Claire - Bret Weinstein twitter exchange

i don’t think Claire’s claims (eg “Your rhetoric is fuelling vaccine hesitancy” + “I do question your analysis of the available evidence. It seems sloppy to me”) are unreasonable.

on the dark horse podcast Bret noted that he and Heather tend not to read comments on their videos (unless it’s a paid Q&A). If they did they would notice anti-vaccine sentiment, eg under a podcast on odysee someone says referring to the vaccines: “an experimental procedure with no RCT to prove either efficacy or safety”

I’m not quite sure how it’s possible, but on both locals.com and odysee i have responded to people who believe there are no RCTs supporting approval of the vaccines, and they make this assertion when defending Bret. They are failing as communicators and don’t know it, gone are the teacher evaluations they would have been subject to as profs

an example: in the twitter exchange Bret says: “[it] depends on analysis of evidence, which isn’t simple” Does he realise in the video above his tweet the invited guest was shouting effusively “it’s a pvalue! it’s a pvalue! you can’t argue with that!” This might have been a good moment to remark that things are not so simple

Inviting Steve Kirsch onto a podacst showed poor judgement in my view. It likely pushed good people away from the discussion and may be the reason the video was lifted from youtube - he made very crude statements betraying he’s a novice. It is simply too much to respond to, it’s easier to just pull the video. His other guest was composed and familiar with drug regulation on the other hand

re sloppy thinking - many examples of this, eg they lament that the vaccines obviate the normal standards of rigour required for evaluating safety while lamenting that ivermectin must adhere to the demands required to assert efficacy (re ivermectin’s long safety exposure, it’s an unfair comparison but note how the acupuncturists and homeopaths distract us by pointing to safety). Bret & Heather have said: RCT is not the only way to do science (-likely verbatim what they said on a podcast) but ponder why the “reproducibility crisis” that embarrased academia has not touched drug development. Then they tweet the addition of ivermectin to the ongoing platform trial at oxford. But they ought to consider this unethical if they want to stand by comments made on their podcast, they were unequivocal re the efficacy of ivermectin

let’s hope for positive results from the oxford trial but not forget that there’s no shortage of enthusiastic clinical investigators claiming some unrecognised drug, it’s the norm and drugs almost never work the way we expect/hope, that’s also the norm, drugs look good in phase II and die in phase III - the discrepancy between ph II and III results is a regular reminder of why we must push back against sloppy thinking (ie “there are other kinds of evidence” etc), in ph III we add a control group, blinding, randomisation and then suddenly - the effect is gone

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Hey PMB, thanks for your thoughts.

I haven’t plowed through the ten hours of podcasts Weinstein has done on Ivermectin.

However i have seen his output on Twitter which has been vague, full of anecdote and reference to shadowy unfalsifiable conspiracies. Which is not what you’d expect from someone who is well versed in research design, to say the least.

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I have been listening to those podcasts as I’m a fan of his & I can confirm that “scare mongering” was an ongoing feature of them regarding covid vaccines being cyto toxic. He appeared to change tact though by changing the vibe from an immediate threat to a ‘we don’t know what this will do long term’ vibe. Constantly sighting anecdotal cases of unusual reactions to vaccines seems very alarmist as well as unscientific.

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cheers, yes. And Heather knows statistics, she has blogged about it, but when discussing the value of the vaccine adverse event reporting system (vaers) she neglects to mention the bias inherent in these data, the sophistication of the stats methods can’t remedy that. It’s not as though the fda is filled with fools

they live streamed last night, your name came up in a few places. They were also very critical of his wikipedia entry which states " Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying have spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic on numerous occasions." They are right that the references are weak and wiki has turned to rubbish

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yes, that was quite odd. Eg brain fog is a very subjective thing and is a manifestation of other things eg b12 deficiency. Likewise headaches. There is the nocebo effect of course which might play a part. But even in migraine studies, which can be very debilitating, there is high placebo effect

