“Scary Blossom” (Collapsing athletes/Neuriva)

Continuing their run of delivering a fresh piece of misinformation at least weekly, anti-vax activists are pushing a trope that athletes are collapsing on the field after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. They share context-less videos of players, usually of the European soccer persuasion, fainting during a match. A non sequitur insinuation that this is the result of vaccination follows. But there is no reason to think that the collapsing took place since the advent of the vaccine, or that the collapsing players were vaccinated, or that the vaccine was responsible.

Reuters and Snopes contacted FIFA, whose officials told them they had seen no increase in cardiac events among their players, and certainly none related to vaccinations.

While myocarditis and pericarditis may occur after an infinitesimal percentage of shots, none of the athletes in these videos were diagnosed with these conditions. Snopes reviewed a video that included several images of soccer athletes passing out and then looked into the cause. It turned out that most suffered from heat exhaustion or dehydration and none were the result of vaccine-linked cardiovascular misfortunes.

In short, this is all another anti-vax lie and nothing suggests a connection between the coronavirus vaccine and collapsing soccer players. Indeed, it would seem very strange that this only impacted one sport on one continent. For all the NFL that I watch, I have yet to see these types of collapses, vaccination-related or otherwise. Additionally, Snopes noted some of the soccer players were revealed to have NOT been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, not precisely making it up but not doing a whole lot better is what actress Mayim Bialik does when she touts brain supplements along with her supposed standing as a neuroscientist. The products in question are Neuriva and Neuriva Plus, the latter which combines the original ingredients with vitamins B6, B12, and folate.

However, Dr. Harriet Hall notes there is no evidence these additional ingredients increase the product’s efficiency. Since the product has yet to be subject to double blind testing, we are unsure if it works. There are studies which show the added ingredients may have impact by themselves, though that’s far from certain since they were tested on aging mice. And even if true, it would not necessarily follow that Neuriva Plus is effective for human brain power or memory.

As to the person making such claims, while Bialik did earn a doctorate in neuroscience, she doesn’t seem to have ever worked in the field. University of Chicago professor emeritus Jerry Coyne searched for her name in the Web of Science and found zero publications to her credit. Nor is she employed as a professor, doing laboratory work, or submitting findings for peer review.

While she can’t be compared to anti-vax misinformation agents in terms of damage done or lies being told, she is not doing any more science than they are.

“Intentional confounding” (Galileo Gambit)

I watch copious amounts of professional football, regularly soaking in five games a week. The NFL is the only interest that has consistently been near the top of my list of passive hobbies from grade school through the upper reaches of middle age. And in those 46 years, I have never seen anyone who can consistently make an absurdly long, logic-defying, into-a-no-visible-window throw like Aaron Rodgers.

As such, it seems fitting that his biggest failing would come off the field. He declined a CDC-recommended vaccine, publicly lied about having received it, and failed to follow league COVID protocols. He then quadrupled down while appearing on Pat McAfee’s podcast.


There, Rodgers declared himself the victim and offered self-congratulation for his critical thinking skills while committing a logical fallacy trifecta of appealing to incredulity, tradition, and consequences. He also made a series of claims that might charitably be called dubious (utter balderdash lacking any scientific or medical grounding would be a more accurate descriptor).

For all this, he received high praise in right-wing circles. He was touted as brave, an adjective that once applied to those who “courageously face danger,” but when used by the likes of Clay Travis, Jason Whitlock, and Candace Owens, means “agrees with me.”

Rodgers was also lauded by some in the Twitterverse for rebelling against authorities, specifically the CDC. While government agents should be held accountable when they shirk their duties or use them for personal gain, it does not follow that all actions taken by every government worker or agency is nefarious. The CDC has a multi-billion dollar budget, which enables the world’s foremost epidemiologists to research and combat disease. To think that someone with no training in scientific disciplines will spend two hours on Google and YouTube and uncover the REAL truth is the height of folly and ego. It also leads frequently to the Galileo Gambit.

This logical fallacy holds that if most people, especially those in authority, dismiss or mock an idea, this means the idea is correct. The thinking goes, “Galileo was mocked, his ideas threatened established thinking, and he was proven right. Therefore, the mocking of my iconoclastic position means I am also correct.”

But having one thing in common does not mean two persons have everything in common, or even one more thing in common.

