where it is a major component of the EU’s vaccination strategy, is not a “zero-risk option.” He was correct, too. the fewer people vaccinated, the more who will die of COVID-19, and that has to be weighed against a rare clotting complication. He was also correct that the antivaccine movement would weaponize the decision, which it most certainly did.

Unfortunately, in attacking Mr. Grimes, Mr. Thacker actually helped the antivaccine movement in amplifying its message.

Paul Thacker: A useful idiot amplifying antivaccine messages?

Dr. Novella responded to Mr. Thacker yesterday, suggesting that he was trolling skeptics over AstraZeneca, and I do think there was certainly an element of that in Mr. Thacker’s “bloviations.” (Yes, I couldn’t resist.) Dr. Novella was, as usual, spot when he zeroed right in on the false dichotomy at the heart of Mr. Thacker’s attacks on skeptics:

He also, apparently, doesn’t like “skeptics” because he sees us as science cheerleaders, while he is trying to expose the corruption within the institutions of science. Ultimately this is a simplistic false dichotomy, which is evident in his writing now about the AstraZeneca vaccine. All nuance is gone, and rather he simply engages in a hit piece against skeptics. His piece is full of emotional and absolute terms, and devoid of anything resembling fairness or balance. For example, he writes:
Neither Gorski nor Novella publish much of anything on vaccines in peer-reviewed academic journals, choosing instead to harangue actual experts from the safety of their skeptic website.
What does any of this actually mean? The regular contributors to SBM all have medical or legal backgrounds, but we are science journalists. It is odd, to say the least, to criticize a journalist for not publishing in the peer-reviewed literature on the topics about which they report. This is the type of gratuitous character assassination that Thacker is now infamous for. Instead of engaging meaningfully with our actual arguments, he just attacks our character and motives. I would be happy to engage with his arguments, if he actually put any forward, but I can’t find them.

And:

In the end Thacker is falling for a false dichotomy – he thinks the world is divided between science cheerleaders (which he decries) and science exposers. This is not true – you can do both. There is much to celebrate in science, and simultaneously much to criticize. I guess this confuses Thacker, who seems to need a simplistic narrative to guide him.

It is most definitely a false dichotomy that Mr. Thacker is promoting. To him, if you aren’t anti-GMO and so anti-corporation that you view GMO manufacturers and big pharma as evil incarnate, you must be either a pharma shill or else so ideologically blinded that you have become a propagandist incapable of even considering criticism of your views. This sort of take is particularly rich coming from Mr. Thacker, who on the topic of GMOs is so biased as to be beyond reaching. It’s all projection at its finest, given that Mr. Thacker is one of the most rigidly ideological propagandists I’ve ever seen. I’ve encountered antivaxxers more willing to listen to reason than he is.

I also laughed out loud—literally—at Mr. Thacker’s bit about our supposedly “haranguing actual experts from the safety of their skeptic website.” Remember, this is coming from a guy who is most definitely not an expert in GMO science (or any other science, for that matter) and whose entire MO for years has been to use abusive FOIA requests to harass actual experts in GMO science in order to find dirt on them and/or to make their lives so miserable that they stop publicly defending their science. Then, these days, he writes it up on his Substack.

Pot, kettle, black, Mr. Thacker. Pot. Kettle. Black.

Unfortunately, this is all of a pattern with Mr. Thacker. I’ve already discussed his use of abusive FOIA requests, but there’s one incident that really stands out:

For the past 7 years I ran We Love GMOs and Vaccines on Facebook. I am a middle school technology teacher with no connection to industry. My small team of volunteers helped reach millions of people with a blend of science articles and funny memes.

Due to “independent journalist” Paul Thacker tracking down a middle school student of mine to tweet about me, I have decided to unpublish the page. The safety of my students come first. Especially because he accused her of “agreeing with me” because she had no clue what he was talking about. This comes after he also tried tweeting at my local police department and possibly used an anonymous name to email my staff about me.

Part of his tactic involves making profiles of his target on Sourcewatch, so that he can then cite his own writing in his harassment.

He has a history of abusing people, and will probably never stop. But I never dreamed he would go after a 12 year old.

This is who Paul Thacker is.

