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Killing of Medical Research Innovation
The Federal Grant Process as Grifting - a case study
The physician who posts the substack titled “The Forgotten Side of Medicine” (pseudonym “A Midwestern Doctor”) asked me to publish his case study analysis focusing on vaccinologist Dr. Peter Hotez. I have been wary of over-publishing articles critical of Dr. Hotez because, having personally experienced over two years of sustained internet cyberstalking and crowdstalking (including from a few notorious Substack authors), I wanted to avoid engaging in this type of activity. However, after reviewing this particular essay submission, I have decided that his approach in this essay works. The essay uses the example of Dr. Hotez and his career as a vaccinologist/public vaccination advocate to develop a case study on how the current federal + NGO grant and contract system has developed into a process which reinforces current biases and inhibits innovation. This may seem like “inside baseball” to some, but all US citizens who pay taxes are subsidizing the current dysfunctional system, and are not getting good value from their collective investment in medical research consequent to the gaming of the system by seasoned experts including Dr. Hotez.
When considering what needs to be fixed to get the medical research enterprise back on track, these observations on “Grifting” and the grant and contract process should be kept in mind. Perhaps now that Drs. Fauci and Collins are no longer in a position to maintain the current broken system, we may have a window of opportunity for changes which can stimulate innovation rather than working to enforce the status quo.
Why Has Innovation Disappeared From Medical Research?
How grifters in academia took over the grant system.
A MIDWESTERN DOCTOR
Throughout the pandemic, Peter Hotez has continually promoted contradictory messages about the vaccines. However, he has been consistent in promoting the rest of his research.
Peter Hotez has received over 100 million dollars of research grants. Much of this has been for developing a human hookworm vaccine that has not amounted to anything despite decades of research.
The current grant system we have incentives performing research that does not advance science and medicine. Because of this, there are many barriers to those seeking to advance those fields. Addressing those barriers is vital for the health of every person in America.
Prior to COVID-19, Peter Hotez, an avowed left-wing partisan, was one of the most knowledgeable figures in the world on both the SARS virus and its potential vaccines. For this reason, from 2012-2017, he held a 6-million-dollar research grant to develop a SARS vaccine. Being fully aware that one of the most likely sources of a SARS outbreak would be a lab leak, he specified his vaccine would be a hedge against that eventuality. Given that his grant was then used to fund SARS gain-of-function research (conducted by the infamous director of the Wuhan lab the virus most likely leaked from), it seems reasonable to assume Hotez knew directly how risky that research was.
Since COVID-19 emerged, Hotez has repeatedly tried to play both sides of the fence. On March 5, 2020, Hotez testified to a congressional committee that there were serious risks inherent to developing a COVID-19 vaccine. His team had discovered these risks from their failures in creating a SARS vaccine. However, at the same time he noted that while these risks existed (e.g., for the COVID-19 vaccines already under development), his team had devised a solution and just needed more funding to bring it to fruition.
Shortly after, on March 11, 2020, he restated these concerns to Reuters:
“I understand the importance of accelerating timelines for vaccines in general, but from everything I know, this is not the vaccine to be doing it with,” Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told Reuters.
Hotez worked on development of a vaccine for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the coronavirus behind a major 2003 outbreak, and found that some vaccinated animals developed more severe disease compared with unvaccinated animals when they were exposed to the virus.
“There is a risk of immune enhancement,” said Hotez. “The way you reduce that risk is first you show it does not occur in laboratory animals.”
Hotez said he was surprised human trials were going ahead. “If there is immune enhancement in laboratory animals vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, that’s a showstopper,” he said.
Throughout 2020, Hotez condemned the Trump administration’s handling of COVID-19, and once the possibility of a EUA was floated, Hotez raised some very reasonable criticisms against them on September 1st and 2nd:
Epidemiologists and vaccine experts are alarmed by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn’s recent assertion that he will consider approving a coronavirus vaccine before the completion of late-stage clinical trials.