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And here’s some other examples of alarmist comments from just one of those podcasts. From 17 minutes in:
“the spike protein doesn’t seem to be sticking to the cells & it’s floating circulating widely & the protein itself is a toxic menace” “the vaccines do not work as the brochure says they should” “it is clear there is an awful lot of leakage of spike protein that is supposed to stick to the cells”
At 55 minutes in:
"that mass vaccination during pandemics can drive new variants"

https://youtu.be/uwSPPG0JX5M

And to top it all off in an earlier episode at 27.45 mins they say their own parents are “wisely” vaccinated. So on one hand it’s ok to scare the crap out of people into not having the vaccine but “wise” their own parents had it. Either they are completely oblivious to the effects of their words upon other people’s parents as long as theirs are ok or they don’t mind if the ol buggers cop the ‘poison’. Not sure….

https://youtu.be/N9ZXBsSkYLE

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i do enjoy listening to their podcast, and maybe the ‘controversial’ stuff is part of it

i just checked the adverse event reproting for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine again, there is a dose response for headaches: https://www.fda.gov/media/144245/download#page=1 ie increasing rate, considering placebo as dose 0

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As for me, not being a virologist or epidemiologist, I have selected to have faith that the government does not want to kill me and 60:40 is more likely than not to have some idea what it is doing. Fauci seems like a competent fellow. Since we’ve been vaccinating against various plagues going back hundreds of years I see no a priori reason why this should be different. Thus, I select ignorance – I’m not even looking at what the anti-vaxers have to say. I’ve had my shots and thus I see no reason to fill my head with half-cooked worries about it. If Brett wants to make a pseudo-expert of himself about it that’s fine and I will consider him neither hero nor villain over it. Ditto Claire. I’m vaccinated and my time today will be spent rebalancing my telescope not worrying about corona.

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That was pretty much my viewpoint. Although it was not so much that I felt the government is looking out for me, rather that government officials would not be among the first to be get vaccinated if there were major concerns. Granted though I still waited until late May to get the shot. Give some time for issues to appear.

We are far enough along now to see that there are few short term negative effects of the vaccines. And since the most powerful and wealthy people in the world are vaccinated I can expect that if a long term problem crops up all resources will be brought to bear on it. Not because these people care about me, but because they care about themselves.

In the absence of ability to sift through all of the conflicting data and make an informed choice this seems like the next best strategy.

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have you had the vaccine?
  • yes, pfizer biontech
  • yes, j&j
  • yes, az
  • yes, other
  • ivermection
  • no

0 voters

personally i havent had the vaccine, too busy, moved country, the country i was in was not hit hard by the pandemic

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I have friends who had a bad reaction from catching Covid, and friends who have had some bad reactions from the vaccine. I’ll check back in 10 years to let y’all know about any long term effects. Promise.

I like Wilfred Reilly’s take on this.

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Arc Digi has a piece out about Weinstein’s vaccine and Ivermectin claims. It’s behind a paywall, but you can read the text below:

