It has been reported that the PLASTIC SURGERY INSTITUTE OF ·UTAH, INC.; MICHAEL KIRK MOORE JR.; KARI DEE BURGOYNE; KRISTIN JACKSON ANDERSEN; AND SANDRA FLORES, stand accused of running a scheme out of the Plastic Surgery Institute of Utah, Inc. to defraud the United States and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Michael Kirk Moore, Jr. and his co-defendants at the Plastic Surgery Institute of Utah have allegedly given falsified vaccine cards to people in exchange for their donating $50 to an unnamed organization, one which exists to “liberate the medical profession from government and industry conflicts of interest.” As part of the scheme, Moore and his co-defendants are accused of giving children saline injections so that they would believe they were really being vaccinated.
The co-defendants are Kari Dee Burgoyne, an office manager at the Plastic Surgery Institute of Utah; Sandra Flores, the office’s receptionist; and, strangest of all, a woman named Kristin Jackson Andersen, who according to the indictment is Moore’s neighbor. Andersen has posted copious and increasingly conspiratorial anti-vaccine content on Facebook and Instagram; Dr. Moore himself was a signatory on a letter expressing support for a group of COVID-skeptical doctors whose certification was under review by their respective medical boards. The letter expresses support for ivermectin, a bogus treatment for COVID.
According to the indictment, the Plastic Surgery Center of Utah was certified as a real vaccine provider and signed a standard agreement with the CDC, which among other things requires doctor’s offices not to “sell or seek reimbursement” for vaccines.
Prosecutors allege that, when people seeking falsified vaccine cards contacted the office, Burgoyne, the office manager, referred them to Andersen, Dr. Moore’s neighbor. Andersen, according to the indictment, would ask for the name of someone who’d referred them—it had to be someone who’d previously received a fraudulent vaccine card, per the indictment—then direct people to make a $50 donation to a charitable organization, referred to in the indictment only as “Organization 1.” Each vaccine card seeker was required to put an orange emoji in the memo line of their donation.
After making a donation to the unnamed charitable organization, prosecutors allege, Andersen would send a link to vaccine card seekers to enable them to make an appointment at the Plastic Surgery Institute. With adult patients, Moore would allegedly use a real COVID vaccine dose in a syringe, but squirt it down the drain. Flores, the office’s receptionist, gave an undercover agent a note, reading “with 18 & younger, we do a saline shot,” meaning that kids were injected with saline instead of a vaccine. Prosecutors allege the team thus disposed of at least 1,937 doses of COVID vaccines.
All four people are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to convert, sell, convey, and dispose of government property; and conversion, sale, conveyance, and disposal of government property and aiding and abetting.
Throughout the scheme, the group reported the names of all the vaccine seekers to the Utah Statewide Immunization Information System, indicating that the practice had administered 1,937 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which included 391 pediatric doses. The value of all the doses totaled roughly $28,000. With the money from the $50 vaccination cards totaling nearly $97,000, the scheme was valued at nearly $125,000, federal prosecutors calculated.
“By allegedly falsifying vaccine cards and administering saline shots to children instead of COVID-19 vaccines, not only did this provider endanger the health and well-being of a vulnerable population, but also undermined public trust and the integrity of federal health care programs,” Curt Muller, special agent in charge with the Department of Health and Human Services for the Office of the Inspector General, said in a statement.
I am already baffled by anti-vax attitudes when they originate from practitioners of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). When they come from real physicians and are followed by real actions, I am just speechless. As I stated many times before: studying medicine does unfortunately not protect you from recklessness, greed, or stupidity.
It has been reported that a well-known conservative activist, Kelly Canon, from Arlington, Texas, USA, has tragically died. She was famous for peddling COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. The complications caused by the virus—just a few weeks after attending a “symposium” against the vaccines – have killed her.
“Another tragedy and loss for our Republican family. Our dear friend Kelly Canon lost her battle with pneumonia today. Kelly will be forever in our hearts as a loyal and beloved friend and Patriot. Gone way too soon We will keep her family in our prayers,” the Arlington Republican Club said in a statement.
Her death was said to be “from COVID-related pneumonia.” Canon had announced on Facebook in November that her employer had granted her a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine. “No jabby-jabby for me! Praise GOD!” she wrote at the time.