The FDA commissioner can issue a so-called emergency use authorization (EUA) on his own if he determines that the benefits of rushing the vaccine into production outweigh the risks, but several vaccine experts told Yahoo News they are deeply concerned by the idea. No vaccine has ever been approved on an EUA basis, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a top vaccine expert, except once to overcome unusual technicalities on a military anthrax vaccine.
“We don’t do EUAs for vaccines,” Hotez said. “It’s a lesser review, it’s a lower-quality review, and when you’re talking about vaccinating a large chunk of the American population, that’s not acceptable.”
In the conspiracy category, the antivaccine movement builds outrageous claims that Bill Gates or others created COVID-19 as a means to create mandatory vaccines [everyone who pushed the vaccines initially claimed they would never be mandatory].
Alternatively, the antivax lobby falsely claims the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the US National Institutes of Health, headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, is behind COVID19 and funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology to perform gain-of-function research to transform an innocuous coronavirus into the lethal and transmissible SARS CoV2 virus [Hotez was involved in the GoF research and worked very hard to cover it up].
They say Fauci and Gates profit financially from future COVID19 vaccines [Gates made a 50 million dollar investment in the company that created Pfizer’s vaccine which ended up making a profit of over 500 million dollars; Fauci and the NIH actually sued Moderna for the rights to that vaccine], but that even “OG (original gangster) villains” like me or Paul Offit, “the world’s top vaccine promoters” are “frantically warning us about the unique and frightening dangers inherent in developing a coronavirus vaccine.
As both a vaccine scientist and parent of adult daughter with autism, I have confronted the anti-vaccine movement for many years. Among their major false assertions is that vaccines cause autism. However, a second one is that vaccines are not adequately tested for safety [this didn’t age well]. The communications and missteps around the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines may require a period of damage control.
In the US, COVID-19 is predicted to return on an annual and seasonal basis in the postpandemic period [this suggests Hotez knew from the start that the vaccines would be repeatedly “needed”]. The coming months and years could become a turbulent time in America as protestors step up demands to resist social distancing and find new allies in a growing antivaccine movement. Prominent supporters of vaccines such as Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci, Paul Offit, and myself, among others should expect attacks.
To mitigate the consequences of a reinvigorated anti-vaccine movement in America, it will be essential for the White House, together with the NIH and other elements of our science infrastructure, to shape a well-crafted vaccine communication plan. They must also designate a trusted spokesperson who can articulate and carry the message.
Note: I always associate Hotez with branding due to a 2018 paper he wrote detailing the importance of cultivating a brand (both for your own success and to affect public opinion) and Hotez’s suggested methods for doing so (which he often fails to follow).
Once Biden won the election, Hotez made a remarkable pivot, and he became the leading
spokesman salesman for the vaccines, constantly appearing on every left-wing news outlet and claiming that the current vaccination recommendations were the path to our salvation. While many people listened to him, others gradually began to notice that he continually made false promises as the goalposts for the vaccines were moved again and again and again. More incredibly, he repeatedly attempted to rewrite history by claiming he had never made those false promises (also known as gaslighting). Because of how blatant his lies were, once Hotez drew the spotlight to himself, journalists began to compile them:
As most of you know, after publicly attacking Joe Rogan, Hotez was challenged by Joe to debate RFK in return for a large donation going to a charity of his choice (currently, 2.6 million has been pledged). Hotez, being Hotez, declined, and his response to the challenge has been a remarkable red-pill for the American public.
This entire chronology of events suggests Hotez was an opportunist seeking to carve out the largest possible piece of the pie for himself and, to some extent, proactively worked to create the niches he later occupied. While Hotez has personally benefitted from the opportunities afforded to him by the pandemic, his choice to become the leading spokesman for COVID-19 industrial complex [e.g., consider how he promoted Merck’s failed COVID-19 treatment] also backfired as he was continually put in the position of having to contradict himself as he defended indefensible policies and products.
Since the corporate media (excluding Fox) constantly circles wagons around him, Hotez has become the figurehead for everything that went wrong during COVID-19. For example, right after Hotez was called out on Twitter for refusing to debate someone who disagreed with him, he ran to a friendly MSNBC host for a sympathetic (and overtly biased) segment, tweeted it out, and then did the same on other major news networks.