Galileo was vindicated when further science confirmed his heliocentric theory. But for Rodgers or any other alternative medicine proponent to be likewise vindicated, their favored treatments would need to be consistently shown to be effective in double blind studies. To be kind, that has yet to happen.

The Food Babe, lacking any science for her claims, frequently employs the Gambit and is fond of saying, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” There is nothing here that validates any of her assertions or points, and the same is true for Rodgers and others who endorse natural immunity, invermectin, or hydroxycholoroquine as superior to vaccination.

As a Reddit user retorted, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule yet, then they fight you, then it turns out you were wrong all along.” Being in a class with Galileo requires more than being dismissed. It requires being at the forefront of discovering evidence that proves your hypothesis. There is no automatic connection between being scorned and being right.

On a linguistic note, those employing the Gambit don’t even get the comparison right. It wasn’t the scientific establishment that went after Galileo, it was the anti-scientific establishment Catholic Church.

Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. David Johnson noted there are rare instances of a lone genius being proven correct after challenging the prevailing scientific notion. He cited the example of Einstein upending some Newtonian ideas. “Einstein built a new consensus among the experts by presenting arguments and evidence that was, ultimately, undeniable,” Johnson wrote. “When people resisted his ideas, he never once said, ‘Hey, they laughed at Galileo too.’ He kept trying to convince them with reason and evidence.”

And for every Einstein, Galileo, Wegner, or Wright Brother, there are untold masses who fought against “the system” and lost because they were wrong. As Carl Sagan said, some initially-vilified scientists were laughed at, but so too was Bozo the Clown.

As to Rodgers, his medical regimen is more in line with Bozo than Pasteur, and it forced him to sit out Green Bay’s game with Kansas City. As someone who champions scientific advances and critical thinking, I was sad to see it. As a Chiefs fan, my thoughts were more positive.

“Straighten up” (UpWalker)

The UpWalker is a touted as a revolutionary development in senior mobility, with a supposed ability to facilitate pain-free walking, moseying, and shuttling about.

The product is advertised as being preferable to its lower-sitting predecessors and other alternatives. Commercials show can users humped over and being forced to endure pain in their back, wrists, and shoulders. By contrast, peppy UPWalkers are upright and looking straight ahead.

Visitors to the product’s website are told that traditional walkers cause users to hunch over, which leads to painful pressure in the aforementioned places. This, compared to the UpWalker, whose design will “support you in a secure upright position, giving you better posture so you have more confidence and less pain.”

Boosting self-esteem seems a bit beyond the abilities a mobility device, but let’s focus on the assertions that other walkers cause pain and a stooping posture. In truth, neither canes nor properly-adjusted walkers will force the user to look down, hunch over, become pained. Those with spinal deformities sometimes use walkers or canes but it is of course the deformity which causes stooping and no piece of merchandise will fix this condition.

Similarly, elderly persons do tend to begin stooping but this is not aggravated by walkers or canes and won’t be helped by the UpWalker. And if one’s wrists, shoulders, back hurts, they will continue to do so no matter what mobility device is being employed.

One UpWalker claim is that it products distribute a user’s weight onto forearms instead of the wrists. Even if this is true, walkers and canes are designed to improve balance and stability, not to carry weight, so there would be nothing to be gained by switching to the UpWalker.

Further, properly-adjusted walkers and canes never force the user to hunch or to have pressure applied to wrists, backs, and shoulders. If a person is leant over while grabbing a walker, it either means they either have a physical condition that predisposes them to do so or the walker is set too low. If the former is the cause, the user will be unable to lift themselves high enough to use the UpWalker. If is the latter, the UpWalker will confer no advantage over traditional walkers.

When walkers are properly adjusted for the patient’s height and used as intended, the patients remain upright and do not suffer back and wrist pain unless those are their usual conditions. In short, the company has created an artificial problem that it then sells the solution for.

“Immune to reason” (Natural immunity)

One canard from the anti-vax throng is that contracting and surviving a disease will leave the person with immunity from further instances of the condition. While this might sometimes be true, dealing with the unpleasantness of the condition can be avoided altogether through vaccination. There is also the significant matter of a disease perhaps leaving a person with lifelong immobility from polio, or dead from the likes of Whooping Cough. The lifelong immunity the anti-vaxxers tout is desirable but is also available through vaccination. Asserting that immunity gained through disease contraction is superior to immunity via vaccination is to commit the naturalist fallacy.

