Category: Science and the Media

Prions and Creutzfeldt‐Jakob disease

Can mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines cause prion disease or Alzheimer’s?

Antivax immunologist J. Bart Classen published a paper claiming that mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines can cause prion disease leading to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's dementia. What are prions, and can these vaccines cause prion disease? (Spoiler alert: The answer to the second question is almost certainly no. It's speculation based on highly implausible biology.)

/ February 22, 2021
Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

The efforts of antivaxxers to portray COVID-19 vaccines as harmful or even deadly continue apace (VAERS edition)

With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continuing apace, so are the efforts of antivaxxers to portray the vaccines as dangerous. This time around, they've resurrected the old antivaccine trick of deceptively misusing the VAERS database to imply causation from VAERS reports. That's not how VAERS works, however.

/ February 1, 2021

All science denial is a form of conspiracy theory

Regular readers of this blog know that many forms of quackery and science denial have conspiracy theories associated with them, but a further examination suggests that all forms of science denial are a form of conspiracy theory. In the middle of a deadly pandemic, science denial represents a form of conspiracy theory with potentially deadly consequences.

/ January 25, 2021

The Anti-Vaxxer Playbook to Destroy Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines

Major anti-vaccination voices and organizations have coalesced around three key messages to keep people from accepting the COVID-19 vaccine. Their playbook has now been exposed.

/ January 21, 2021

Deliberately Spoiled Vaccines: Conspiracy thinking and health professionals

A Wisconsin pharmacist is facing charges after deliberately tampering with a batch of COVID-19 vaccines, demonstrating that a health professional's education is no vaccine against conspiracy beliefs.

/ January 7, 2021
Doctors behaving badly

2020 and the pandemic: A year of (some) physicians behaving badly

Looking back on 2020, if there's one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it's that crises reveal character. Unfortunately, the character of too many physicians has been found wanting, as they spent 2020 denying the pandemic, peddling quack cures, or spreading misinformation in the service of defying public health interventions. What can be done?

/ December 28, 2020
Dr. Gorski gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Syncope and Bell’s palsy: Distinguishing correlation from causation for adverse events observed after COVID-19 vaccination

The FDA has approved emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for two COVID-19 vaccines, and the largest mass vaccination program in history has begun. Look for antivaxxers to attribute reactions to the vaccine that the vaccine very likely didn't cause. We'll examine the example stories of vasovagal syncope and Bell's palsy that were reported by the press last week.

/ December 21, 2020

Responding to Dr. Vinay Prasad’s “dunking on a 7′ hoop” criticism of SBM

Last week, Dr. Vinay Prasad decided to resurrect his misguided criticism from over a year ago likening SBM-style criticisms of alternative medicine to "dunking on a 7' hoop". Why he would decide to renew his attack on combating science disinformation in the middle of a pandemic that has killed close to 300,000 Americans alone we don't know, but Drs. Novella and Gorski...

/ December 13, 2020

COVID-19 and Tooth Loss

Reports that teeth are spontaneously falling out after COVID-19 recovery are surfacing. Is tooth loss yet another complication of this disease?

/ December 11, 2020

The Suicide Holiday Myth, Now with COVID

There is no association between the holidays and suicide – that is a myth. The effect of the pandemic is less clear.

/ December 2, 2020