Worse, in attacking those of us who defend vaccines from antivaccine pseudoscience, Mr. Thacker is amplifying antivaccine messages. His article attacking us basically mirrors antivaccine messaging portraying science advocates as denying horrific vaccine side effects, when it is obvious to anyone with a modicum of reason that we are trying to put the story of a rare and as yet unproven (but definitely concerning) association between specific clotting events and adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and J&J into context in the middle of a pandemic. In other words, we are trying to be nuanced, as antivaxxers take the absolutist view that these clots must definitely be caused by the vaccine and that a rare type of adverse event must mean that these vaccines are unacceptably dangerous—very much like Mr. Thacker, in fact. Indeed, Mr. Thacker even mirrors the conspiratorial thinking that our refusal to immediately infer causation from the reported correlation between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots must mean that we are in the pockets of industry, basically a variant of the pharma shill gambit.

In fairness, Mr. Thacker didn’t explicitly invoke this gambit in his article. However, showing that his accusation against Mr. Grimes of being more radical on social media than in his other writings is also projection, Mr. Thacker did, in fact, “go there” on Twitter:

I laughed out loud. The American Council on Science and Health? If Mr. Thacker sees this post (which I will make sure that he does after it goes live), I urge him to search “ACSH” or “American Council on Science and Health” on this blog. He won’t find what he thinks he might find. He’ll find that the ACSH definitely does not like me and I do not like it. Let’s just say that I’ve repeatedly referred to the group as industry astroturf (as has fellow skeptic Mark Hoofnagle). Let’s just say that I laughed at its incompetent attempt to “take down” Dr. Mehmet Oz while bemoaning how it would likely empower the man I like to refer to as “America’s quack.” I not infrequently post or Tweet a hilarious takedown of ACSH by Samantha Bee from back in her Daily Show days entitled Little Crop of Horrors, in which a hapless ACSH member was shown basically cheerleading for the pesticide industry and attacking Michelle Obama’s organic garden, and whenever someone defends ACSH I link to an article it published in January 2017 heartily approving of all of Donald Trump’s science and health picks. This is not a new development, either. I first wrote about how ACSH is unreliable and too tight with industry nearly 11 years ago.

I’ll even let Mr. Thacker in on a little secret. ACSH dislikes me so much that Alex Berezow and Josh Bloom long ago blocked me on Twitter.

Later, he started insulting me:

Josh Bloom really likes me

I think I’ve made my point about ACSH and me. No doubt that won’t stop Mr. Thacker from trying to tie me to the group the way he tried to tie Dorit Reiss to it.

I’ll conclude by asking the question: Is Mr. Thacker antivaccine? I don’t know, but he sure does seem to talk the talk on Twitter, at least:

Mr. Thacker doesn’t quite reach the level of what I would unequivocally call “antivaccine.” That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me if he were, in fact, antivaccine. He is, after all, remarkably resistant to disconfirming facts. For example, someone posted a link to Dr. Novella’s rebuttal in the comments after Mr. Thacker’s article, and he deleted the comment, saying:

Marcus, I’ve had to delete your comment linking back to Steve Novella because that piece has factual inaccuracies and multiple bits of nonsense, like linking to the American Council on Science and Health. I don’t mind the meandering and Novella’s inability to address a critique, but we’re not allowing anonymous accounts to link back to disinformation. Please do better in the future. Thanks.

Notice how, as is usually the case, Mr. Thacker cannot or will not identify a single factual inaccuracy in Dr. Novella’s post.

The principle of crank magnetism says, in essence, that if you believe in one form of pseudoscience, quackery, conspiracy theories, or crankery you are likely to believe in multiple forms of pseudoscience, quackery, conspiracy theories, or crankery and that cranks tend to accumulate more crank beliefs with time. Given that Mr. Thacker is rabidly anti-GMO far beyond what even a reasonable suspicion of corporations would warrant, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he were antivaccine too. On the other hand, he could just be so anti-corporation and anti-pharma that he distrusts even vaccines, all without actually being antivaccine, in which case he’s a useful idiot for the antivaccine movement.