This is a common trope from anti-vax and alternative medicine types and has found fertile ground among religious groups, which equate natural with their deity. Prolific skeptic blogger David Orski cited a commentator on the evangelical Christian network Victory TV who beamed, “I personally choose God-given natural immunity over the new experimental vaccine for the safety and protection of myself and my family.”

But even if this natural immunity were conferred via a god, goddess, or spirt, it still requires the person to suffer through the physical symptoms and mental anguish of the disease, it leaves the person at risk of follow-on complications, and thus cannot by any reasonable standard be considered superior to a solution whose greatest unpleasantness is usually 10 minutes of a sore arm. I had three rough hours the day after my second COVID vaccine dose, but compared to a multi-week hospitalization, ventilator hookup, or death, this experience was minor.

A vaccine preps the immune system by using a dead pathogen or protein so that the body will respond efficiently if the genuine pathogen later enters the person. While contracting the disease and making it through might leave a person immune, there are issues with post-infection immunity that make vaccination, even after recovery from COVID-19, desirable.

For example, Gorski cited studies which showed that more than a third of COVID-19 infections result in zero protective antibodies. Another concluded that natural immunity fades faster than vaccine immunity, particularly after mild infection. A third found that natural immunity alone is but half as effective as natural immunity combined with vaccination.

As for the study form Israel which suggested that those receiving the Pfizer vaccine were 13 times as likely to be hit with the delta variant than those who had recovered from the coronavirus, it has yet to be peer-reviewed. Bypassing peer review and taking one’s claims straight to the public is usually a pseudoscience giveaway. Further, many key items from the study were buried.

Gorksi wrote, “You have to dig into the text to see that the absolute numbers of infections were quite low (for example, only 19 reinfections in one group) and actually do the math yourself to figure out that the breakthrough infection rates after vaccination were low. In model number one, the breakthrough infection rate was 1.5 percent; in model number two, it was 1.4 percent. This study actually showed that the Pfizer vaccine was quite effective. It also showed that those who had recovered from COVID-19 and were later vaccinated were much less likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19.”

So the numbers the anti-vaxxers found favorable were cherry-picked and highlighted, while the most significant results of the study were ignored. Naturally.

“Right is wrong” (Pandemic partisanship)

The most perplexing aspect of the pandemic is its partisan nature. The shutdown should have been a time when we bonded over our collective misery and came together for the common good. That was, in fact, the case for about six weeks before some right-wingers became enraged at their inability to go to Arby’s and began plotting gubernatorial assassinations and the storming of capitols as a result.

Again, this left me baffled. Since a virus has no concern with its host’s political leanings, the pandemic should have been the ultimate nonpartisan issue. Instead, a nation already divided by a petulant child masquerading as a head of state become even more fractured. It has gotten so wacky lately that talk show host Dennis Prager insisted that anyone who wears a mask outdoors would have been a willing Nazi accomplice. Vaccination clinics today, Auschwitz tomorrow. Logical leap.

In a parallel development, the anti-vax movement that was once part of the burned-out hippie fringe has now completed a bewildering transformation to mainstream conservative thought. While the great majority of Republican federal lawmakers, governors, and Fox News blathering heads have received the COVID vaccine, they caution their followers against doing the same.

To be sure, describing the anti-vax movement as having shifted from Jenny McCarthy’s terrain to Tucker Carlson’s is a bit simplistic. There here have always been anti-vaxxers of varying political stripes. This included libertarians whose belief in limited government was so extreme they felt it should take no action to prevent the spread of disease, no matter how deadly. And there were Republicans who, having bought into the rugged individual American myth, preferred to go it on their own, or at least thought that’s what they were doing. A motorcycling free rider who eschews helmet usage boasts he’s doing it all on his own, without thinking about how the highway got there or how his bike got manufactured. Similarly, some feel they are going their own way on vaccines without realizing that others getting immunized brought anti-vaxxers the herd immunity they are enjoying. Now let’s look at how much worse it has gotten.

A huge factor was a 2015 California law passed in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak. This eliminated nonmedical school vaccination requirements. During the bill’s debate, right-wing lawmakers, while having gotten jabbed themselves, learned the political gain of employing buzzwords like freedom, choice, religious liberty, and parental rights.

From that groundswell, we now have objection from nearly all elected Republicans to any COVID control measures. For these politicians, mounting deaths and the overwhelming of the medical system pale in importance to getting reelected. China, where the virus originated and with four times the U.S. population, has yet to hit 5,000 coronavirus-related deaths. Meanwhile, the “pro-life” party leads resistance to vaccines, masks, testing, tracing, and distancing, as the number of U.S. COVID deaths approaches 700,000.

