Each year the UK’s Skeptic Magazine presents Ockham Awards. One is known as “The Rusty Razor” award. This is given to the year’s worst promoter of pseudoscience.
The 2021 Rusty Razor winner was announced yesterday (Nov 9).
Who Won the Rusty Razor in 2021?
The winner is Dr Mike Yeadon, a former Pfizer scientist.
There the editor, Michael Marshall, explains why he got the award …
“Throughout the pandemic, Yeadon has been relentless in his consistently misinformed predictions and his baseless scaremongering about COVID-19 vaccines. Each of his claims have spread around social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Telegram – due, in part, to the perceived credibility offered by his status as an ex-Pfizer scientist.
“He has provided some of the most effective ammunition for the anti-vaccination movement, and for that reason we feel he is a very worthy winner of the Rusty Razor award”.
This is indeed very well deserved. He is a guy who is the alpha source for a great deal of COVID disinformation. Leveraging his past scientific career to promote blatantly false nonsense gave such claims a boost. Real harm was done.
What exactly has he claimed?
Here is a quick tour.
- In Oct 2020, he claimed that the COVID pandemic was done, and that there would be no second wave in the UK. We all now know that this was very very wrong. FactCheck: Claim debunked by PolitiFact
- He claimed that healthy people can’t spread COVID. Fact Check: Former Pfizer scientist wrong on asymptomatic COVID-19 spread
- He claimed that vaccines are not needed to handle COVID. Fact Check: By AAP.
- He claimed that vaccines are unsafe. FactCheck by Full Fact: Mike Yeadon wrong again on lockdowns and face masks
- He claimed that vaccines could cause infertility in women. Fact Check Snopes: Did ‘Head of Pfizer Research’ Say COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Is Female Sterilization’? Snopes confirms that he did indeed claim this, and also that he is not now, and never has been, the head of Pfizer research. He left Pfizer in 2011. There have been literally billions of doses of the vaccine, (8.35 Billion given to 55% of the global population to be precise) – number of cases of sterilisation caused by the vaccine? Exactly zero.
- Steve Bannon very recently interviewed him. During that he falsely claimed that children were “50 times more likely to be killed by the COVID vaccines than the virus itself”. Fact Check by Reuters: No evidence to support claim by ex-Pfizer scientist on COVID-19 vaccine safety in children
With this established track record you can more or less guarantee that if he now opens his mouth to say anything at all about COVID, then it will be wrong.
Yeadon’s background gives his dangerous and harmful messages false credibility. He was not always like this and was once very pro-vaccine and evidence based. He appears to have greatly altered his views. You can find a Reuters Special Report on him here. They talked to many of his former colleagues who are quoted. Most of them are both shocked and baffled by his transformation.
Yeadon might indeed be a pharmacologist with a PhD, but what he does also now do is to illustrate that being smart and being rational are not the same thing. The problem with smart irrational people is that they are very good at dreaming up smart ways of justifying absurd bullshit.
The award truly is well deserved.
I do have to wonder if he will collect it and put it on his shelf.
The Other 2021 Ockham Award
One other far more positive award was announced.
Wow yes, really cool and very well deserved. I follow her on twitter.
The Skeptic magazine article explains …
As part of her work identifying fraudulent, mistaken, and plagiarised research, Dr Bik has identified thousands of academic papers with evidence of issues including image manipulation, leading to hundreds of papers being retracted. Along with other researchers, Bik identified a potential paper mill in China that was generating academic articles with fake research for students who needed to publish an article to complete their studies.
Bik uses her public profile to train others in identifying problems with images in scientific papers as well as highlighting issues with scientific integrity and a failure of some academic journals to act promptly in investigating the tips she reports. She does so under her own name, which has opened Bik up to criticism, harassment, intimidation and even legal challenges from academics whose work has been investigated, and their die-hard fans. Earlier this year, Dr Bik was even threatened with legal action from last year’s Rusty Razor recipient, Prof Didier Raoult.
Many congratulations to Dr Elisabeth Bik.