From a PR standpoint, this is an awful approach, as anyone with a slightly open mind will see through it, recognize that Hotez and the people hosting him are liars, and hence be compelled to seek out the opposing viewpoint. I am genuinely at a loss on why the corporate media and every other defender of the narrative continue to defend their appalling spokesperson, as he has inadvertently done more to red-pill the American public on the vaccine issue than almost anyone else in history.
All of this thus begs the question, “If Hotez is causing people to distrust vaccines, why on earth is Hotez still doing everything he can to remain as their leading spokesperson?”
Early this week, I shared Hotez's events with a friend who worked for years in Ivy League academia. After a minute, they cut me off and proceeded to describe most of what I had planned to tell them. When I asked how they could predict this, they told me, "Hotez is running the standard academic grift; I see people trying to do things like this all the time. What's unique about Hotez is simply his success—that takes a lot of talent."
Note: Robert Malone provided an excellent summary of many of the problems within the strange world of academia here.
The slander "grifter" is thrown around all the time now, to the point it has lost much of its meaning. Most commonly, it is directed toward someone who in any way profits from challenging a prevailing narrative (thereby insinuating their dissenting viewpoint is invalid since it was motivated by a desire to make money rather than a desire to tell the truth).
I don't think this is fair for two reasons:
First, I regularly see people who conform to the narrative engage in highly consequential conduct that is motivated by a desire to make money (e.g., convincing a patient to receive an unnecessary but lucrative surgery). These people are never accused of being grifters.
Secondly, unless somewhat unique circumstances are at play for the individual, it is almost impossible to motivate people to do anything that is time-consuming and challenging without paying them for the work.
Note: Presently, many people are making a living off of raising public awareness of the dangers of vaccinations, and many others (e.g., highly paid doctors) are continually accusing them of being grifters. Although I believe the desire for good karma (which ultimately matters much more than material wealth) should be the primary motivating factor for individuals tackling the vaccine issue, I have no problem with people just doing it to make a living. This is because I have watched for decades how activists who worked so hard to bring attention to the vaccine issue purely for altruistic reasons could not shift the public's opinion. However, due to the media "market" that was created by enraging the public with unjustifiable vaccine mandates, many people have jumped into the issue, and in the space of two years, I've seen a greater shift in the public's attitude towards vaccination (largely due to those "for profit" influencers) than what happened throughout my entire life prior to COVID-19.
My personal sense of the concept is that something is a "grift" if it harms others (or the society or the environment), does not produce anything which benefits any of those parties, and the motivation to continue the grift is solely the benefit (e.g., money) the grifter receives. I feel one of the biggest misconceptions here is failing to appreciate that employers (e.g., corporations) can be guilty of grifting too, and if an employee participates in supporting that grift by "doing their job" because they need their paycheck, that does not absolve the employee of their responsibility for participating in the grift.
For example, during the pandemic, hospitals were financially incentivized to diagnose a wide range of conditions as COVID-19 and to treat COVID-19 with remdesivir and ventilation rather than allowing doctors to utilize treatments that were more likely to work but resulted in significantly less money going to the hospital. In this case, I would argue the hospitals (and the for-profit corporations which owned them) were grifters, and that the doctors who went along with it (often because they were heavily pressured to by the hospital) were complicit in this grift.
Due to the numerous conflicting views on precisely what constitutes grifting, I would like to reference some of the existing dictionary definitions:
•engage in petty or small-scale swindling
•to obtain (money or property) illicitly (as in a confidence game)
•ways of getting money dishonestly that involve tricking someone
I would argue these definitions do not apply to someone who is just putting out information they believe to be true and then directly asking their audience to pay for their work. However, a good case can be made that these definitions apply to Peter Hotez.