This wasn’t always the case. Mississippi has long required schoolchildren to be vaccinated against nine diseases and allowed no religious exceptions.

Today, that mindset has been brushed aside in favor of gaining political capital and getting one over on those silly pro-science liberals and skeptics. Many elected Republicans such as Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Marjorie Taylor Green, Mo Brookes, and Josh Hawley have dispensed with the pro-freedom façade and now openly embrace opposition to vaccine science.

Still, there are still some who may frame their opposition as one of choice. Two years ago, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey fought an attempt to broaden school vaccination exemptions. But this year he forbid local governments from requiring COVID vaccines for employees, calling the type of initiative he had championed in 2019 to now be “dictatorial.”

It’s reminiscent of Gov. Orval Faubus fighting to keep Little Rock Central segregated. His motivations were based more on political expediency than a personal bigotry. But history rightly reviles Faubus for his stance, regardless of why he took it. The same fate awaits those who today are embracing the more repugnant options available during the pandemic.

“Disease, please” (Germ Theory denial)

Why did people get all worked up over 9/11? Americans had a 99.99999 percent survival rate that day. And some of those killed were obese, diabetic, or had high blood pressure, and so were on limited time anyway.


While this take would be rightly reviled if a speaker seriously suggested it, there is little difference between this position and those of the anti-vax, pro-COVID crowd. Arguing that terrorism victims deserved their fate would be an incredibly offensive position, but so too is the notion that COVID-related deaths are meaningless since such patients represent a small minority or they had a medical condition.

This stance also dismisses the science behind vaccines and masks, and overlooks that the unvaccinated are 29 times more likely than the vaccinated to be hospitalized for the coronavirus.


Among this group, there is an even more extreme subset which holds that the COVID and other viruses don’t exist, and therefore cannot be transmitted, cause disease or be fatal. In this alternate reality, illnesses are the result of lifestyle choices and environmental factors. These Germ Theory deniers are more dangerous than their flat Earth brethren, who are merely wrong and impossibly stubborn. Those who deny Germ Theory harm not only themselves, but others as well by not taking preventive measures like hand-washing, vaccination, and anti-biotic treatments.


Germ Theory came from the brilliant mind of Louis Pasteur, though there were competing hypothesis at the time from his contemporaries, Claude Bernard and Antoine Béchamp.


The former proposed the concept of milieu intérieur. In an online piece, journalist Beth Mole wrote this idea suggested that disturbances to the body’s internal equilibrium caused disease and pathogens were a nonfactor. Meanwhile, Béchamp proposed a similar idea, thinking the body manifested pathogens in response to an internal change.

Subsequent scientific findings by the likes of Robert Koch and Joseph Lister validated Pasteur’s idea that invading organisms led to disease. However, the postulations by Bernard and Béchamp still find favor in the conspiracy theory and alt-med crowds. While still on the fringe, Germ Theory deniers have experienced an uptick in their numbers during the COVID-19 era.

They believe that bacteria is a symptom of a disease, not a cause. They also assert that viruses are incapable of passing from person to person. They, just barely, believe in disease, but feel that a condition called toxemia is its lone manifestation. And this, the deniers say, is the fault of the afflicted for having made poor nutritional and lifestyle choices. In their universe, disease symptoms are merely a ravaged body’s attempt to detoxify itself.

Their solution is to overload on fruit and avoid just about anything else, to include meat, dairy, eggs, breads, pasta, soy, nuts, oils, potatoes, garlic, onions, cereals, salt, coffee, and drugs, be they recreational or medicinal. Vaccines, antibodies, and doctor visits are also verboten.

To a denier, the promotion of vaccines and medicine is part of a cover-up. This is another reminder that the defining point of most conspiracy theories is that any contrary evidence is part of the conspiracy. The SkepDoc, Harriett Hall, tells of a raw food enthusiast she encountered who declared that vaccines were unable to prevent disease and existed only to enrich pharmaceutical companies. Any statistics showing a decrease in disease when vaccines are administered were fabrications aimed to hide the truth.

Hall also related that she knew a chiropractor who felt disease was caused by spine misalignment. He refused immunizations and felt keeping his spine in check made him immune from all disease and sickness.

