Dirt, blame, The Incredible Hulk, and more…

FSM News and Articles

Friends of Science in Medicine, Australia – the 10th Anniversary: Friends of Science in Medicine celebrated its 10th birthday last month. In memory of our beginnings, here is an article by FSM President Ken Harvey, guest blogging for the indefatigable Edzard Ernst.

FSM Friends’ News and Articles

Mask Up: “Average COVID-19 mortality per million was 288.54 in countries without face mask policies and 48.40 in countries with face mask policies.”

Black Oxygen Organics (a.k.a. BOO): Magic dirt quackery to treat COVID-19: “Basically, it’s dirt billed by its believers as ‘magic dirt’ that sells for $110 a bag (plus shipping) through a multilevel marketing sales model. What can this latest COVID cure tell us about the relationship between alternative medicine and COVID-19 denial?”

Radioactive 5G Pendants: “What’s the best way to protect against the non-existent risks of harmless non-ionizing radiation? With harmful ionizing radiation, of course.”


How do you solve a problem like misinformation? Understanding key distinctions between misinformation/disinformation, speech/action, and mistaken belief/conviction provides an opportunity to expand research and policy toward more constructive online communication.

Blaming the victim: It has become very common to see comments blaming the unvaccinated for the health consequences of that choice. More disturbingly, this is often coupled with demands that unvaccinated people should be deprioritised for ICU care. This is never going to be the way that medical ethics works. Medical care is and must be provided with out blame or judgement. 

But why shouldn’t we judge the unvaccinated? Because for each person spreading misinformation, we can also show you a person who is a VICTIM of misinformation. Not everyone has the skills to protect themselves from the threat of these propaganda campaigns. Thus every patient deserves care and empathy, even if their choices has made a tragic outcome much more likely. Even in triage, decisions are based in being able to provide the most care, not in blame. “…all of this is a spectrum. Anyone can be conned, if the con is sophisticated enough… No one can be a master of every area of knowledge. And all of us are vulnerable to some degree and in some contexts. No one, in short, is perfect. … People may choose not to get the COVID vaccine because they have been victimized by misinformation, sometimes relentless and sophisticated misinformation. Some are simply going along with their tribe or their ideology. Some may be mistrustful of the system with good reason, because of past exploitation and broken trust.”

I’m an E.R. doctor in Michigan, where unvaccinated people are filling hospital beds: “A young patient sick with Covid-19 was admitted with dangerously low blood oxygen levels. His spouse and infant child came in to say goodbye just before he was sedated and intubated. ‘I don’t think I’ll see you again,’ he said. He died before the end of the week. He was unvaccinated.”

Anti-vax mum who claimed she ‘was not afraid of Covid’ dies from virus at 29: “Unvaccinated people are six times more likely to test positive for Covid than vaccinated people, according to the recent research by Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention.”

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Dumpster diving for data.  As 2021 shambles to a close, the misuse of VAERS by antivaxxers continues apace: AKA, antivaxxers abusing the VAERS reporting system.  AKA the plural of anecdote is not data. “Notice how antivaxxers always cite VAERS and only rarely, if ever, cite other, much better and more reliable, vaccine safety monitoring databases, such (VSD), the (CISA) project, or FDA’s (PRISM)… The main problem with using VAERS to estimate the frequency of AEs [Adverse Events] after vaccination is that, in essence, anyone … can report anything to VAERS… One … report claiming that the flu vaccine had turned him into The Incredible Hulk and another claimed a vaccine had turned his daughter into Wonder Woman. Both reports were accepted. As a system, it was never intended to provide an accurate estimate of the frequency of AEs related to vaccines, but rather to serve as an early warning system, a ‘canary in the coal mine’, if you will, for possible new vaccine-related AEs. In other words, VAERS is a hypothesis-generating, not a hypothesis testing, system, and its hypotheses are tested using better systems.”