Hotez’s entire career (starting with a $100,000.00 grant from Pfizer) has been subsidized by the vaccine industry—he’s even proudly admitted as such on his CV. When I added up the grants there, they came out to be over 100 million dollars—which I must admit is quite an accomplishment. Furthermore, at least as far back as 2000, he has bragged about the prestige and influence this money has provided for him within academia.
Most of Hotez's work (and funding) has gone towards decades of failed attempts to develop a vaccine for human hookworm infections, something he continually rebrands with the most positive language possible (e.g., as an "anti-poverty" vaccine). Through doing so, he has replicated a common grift in global health where the money that could go towards treating the primary diseases of poverty (e.g., by creating the infrastructure to create clean water) is instead diverted to funding vaccine projects being done to benefit the sponsors rather than the recipients.
In one of the most tragic cases, Bill Gates (a key sponsor of Hotez) diverted India's public health budget to initiate a mass live polio vaccination campaign for India's children there (often giving each child numerous repeated doses of the vaccine); it was estimated that his program caused 491,000 children to become paralyzed with a "polio-like" illness. Many other examples also exist, and many believe these predatory campaigns are partly motivated by a desire to get access to cheap test subjects who will not complain once injured in early clinical trials.
When I described Hotez's situation to my Ivy League colleague, they told me they were relatively sure Hotez's primary motivation for constantly speaking in the mainstream media was to solicit funding for his "research" (e.g., this is why he continually emphasizes his "philanthropic" work on the hookworm vaccine regardless of the subject he was brought on to discuss). In my colleague's words, "Hotez is never going to debate RFK because doing so would require him to give up his grift."
Furthermore, my colleague emphasized to me that it's very common for academics there to seek out grants they claim will remarkably transform the world in 7-10 years, but when you track them down the road, you consistently find none of the claimed benefits came to pass (e.g., the elimination of hookworm infections) and the grant money was wasted to sustain the academic’s livelihood.
The Grant System
One libertarian viewpoint is that anytime the government subsidizes something, all it accomplishes is making it much worse (e.g., federal student loans have massively inflated the cost of a degree and dramatically reduced its quality). This problem arises because numerous parties become dependent on the funding and focus on retaining it rather than fulfilling their stated mission.
Science as a whole has suffered from this problem, as many who complete the educational pathway to become a "scientist" (e.g., getting a Ph.D.) then require both an academic appointment and a continual infusion of grants to remain afloat financially (which is further exacerbated by their student loan burden).
When I first entered the medical field, I was cautioned that the medical profession has always been highly resistant to accepting new ideas that challenge entrenched dogmas, irrespective of the idea's merits. One of the best-known examples of this is the story of Semmelweis, a doctor who discovered that doctors not cleaning their hands after dissecting corpses was causing large numbers of women they delivered the babies of to later die from blood infections.
Rather than accept Semmelweis's ideas (which were fully supported by the city's women), doctors became offended at Semmelweis's suggestion that their hands were "unclean" and increasingly pushed back against Semmelweis. Eventually, approximately two decades later, his colleagues committed Semmelweis to asylum, where he suffered a fatal beating, and it was not until years after his death that Semmelweis's ideas gained mainstream acceptance.
One scientist I greatly admire, Gerald Pollack, has tirelessly worked for decades to conduct unorthodox but immensely valuable research I frequently cite (as it helps to explain the root causes of many illnesses, including spike protein injuries). Because of the pushback he receives for challenging the orthodoxy, its extremely difficult for Pollack to get the funding he needs (e.g., he's had to rely upon private donations to support his lab, and I regrettably learned they had recently dried up after I enquired if he could investigate a few questions I had regarding about the subject).
Because Pollack has been cut off from the grant system, he has a great deal of experience with how hostile the scientific apparatus is to any idea that challenges the prevailing orthodoxy—something many people's eyes were opened to during the pandemic as every journal continually published (sometimes fraudulent) junk science while simultaneously refusing to publish anything which challenged the narrative.