Many such theorists subscribe to a litany of alt-med practices that supposedly relieve the body of toxins. Which toxins are being removed and the method by which this happens are unexplained. They also commit a correlation-causation error by arguing that those who see the doctors the most often are the sickest. This is usually true, but only because people by and large go to the doctor when they are sick. They don’t go when healthy, only to be made ill by the appointment.

Meanwhile, it’s a matter of reasoned debate as to whether the deniers’ stupidity is the cause or a symptom of their condition.


“Inflamed issue” (Anti-inflammatory diets)

The Alternative Medicine Holy Trinity consists of boosting the immune system, detoxing, and decreasing inflammation.

As to the first point, except in extreme cases like late stage cancer or treating AIDS patients, boosting the immune system is neither possible nor desirable. An elevated immune system is characterized by autoimmune conditions such as lupus, celiac, and multiple sclerosis.

Meanwhile, detoxing is only genuine if a known toxin is being removed by a medically-understood process. An example would be a person exposed to a dangerous level of arsenic being treated by a toxicologist. Of all the “natural detoxing regimens” being touted, the only legitimate one is having a working liver and kidneys. And if those are shutting down, you need the ER, not an acai smoothie or mineral salt footbath.

Now onto the idea of reducing inflammation, which will be the bulk of this post. The usual idea is to avoid foods that will cause inflammation and subsequent unpleasant conditions, though exactly how they are doing that and what is being inflamed is often unexplained.

Indeed, there is no science suggesting that disease is caused by inflammation, that inflammation needs to be avoided, or the food avoidance would accomplish that.

While alt-medics wish to boost the immune system, which would be harmful were it possible, they wish to decrease inflammation, which could likewise be detrimental. One manifestation of inflammation is redness and swelling, which results when the body heals from injury or battles an infection. As Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning explained, “The capillaries dilate, allowing more blood to flow through, and also stretching open their pores, allowing white blood cells to escape the capillaries and inundate the damaged area. Inflammation is your body’s natural, healthy immune response to some problem.”

In most instances, alt-med proponents would welcome an all-natural, immune system-based response, but here such a solution is dreaded.

It should be noted that inflammation is not always the body’s way repairing tissue or fending off infection. It cases like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, it can worsen the conditions. But this does not mean that there are specific foods that can help the patient reduce the inflaming.

Dunning cited the SkepDoc, Harriett Hall, who informs us that inflammation is a complex response involving many different physiological processes and is not a single phenomenon that could be addressed by a uniform response.
In those instances when inflammation is detrimental, there are anti-inflammatory medicines that can help with this, but are there any food that would do the same? Not according to anything that food scientists have uncovered. However, it should be noted that many alt-med websites focus more on what foods to avoid rather than ingest to combat inflammation. And here, they may be right, but nor for the reasons they think. That’s because avoiding all foods through fasting may have some impact.

Dunning explains: “When you fast, there’s a slight increase of lactic acid in your blood, along with beta-Hydroxybutyric acid, which is associated with ketones. These trigger some chemical reactions that turn off inflammasomes.”

Adopting the other extreme, gorging, will likewise increase inflammation. “If your gigantic meal is high in saturated fats, this effect is greater,” Dunning wrote. “The increased inflammation is associated with your body’s overdrive effort to metabolize this giant meal, and it subsides once the food has been digested.”

In summary, inflammation in a healthy person is the immune system’s way of fending off disease or tissue damage. Trying to fight that is both counterintuitive and futile.

“Vax facts” (HPV immunization)


Some people paint anti-vaxxers as misinformed and misled, seeing them being driven by fear rather than ill intent. But I assume a more hardened approach. Those operating from a mistaken but well-intentioned position would refrain from doing what has been done to the family of Riley Hughes. When he died in infancy from whooping cough, which he was too young to be vaccinated against, his parents turned their unimaginable grief into productive action and launched a campaign to spread awareness of the vaccine’s importance. For this, they were accused by anti-vaxxers of having murdered their son and trying to cover it up by inventing the whooping cough angle. Others denied the child ever existed, and other grieving parents have been subjected to nonstop doxing, abuse, and slander. These are not the actions of good people.

Contrast that with the approach of those in the pro-vax crowd. Here in Moline, a child just entering high school died three years ago from Acute Disseminated Dncephalomyelitis. (ADEM). Anti-vaxxers convinced the mother that the HPV vaccine her son took earlier in the year caused the death and persuaded her to join their ranks. Despite his mother making the situation public and becoming an anti-vax campaigner, I will not mention her or her child by name out of respect and sensitivity.