I.
On June 28, Bret Weinstein announced that “YouTube just demonetized both DarkHorse
channels, wiping out more than half our family income. Their message: Drop the science and
stick to the narrative – or else.” DarkHorse is Weinstein’s podcast, the “science” is the science of
alternative COVID-19 treatments and vaccine skepticism, and the “narrative” has increasingly
become an all-purpose concept that Weinstein uses to describe public health agencies like the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), major media outlets, and a huge cross-section of other institutions in the public and
private sectors that are allegedly trying to suppress vital health information about the pandemic.
For example, ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug used to treat helminthiases, scabies, and other
tropical diseases. According to Weinstein, it’s also a drug that can “drive SARS‑CoV‑2 to
extinction,” but information about it is being relentlessly suppressed. During a recent appearance
on the Joe Rogan Experience alongside Dr. Pierre Kory, Weinstein argued that “ivermectin
shows itself to be about 86 percent effective at preventing contraction of COVID.” He continued:
“If you get 70 percent of the population to take the prophylaxis … that level of prophylaxis is
more than sufficient by a lot to drive this to extinction.” In other words, a widely available,
cheap, safe drug that’s commonly used in the United States to treat or prevent parasites in
animals might be a miracle cure for the deadliest pandemic in a century. “The tool you need is
right in front of you,” Weinstein claims. It’s a “gift to humanity,” gushes Kory. And yet,
ivermectin hasn’t been approved by the FDA, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it
should “only be used within clinical trials,” and many other regulatory agencies say the same.
It’s impossible to overstate Kory’s enthusiasm for ivermectin: he believes it’s “showing really
strong efficacy” in alleviating the effects of “long COVID” (long-term effects of the disease such
as fatigue and brain fog) – the first patient he treated with long COVID symptoms was,
according to Kory, “crying for joy.” He says ivermectin is anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. He
says it improves “post-vaccine syndromes.” When Rogan asked if ivermectin is effective against
COVID-19 variants, Kory jumped in: “We do know this epidemiologically – if you look at India,
lots of Delta variant. From looking at the epidemiology, of what happened there, ivermectin was
slaying the Delta variant. South Africa and Zimbabwe, especially Zimbabwe – when they were
getting hurt earlier in this year – they basically eradicated COVID with widespread adoption of
ivermectin. They were dealing with the South African variant.” How about the P.1 variant in
Brazil? “Totally susceptible to ivermectin,” Kory says. And the U.K. variant? “Same thing,”
according to Kory. “Responsiveness to ivermectin.” At this point, Rogan said, “This sounds like
a gigantic ivermectin infomercial, sponsored by ivermectin.” But he instantly reeled in those
suspicions: “This is one of the best examples of something that – it’s almost too good to be true,
but turns out actually to be true.”

Is it true? Not according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which reports that there’s
“insufficient data … to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of
COVID-19.” David Fajgenbaum is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and director of
the CORONA Project, which stands for “COVID-19 Registry of Off-label & New Agents” – an
effort to “identify and track all treatments reported to be used for COVID-19 in an open-source
data repository.” In an interview with Stat, Fajgenbaum explained why the idea that ivermectin is
a COVID-slaying wonder drug – based largely on what he says were “some really exciting and
promising retrospective observational studies” – does, in fact, seem too good to be true:
“There were actually a number of Latin American countries where large numbers of the
population were given ivermectin. And then there were subsequent declines in the
numbers of cases of patients in those particular cities. And again, the assumption is made
that it’s the drug that is actually improving outcomes. But we can’t make that assumption
because there are other public health measures that can also cause your infection rates to
go down, like social distancing and masking. And so you can’t just assume because
people were taking it and the rates went down, that it’s the drug. And so that’s where you
have to do large, randomized controlled trials.”

One of the medications that Weinstein and Kory repeatedly attacked – remdesivir, which the
FDA has approved to treat COVID-19 – demonstrated its effectiveness in several randomized
controlled clinical trials, which found that the drug hastened recovery time and improved
symptoms. Regulatory bodies around the world recommend a similar standard of evidence be
applied to the authorization of ivermectin. There are data which support the use of ivermectin to
treat COVID-19, but those data come nowhere near justifying the sweeping claims Kory makes
about its miraculous properties and efficacy.

Weinstein and Kory suggest that the demand for more and better data is part of a vast conspiracy
involving public health agencies, the pharmaceutical industry, and the media to discredit one of
the most promising COVID-19 treatments in the world. Kory condemns what he describes as the
“gods of science and knowledge” (mainstream institutions that haven’t authorized or endorsed
ivermectin) as corrupt entities that have been “captured” and “hijacked” by forces that don’t care
about the public good: “It’s almost like you’re in a plane emergency, right? And the plane is
crashing, like we’re in an emergency right now. And everyone’s saying, ‘Listen to the captain.
You have to listen to the captain’s instructions – don’t listen to anyone else, but listen to the
captain. And no one’s considering: what if the hijackers already got the captain? … That’s what
it seems like here: we’re listening to hijackers.” Weinstein added: “Yeah, or your house is on fire
and there’s a bucket of water and somebody stops you from using it because you haven’t proved
it’s water. Something is not adding up here.”