Note: Pierre Kory's "The War on Ivermectin" provides the most concise but comprehensive summary of the systemic corruption within our medical journals that sustained the pandemic narrative. Its story provides a valuable lesson because the same principles at work throughout COVID-19 were at play long before it started. For example, "peer review," which we place so much weight on, typically only signifies that your findings conform to the narrative of your peers (Malcolm Kendrick provides the most potent critique I have come across on the merits of peer review here).
Because of these biases, you often must read between the lines when reviewing a paper. For example, it is extremely common that if a study obtains results that threaten the dominant narrative, the introduction and conclusion of the article will conceal those results and instead argue in favor of the narrative so the paper can make it through to publication (most people only read the summaries of a study without dissecting it).
Pollack was the one who first introduced me to the idea the grant system had removed the innovation within our scientific apparatus. Since I greatly respect his integrity and he has a significant degree of firsthand experience with this issue, I asked him to provide a hypothetical story to illustrate the problem:
Suppose you’re inclined to believe the earth is round, while everyone around you knows it’s flat. You’ve seen satellite photos showing curvature. You’ve flown westward, eventually returning to the same point where you started. With such “preliminary data” you’re convinced that flat-earth paradigm may be erroneous, and because of the subject’s importance, you’re compelled to explore further.
To do so, you need funding. So you prepare a grant proposal to a national funding organization. The organization’s gate-keeper receives your proposal. Noting its revolutionary character, the official recruits the shape-of-the-earth field’s top experts, in order to determine whether the proposal is flaky or serious.
Who are those experts? Inevitably, they’re the major proponents of the prevailing view: the flat-earth theory. Your proposal gets evaluated by the very people you’re challenging. Their response can be imagined. Who likes to get dethroned?
By inviting evaluation by the very people under challenge, the grant system ensures that revolutionary proposals will rarely receive funding. It’s effectively a dead end.
Few revolutions. The status quo prevails — endlessly. Public-relations folks may create the impression that science is moving at a rapid clip, but it’s mainly incremental. The truly major scientific advances come from the giant steps that we call scientific revolutions.
To illustrate the dearth of revolutions, let me ask: How many scientific revolutions can you name that have taken place, say, during the past 50 years? I don’t mean technological revolutions like the iphone. I mean scientific revolutions that have seriously impacted your life — like the discovery of the genetic code (70 years ago) or the splitting of the atom (85 years ago). How many can you name?
The scientific enterprise is assuredly active. But the dearth of modern scientific revolutions implies that something has gone seriously awry. Science should be producing major revolutions, as was the case in the early 20th century when physics revolutions were coming practically annually. Think Einstein, Planck, Bohr, etc. That kind of progress has all but vanished, and I argue that a significant culprit is the very system supposedly designed to foster revolutions — the granting system.
The problems facing our world today are immense. Overcoming those problems will require never-before-conceived technologies. Inevitably, scientific revolutions produce those technologies: Who would have thought the discovery of semi-conduction would produce today’s laptops? Some attempts to spawn revolutionary science have surfaced, but it may be time to consider the major culprits in the crime: the federal granting agencies. By (inadvertent) design, those agencies are inhibiting scientific revolutions. That design needs to change.
Since the economic success of many scientists within academia is dictated by the quantity (rather than quality—Hotez, for example, has published over 600) of papers that make it into a journal, this has created a publish-or-perish environment where scientists cannot afford to take the risk of conducting real science which challenges the orthodoxy. Doing so often results in being excommunicated by your peers (usually making it impossible for anything to pass peer review) and sometimes results in getting cut off from the grant system entirely, which is the lifeblood for most scientists.
Note: The Real Anthony Fauci essentially details how Fauci co-opted our nation’s scientific apparatus and turned it into a pharmaceutical production pipeline (e.g., by having broad swathes of the Federal Government by financially incentivized to push pharmaceuticals and cultivating a network of clinical investigators like Hotez who would conduct the dubious research needed to bring those drugs to market). This is part of why we spend billions of dollars annually on the same fruitless (and sometimes fraudulent) research while simultaneously refusing to fund extremely compelling research that cannot be commercialized (one of the best examples of this principle can be found with Alzheimer’s research).
