Bret Weinstein and his wife Heither Heying are the AOCs of the new pop-academia circuit in their exploitation of the obvious problems in the academic system to mask their opportunistic self-promotion, and seek attention in the basest ways possible.
The two are outcasts from traditional academia and science, desperately seeking meaning and a new audience, but will be hard-pressed to find new acolytes when their own brand of “science” is so riddled with contradictions and misinformation.
They are constantly furious at the world, social media, and the unfairness of the system in place, and yet are critical of how angry and bitter society has become, ironically suggesting that excessive anger towards the social order is unnatural.
They label the entire American university system and academic accreditation as essentially worthless, despite their years long legal battle to stay within the system or to extract as much money from it as possible, while at other times clearly taking the position that the social order works well and need not actually be overturned.
They insist that debate in science is healthy and integral, and that an overwhelming scientific consensus is an aberration and rare, but then at other times selectively imply that there is indeed scientific consensus on issues where there certainly is not, and when those issues align with their pseudo-scientific positions.
Their current roles make them anything but scientists, they are instead public performers, who at times either willfully contradict basic scientific principles, or aim to deliberately mislead people when it suits their political and financial self-interest.
During their recent podcast with Joe Rogan, they took three positions absolutely not backed up by the consensus of credible science.
The first was from Heather Heying that despite clear scientific evidence that masks prevent infections, she asserted, without justification, that the harm from not children seeing their peers mouths and noses, during the approximately 25 hours a week that elementary school students spend in classrooms each week, was demonstrably greater than the spread of coronavirus throughout students and teachers. NIH clinical reviews on the subject of developmental issues stemming from masks only focus on infants and very young children, and make no reference whatsoever to elementary-school aged children. There is no substantive data, whatsoever, on developmental stunting because of masks, and this claim represents her allowing her opinions to trump the clear science on the protection offered by face-masks. Clinicians offer that even if there were socio-developmental effects, that it would be mediated by mask-free interactions with adults, such as normal interactions with parents at home, which all children should be receiving anyways. As a self described leftist-libertarian, she would do well to remember that the role of schools is not, and ought not be, for social education. Schools exist for the instruction of basic knowledge, and the acknowledgement of anything else would be admitting a massive increase in the social and developmental role of schools in human development that, if anything, would justify even more state control. Her basal unfounded assertions, clearly based on reactionary anger and not on data, have no basis in substantive science whatsoever.
The second was that the immunity conferred by natural infection was superior to the immunity conferred by multi-dose vaccination, repeated multiple times. They may be referring to a non-reviewed, pre-print publication, out of Israel that only studied a single vaccine, the mRNA Pfizer BioNtech. This paper is absolutely not conclusive, as it represents a single, and as of yet unreviewed, and unpublished study, which most importantly only measured protection of one type of vaccine against one type of strain of the Wuhan coronavirus. To repeatedly complain that the media is cherry-picking data and not capturing the nuance, nor lack of consensus within the scientific community, and then for this couple to present a single, pre-print, unreviewed article as substantive fact is a demonstration of their lack of commitment to the truth, or to science, by this couple who appear to be fraudulently presenting themselves as a type of pseudo-authority. While there is logic to the notion that being infected with the real virus might confer antigens to multiple viral proteins, early exposure to sufficiently distinct alpha strains with different protein structures from newly emergent strains would present the same challenges for immunity as with early-developed vaccines, and this is hardly addressed nor considered by such a theory, which they mistakenly present as fact. This notion is as of yet unproven and should be treated as such.
The last was that the dangerous implication that most new mutant strains were developing in those who had vaccinated, because of competitive evolutionary advantage of mutant strains in infecting vaccinated host groups. While this is partially grounded in evolutionary biology, it also willfully ignores the basic premise that frequency of mutation is driven by replication, which will, of course, mostly only occur in high-infection host populations, primarily the unvaccinated and unmasked, implying the opposite of his theory. Weinstein’s theory is also absolutely not borne out in the data, and is in fact almost totally contradicted in every new strain instance. Every single one of the emergent strains, from Beta to Mu, has emerged from low vaccination-rate countries, other than the Iota strain which emerged from the US. India, from which Delta and Kappa emerged, even as of mid-September, only has a 14% vaccination rate. South Africa from which two WHO tracked strains emerged, has a vaccination rate of about 13% from the same time. Other sources including Brazil and Columbia and Peru, while higher, all have vaccination rates hovering around 30%, with the majority of the population in those states still potentially active hosts, and thus expanding opportunities for mutation.
Thus, it is clear that the couple are neither dedicated to truth or honest presentation of the science, and it is a shame that they present themselves as an alternative to the traditional media pseudo-science lens, when they themselves are just as guilty of perpetrating fraud and misinformation to radicalize their audience and increase their revenue, and to score cheap political points, even at the potential cost of human life. They should be called out for what they are, disgraced ex-scientists, who seek the limelight and personal fortunes over science or the objective truth.
Staff writer: Ari B