In the end, I don’t really much care what Mr. Thacker is, be he antivaccine or a useful idiot for the antivaccine movement. By attacking skeptics discussing COVID-19 vaccine safety issues without actually being able to refute them factually other than at the margins, he is, either intentionally or inadvertently, amplifying antivaccine misinformation.

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]

62 replies on “Paul Thacker amplifies antivaccine messaging by attacking science communicators”

It is my conclusion from reading Thacker’s efforts over the years is that he has an anti-corporation bias. If somebody is making money off something it must be bad and anyone defending that product has to be paid to do so. It is a bias that Thacker has never turned on himself. He more recently seems to have drifted into an anti-skeptic position. Now while I at times have some issues with what seem to be some of the tenets of skepticism (my position can frequently be summed up as “It is more complicated than that”), I certainly recognise when they are right and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I have been following the data on blood clots after vaccination with intense interest, given I am slated to be getting the AZ vaccine. I am happy with the abundance of caution approach taken by some jurisdictions, but find the total cessation of use by Denmark to be puzzling. I am not a pre-menopausal women in any shape or form, so my risk will be minuscule. Thacker seems to want to embrace the Nirvana fallacy, if a vaccine is not perfectly safe, only vaccine cheerleaders will support it. What if it is safe for 75% of the population? I say we give it to that portion of the population and find something else for the rest. Paul Thacker seemingly fails to grasp this is possible.

In his determination to put the boot into skeptics, Paul Thacker has dropped the ball on evidence.

I suspect you are probably correct. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the years, it’s that anti-corporate bias (of which anti-pharma and anti-GMO bias are but two forms) is often a gateway to pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Look at Peter Götzsche, for example. He went from likening big pharma to the mafia to supporting, probably inadvertently, antivaccine messaging. Thacker seems to be of a similar bent. He hates big corporations so much (and, to be fair, there’s a lot to hate) that he’s gone from reasonable criticism into the realm of conspiracy theories. Now, when pharma actually does things pretty darned well and makes a necessary and effective product, he just can’t bring himself to drop the suspicion enough to take a proportional balanced view of an issue like clots after the AstraZeneca vaccine, preferring to wallow in conspiracy theories and to view anyone who does try to bring nuance to the discussion of adverse events after COVID-19 vaccines as either shills for big pharma or so ideologically deluded that they might as well be pharma shills.

I think you may have the gateway thing backwards, at least with this guy. Not being familiar with Thacker, I followed a couple links and read a bit about his history. The impression I get is that he has always had the sort of personality issues that can lead to embracing conspiracy theories, and he latched onto anti-corporatism. That is, even when his writing was more in the terrain of “reasonable criticism”, people found him kind of scary on a personal level.

I have known many people with an “anti-corporate bias”, the vast majority of whom were not into pseudoscience or conspiracy. But that may reflect the fact I spent my career amidst ‘the academic left’, I suppose. I certainly have run across some tin-foil-hat types who trained their focus, at least at the time, on one corporate ill or another. But that’s how they came across to me: as folks with some sort of complex that just happened to latch onto an issue that met their psychological needs…

A. Here is my source for the comment about longterm side effects. Note that they mention the 2009 narcolepsy but conclude differently than Mr. Thacker. https://www.chop.edu/news/long-term-side-effects-covid-19-vaccine

B. He does come across as really seeking attention, and a bit like “everyone I don’t like is Monsanto.” It’s a little sad.

I had very little interaction with him in the past, though I did agree to help administer a Facebook page after he, apparently, harassed a 12 year old pupil of a former administrator. He still doesn’t seem worth much time.

I’m not even sure why he gave me so much space in such admirable company, because I didn’t write about AstraZeneca at all, though I did share Skeptical Raptor’s post and maybe others – I share a lot of vaccines news. My other comments were from different discussions.

And not really connected, since the blood clots in question appeared pretty shortly after the vaccines.

Maybe he’s still angry over the page. I am very grateful to you and skeptical Raptor for covering the blood clots issue in multiple posts – as usual, you put it in a way that’s very helpful to lay people like me.

ACIP, by the way, is meeting again next Friday.

A curious thing about “anti-corporate” crusading is how one-sided it tends to be.