I believe one of the most important points RFK Jr. raised was Fauci’s weaponization of the grant system against anyone who challenged him. For example, Peter Deusberg, a leading retrovirologist, made the difficult decision to put forward evidence challenging Fauci’s (massive) HIV grift. In retaliation, Fauci cut Deusberg off from federal funding, destroying his career and sending a clear message to anyone else who might otherwise consider defying the orthodoxy.
Malcolm Kendrick has likewise done an excellent job of discussing these issues:
Research nowadays is driven by funding. Funding is driven by commercial applications. The ‘best’ researchers today know how to bring in money for their labs, and for their universities. Today, researchers need to be productive and drive the income stream. To quote Peter Higgs: ‘I wouldn’t be productive enough for today’s academic system.’
‘Peter Higgs, the British physicist who gave his name to the Higgs boson, believes no university would employ him in today’s academic system because he would not be considered “productive” enough.
The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who says he has never sent an email, browsed the internet or even made a mobile phone call, published fewer than 10 papers after his ground-breaking work, which identified the mechanism by which subatomic material acquires mass, was published in 1964.
He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today’s academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: “It’s difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964.
One of the best proofs of the argument made by Kendrick can be found in this study published by Nature:
What Can Be Done To Save Science?
Kendrick argues the increasing unwillingness of the scientific apparatus to challenge entrenched dogmas or corporate interests is a product of the growing corruption within our society. I agree with this argument and believe one of its strongest proofs can be found within RFK Jr.’s chronology of Fauci’s career and the full impact of Fauci’s actions on America (and arguably the entire world).
One way to categorize medicine is by defining it as either “theoretical medicine” or “clinical medicine.” Theoretical medicine is the bread and butter of academics and creates a variety of constructs to guide the practice of medicine. Unfortunately, these constructs are often inaccurate, particularly once pharmaceutical dollars get involved (e.g., a well-established business practice paying off prestigious academics to author research and practice guidelines that support industry interests). The alternative, clinical medicine, considers theoretical medicine but is primarily guided by what physicians determine most holds true for their patients in clinical practice.
One of the insidious aspects of the transformation of our scientific apparatus has been the widespread adoption of academic medicine by clinicians in practice. This has been accomplished by placing doctors under a great deal of pressure to comply with the existing treatment guidelines rather than their own critical thinking and conditioning doctors to believe their own observations are irrational products of biases that harm patients (e.g., in the first week the COVID vaccines hit the market I suspected they needed to be pulled and by the first month I was sure of it, yet many of my colleagues I told insisted those observations were “anecdotal” and discounted my warnings).
As a doctor, one of the things I find the most depressing about this transformation of science is how difficult it is for the medical profession to accept critical innovations there isn’t money behind those ideas. My colleagues and I have made numerous attempts to get slightly unorthodox studies approved by an IRB or the FDA. Each time, the experience is akin to hitting a brick wall, yet at the same time, we all must watch much more conventional (but quite questionable) studies sail through, many of which lack any real value. This, likewise, has been our experience when attempting to get anything published in the peer-reviewed literature.
All of this is quite frustrating because we know things did not use to be this way. Many critical medical innovations came from doctors developing them in their private clinical practice. Similarly, before science was institutionalized, physicians would regularly make their best guess on how to address a problem and then share it with their colleagues.
For example, during the 1918 Influenza (which, with the possible exception of the Black Death, I consider to be the worst pandemic in history), physicians published their observations and discoveries in the medical journals of the time (including JAMA, a journal which now would never permit such a thing) so their peers could try them out as well. At the very start of COVID-19 (at the end of December 2019), I began reviewing many of these (wholly forgotten) publications. That knowledge, obtained by physicians working with nothing but their wits and observations, was instrumental in developing many of the initial treatment protocols I and colleagues used for COVID-19.
Throughout COVID-19, although most physicians recognized they were powerless to treat the virus, few were willing to innovate or share what they discovered with their colleagues. This created a remarkable situation where things like what I did (reviewing literature from when something similar had transpired a century beforehand) became necessary for clinicians seeking to help their patients.