Writing for the Skeptical Raptor, law professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss noted that the no epidemiological factors exist to establish a link between the vaccine and the death.


The deceased suffered from a headache but that mundane malady quickly transformed into something much more serious. He had to be hospitalized and become unable to breathe on his own. Meanwhile, his left side became paralyzed and his brain swelled. Based not on evidence or science, but on what they wanted to believe, anti-vaxxers pounced and connected the situation to the HPV vaccine. However, there is no evidence supporting a link between HPV vaccines and ADEM, which is characterized by a brief but widespread inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. ADEM often follows viral or bacterial infections, and occurs infrequently after vaccination for measles, mumps, or rubella, but not for HPV. Several large studies have found no connection between HPV vaccines and ADEM: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29280070/M.


Inevitably, when you vaccinate large numbers of people, you will have some bad things happen after the vaccines, or any other activity. But it is post hoc reasoning to tie the incident to having a vaccine, eating Rice Krispies, or running a half-marathon.

There are other reasons to doubt a link. First, the child’s ADEM manifested 40 days after the vaccine. In a large study of ADEM and vaccines, such a time period would be at the farthest reach possible for there to be a connection.


Second, the few cases of ADEM reported after HPV vaccine administering occurred after the second does and the child received just one.


Finally, his mother has initially mentioned that he also had a viral illness in the weeks before showing symptoms of ADEM, and infections are much more associated with ADEM than are vaccines.

“Stock footage” (COVID claims)


There is more information available today, and accessible in more formats, than ever before. While this proves desirable in some instances, it also creates an opportunity for a person to select which of these pieces of information he or she chooses to believe and use it to seemingly confirm preexisting opinions.


With regard to the pandemic, this can mean that medical expertise, professional advice, and years of high-quality research are brushed aside for an uncle’s anecdote, right-wing Twitter outrage, and YouTube rants. In an example of the latter, Dr. Dan Stock assails an Indiana school board about the putative danger and shortcomings of masks and COVID-19 vaccines.


Writing on the Deplatform Disease blog, Edward Nirenberg describes the Stock’s speech as a Gish Gallup. This refers to a proponent rattling off a bunch of points in quick succession. Most or all of the points may be wrong, but the content is so voluminous that few persons will commit the hours needed to research and refute each argument. For the speaker, a Gish Gallop confers the additional advantage of a listener thinking that if only 10 percent of the points raised are sound, that’s sufficient reason to doom the issue being attacked, be it evolution, GMOs, or pandemic control.


Stock claims COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses are small enough to go through your mask. Like many anti-vax arguments, this represents a grain of truth in a bushel of bunk. While a single particle is small enough to make it through a mask, that is not how viruses travel. They do so inside aerosols and droplets, which masks do stop.


Stock further states that all respiratory viruses wait for the “immune system to get sick in the winter,” an assertion which lacks even the aforementioned single grain. But the people who seek out this information, such as the half dozen who littered my Facebook feed with it, are never going to look into this. They are content to consider watching this video “their research,” which is a corruption of the concept of research.


Nirenberg conducted genuine research on the matter and he explains that, “The seasonality of respiratory viruses is a complex matter dependent on many factors, many of which have nothing to do directly with immunity. For instance, when it’s cold, people gather indoors for prolonged periods close together in poorly ventilated spaces. Humidity is lower which also affects virus transmission, as it allows aerosols to remain suspended for longer and mucociliary clearance may be impaired.”


Stock throws out another mistaken notion, alleging that vaccines serve to derange the immune system. He offers no proof to support this extreme claim, and fails to even explain what would constitute deranged immunity.


The Gish Gallop kicks into top speed as Stock rattles of a laundry list of viruses that have no vaccine. While this is true, his non sequitur conclusion is that virologists will therefore be unable to control COVID. What is hampering the arrest of COVID are the likes of Stock, who put of public disinformation, and the minions who swallow it all without question, while ironically labeling those with the opposite opinion to be the sheep.


Stock then declares that breakthrough infections prove the vaccine is ineffective. But Nirenberg notes that many respiratory viruses are enjoying a seasonal resurgence, likely because or relaxed mitigation measures. Further, CDC data shows the vaccine has been nearly 90 percent effective against symptomatic outbreaks and there have been virtually no hospitalizations or deaths from COVID among the vaccinated population.