You’d think that Thacker, a writer for the anti-GMO group U.S. Right To Know would be more curious about its corporate ties, including funding from the Organic Consumers Association which reportedly gets a big chunk of its income from only partially disclosed organic industry sources (how this fits in with the OCA’s virulent antivax advocacy is another mystery, although probably explainable on the grounds of crank magnetism).

The highly selective “reporting” that Thacker has engaged in regarding pro-immunization advocates’ positions on potential rare association between certain Covid-19 vaccines and clotting events, has been a feature of his attacks on those who’ve defended genetic modification technology in agriculture.

“Every field has trolls who cherry-pick and mislead in order to discredit people who disagree with them; it’s the modern world and we have to deal with it. Thacker’s gonna thack.”

http://medium.com/@tamarhaspel_4162/lets-talk-about-journalism-ethics-mine-and-huffpost-s-3e83de20892c

*re those antivaxers who gleefully jump on every report of a possible Covid-19 vaccine side effect, no matter how tenuous or even ludicrous: by draining public confidence in vaccination, they’re helping to ensure that the pandemic is extended, thus boosting pharma profits made by selling drugs and other treatments for Covid-19, far beyond anything they make from vaccines. Is this sheer stupidity on antivaxers’ part, or are they Secret Pharma Shills? OoooooO.

He regularly retweet RFKJr stuff, and RFK tweets him. We’ve thought for a long time that he’s anti-vax, and he supposedly consults for some organization that he won’t disclose. We have wondered if it’s RFK’s. Funny how he’s not into transparency for himself.

Mostly, though, he’s just a conflict entrepreneur. He writes handwavey things full of red string that he thinks will bring him fame like he had when he worked for Chuck Grassley. Everything since has been “glory days” about that. Strikes me like Spaulding Grey who kept seeking that perfect moment, even if he has to fabricate it. He makes up fake profiles to edit Sourcewatch, where he puts bogus unsourced lies and then uses them as “evidence”. It’s gonna catch up with him someday. He has the journalistic ethics of Stephen Glass.

i don’t get the reference to Spaulding Grey. Can you explain? (I mean, he was a storyteller, so — like, say, Shakespeare — fabrication was basically his job…)

I find him kind of a tragic case, and before the ultimate end I wasn’t surprised how that turned out.

But it’s a reference to Swimming to Cambodia, which is characterized in Wikipedia as this: “….his search for his “perfect moment”. I got the sense that he would never reach the place again, and it would torment him.

This makes me wonder if RFKjr (or Bigtree, or whomever backs all of them) brought in Thacker as their attack dog. I feel like the US anti-vax movement sees COVID-19 as a big win or big lose scenario which has them pulling out all the stops, and as Dr. Novella noted the other day on SBM, they smell blood in the water regarding this clotting issue, leading to their current feeding frenzy.

Here’s what bothers me:
whether it’s internet trolls or journalists, when they represent themselves as experts/ critics in medicine or science YET they manage to disparage very common solutions strongly advocated in those fields. How can you proselytise against vaccines when they are one of the most powerful weapons in SBM/ Public Health? How can you rail against GMOs. chemotherapy or psychiatric meds when these developments are supported by decades of research and consensus opinion? It’s not as if SBM itself doesn’t criticise chemotherapy or meds and seek to improve outcomes. If I said that I had degrees/ training/ etc in psych and then advised AGAINST meds, you would call me a crank because SB psych, although it doesn’t give all meds carte blanche and critiques them frequently, doesn’t throw them away.

“For example, the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines are both adenovirus-based vaccines and no such clots have been observed after 180 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, both of which are mRNA vaccines.”

But that’s not true … As of 04-09, there were 630 total events using keyword “stroke” following covid vaccination on VAERS & 29 of them were regarding J&J. There were 263 total reports using keyword “clot” following covid vaccination & 11 of them were regarding J&J. But it’s VAERS, so none of them have been confirmed. Using keywords means that even adverse event descriptions worded: “No clots detected” are included but I always read the entire reports & there are many, MANY events of actual DVT, PE & CVST (among others) being clinically diagnosed following vaccination with the mrna vaccines.

It’s not being confirmed & it’s not being discussed. But it has been observed.

