In the first two parts of this series, I reviewed the evidence on the SARS-COV-2 spike protein and how it is one of the main sources of damage in the disease Covid-19. I also reviewed what I call a “pseudoscience panic” that arose recently on social media about the safety of the mRNA vaccine and the spike protein, and how those leading this panic have misread, misinterpreted and/or misrepresented the evidence.
The big questions I have left are: Why them? and Why now?
First off, why them? Why did 3 very well qualified scientists get it wrong?
Was it just an honest mistake? We all make them. We’re human, after all. Scientists get things wrong all the time. In order to do science, you have to accept that you may make an error, and in fact, part of the scientific method is all about anticipating and correcting for errors and sources of bias. A scientist should be extremely aware of the propensity to make errors and be on guard for them.
It’s possible to get something wrong, and if a particular scientist has a public facing profile, they might not want to admit the mistake for a variety of reasons — ego, reputation, financial issues. What to do? Simple — double down and keep up the appearance of being right, finding whatever rationale they can to look like they are still right and everyone else is wrong or malicious in calling them wrong.
Humans are nothing if not excellent in fooling ourselves. As Prof Richard Feynman once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”
This is one possibility.
The other possibility is more venal, and I hesitate to mention it, but the professor himself questions the “perverse financial interests” of people involved in the development of mRNA vaccines.
Conflicts of interest are always a potential source of bias of which we should be aware.
So, who are the players in this drama of the Spike Protein Pseudoscience Panic and what might be their conflicts of interests?
Professor Bret Weinstein, PhD, is a former Evergreen University professor and self-described member of the Intellectual Dark Web, who has made a career out of what he calls his role of “challenging orthodoxies.”
Weinstein rose to international fame after he left his position at Evergreen University over a conflict regarding the campus’s Day of Absence policy. You can read all about it here. He now is a visiting fellow at Princeton and hosts a podcast titled the Darkhorse Podcast with his wife Professor Heather Heying, on Youtube and other podcasting channels.
Note the title “Darkhorse” which tells you a lot about the perspective of Prof Weinstein.
A dark horse is “a candidate or competitor about whom little is known but who unexpectedly wins or succeeds.”
Professor Weinstein attempted to start a new political party “to save the republic” by uniting centre left and centre right. In his most recent podcasts on the pandemic and vaccines, he is planning to “save the world in three easy steps.
I could say something about messiah complexes but that wouldn’t be politic.
From the start of the pandemic, Professor Weinstein has tended to explore the more “unorthodox” explanations for the origins of the virus — promoting the “lab leak hypothesis” early on when it was largely discounted by the mainstream.
Here, you can watch his podcast on the lab leak hypothesis, where he interviews Yuri Deigin from Moscow, a “tech entrepreneur and longevity researcher” who has done “extensive” research into the origins of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic. Deigin is a computer scientist with an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Seems like the right expert to discuss the origins of the pandemic, right? A self-described “serial entrepreneur” computer scientist from the Russian Federation?
Where have we heard that term before — serial entrepreneur? Oh, yes… Another “expert” that Professor Weinstein had on his podcast to discuss the safety of the mRNA vaccine — Steve Kirsch.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5SRrsr-Iug
Now, I have not made any conclusion about the origins of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic. It could be from a lab leak. It could be a natural zoonotic disease. The evidence is not yet in.
It is one thing to keep an open mind until all the evidence is in, and consider and discuss all options and evidence. It is quite another to seek out proponents of the most extreme variety who have quite strange credentials to “discuss” the matter, broadcasting that discussion to a wide and largely scientifically illiterate audience who doesn’t have the capacity to evaluate the evidence being presented.
Professor Weinstein feels quite comfortable pointing out the “perverse incentives” that Big Pharma has in denying the efficacy of Ivermectin and promoting the mRNA vaccine.