Canon had been an outspoken critic of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and pandemic-related restrictions. In one of her final Facebook posts, Canon shared several links to speeches she attended at a “COVID symposium” in Burleson in early December devoted to dissuading people from getting the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available. The event was organized by God Save Our Children, which bills itself as “a conservative group that is fighting against the use of experimental vaccines on our children.”
Canon had shared similar content on Twitter, where her most recent post was a YouTube video featuring claims that the coronavirus pandemic was “planned” in advance and part of a global conspiracy.
As news of her death spread Tuesday, pro-vaccine commentators flooded her Facebook page with cruel comments and mocking memes, while her supporters unironically praised her for being a “warrior for liberty” to the very end.
A religious exemption?
What for heaven’s sake is that?
I feel sad for every death caused by COVID and its complications. If the death is caused by ignorance, it renders the sadness all the more profound.
I recently came across this editorial from the NEJM. I find it extremely relevant to the many discussions we have about so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) we have on this blog. I, therefore, take the liberty to copy a small section of it here without further comment, and encourage everyone to read the full paper:
…expertise and authority are increasingly seen as means for elites to establish and support existing hierarchies. There is, of course, some substance to this argument: although orthodox doctors may believe that their dominance and privilege are attributable to the rigor of the methods they use and that other schools of medicine were vanquished because of the superior results achieved by science-based practice, another version of the story sees the suppression of other approaches to healing (e.g., naturopathy, homeopathy, or chiropractic) as the result of ruthless actions by the American Medical Association and other forms of organized medicine. These critiques aren’t new; as Lewis Grossman writes in Choose Your Medicine, “medical freedom” arguments have long been used to oppose institutions intended to protect consumers, such as medical licensure and the FDA.3 The difference today is that the antiexpertise perspective has moved into the mainstream. With Google and Amazon having created a world in which people can frictionlessly obtain both information and nearly any product they want, it’s not hard to portray expert gatekeepers as barriers to patients’ ability to exercise choice.
Perhaps the most substantial threat to expertise is that members of the public are coming to believe that facts don’t exist — that all facts are political and therefore a matter of opinion. This mindset is fundamentally incompatible with the scientific practice of medicine, which depends on a shared commitment to backing up hypotheses with empirical evidence. Indeed, modern medicine owes much of its privileged position to a broad acceptance that the methods it uses can be relied on to make medical choices that are likely to do more good than harm.
A 1902 Supreme Court case, American School of Magnetic Healing v. McAnnulty, offers an instructive example of what could happen if all medical facts were seen as purely matters of opinion. The American School of Magnetic Healing in Nevada, Missouri, received 3000 pieces of mail every day, largely consisting of checks, money orders, and cash to purchase the healing services that the school advertised in newspapers throughout the United States. Patients who sent payments were instructed to lie down at a specified time wherever they were, and the healers at the magnetic school would, from Nevada, channel the healing energy of the universe into their bodies to heal them.3 The Post Office Department (which predated the Postal Service) concluded that this practice was a fraudulent operation using the mail and, after a hearing conducted by the postmaster general, stopped delivering mail to the school. The school sued, and the case went to the Supreme Court, which found in its favor.
Writing for the Court, Justice Rufus Peckham essentially rejected the existence of medical facts. “Just exactly to what extent the mental condition affects the body,” he wrote, “no one can accurately and definitely say.… Because the [school] might or did claim to be able to effect cures by reason of working upon and affecting the mental powers of the individual… who can say that it is a fraud?… Those who might deny the existence or virtue of the remedy would only differ in opinion from those who assert it. There is no exact standard of absolute truth by which to prove the assertion false and a fraud.”4 Although this decision was never expressly overruled, both Congress and the courts have since rejected the premise that the efficacy of treatments is purely a matter of opinion.
Differences of opinion within medicine are necessary for progress, and both licensing and certifying boards must therefore be careful to leave room for the expression of divergent views. Moreover, there is ongoing debate regarding the extent to which free-speech protections cover professional speech. But despite the existence of divergent views and areas for legitimate debate, there are some opinions that have been so thoroughly repudiated by existing evidence as to be considered definitively wrong.5 Constructive debates are possible only within a shared epistemic framework and with a commitment to the idea of verifiable facts. It’s incumbent on licensing and certifying boards to defend the existence of facts and to give the public a way to know when practitioners are making claims that are incompatible with reality.