“Such clots” being the key word. Not all clots are the same. There is actually data on this, and ACIP examined it on Wednesday. There have not been any after Pfizer vaccines, and while there were three after Moderna, none had low platelet.

So as Orac pointed out, this has not been observed after mRNA vaccines.

There are of course many things that happen after vaccines, but the combination of very low rates – below background rates – and no basis to link means they did not send a signal.

I wonder if the anti-vax position boils down to:

Death (or serious long term effects) from disease is natural.

Death (or serious long term effects) from vaccines is not.

If natural is better than not natural then the relatively massive health benefits of vaccination are also not natural and therefore, by default, are evil.

Evil, by definition, is evil and cannot do any good. Hence vaccines are evil and cannot do any good. The evidence says that they are doing good but they can’t be, hence conspiracy.

Hail Hydra.

@ Christine Kincaid

You are tiresome. Post Hoc Ergo Prompter Hoc. Shit happens! On any single day well over 1,500 Americans die of heart attacks, so if within a 14 day period after receiving a vaccine someone has a heart attack, the odds are astronomical it would have happened anyway. And you can go to CDC website and it explains how they have teams who thoroughly investigate serious VAERS reports, including access medical records, lab records, etc, And other nations do the same. And it is being discussed, on CDC website, FDA, WHO, UK, Swedish (well, I can read Swedish), etc.

You are really sickening because NOTHING anyone says will change your mind, including that if future research finds a few rare events, compared with the risk from actual COVID, the benefits to risk ratio would be exponential. Seatbelts reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries by about 50%; but there have been over the past 30 or 40 years a couple of deaths attributed to seatbelts (they twisted and end when tightened sliced through abdomen) and a perhaps several hundred with bruised kidneys or rupture bladder, compared with literally 10s of thousands of lives saved. So, if we went by your mentality, we wouldn’t use seatbelts. Right? But then some who were injured by the seatbelt may have without them suffered death or more serious injury.

So, based on the data and studies from around the world, I go with the vaccines; but based on your fantasy world, all the different nations with different cultures, histories, political systems, health care systems, educational systems, all of them have either incompetent epidemiologist and/or other public health workers or worse than incompetent all part of official or unofficial conspiracy to benefit the profits of the pharmaceutical industry, despite the total sales of vaccines around the world per year represents only about 2 – 3 % of total sales.

You are a despicable closed-minded individual.

but there have been over the past 30 or 40 years a couple of deaths attributed to seatbelts (they twisted and end when tightened sliced through abdomen)

I’ve escaped way too much stupid stuff I’ve done not to take that seriously {makes me believe in ‘many-worlds’}:
https://youtu.be/LTkyhd9svUs?t=136

“Not surprising how you vaccine absolutists” — Mr Thacker

Nope. Nope. Nope… I’m a vaccine supremacist.

Gee… I heavily dislike medicine, but I dislike idiocy even more. I’ll even go as far as claiming the current coronavirus pandemic is peanuts compared to pandemic of idiocy I’ve been witnessing lately. Stumbled on the Twitter feed of Eric Chabrière. It threw me into fits of rage. And that guy is a university professor ????

@ Joel Harrison

Really glad to see you hanging around here.

@ Christine Kincaid

Glad to see you too, though it’s nonetheless depressing reading you on VAERS… Hope you’re doing well.

@ Denice Walter

“whether it’s internet trolls or journalists, when they represent themselves as experts/ critics in medicine or science YET they manage to disparage very common solutions strongly advocated in those fields.”

I wouldn’t even be that generous to journalists in my country. When they go on to qualify the first molecule they meet as “Very promising” “Very powerful” “In its own league”… I believe we’re not in the realm of false balance anymore.

This is starting to become severely ridiculous. I only wish ridicule could kill… That’s a lethal pandemic I wouldn’t mind in the world of journalism.

@ F68.10:
I’m happy to see your return! Your ridicule is as appreciated as are your other talents

An article: The Atlantic The Vaccine Hesitant-Man of Europe18 March/Yasmen Serhan
details how France, a wealthy country with access to vaccines, includes a large number refusing vaccines which will affect herd immunity, making it more difficult to achieve.
Similarly, yesterday MSNBC video, Joy Reid interviews Dr Fauci who explains how vaccine refusal will impact control of the virus.
Both include political commentary..

Here’s what worries me:
places like Israel, NYC and California may now be approaching herd immunity BUT at the same time, there are multiple pockets of resistance where vaccine acceptance is low ( see @ Gorskon twitter with a map of Michigan/ Becker’s Hospital Review/ daily positivity rates by state ).There are no dividing walls between the two environments- the virus does not respect borders: it will continue to replicate and mutate as long as people don’t actively oppose its spread
So the era of Covid will drag on and on..
.

.

,

@ Denice Walter

“An article: The Atlantic The Vaccine Hesitant-Man of Europe18 March/Yasmen Serhan details how France, a wealthy country with access to vaccines, includes a large number refusing vaccines”

I’ve seen the vaccine defiance going unparalleled in France. Before that, honestly, I knew figures were high, but we did not have a vocal anti-vaccine movement in anyway comparable to the high profile Del Bigtree…

But you know… when you see that France has one of the highest vaccine defiance rates and at the same time some of the most forceful mandatory vaccination policies among its neighbors… it’s not entirely surprising that there is a backlash.

The defiance I see around here is much more anti-establishment than it is anti-science. Vaccine policy matters only inasmuch as it’s an opportunity to bash politicians. People simply do not care about the science. They never use the word “evidence” when discussing vaccines… and believe that can oppose vaccines on only the grounds that they dislike politicians. Which really is the main “argument”. Which hides their real defiance on vaccines.

Christine Kincaid does try to contradict people on this blog with “evidence”, whatever it’s worth. People around here simply do not even bother. They’re more science-blind than they are anti-science, in some sense. They do not even understand the meaning of the word, as far as I can see. That’s the sad reality: it’s only emotions and politicking. They are proud to think that scientists are just a bunch of clueless individuals. And I must say that the soap opera we have in the news with ridiculous infighting among medical doctors only convinces people that scientists are just as reliable as car salesman and as arrogant as the Spanish Inquisition. It’s hard not to credit them with common sense on that front… media around here are absolutely ghastly and operate on the principle of ego display to such an extent that vaccination enforcement will be a hopeless endeavour.

As always, it will end with very authoritarian measures from the state and the French reaching for their pitchforks. They’re only waiting for that, anyway. They do not care about science in any way. But they do have this pitchfork fantasy or fetish… Give me an irish IRA terrorist anyday instead of an average frenchman.

Alert!

The California Dept. of Public Health is engaging in “Tyrranny!!!!!!!!! (sic)…California publishes “hit list”. Stand up no, or be snuffed out by Allopathic Tyranny!” (from James Lyons-Weiler on Twitter).

A DPH advisory to school officials and child care facilities (linked to by “health freedom” lawyer Rick Jaffee) states that all medical exemptions to vaccination issued before 1/1/20 will be invalid for the upcoming school year (or as of 9/1/21 for child care facilities), if they were issued by a California physician disciplined in any year by the state medical or osteopathic boards.

Needless to say, the list of ever-disciplined California doctors is very long (though much, much shorter than the list of never-disciplined California doctors). It would seem then that if your child was exempted from vaccination requirements by a doc who once was sanctioned for any reason including inadequate record-keeping or drug dependency, the exemption would be invalid and need to be renewed by an unblemished physician.

The intent to purge suspect exemptions is laudable, but I wonder why the DPH is apparently casting so broad a net. Maybe it’s the fault of Tyrannosaurus Newsom, the governor.

The amended bill to tighten medical exemptions had a provision that exemptions from disciplined doctors are invalid. The law was badly drafted, with a result that action by the CDPH – the department- was needed before schools could reject these exemptions.

It’s about time the department acted on this and put in what is needed to implement the bill.

And Lyons-Weiler might really not know enough to know this. But the activists he got this information from know that this was in the bill and their protests of surprise are insincere.

Allopathic Tyrrrrannnnyyyyyy!!!!!

It’s confusing, Denice. Whatcha want an update for?

Edging jokes aside, she’s on windows 10 and hasn’t gotten one for a couple days. Which is atypical and arises concern.