If ivermectin is so effective, you’d think Weinstein and Kory would be thrilled that Oxford
University is including the drug in its PRINCIPLE (Platform Randomized Trial of Treatments in
the Community for Epidemic and Pandemic Illnesses) trial, the “world’s largest clinical trial of
possible COVID-19 treatments for recovery at home and in other non-hospital settings.” Oxford
professor Chris Butler is the joint chief investigator of the trial, and he issued a statement about
the decision to include ivermectin:

“Ivermectin is readily available globally, has been in wide use for many other infectious
conditions so it’s a well-known medicine with a good safety profile, and because of the
early promising results in some studies it is already being widely used to treat COVID-19
in several countries. By including ivermectin in a large-scale trial like PRINCIPLE, we
hope to generate robust evidence to determine how effective the treatment is against
COVID-19, and whether there are benefits or harms associated with its use.”

Butler hardly sounds like one of the establishment disinformation peddlers who’ve been
“captured” by anti-ivermectin “hijackers.” Weinstein and Kory constantly urge their audiences to
follow the science, so surely they’re excited to take part in discussions about an Oxford study of
ivermectin, right?

On July 1, the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), Kory’s outfit, and an
organization called British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (the BiRD Group)
published an open letter to Butler and Professor Richard Hobbs, the lead investigators of the
PRINCIPLE trial. The letter expresses “serious and urgent concerns about the randomized
controlled trial of Ivermectin which you are about to begin in the UK.” Incredibly, Kory and his
co-author Dr. Tess Lawrie (of the BiRD Group) argue that no more research on ivermectin needs
to be conducted: “It is puzzling to understand why a trial of ivermectin would even be necessary,
given the preponderance of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that has been published across the
globe.” Kory and Lawrie also argue that it’s “profoundly unethical to mount a trial designed to
withhold efficacious treatment from any trial subject since it is quite possible that participants in
the control arm could worsen or die without it.” On Rogan’s podcast, Kory said his “dream” is to
see ivermectin in every medicine cabinet in the world – he’s ready for the research to stop and
the mass distribution campaign to begin (a project which, he says, has already attracted a few
wealthy donors). By comparison, research into the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19
vaccines, which we’ll return to shortly, is ongoing.

Here’s what Weinstein had to say about the PRINCIPLE trial: “The Oxford study looks designed
to return weak, positive results allowing the ridiculous current narrative to move to higher
ground while killing public interest in Ivermectin and preserving the EUAs on which Big
Pharma’s COVID portfolio depends. Everyone wins, except the public.” He also echoes Kory
and Lawrie: “Collecting more evidence is great. But current evidence is more than strong enough
to administer this very safe drug to patients for whom no useful alternative exists. Awaiting more
evidence is a delaying tactic.”

To Weinstein, the efficacy of ivermectin is so clear that it can be compared to water putting out a
fire. He frequently hedges by pointing out that the data around ivermectin are “noisy,” but he
nonetheless emphasizes the fact that it has a “strong signal of efficacy” and “works both as a
treatment and as a prophylaxis.” He even took the drug live on his show. According to
Weinstein, when he makes arguments for ivermectin, the responses are “maddening”: “If it isn’t
a large-scale randomized control trial,” his opponents allegedly say, “then it isn’t evidence to me.
And it’s like: only a crazy person would say that in this case.” When a randomized trial is
underway, however, he cries foul while Kory denounces the study as pointless and unethical. Of
course, there’s another medical solution to COVID-19 which has proven its effectiveness in a
series of large-scale randomized control trials. Study after study has found that the vaccines
produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and other
manufacturers around the world are extremely effective at preventing the contraction of COVID-
19 and mitigating symptoms. These vaccines aren’t buckets of water in a house fire – they’re fire
trucks.