Many of my colleagues have been willing to attempt to go through the hassle of publishing their discoveries because they know how much patients could benefit from them. Conversely, most eventually gave up and switched back to just caring for their patients. This was because they realized that would do far more to impact those who could be helped—especially considering the pushback they could expect to receive for publicly promoting a “controversial” idea.
Note: one of the greatest motivators for me to write on Substack is because the platform that came together for me has made it possible for many of the ideas my colleagues have yearned to share for decades to become accessible to everyone.
Restoring the Free Market
I believe the root cause of the dysfunction within our medical system results from the massive barriers we have to a free market. For example:
Government subsidization of inferior products takes away much of the motivation to produce competitive products and makes it very difficult for quality products that don’t receive (politically motivated) subsidies to compete within the marketplace.
Corporate sponsorship (e.g., pharma dollars) of the media makes it very difficult for unorthodox ideas to be given a chance to compete in the marketplace. Had this information monopoly not been in place, it is unlikely much of the public would have been willing to utilize the harmful and ineffective medical interventions profiteers pushed throughout the pandemic.
Many existing regulatory burdens and legal penalties make it quite difficult for an independent party to do anything that dissents from an established narrative.
So, anytime there is a way to return power to the marketplace, I support it. This, for example, is why I advocate for Substack’s business model, where readers pay for content they want. Under this model, a competitive marketplace selects the best content to be produced, whereas, under the existing “free” model, all of the content that is made is determined based on how much it supports the owners of the media company and their advertisers (this is why there is so much clickbait online). Similarly, in science, this principle explains why I advocate for supporting researchers like Pollack whose work is too “controversial” for public funding.
In my eyes, the most important place to reestablish a free market is for the health of your own body. Part of this requires taking responsibility for your health (e.g., regularly exercising and eating locally sourced foods or produce from your own garden) so you no longer have to depend on the medical system for your health.
It also requires moving your healthcare dollars from the conventional medical system to doctors who work outside the system and are economically incentivized to serve you rather than the criteria of the insurance companies. I believe the second one is particularly important because I have consistently found the one thing doctors will listen to (and consider changing their behaviors for) is losing business to a competitor.
Much of America’s success has been a product of its ingenuity; through being a nation of immigrants, our cultural melting pot has followed a very different path from the other nations of the world—unbridled creativity has been the rule in America rather than the exception. America’s rapid innovation has allowed it over and over to be a leader in the global marketplace. Now however that creativity is declining (e.g., due to the federal grant system stifling research into new ideas) and many economists have argued our nation is facing a creativity crisis that we must overcome to remain competitive in the 21st century.
Every empire throughout history has periods of progress where its institutions build themselves up and periods of decline where its institutions break apart. By all objective metrics, America is an empire in decline, and the pervasive corruption throughout our scientific apparatus (where “science” that benefits vested interests like corporations is chosen over science that helps the nation or its people) is one such symptom of that decline.
Typically, what causes a declining nation to reverse its trend is things getting so bad people become motivated to fix them. For example, how many people do you know who are actively involved in their local political process? Likely not many, but at the same time, in recent years, outrage over the government’s conduct has created a groundswell of support for local political activism.
As much as I malign Hotez, I believe others are far worse than him (e.g., Fauci). Hotez, in my eyes, is simply a symptom of the pervasive decline throughout our society. If we had a more robust scientific apparatus where everyone had a basic degree of accountability for their promises, Hotez would never be able to get away with the style of grifting he has pulled off on the public for decades.
Likewise, if we had had a functional research apparatus, COVID-19 would have been completely solved by the summer of 2020. Instead, there is still not an effective standard of care for treating the illness, countless people died unnecessarily from COVID-19, and we continue to push an ineffective, expired and extremely dangerous vaccine on the American Public. It is my sincere hope that the tragic events of the last few years will create the political will to address the institutional decline of our once great scientific apparatus and allow the great minds of our nation to bring forth the scientific knowledge that can benefit everyone.
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