Narad is right.
Sometimes I can see that there are new comments but I can’t access them; sometimes I don’t get to see any new stuff at all; sometimes commenting helps partially.
I wouldn’t want to miss my colleagues’ words of wisdom, Dr Dangerous

I was going to say, “What’s the frequency?” but I doubt that youngsters would get it
-btw-I once rode a very tall escalator with two REM dudes .:

@Denice,

I’ve been having trouble with both RI and SBM of late.

Mostly the RI interface works reasonably well. But, at least with Chrome on my desktop, it often discards newer comments from the list when I select a comment on a different thread. It gets very hard to do a thorough review to catch up.

SBM uses Disqus which has its own share of quirks. The comment sorting algorithm will bury a very recent comment I want to check out behind pages and pages of weeks-old comments. This happens even when I sort by newest first. However, direct links from Disqus email notifications seem to work.

Orac writes,

“Basically, the issue is that most known harms from vaccines happen soon after vaccination. Antivaxxers love to blame autism, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and more on vaccines administered years or even decades before.”

MJD says,

Hmm, I might add that “vaccine safety advocates” have blamed allergies on some vaccines administered years or even decades before.

Q. Which one of Orc’s minions is “Skeptical Raptor?”

I guessing Dangerous Bacon in that carrion is an important food source for raptors.

An observation…

I was out yesterday late afternoon and evening, in and around small cities near [REDACTED!] and noticed that there was much more traffic on the major roads, more cars at shopping areas, extra people/ games in parks and nearly filled parking lots next to restaurants, Maybe it was better weather BUT I read that vaccination rates have gone up quickly with expanded categories of eligibility and businesses have recently entered another phase of re-opening- all with a lower Rt ( under 1)..
I live 100 yards from a rather expensive, ultra modern pizzeria/ cocktail bar and I heard revelry well after midnight- not that I minded- mostly people laughing and drinking Negronis or Martinis as they usually do. and I should..
I feel like something’s changing and notice that although overall, we have had very, very few restaurant closures but there are now new OPENINGS with mail adverts and signs. Vaccines might keep the improvements going this time. .

@ Denise Walter

You write: “Narad is right.
Sometimes I can see that there are new comments but I can’t access them; sometimes I don’t get to see any new stuff at all; sometimes commenting helps partially.
I wouldn’t want to miss my colleagues’ words of wisdom, Dr Dangerous”

I don’t understand why you can’t access them??? I’ve e-mailed friends/colleagues to check out my comments and they were all able to, though some have PCs, some have Macs, some use Google Chrome, some Safari, some Yahoo, some Firefox. What’s going on with your computer?

To clarify:
I might see a new comment listed at “Recent Comments” but nothing I try can allow me to see the comment itself except sometimes adding a new comment myself. Sometimes not even that.
It’s a PC with Edge ( which I had to install to see certain videos and twitter). altho’ I can also switch back to Internet Expl .Maybe I should try that.
I have no idea why or how. It doesn’t happen on all threads though.
Do you really think that I understand computers?

I have this problem on Chrome, where either I can’t seen any new comments, or when I click the link to take me to a new comment it’s not there.

Over at SBM I have a problem where the longer the comment thread is, the slower my ability to type a new comment, which means I have to give up around ~300 comments.

I’ve seen the same problem, JustaTech. I’ve waited minutes for the first few typed characters to show up on the screen. I keep the comments VERY short and do my lurking elsewhere.

Please don’t worry about piddling with your setup {OS/browser}. That is not what is happening.

I could go into the caching header with developer edition of FF but I’m clueless with that stuff. What I have surmized is that there is a CF timer, it is device specific, and if one continually checks for updates that the timer is reset upon each visit. If you keep checking faster than the ‘cool-down’ then the page will never go live. Until you make a comment. Any comment. I’ve resorted to saying “.” .

The home page refreshes a little faster so people see that comments were made. The posts, not so much.

Please don’t go around screwing with your browsers or OS. Ask youselves this: Are any other sites similarly fucked up?* No? There you go.

*actually, there are a couple I use for piracy that are behind CF but they refresh every 20 seconds.

Nothing is going on with anybody’s computer or browser. It is the man-in-the-middle hosting service I said I wouldn’t bitch about. Your friends can see your stuff because it is a different machine (ray-id, other checks, I even thought it might want a cookie) that likely hasn’t linked to the site for days until you ask.