When it comes to disciplining doctors, boards haven’t always lived up to public expectations — but that’s not a reason they should fall short yet again, especially during a lethal pandemic. Although there are many gray areas in medicine, some propositions are objectively wrong. For example, when a licensed physician insists that viruses don’t cause disease or that Covid-19 vaccines magnetize people or connect them to cell towers, professional bodies must be able to take action in support of fact- and evidence-based practice.
The public relies on the medical profession in times of grievous vulnerability and need. For the profession to earn and maintain the public’s trust — along with the privileges associated with the status of being licensed practitioners — medical boards must be able to differentiate practitioners who are providing fact-based advice from those who are not.
This happens with such a regularity that I have decided to write about it; in fact, I shall do that in the form of an ‘open letter‘ to all concerned.
A person or group of persons compose a complaint about my work in which they allege that I am engaged in a decade-long vendetta specifically against their particular form of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). This letter is sent to me, or to a publisher of my articles/books, or to my peers at the university, or to anyone else they consider appropriate. Such interventions can at times be quite entertaining or even hilariously funny, but if they occur too often, they are also mildly irritating and wasteful. Foremost, they are based on a fundamental misunderstanding that might be worth clearing up with this …
Dear advocate of the specific SCAM in question,
Dear professional organization of the specific SCAM in question,
I am sorry that my lecture/article/blog post/book/interview caused concern and led you to feel that I am running a long-term campaign or vendetta against the specific SCAM that you advocate. This letter is to assure you that your feeling is entirely erroneous: I am in no way targeting your specific SCAM.
If you have a look at my most recent book, for instance, you will see that, in it, I discuss a total of 202 different forms of SCAM and that – with good reason – I am highly critical of the vast majority of these methods. Imagine what it would mean to run a vendetta or campaign against all of these specific SCAMs. I would need a sizable team of co-workers involving lawyers, researchers, administrators, etc. to manage the task. I would also need plenty of funds to support the campaign, and I would most likely have more legal cases going than I have hair on my head.
The truth is that, since my retirement ~10 years ago, I do my research with no assistance whatsoever, I get no financial support or compensation for my work, and I am in contact with lawyers only when they ask me to serve as an expert witness. There simply is no evidence for the campaign that you feel does exist and you evidently misjudge my motives for criticizing your specific SCAM.
My aim is not to defame your specific SCAM or SCAM in general. I have no reason to do this. My aim is simply to inform the public responsibly and to prevent vulnerable people from getting harmed or ripped off. As I have studied the subject systematically for three decades, I feel I am competent, entitles, and duty-bound to try and do this.
I sincerely hope you are able to see the difference: you seem to think that I am destructively out to get you or your SCAM, while in truth I am constructively doing what responsible healthcare professionals (should) do.
Now that this misunderstanding has been cleared up, I thank you for reconsidering your position and stopping to claim things about me that are not true.
In case you have categorized Harry Windsor as an ungrateful brat, you are entirely wrong! He did thank a lot of people – Ophra and Gwyneth Paltrow, for instance. No, I did not read Harry’s bestseller ‘SPARE’. But I did, of course, read the odd report about it simply because it is almost impossible to escape the current press hoo-ha about it.
Most of what I learned is of no interest to me. Some of it, I have to admit, made me concerned about Hary’s wellbeing – after all, we know that chronic drug-taking can severely affect one’s mental health! However, one recent article in Newsweek managed to reassure me on that score:
Among the “professionals, medical experts, and coaches” thanked by the prince for “keeping me physically and mentally strong over the years,” is John Amaral, a Los Angeles-based chiropractor, energy practitioner, author and educator. Amaral is known for his self-developed “energy flow formula,” which combines body and energy work to include mindfulness, meditation and breathing.