II.

In December 2020, the New England Journal of Medicine published a randomized, controlled,
blind study in which 21,720 people received the Pfizer vaccine and 21,728 received a placebo.
The results were dramatic and unambiguous: “There were 8 cases of COVID-19 with onset at
least 7 days after the second dose among participants assigned to receive BNT162b2 [the
technical name of the Pfizer vaccine] and 162 cases among those assigned to placebo;
BNT162b2 was 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 (95 percent credible interval, 90.3
to 97.6). Similar vaccine efficacy (generally 90 to 100 percent) was observed across subgroups
defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity, baseline body-mass index, and the presence of coexisting
conditions.” The study also found that “few participants in either group had severe adverse
events, serious adverse events, or adverse events leading to withdrawal from the trial.” Adverse
events will be monitored for two years after administration of the second dose.
In May 2021, The Lancet published a study that analyzed data from the first four months of
Israel’s national vaccination campaign and found that the Pfizer vaccine was more than 95
percent effective against COVID-19 infection, 91.5 percent effective at preventing asymptomatic
infection, 97 percent effective against symptomatic infection, over 97 percent effective at
preventing hospitalization, over 97 percent effective at preventing “severe or critical COVID-19-
related hospitalization,” and 96.7 percent effective against COVID-19-related death. Other
vaccines are similarly effective – Moderna’s mRNA vaccine is over 94 percent effective at
preventing COVID-19 infection after the second dose. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine
is 66.3 percent effective, while the AstraZeneca vaccine is 66.7 percent effective, according to a
Lancet study which noted that “protection did not wane during [the] initial 3-month period.
Similarly, antibody levels were maintained during this period with minimal waning by day 90.”
In a study recently accepted for publication in the journal Nature, researchers found that “SARS-
CoV-2 mRNA-based vaccination of humans induces a persistent GC B cell response, enabling
the generation of robust humoral immunity.” In other words, the vaccines catalyze a persistent
immune reaction, which could obviate the need for boosters in the coming years. A recent article
in The New York Times cites this research, as well as other promising findings: “Ali Ellebedy, an
immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, and his colleagues reported last month that
immunity might last for years, possibly a lifetime, in people who were infected with the
coronavirus and later vaccinated.” Ellebedy and his team found that immune cells were
continuing to organize and adapt 15 weeks after mRNA vaccination, which suggests that long-
term protection (at least against existing variants) is likely. Although Ellebedy expects non-
mRNA vaccines to offer less sustained protection, a study recently published in Britain found
that mixing different types of vaccines appears to offer robust protection against COVID-19. As
The New York Times reports: “Volunteers who got AstraZeneca followed by Pfizer-BioNTech
reached antibody levels about as great as in those who got two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech.”
The evidence for the effectiveness of vaccines is overwhelming, but Weinstein still says “I’m
vaccine skeptical. And I don’t mean that generally – I’m very enthusiastic about vaccines in a
general sense, I’m highly vaccinated. But in this case, I’m worried about a set of vaccines that
were sped through this process where their manufacturers have been immunized from liability
and where there is a very strong signal that something is not right.”

Weinstein has a habit of making unsubstantiated alarmist claims about vaccine safety, such as
this recent tweet (since deleted): “For months I’ve asked ~everyone I talk to if they’re vaccinated
and what their experience was. Nearly all had scary symptoms, some terrifying. Q: So how could
anyone doubt there is a huge ‘adverse event’ signal? A: Most aren’t talking unless asked. Ask
around. We have a problem.” He proceeded to list Twitter messages about alleged adverse
effects after taking vaccines: A friend told him about a family member who suffered a “months-
long systemic auto-immune reaction that isn’t responding to typical steroid treatment”; someone
else explained that a pregnant friend “had to go to the hospital with severe symptoms” (though
the person relaying the story admitted “I cannot exactly recall [the symptoms] right now but it
had to do with protein in her spine”); a friend of a friend claimed that the “Pfizer vaccine pissed
my immune system off and it attacked my legs. Difficulty walking, needles, stressed muscles and
tremors in both legs. Buyer beware.”