I doubt you ever notice because it probably takes hours to belt out all that wisdom.

I was thinking on Orac’s conundrum and this came across:

https://bestseedboxhosting.wordpress.com/

Way out of my scope but I was thinking that if Orac had an IT guy and he knew how to exploit the rented box {many employ remote desktop} then maybe a shell could be snuck onto one of these dirt cheap rent-a-racks for ultimate bigass connection limits and bandwidth:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seedbox

seedbox.io comes to mind.

@ squirrelelite

Yep, Orac informed me that DISQUS holds up comments with too many URLs and very long comments, sometimes posts next day; but sometimes I’ve posted a short comment, perhaps 100 words, no URLs, posts immediately and sometimes not for 4 – 5 hours. Oh well.

But haven’t had any problem reading Orac’s articles nor comments following.

Vaccination rates are plunging in Palm Beach County, Florida. The governor blames “messaging” from public health officials who suggest that caution should not end with being vaccinated..

DeSantis: “The messaging should be: Get a vaccine. Because it’s good for you to do it. It works,” he said. You’re not going to have to be doing anything, like, abnormal. You can live your life.”

“The advice, he said, can be boiled down to two sentences: “If you get a vaccine, you’re immune. So act immune.”

http://palmbeachpost.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/04/16/demand-vaccine-dives-palm-beach-county-640-000-residents-without-1-shot/7252017002/

Never mind that no vaccine is ever 100% effective. Just go ahead and pile into the bars en masse.

What a maroon.

They’re already piling up unvaccinated. Vaccines would improve safety. But if he really wanted higher rates, his messaging about vaccines passports was unhelpful. He reinforced resistance and catered to anti public health sentiment. Now turning around and blaming public health isn’t stupid, it’s blaming the victims. Highly cynical, highly ugly.

DeSantis is spending more time signalling to Trump supporters. It means that all his comments about the vaccine are going to be contradictory. After all, who needs a vaccine for a disease that doesn’t cause harm to most people?

This is a problem of DeSantis’ own making. After contributing significantly to the 34,000 COVID-19 deaths so far, he is helping contribute to more.

What did Florida do to deserve that level of criminal stupidity?

I’m finding it to be like a reverse psych ward. But the retirees come for the low taxes. The middle of the state has little to offer except for stifling heat most of the year. Yet there’s “The [sprawling] Villages,” which gets its own spot on the local weather report rather than the city it’s technically part of. I mean, this is a place that has separate traffic signs for golf carts — not because people golf, but because they’re no longer fit to drive.

I just want out, but apparently the courts are backlogged because of COVID, and I might have to show up somehow for the probate hearing. Oh, and there’s the small issue of WTF to do with the house.

^ Oh, right: I think I’ve mentioned this, but the husband of the couple that lives next door (who have been nothing but generous with their time) has felt free to express his opinion that “there are too many Blacks and women.” Where, I have no idea, because there’s only one Black family in this particular compound.* My late father would always point out and name the neighbors when we would drive out the maze, but it was, “That’s so-and-so, the Black guy.”

*Not The Villages. One might recall the news story in which some asshole was driving his golf cart with a “White Power” flag installed.

Welcome to the Sunshine State. At least most of the peninsula will sink in the event of a nuclear exchange.

One final item: I speculate that this concentration of Trumpista cranks is a result of non-cranks retiring where they already live, rather than migrating to a comfortable hell.

“At least most of the peninsula will sink in the event of a nuclear exchange.”

It is a drought you want. The underlying karst topogaraphy of the state is primed to implode into itself.

https://youtu.be/Z02coWd2ixI?t=4

“now looks like it is circling the drain” LoL.

https://youtu.be/uTFNXyxCjbI?t=26

“Jeff laid down his head on the pillow to go to sleep. And we never seen him again.”

oh god oh fuck; get away from there. I’ll take the house, given that no monetary transaction need take place.

About Florida? It starts here.

People come here for the death in life. And water volleyball, maybe a little bocce.

Because it’s damper/cheaper than God’s Waiting Room, ie, Palm Springs?

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