This sounded sufficiently relevant for me to look up Amaral. This is what we learn from one website:
Dr. John Amaral is a holistic chiropractor that practices Network Spinal (NSA). This technique helps people release stored tension in their muscles and joints through gentle force adjustments, also known as entrainments. Instead of the traditional cracking or popping of bones that you’re used to seeing at chiropractic offices, John Amaral leverages different energetic intelligences to help people heal physically and emotionally.
Another source tells us the following:
John Amaral is a chiropractor, energy healer and educator who works behind the scenes helping celebrities, entrepreneurs, pro athletes and influencers elevate their energy so they feel and perform their best. John has worked with thousands of people from over 50 countries. He is the Founder of Body Centered Leadership… How much do his sessions cost? According to the Wall Street Journal, a healing session with Amaral will run you $2,500.
And a third website informs us that:
Amaral works with what he calls the “subtle energy body”, which is the energy field around the body that can extend around 3 to 8 feet from the physical body. His work is primarily focused on shifting the tension state of the body and help in freeing up bound-up energy that’s held in different parts of the body. He accesses the energy around the body to achieve this.
In case you have not yet got the drift, take a look at this video; impressive isn’t it?
Yes, Amaral is not cheap but he must be worth it! And because he is such a genial healer, I am confident that we can all relax now knowing that Harry’s health is in such good hands. Personally, I am thrilled by Harry’s hint that there might be a second book in the offing – one with the really dirty linen. I think I might actually buy that one, now that I know how badly he needs the money for keeping healthy.
We have discussed the UK conservative MP and arch-Brexiteer, Andrew Bridgen, and his anti-vax stance before. Yesterday, it has been reported that he lost the Tory whip, i.e. he was expelled from the Tory party. The reason for this step is that he had taken to social media and claimed the Covid vaccine to be the “biggest crime against humanity since the holocaust”.
The North West Leicestershire MP has been vocal in remarks questioning the coronavirus vaccine.
On Wednesday he shared an article on vaccines on Twitter, adding: “As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”
Renouncing Bridgen’s right to sit as a Tory MP in Parliament, Conservative chief whip Simon Hart said: “Andrew Bridgen has crossed a line, causing great offence in the process. “As a nation, we should be very proud of what has been achieved through the vaccine programme. The vaccine is the best defence against Covid that we have. “Misinformation about the vaccine causes harm and costs lives. I am therefore removing the whip from Andrew Bridgen with immediate effect, pending a formal investigation.”
Earlier, former Cabinet minister Simon Clarke had condemned his colleague’s tweet referencing the Holocaust, calling it “disgraceful”.
Bridgen is currently already suspended from the Commons after he was found to have displayed a “very cavalier” attitude to the rules in a series of lobbying breaches. MPs agreed on Monday to suspend the North West Leicestershire MP for five sitting days from Tuesday.
Comments from different sources are not flattering for Bridgen:
- Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said Bridgen’s tweet was “highly irresponsible, wholly inappropriate and an elected politician should know better”.
- Anneliese Dodds, the Labour chair, said: “Andrew Bridgen has been spreading dangerous misinformation on Covid vaccines for some time now. He could have been disciplined weeks ago. “To invoke the Holocaust, as he did today, is utterly shameful, but it should never have reached this point.”
- Andrew Percy, the Conservative MP who is vice-chair of the all-party group against antisemitism, called the comment “disgusting”. Asked by Times Radio if Bridgen should be allowed to stand again, Percy said: “I don’t think anybody who believes this kind of crap should, but that’s a matter for the whips not for me.”
- John Mann, the former Labour MP who is now a non-affiliated peer and the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, said Bridgen should not be allowed to stand again as a Tory. “There is no possibility that Bridgen can be allowed to stand at the next election,” he said. “He cannot claim that he didn’t realise the level of offence that his remarks cause.”
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that a UK politician has been punished in this way. But it may well be also the first time that a sitting UK politician has uttered such insane stupidity. Bridgen’s chronic ineptitude is all the more significant as he really should know better. He studied genetics and behaviour at the University of Nottingham and graduated with a degree in biological sciences!
Here are some reactions from people commenting on Twitter about the twit:
- Tory MP, Andrew Bridgen highlights… – Lies in court over family dispute and ordered by judge to pay £800k – Suspended for breaching MP lobbying rules – Thought all Brits entitled to Irish passport after Brexit – Likens vaccines to holocaust What a guy.
- Spreads a dangerous, baseless smear his party colluded in a vaccine Holocaust and at the same time manages to insults victims of a grotesque wartime Holocaust. Conspiracy theorist Andrew Bridgen’s lost the plot. See no way back for the Tory MP now.
- Grubby and despicable: Tory MP Andrew Bridgen loses whip over ‘dangerous’ Covid vaccine claims
- To be fair, Bridgen kept the whip after saying the MI5 knew about the pandemic six months early, then colluded with shadowy elites to impose needless restrictions for their own nefarious ends. So the bar is high.
- Politicians like Andrew Bridgen have succeeded in bringing conspiracy theories into the mainstream. They need to be called out, their arguments dismantled and their political influence cast out to the fringes where it belongs.
- A Holocaust survivor has condemned a Tory MP’s “mind-boggling ignorance” after he compared the mass genocide of Jewish people during World War II to the COVID vaccine rollout
- Many congratulations to Andrew Bridgen on his imminent selection as the Reform Party candidate for North West Leicestershire in the 2024 election
- Andrew Bridgen. Perjury, bullying, misuse of money, months of anti-vaccine garbage, finally loses whip after comparing vaccination to the Holocaust. Scum.
- Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. COVID vaccines have saved millions. The false and outrageous comparisons must end.
- Andrew Bridgen suspended as Tory MP he said: “As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.” Crucially a cardiologist saying this too. Who are they? Should GMC act in same way as Whips Office?
The prime candidate for the cardiologist in question must, of course, be Aseem Malhotra who also appeared on September 27, 2022, in a press conference with the World Council for Health — a group that has previously spread vaccine misinformation — to call for the “immediate and complete suspension of Covid-19 vaccine.”
Who was it that coined the bon mot: We were all born ignorant but to remain so requires hard work
It is hardly surprising that I receive plenty of complaints about the things I publish. After all, so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is dominated by emotions and not by rationality. When I was still in post at Exeter, my peers received complaints about me all the time. Now that I write articles for several newspapers and journals (not to mention this blog), the flow of complaints to the editors is continuing nicely. Consequently, I am in a good position to offer a beginner’s guide to complaining to everyone who is fed up with me and my work.
Foremost, such a complaint must have a clear structure. Here is one that I advise considering:
- Your objection
- Ad hominem
Allow me to take you through these headings one by one.
The recipient of your complaint (e.g. a newspaper editor) needs to know why you are addressing him or her. This means you ought to clearly state your aim at the outset. Something like “I am writing to you to complain about an article recently published in your paper” would probably suffice. But you probably find it hard to be concise – and who could blame you: you are fuming with anger and overflowing with emotion.
I am sure the recipient of your complaint will understand that you have to use a few colorful sentences to introduce the subject properly. If you feel like elaborating that you have been a reader of the paper since 1972, or that you slept badly last night, or that your last dinner was indigestible, or why you are opposed to COVID vaccinations – by all means, please go ahead. The editor will be delighted to receive a little background and can thus empathize with your concerns.
Despite these efforts, there is always the danger that the editor reading your complaint does not take you seriously. This must be avoided at all costs. Therefore, you must make sure he/she understands how important you truly are. As your complaint is healthcare-related, it is helpful to stress your unique standing in this area. Do not worry if you have not studied medicine, are not a scientist, or understand buggar all about anything. The least you must do is to state that you have years of experience in health. Such phraseology is non-commital – after all, you probably have been ill once or twice – and it makes it clear that you know what you are talking about.
Now it is time to state what you actually object to and why. This might not be as easy as it sounds. Most people who complain about my work are unable to pinpoint what exactly it is that they don’t like. They never dispute a concrete fact or finding I presented but they disagree with my stance in general terms. Therefore, they cannot define a precise error or misinterpretation in my text. In such cases, it might be best to claim that you have read several or all of my articles and you are scandalized by my general attitude, ignorance, or malice. You might add that my articles systematically defame SCAMs that:
- have clearly stood the test of time,
- are used by millions,
- are holistic,
- have cured your goldfish, etc.
Do never include any actual data in your complaint. This can only expose you to criticism; and that’s the last thing you want to achieve.
The less specific material you complain about, the more important it is to display true conviction by going on a personal attack. I can highly recommend the ad hominem principle for this purpose. Go for it!
In a previous post, I listed some ideas that might help you here. You could claim that:
- I am not qualified
- I only speak tosh
- I do not understand science
- I never did any ‘real’ research
- Exeter Uni fired me
- I have been caught red-handed (not quite sure at what)
- I am on BIG PHARMA’s payroll
- I faked my research papers
Feel free to come up with your own ideas; use your imagination. I am sure the editor who reads your inspired lines will thank you for it.
Now that you have thoroughly dealt with me (Prof Ernst) as a person, you need to generalize in order to lend more relevance and impact to your complaint. You could point out, for example, that not just I but all scientists or skeptics are corrupt, ignorant, etc. Or you might explain that, in any case, science is over-rated and cannot be trusted. Such enlightened remarks are important because they put things into perspective and show that you are well-informed.
To end your letter, it is advisable to ensure that the editor who is trying to make sense of your complaint cannot dismiss it easily. For this purpose, I find it helpful to add a few actual threats. The editor needs to know that he would disregard your concerns at his own peril.
For instance, you could state that, if this paper/journal in question should dare to ever again publish a single line of Ernst’s writings, you will never again buy this publication. If you want to sound alarmingly dangerous, add that you will tell all your friends to do likewise. And if you wish to scare the hell out of the poor editor, tell him/her that you will file a report with the ombudsman.
The objective of this cross-sectional survey was to evaluate the beliefs about and attitudes toward cancer prevention of people professing vaccination skepticism or conspiracy theories. Data were collected mainly from a well-known Spanish forum and other platforms, including Reddit (English), 4Chan (English), HispaChan (Spanish), and a Spanish-language website for cancer prevention (mejorsincancer.org) from January to March 2022.
Among 1494 responders, 209 were unvaccinated against covid-19, 112 preferred so-called alternative rather than conventional medicine, and 62 reported flat earth or reptilian beliefs. Cancer beliefs were assessed using the Cancer Awareness Measure (CAM) and Cancer Awareness Measure Mythical Causes Scale (CAM-MYCS), both validated tools.
Awareness of the actual causes of cancer was greater (median CAM score 63.6%) than that of mythical causes (41.7%). The most endorsed mythical causes of cancer were:
- eating food containing additives or sweeteners,
- feeling stressed,
- eating genetically modified food.
Awareness of the actual and mythical causes of cancer among the unvaccinated, alternative medicine, and conspiracy groups was lower than among their counterparts. A median of 54.5% of the actual causes was accurately identified among each of the unvaccinated, alternative medicine, and conspiracy groups, and a median of 63.6% was identified in each of the three corresponding counterparts (P=0.13, 0.04, and 0.003, respectively). For mythical causes, medians of 25.0%, 16.7%, and 16.7% were accurately identified in the unvaccinated, alternative medicine, and conspiracy groups, respectively; a median of 41.7% was identified in each of the three corresponding counterparts (P<0.001 in adjusted models for all comparisons).
In total, 673 (45.0%) participants agreed with the statement “It seems like everything causes cancer.” No significant differences were observed among the unvaccinated (44.0%), conspiracist (41.9%), or alternative medicine groups (35.7%), compared with their counterparts (45.2%, 45.7%, and 45.8%, respectively).
The authors’ conclusions were as follows: we evaluated the patterns of beliefs about cancer among people who believed in conspiracies, rejected the covid-19 vaccine, or preferred alternative medicine. We observed that the participants who belonged to these groups were more likely to endorse mythical causes of cancer than were their counterparts but were less likely to endorse the actual causes of cancer. Almost half of the participants, whether
conspiracists or not, agreed with the statement “It seems like everything causes cancer,” which highlights the difficulty that society encounters in differentiating actual causes of cancer from mythical causes owing to mass (veridical or not) information. This suggests a direct connection between digital misinformation and consequent potential erroneous health decisions, which may represent a further preventable fraction of cancer. Cultivating oriented medical education and scientific literacy, improving online ranking algorithms, building trust, and using effective health communication and social marketing campaigns may be possible ways to tackle this complex public health threat.
This is yet another study showing that so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) usage is linked to misinformation and conspiratorial thinking in other areas. We have discussed similar findings all too often. They are hardly surprising, in my view. As I have repeatedly been trying to point out:
- SCAM use is based mainly on misinformation
- And, to a large extent, SCAM is little more than a conspiracy theory in disguise.
The best way to prevent harm must therefore be to educate the public responsibly (which, of course, is one of the main aims of this blog.
The INDY and many other news outlets reported that the British Tory MP, Andrew Bridgen, has called on prime minister Rishi Sunak to suspend mRNA covid vaccines after alleging they are “not safe, not effective and not necessary”.
During Wednesday’s PMQs (13 December), Bridgen stated that “since the rollout in the UK of the BioNTech-Pfizer mRNA vaccine, we have had almost half a million reports of adverse effects from the public”, a message he later reiterated on Twitter.
Posting a snippet from his debate, Bridgen tweeted: “Almost half a million yellow card reports of adverse effects following administration of the Biotech Pfizer mRNA vaccine in the UK alone! Answers are desperately needed. #completelyunprecedented”.
Bridgen also claimed that a leading figure in the British Heart Foundation is suppressing evidence that the Covid vaccines cause heart damage, even sending non-disclosure agreements to his research team.
Facebook flagged his post with a notice urging users to ensure that they share “reliable information.” It included two links to “continue sharing” or “get vaccine info.”
The scandals Bridgen has been involved in seem too numerous to mention (e.g. violation of parliamentary standards, homophobic remarks, antisemitic statements). Here is just one of the most recent:
A Leicestershire MP has been ordered to pay £800,000 and been evicted from his five bedroom home by a judge following a legal dispute involving the family vegetable business. It is currently unknown where Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, lives after being given final deadline of August 24 to vacate the premises in Coleorton, near Coalville.
The 57-year-old was branded “dishonest” by a High Court judge in March – who ruled that Bridgen “lied” under oath. Judge Brian Rawlings said he was so dishonest that nothing he said about the dispute with AB Produce, a vegetable and potato supplier based in Measham, could be taken at face value.
Bridgen was also said to have behaved in an “abusive”, “arrogant” and “aggressive” way during the dispute, in which he has spent years suing the firm. A later judgment in June, reported by the Times on Sunday, forced the MP to vacate the £1.5 million-valued property owned by AB Produce that he has lived in since 2015…
For a fact check on Bridgeon’s vaccine claims, see here. And below are a few reactions from Twitter users to Bridgen’s Covid proctophsia:
First a High Court judge says Tory MP, Andrew Bridgen, lied under oath, then he evicts him from his home and orders him to pay £800,000 now Facebook flags his posts as Covid misinformation. How’s your week going?
Andrew Bridgen MP now promoting Dr David Cartland, a man who aligns himself with claims that Freemasons rule the world; that Covid doesn’t exist; and that medical doctors who don’t share his views should be executed (screenshots H/T
Andrew Bridgen MP now promoting Dr David Cartland, a man who aligns himself with claims that Freemasons rule the world; that Covid doesn’t exist; and that medical doctors who don’t share his views should be executed.
This Andrew Bridgen? ‘A Conservative MP lied under oath, behaved in an abusive, arrogant and aggressive way, and was so dishonest that his claims about a multimillion-pound family dispute could not be taken at face value, a high court judge has ruled.’
Proper tinfoil-hat stuff from Andrew Bridgen, suggesting Covid vaccines are unsafe, misrepresenting data, and implying some sort of conspiracy between ‘Big Pharma’ and MHRA.
Our ‘Memorandum Integrative Medicine‘ seems to be causing ripples. A German website that claims to aim at informing consumers objectively posted a rebuttal. Here is my translation (together with comments by myself inserted via reference numbers in brackets and added below):
With drastic words and narrow-mindedness bordering on ideology (1), the Münster Circle, an association of opponents to complementary therapies such as homeopathy (2), takes issue with the treatment concept of integrative medicine in a memorandum (3). By integrative medicine physicians understand the combination of doctor-led medicine and doctor-led complementary medicine to a meaningful total concept with the goal of reducing side effects and to treating patients individually and optimally (4). Integrative medicine focuses primarily on chronic diseases, where conventional acute medicine often reaches its limits (5)In the memorandum of the Münsteraner Kreis, general practitioner Dr. Claudia Novak criticizes integrative medicine as “guru-like self-dramatization” (6) by physicians and therapists, which undermines evidence-based medicine and leads to a deterioration in patient care. She is joined by Prof. Dr. Edzard Ernst, Professor Emeritus of Alternative Medicine, who has changed from Paul to Saul with regard to homeopathy (7) and is leading a veritable media campaign against proponents of treatment procedures that have not been able to prove their evidence in randomized placebo-controlled studies (8). The professor ignores the fact that this involves a large number of drugs that are used as a matter of course in everyday medicine (9) – for example, beta-blockers or other cardiological drugs (10). “Like the devil fears the holy water” (11), the Münsteraner Kreis seems to fear the concept of integrative medicine (12). The vehemence coupled with fear with which they warn against the treatment concept makes one sit up and take notice (13). “As an experienced gynecologist who has successfully worked with biological medicine as an adjunct in his practice for decades, I can only shake my head at such narrow-mindedness”, points out Fred-Holger Ludwig, MD (14). Science does not set limits for itself, but the plurality of methods is immanent (15). “Why doesn’t Prof. Ernst actually give up his professorial title for alternative medicine? That would have to be the logical consequence of its overloud criticism of established treatment concepts from homeopathy to to integrative medicine”, questions Dr. Ludwig (16).
The concept of integrative medicine is about infiltrating alternative procedures into medicine, claim the critics of the concept, without mentioning that many naturopathic procedures have been used for centuries with good results (17) and that healthcare research gives them top marks (18). “Incidentally, the scientists among the representatives of the Münster Circle should know that it is difficult to capture individualized treatment concepts with the standardized procedures of randomized, placebo-controlled studies (19). Anyone who declares the highest level of evidence to be the criterion for approval makes medicine impossible and deprives patients in oncology or with rare diseases, for example, of chances of successful treatment (20). Even there, drugs are used that cannot be based on high evidence, tested in placebo-controlled studies, because the number of cases is too low (21),” notes Dr. Ludwig .
- Ideology? Evidence is not ideology, in my view.
- We are an association of multidisciplinary experts advocating a level playing field with sound evidence in all areas of healthcare.
- The actual memorandum is not linked in this text; does the author not want his readers to form the own opinion?
- In our memorandum, we offer various definitions of integrative medicine (IM), none of which is remotely similar to this one.
- No, IM is usually being promoted in a much wider sense.
- This term does not appear in our memorandum.
- I am not aware that I changed from Paul to Saul with regard to homeopathy; I know that I was led mostly by the evidence.
- I feel flattered but don’t think that my humble work is a ‘media campaign’.
- True, I do not pretend to understand all areas of medicine and tend to be silent in the ones that I lack up-to-date expertise.
- Is he really saying that beta-blockers are not evidence-based?
- The holy water comparison from a homeopath, who arguably makes a living from dishing out ‘holy water’, made me laugh!
- It is most revealing, I think, that he thinks our motivation is fear.
- FHL is the author of the article, and it is thus charmingly naive that he cites himself in this way
- I somehow doubt that he understands what he is expressing here.
- I find this rather a bizarre idea but I’ll think about it.
- Argumentum ad traditionem.
- Those that get ‘top marks’ belong to evidence-based medicine and not to IM.
- Here the author reveals that he does not understand the RCT methodology and even fails to know the trial evidence on homeopathy – RCTs of individualised homeopathy are possible and have been published (e.g. this one).
- If he really believes this, I fear for his patients.
- Pity that he does not provide an example.
To understand FHL better, it is worth knowing that he claims to treat cancer patients with conventional and homeopathic medicine. He states that this approach reduces side effects – without providing evidence, of course.
Altogether, FHL does not dispute a single fact or argument from our memorandum. In fact, I get the impression that he never actually read it. To me, it feels as though he merely read an article ABOUT the document. In any case, his critique is revealing and important, in my view. It demonstrates that there are no good arguments to defend IM.
So, thank you FHL!