The insistence that a few anecdotes on Twitter constitute evidence that people should be
concerned about “terrifying” adverse effects from the vaccines is fantastically irresponsible for
someone with a platform as large as Weinstein’s and an audience that’s likely inclined to be
vaccine hesitant. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and several other
vaccine safety monitoring efforts constitute what the CDC describes as the “most intensive
vaccine safety monitoring effort in U.S. history.” Far from recklessly jabbing their populations
with no regard for safety, American and European regulators have probably been too cautious
when it comes to weighing the risk of adverse effects with the efficacy of the vaccines. In March,
the European Union’s vaccination campaign suffered a massive blow when government after
government decided to stop distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns over a small
number of blood clotting cases. A month later, the FDA and CDC recommended a pause in the
distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when six recipients developed a rare blood
clotting disorder. Concerns about blood clotting, pericarditis, and myocarditis persist, but these
are subjects for at-risk recipients to discuss with healthcare professionals.

For a responsible discussion of the risks of vaccine-related myocarditis, consider this recent
article in Stat by Venkatesh L. Murthy, Vinay Prasad, and Brahmajee K. Nallamothu. The
authors observe that the “remarkable development and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines will be
hailed as a triumph of science,” but they caution that the “rapidity of the process … opens the
door to questions about side effects that could not have been detected in … clinical trials.”
What follows is a sober analysis of the possible trade-offs for the small proportion of vaccine
recipients who may experience myocarditis: “Although most cases reported to date are mild and
resolve without consequence,” the authors write, “myocarditis can be a serious condition.” They
cite CDC guidance which explains that the “known and potential benefits of COVID-19
vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or
pericarditis.” However, they “worry that this guidance does not give sufficient deference to the
potential for recurrent myocarditis” and argue that “anyone with a history of myocarditis or who
develops myocarditis soon after COVID-19 vaccination should explore carefully with their
health care providers about their options until the medical community better understands why
this inflammation occurs and if it can be avoided through alternative approaches.” The authors
conclude that the vaccines are an “undisputed triumph of modern medicine and science,” but
explain that “as health care providers, we should not give the impression of minimizing serious
complications like myocarditis in potentially at-risk individuals,” as doing so could undermine
the goal of addressing vaccine skepticism and hesitancy.

The contrast between this calm and rational approach to discussions about vaccine safety and the
publication of horror stories from your Twitter inbox to more than half a million followers
couldn’t be starker.

III.
A recurring theme in Weinstein’s commentary on COVID-19 is his suspicion that nefarious
powers are manipulating the narrative on vaccine safety and alternative treatments. Consider his
speculation (from his appearance on Rogan’s podcast) on why regulators in the United States
aren’t jumping to authorize the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19:

“I keep coming back to these Emergency Use Authorizations, which have a provision in
them: they cannot grant an Emergency Use Authorization if there is an existing treatment
that is safe and effective, right? The vaccines would not have been authorized if
ivermectin was understood to be what it is. And that, I have the sense, is the key thing
that explains everything else. Somehow, those EUAs and the liability waivers that these
companies have been granted mean that this is all the more profitable if they can silence a
discussion about a cheap, effective competitor that is safe, that already exists. And so in
some sense, they started with the conclusion: ivermectin doesn’t exist, it does not
effectively treat this disease, and anybody who says otherwise is spreading so-called
medical misinformation, when in fact what they’re spreading is information. Right, so
bunk is debunk, information is misinformation, it’s all on its head.”

Rogan was incredulous at this neat summary of staggering malfeasance and manipulation:
“We’re through the looking glass.” Though Weinstein offers the occasional caveat about the
“noisy” data around ivermectin, his own biases are clear. Remember: “The tool you need is right
in front of you.” Consider the implications of his theory that the good news about ivermectin is
being suppressed: every major government is so beholden to the pharmaceutical industry that
they’re ignoring what Kory describes as a “wonder drug” capable of ending the pandemic, which
has killed millions of people and caused one of the greatest economic catastrophes of the
century. The same forces that have the capacity to control governments and keep the world blind
to the benefits of this wonder drug are also capable of silencing discussion and debate about the
gravest public health crisis in 100 years. Weinstein doesn’t offer a shred of hard evidence to
substantiate these claims – not a single leaked email from a public health official or
pharmaceutical executive anywhere in the world; not a single government whistleblower with
evidence that vital information had to be suppressed to issue the EUAs.

There are other ways Weinstein exposes his bias. Recall his concern about a “set of vaccines that
were sped through this process.” This isn’t exactly a revelation, as the vaccine development and
manufacturing process in the United States was called Operation Warp Speed. The vaccines went
through major randomized controlled trials before they were authorized. If anything, the
deployment of the vaccine took too long – Moderna’s vaccine was designed in January 2020,
months before the caseload exploded and hospitals around the world were overwhelmed by

COVID-19 patients. The rapid production and distribution of the vaccines was the whole point.
When the FDA issued the first EUA (for the Pfizer vaccine) on December 11, 2020, the United
States was in the middle of the worst surge of the pandemic. The day after the first EUA, there
were more than 207,000 new cases reported, and by January 8, 2021 there were over 300,000. At
that point, the seven-day average was almost 260,000. Well over 3,000 people were dying every
day in the U.S., and on some days that number reached almost 3,400. Meanwhile, more than
130,000 people were being hospitalized daily. A catastrophe of this magnitude is why
Emergency Use Authorizations exist. While it’s true that we don’t yet know what adverse
vaccine-related issues will arise in the future, Weinstein himself admits that “vaccines appear to
have saved many more lives than they have cost so far – by a lot.” The risk of failing to authorize
the vaccines was far greater than the risk of distributing them.

Weinstein was an early proponent of what has become known as the “lab leak theory” – the idea
that COVID-19 actually emerged from a laboratory in China, specifically the Wuhan Institute of
Virology, which has conducted research on coronaviruses for years. While many scientists still
contend that COVID-19 likely emerged naturally, the lab leak theory has gained traction in
recent months – President Biden recently told U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the
pandemic’s origins and report back within 90 days, and other governments are looking into the
possibility that a lab leak could be to blame for the pandemic.

When Weinstein appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher alongside his wife and podcast co-host
Heather Heying in January, a writer for The Daily Beast ridiculed him for pushing a “Steve
Bannon Wuhan lab COVID conspiracy” and closed his piece like this: “You can either trust a
comedian and a pair of culture-war-obsessed podcast hosts – who were biology professors and
are not epidemiologists or virologists – or you can trust the scientific community.” Considering
the abuse Weinstein received for discussing the lab leak theory, it’s no surprise that he feels
vindicated at the moment. But on this subject, too, Weinstein is slippery with his interpretation
and presentation of the facts – on Real Time, he declared the likelihood that COVID-19 emerged
from a lab “looked to be about 90 percent.” More recently, he asserted that the “likelihood that
this virus came from a lab is well above 95 percent.” Where do these numbers come from?
Weinstein says he maintains a “flow chart of all the possible explanations,” but that doesn’t tell
us anything about the reliability of his methodology.

