Few genres of medical writing are more pathetic than the “I was cancelled” essay, especially because these pitiful pieces are almost always written by loud, famous, influential doctors who never treated a patient with COVID, but instead spread copious misinformation about it. These doctors have been on large podcasts claiming they’ve been “censored”. They’ve said the same thing on national TV programs. They wrote editorials in major newspapers claiming they’ve been “muzzled.” They lament attempts to “censor and silence scientists” to their hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers. They even opened an Academy for Science and Freedom at Hillsdale College to counter “the silencing and censoring of scientists“. These sheltered doctors have based their identity on being “cancelled” and they share their profound grievance at every opportunity. Their attitude seems to be:

Sure, I said flu was worse than COVID and 1,100,000 Americans are now dead, but the real tragedy is YouTube removed one of my videos.

This misdirection technique serves a valuable purpose. It removes the spotlight from the enormous harm caused by medical misinformation and shifts if to the “suffering” of the “cancelled” doctor. It’s exactly like that amazing Lisa Kudrow skit and this bit by Jonathan Stewart.

Of course, any doctor whining about being “cancelled” in 2024 has every reason to be grateful. They made it to 2024. The doctors who have truly been silenced are those who died of COVID. We’ll never hear from them again.

So it is with some trepidation that I submit my entry into the “I was cancelled” category. However, it’s 100% true. I’ve been silenced, censored, and cancelled. I am writing about it not to bemoan my fate, but rather because of what my cancellation reveals about the sad state of our pandemic discourse.

I’m going to be vague about the details because I don’t blame the people who cancelled me, and I don’t want them to receive negative attention. In fact, I sympathize with their predicament. However, I was scheduled to speak about the We Want Them Infected movement and the normalization of anti-vaccine misinformation in medicine at a conference this spring. As SBM readers might predict, nearly every slide was a statement from a pro-infection doctor. However, my collection of accurate quotes was deemed “too political” by the conference hosts and my invitation was rescinded. They did not want to “rock the boat.” “Those who seek controversy will always find it”, I was told.

The conference was sponsored by an on-the-ground vaccine advocacy group in a red state. These are good people doing crucial work with little fanfare and thanks. Unlike the doctors I write about, they did not become famous during the pandemic. They are not social media stars and they didn’t advise presidents and governors. They did not spread blatant misinformation or formulate a disastrous “plan” to infect 230 million of unvaccinated Americans. Their interest in vaccines is sincere and predates COVID. Most of the talks were on important, but rather vanilla topics, such as best practices regarding the HPV vaccine and vaccine storage/handling. These people are doers not talkers, and I admire them very much.

Yet, they cancelled my talk, noting that a powerful politician in their state was a close ally of a certain presidential candidate who has resumed making threats against vaccines. I don’t think this powerful politician or any outsider actively intervened to disinvite me, though I guess it’s possible. Rather, I think the conference hosts feared my talk might bring unwanted attention to their organization. The fact that I quoted and disagreed with doctors who aimed to infect unvaccinated people under age 70 with a potentially dangerous virus made me toxic. They curated the content of a scientific conference because they didn’t want to incur the wrath of any politician, and many of the the doctors I planned on quoting had connections to several prominent politicians. The conference hosts were scared.

And who can blame them.

Threats and attacks against such organizations peaked during the pandemic, and this vitriol was actively encouraged by several pro-infection doctors I was going to speak about. They compared public health to Nazism, posted threatening pictures of guillotines, likened “Faucism and Fascism“, and worse. This obviously didn’t foster a climate of open scientific discussion, to put it mildly.

Likening public health measures to Nazism isn’t just ahistorical and offensive, it’s dangerous. When prominent doctors tell the public that measures to control a deadly virus might lead to the next Hitler, some people are going to look for signs that this is already happening, and a subset of those will find them. In a world where anti-vaxxers wore yellow stars to symbolize their “persecution”, some people have the potential to be violent and aggressive when they are told Nazism is at their doorstep. Indeed, threats and abuse forced many public health workers to quit during the pandemic. Top public health leaders needed bodyguards, while vaccine-heroes received death threats and were harassed at home. My cancelled talk is nothing compared to what these people went through.

However, I never saw any evidence that pro-infection doctors cared about any of this, and instead they are openly proud of spreading mistrust about the entire concept of public health. Despite their feigned admiration for “open discussion and debate”, I doubt they will rally to my defense. After all, the cancellation of a talk like mine was an entirely predicable consequence of their unyielding push to demonize anyone who pointed out the many flaws, both practical and ethical, in their “plan” to reach herd immunity via the mass infection of unvaccinated youth. The conference hosts didn’t want to be called Nazis.

Dr. Paul Alexander, who said “we want them infected”, joyfully fantasizes about mass executions of vaccine-advocates

The conference hosts were gracious and clearly felt bad about the situation. While I wasn’t happy about their decision- I was really looking forward to speaking- I understood it completely. Their organization is doing difficult but vital work to maintain confidence in vaccines in their state, and the last thing they needed was to have this mission undermined. I would have felt beyond horrible had my talk caused them trouble and made their job harder. I want people to hear what I have to say, but not at the expense of vaccines. My talk wasn’t worth risking their vaccine-outreach.

But why should accurately quoting people be risky at all?

Misinformation doctors were “censored” for spreading absurdities, claiming that a virus that infected 0 American children in the past 45 years was “truly dangerous” compared to a virus that infected nearly every American child, killed 2,000 of them and hospitalized many thousands more, to pick one example amongst many. In contrast, I was censored for simply reporting that doctors spread such absurdities. My entire talk was a collection of quotes. I don’t think a single slide was “political”. Yet, it was deemed potentially dangerous and cancelled.

When the conference hosts told me at the outset not to make my talk “political”, they were really saying there were certain people and certain ideas I wasn’t allowed to criticize. I didn’t get that at the time. I get it now.



  • Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19. He is the author of "We Want Them Infected: How the failed quest for herd immunity led doctors to embrace the anti-vaccine movement and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID."

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Posted by Jonathan Howard

Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19. He is the author of "We Want Them Infected: How the failed quest for herd immunity led doctors to embrace the anti-vaccine movement and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID."