Skeptics and the Pandemic

I recently posted the following thread on Twitter:

I am so disappointed by the large number of pre-pandemic medical skeptics who have now turned into mask/vaccine skeptics. I largely agreed with many of them back in the day. /1
Pre-pandemic they used their skills and intelligence to rightfully question whether, say, a stent should be inserted in someone with stable angina, or an expensive cancer drug without established clinical benefit should be widely used. /2
Now they assume that these same skills and methods can and should be applied to important public health questions concerning the pandemic, including vital questions about masks, vaccines, etc. /3
At the core of this problem is the belief that they can apply the same sort of _individual_ risk/benefit or cost benefit analysis to these questions as they would to a new drug for a typical non-infectious disease. /4
Of course we must review the evidence with careful and critical scrutiny, but the simplistic analysis of looking at an intervention from the dominant perspective of an individual person, or other single factor like age, race, geography, etc is incredibly short-sighted. /5
All individual medical considerations need to be subsumed under much larger public health considerations. The main lesson, that NEVER gets fully learned and absorbed from ALL pandemics is that we are all inevitably, inextricably connected. /6
I am, and remain, a deep skeptic of the medical system and establishment. But the conflict of interest and self-dealing problems that are pervasive in everyday medical practice are largely not a big concern for the most important pandemic questions. /7
Sure, Pfizer and Moderna and many others are profiting handsomely from the pandemic, but the overall process for vaccines has been better and more efficient than anything I’ve ever seen in medicine. /8
I am not including problems regarding distribution, precise timing, boosters, etc. There are many legitimate questions here, but they are mostly (excepting distribution) minor, and should NEVER be used to undermine the overwhelming importance and benefit of vaccines overall. /9
If you think you know more about viruses and vaccines than Anthony Fauci or more about public health than Rochelle Walensky then you should really shut your trap and not advertise your stupidity to the world. You are NOT being helpful. /10
Of course this doesn’t mean that they are perfect, or that they should never be asked hard questions, or that there’s no room for debate. But just throwing more fuel on the fire does no good. /11
It’s fine to ask legitimate questions, but too often these so-called “questions” are used by irresponsible skeptics who think they are clever to support positions that they are not willing to fully propose or defend. /12
So they just end up contributing to the overall mess, and they lend moral and “intellectual” armor to the denialists, anti-vaxxers, Ivermectinistas, anti-maskers, and all the other crazies out there. /13
I’ll stop here. Much more to say. Sorry for the rant. It’s been building for a year and a half now. I’m just so discouraged by all the stupidity I see on Twitter by people who should know so much better. The arrogance and self-regard and lack of self-awareness is stunning. /end

Comments

  1. Well said Larry.
    Wise persons know their limitations.
    Fools believe they have no limitations.
    Conferring an MD means no more than that recipient has , by some criteria, acquired a certain minimum of knowledge. Sadly, it cannot confer wisdom. Those you define as stupid will never recognize their limitations. Pity we have to live with them.

  2. Try vaccine counseling to your high-risk patients with cardiovascular disease. Usually the first hole in my boat of the day.
    Couldn’t agree with your rant any more than I think I understood it. 🙂

  3. Carol Vassar, MD says

    Thank you. The message might have been worded in a more persuasive way to help change minds. At this point, belonging to a anti vaccine cohort may be the greatest impediment to someone openly changing their position.

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