John Ioannidis is one of the most published and influential scientists in the world, someone whose skewering of bad medical research we at SBM have frequently lauded over the years. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Since then, Prof. Ioannidis has been publishing dubious studies that minimize the dangers of the coronavirus, shown up in the media to decry “lockdowns,” and, most recently, “punched down”, attacking a graduate student for having criticized him. What happened? Did Prof. Ioannidis change, or was he always like this and I just didn’t see it? Either way, he’s a cautionary tale of how even science watchdogs can fall prey to hubris.
Antivaccine propagandist Del Bigtree’s ICAN is waging a legalistic war on state health departments’ efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccination based on attacking them for “false advertising.” This is largely an unforced error on the part of health departments, which now need to be very cautious over their wording promoting these vaccines.
Looking back on 2020, if there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that crises reveal character. Unfortunately, even as many doctors bravely risked their lives taking care of COVID-19 patients, the character of too many other physicians was been found wanting, as they spent 2020 denying the pandemic and spreading misinformation. What can be done?
This week, eminent young rising star oncologist Dr. Vinay Prasad once again expressed his disdain for skeptics. To borrow Dr. Prasad’s own metaphor, Orac shows how the esteemed oncologist’s renewed attack on medical skeptics is like dunking on a 7′ hoop. Unfortunately, it needs to be done, and Orac does it, refuting a truly ignorant and misguided attack.
Dr. Ashish Jha has led other scientists into the fray against COVID-19 pseudoscience and deserves a lot of praise for that. However, to be more effective, he and his colleagues need to understand the critical role of conspiracy theories in science denial.