Stock discusses antibody-dependent enhancement, which he mislabels “antibody-mediated viral enhancement.” Nirenberg counters that Stock defines ADE incorrectly by suggesting it is exclusive to vaccines. Moreover, he mixes up ADE and VAERD, which are distinct entities and ADE does not have to be caused by a respiratory infection. It is also unrelated to how pathogenic a virus is. If ADE were happening, reinfections would be both common and more severe with COVID-19.


On a related note, Stock references the Barnstable County outbreak and, in a post hoc reasoning error, says this proves the vaccine to be ineffective. But Nirenberg wrote that if 100 vaccinated persons are in a room where an aerosolized virus is introduced, a few may get sick, but however many people fall ill, 100 percent the stricken will have been vaccinated. The way to gauge the vaccine’s efficiency is by comparing the percentage of vaccinated persons who get seriously ill from the virus with those who are sickened while being unvaccinated. Right now half of the country is vaccinated against COVID and hospitalized coronavirus patients are more than 95 percent unvaccinated.


Stock further claims no vaccine ever stops infection, which is untrue, and besides, a vaccine need not prevent infection for it to halt transmission and provide robust public health benefits.


Stock then references a mumps outbreak and claims the outbreak was caused by vaccinated persons shedding the virus onto the unvaccinated. Besides being mistaken, this crosses into dangerous territory since an unhinged believer may act on this falsehood and attack medical workers and mask-wearers.


In yet another erroneous claim, Stock states that the combination of vitamin D, ivermectin, and zinc has successfully treated 15 COIVD patients. This is unbacked by any data, and as Nirenberg points out, with a sample size this minuscule, a proponent could find any activity and falsely label it a cure. For example, those 15 could watch Mr. Beast three hours a day, with none of the group developing serious coronavirus complications, and we could then conclude that bingeing on quirky philanthropist videos will end the pandemic.

“Fine Young Cannabis” (CBD medicine)


As cannabis becomes more acceptable socially and legally, the ingredient within which does not get the user high is being touted as a cure for many ails, and is available in a diverse range of products. There are cannabidiol oils, lotions, pills, teas, drink supplements, gummies, tinctures, vaporizers, creams, and probably even transmission fluid by this point.


Some purveyors go beyond CBD’s putative health benefits and endorse a conspiracy angle by touting cannabidiol as a panacea that terrifies Big Pharma. 

This makes no sense, as if there is money to be made by selling a cure or mitigation, the pharmaceutical industry will be all over it. Right now, that is limited to the prescription drug Epidiolex, which treats some epilepsy disorders. If CBD is proven in double-blind studies to have other medicinal uses, that would titillate, not terrify, Big Pharma.


Such evidence isn’t there yet, but that has failed to rein in the enthusiasm with which some persons promote and buy CBD products. This usually means over-the-counter sells not backed by standards, safety, research, or known efficiency.


While only THC will get users high, CBD remains an active ingredient, meaning it can impact the body. Just how much impact claimed depends on who is hawking the product. Skeptic leader Brian Dunning wrote that mercola.org lists this cattle-call of conditions it says CBD can alleviate: COVID-19, migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, digestive disorders, brain and mood disorders, high blood pressure, muscle spasms, nausea, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, opioid addiction, and animal cancer.


Claims like this take advantage of persons and family members desperate for a mitigation or cure. 

Genuine medicine treats a specific condition and doctors and scientists understand the method behind how the active ingredient works. The proper dose is determined in the laboratory and patients dispense the right amount in a resultant pill, syrup, or lotion.


Assertions that virtually any condition can be cured by an unspecified amount of a solitary product without a given timetable for success is a pseudo-science giveaway.


To avoid fraud charges, companies and advertisers use vague or meaningless terms like “clinically tested” or they post anonymous anecdotes testifying to its rousing success. Dunning notes that everyone has mood swings and some hours, days, and months are better than others. Our senses are prone to error and inconsistency and everyone has selective memory. This is why anecdotes are useless from a medical research perspective and why repeated double blind studies are necessary to determine a prospective medicine’s efficiency.


Further, the CBD products are not only mostly unproven, but their dosages and purities vary wildly and could therefore never be part of a meaningful treatment plan. Moreover, since it’s a pharmacologically active, CBD may have deleterious side effects in large doses and could pose drug interaction dangers
.