In this video, you can listen as Prof Heying, Weinstein’s wife, argues that if Ivermectin had been found to be effective in treating and preventing COVID-19, the vaccines would never have received Emergency Use Authorization. In other words, Big Pharma suppressed the evidence on the efficacy of Ivermectin in order to profit off the production of mRNA vaccines.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfqxCkJw0Rk
Prof Heying starts out suggesting “Wouldn’t it be a legitimate word to use, that it would be criminal if you didn’t. If you knew that it would be a good idea to do [large-scale studies on Ivermectin]”. She further says, “By not doing the large scale clinical studies on Ivermectin, and thus it not being approved by the FDA for use in Covid, it opens the door for EUAs for the vaccines we are now all living with.”
In other words, Heying and Weinstein are suggesting that it as criminal on the part of — who? Pfizer? The CDC? The Government? The WHO? that they did not undertake large scale studies of Ivermectin, an unproven treatment of Covid-19. They are also suggesting that this criminality was undertaken in order to ensure that Pfizer and other vaccine producers would receive EUA for their mRNA vaccines.
Heying and Weinstein are questioning the motives of those involved in the development of the vaccines in use today.
They are suggesting that the behaviour of those involved is in fact “criminal”.
In fact, it is always a good policy to question the motives of those involved in an issue like the pandemic response, because motives may affect willingness to speak the truth and provide reliable evidence. That is why researchers are required to report any conflicts of interest when they submit research articles for peer review and publication. Conflicts of interest can lead to biases in arguments and evidence and need to be taken into account.
So what are the conflicts of interest involved in this Pseudoscience Panic on social media?
One option is that conspiracies sell. Conspiracies are fodder for members of the conspiratorial class, who feed on conspiracies. Social media is rife with this kind of narrative.
Why do people believe in conspiracy theories like Q-Anon, 9-11, JFK Assassination, Moon Landing, Elvis Isn’t Really Dead?
From Karen Douglas, PhD (Kent) a leading researcher on conspiracy theories:
Believing in conspiracy theories and being suspicious about the actions of others is in some ways quite an adaptive thing to do. We don’t necessarily want to trust everybody and trust everything that’s happening around us. And so they have always been with us and to some extent, people are all, I guess you could call everybody a conspiracy theorist if you want to use that term at one point or another…As far back as we can remember, people have been having these conspiracy beliefs and having these suspicions about the actions of hostile collectives of individuals. This is just the way that we are wired up to some degree.
It is in our nature as humans to mistrust and be suspicious. Perhaps an evolutionary adaption that allowed us to be skeptical of other people’s motives and actions. It appears to be a quick way for a blogger or podcaster or Youtuber to gain an audience — focus on conspiracy theories, like UFOs, ancient aliens, 9-11 Truthers, Q-Anon-like conspiracies, etc.
Professor Weinstein has become a kind of expert in conspiracy theories and challenging orthodoxies, capitalizing on his status as a “cancelled free speech advocate” who is only fighting to save Western Civilization itself!
His podcasts questioning the safety of the mRNA vaccines and the “suppression” of alternative therapies such as Ivermectin have earned him a wide audience.
Indeed, he calls the so-called suppression of discussion on Ivermectin as “crime of the century stuff”.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9xrs0VfDY8
He admits that the research at the time was not conclusive, and questions the motives of those who did not pursue research into Ivermectin. Not pursuing an unproven treatment during a global pandemic killing hundreds of thousands is the Crime of the Century?
His podcasts have also garnered a few strikes from Youtube content minders, and several of his videos have been either removed or demonetized. In fact, Youtube has denied him and his wife the ability to livestream their usual Saturday podcasts, and so he has had to go to another platform to do the livestream.
No doubt this episode will raise his stature as a victim of the slings and arrows of an honest broker out to save the world.
Why has this professor of biology with an expertise in genetics and a self-described fighter against orthodoxies become a leading anti-vaccination proponent pushing an unproven theory about the origins of the pandemic and pharmaceutical treatment?
Misled? Misinformed? Mistaken? Anti-censorship Crusader for Truth, Justice and the American Way?
In Part 4, we’ll look at another scientist in this social media pseudoscience panic.