Weinstein has positioned himself as a rigorous but heterodox thinker who’s being silenced by the
titans of the tech industry and other mainstream gatekeepers. Many journalists and pundits agree
– after DarkHorse was demonetized, Ben Shapiro tweeted that the “weaponization of the most
powerful institutions of our society on behalf of an increasingly censorious Left is the
authoritarian danger of our time.” Glenn Greenwald tweeted Weinstein’s announcement about
the demonetization and observed that “the Internet could have been, and still could be, the most
important advance in the last 100 years for liberating and empowering humans. Those who have
done the most to harm and weaken it are those who demanded centralized corporate and state
power censor its political speech.” In a recent article about Weinstein and censorship, Matt
Taibbi writes: “Whether or not one agrees with Weinstein about the efficacy of ivermectin, or the
idea that the COVID-19 vaccines carry unreported dangers, anyone who follows his show
recognizes that his is nearly the opposite of an Alex Jones act. He and Heying’s shows are
neither frivolous nor abusive, and they clearly make an effort to be evidence-based, interviewing
credentialed authorities, typically about subjects ignored by the corporate press.”

There’s a powerful argument to be made against demonetizing Weinstein’s podcast and
preventing people from listening to his interviews. Beyond the fact that Weinstein certainly isn’t
an Alex Jones act, there’s no reason to turn him into a free speech martyr when many of his
arguments don’t hold up to scrutiny. However, those promoting Weinstein’s work – like Bari
Weiss, who applauded Weinstein and Heying’s recent broadside against YouTube as “brilliant”
and observed that they were “made for this moment” – should recognize that he’s needlessly
driving vaccine skepticism with shoddy arguments and alarmism. He’s also generating paranoia
with conspiracy theories wrapped in pseudo-objectivity (with copious question marks and “ifs”
to make them more respectable): “Given social media censorship of doctors who disagree with
the CDC,” he recently tweeted, “If CDC were ever captured by Big Pharma, and if it began
coercing universal use of experimental pharmaceutical technology without medical justification
or informed consent of patients, what could we do?”

Listen to the full podcast Weinstein and Kory did with Rogan – the idea that the CDC, FDA, and
other public health agencies are “captured by Big Pharma” is the central theme of the episode. At
the very least, these agencies – along with countless researchers, journalists, and institutions
around the world – are alleged to have a sinister, covert agenda: they’re captured, hijacked,
compromised, etc. Weinstein doesn’t have to connect any of these threads – he knows members
of his audience will do that all on their own. But if you’re part of that audience, you should
remember that Weinstein has an agenda, too.

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I am, and I will.
Too many moving parts in the world these days.

ETA: I think pushing back on Youtube is a worthy cause, regardless of any controversy surrounding the vaccine. All in for team Weinstein as far as that’s concerned.

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And if the implications regarding encouraging unreasonable vaccine hesitancy are not bad enough, more broadly there’s the damage particularly by those with scientific credibility normalising conspiracy theories to the constitution of knowledge.

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thanks for sharing this. re the oxford study is designed to return weak evidence, platform trials are relatively new in being adopted and there is reasonable concern re bias: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2102446

problem is: weinstein really made an impression with people by anticipating the lab leak, but that discussion was in his wheel house, unlike the present discussion re stats. lots of anti-vax talk on london calling podcast today by non experts but toby is a sobering voice, the back and forth between them is quite entertaining

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Like a lot of us, I sought out both Quillette and Bret Weinstein because I was sick of loyalty to a side overriding reason.

So now I find myself in the odd position of feeling conflicted between two sides that I thought were the same side — even though loyalty shouldn’t matter here.

I can only hope that, if the Quillette authors are right, it makes Bret and Heather better as thinkers and public figures. And that this becomes an exercise for all of us in assessing ideas separately from the mouths they come from.

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another guy has picked up the exchange: https://twitter.com/BretWeinstein/status/1413877263842512899 although i cant find where (and thus dont know why) yuri called bret a ‘jerk’, and no idea what bret means by “its catastrophically flawed core (ty)”, ty=?. Yuri offers to join bret on his show monday, if that happened it would be the first person on that podcast who doesnt reinforce bret’s and heather’s views re ivermectin

anyone know when weinstein plans to stream? his twitter has gone quiet. Feels like waiting for the “big game”: weinstein and heying v their detractors

This article does an excellent job of identifying the flaws in Weinstein’s argument:

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They did a recent podcast on a different video app, just can’t remember the name if it off hand. Maybe someone else here knows.