Some anonymous guy wrote a popular blog post in which they proposed a radical new idea that the real mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 action was that the virus invaded red blood cells, displaced iron from the heme group in hemoglobin, and thereby both reduced the O2 carrying capacity of blood cells, and released large amounts of toxic iron. They had no expertise in medicine, molecular biology, or epidemiology, and their hypothesis was total bollocking nonsense. The post has since been taken down.
Now there is a thorough post up that utterly demolishes the original claim. I’m not a fan of the hyperbole of saying someone was “destroyed” by a blog post, but in this case, the word applies. The author is an MD/PhD with a specialization in the molecular biology of mammalian heme globins, and he tears into the claims at every level and burns them to the ground. It’s wonderfully entertaining, if you enjoy good science and despise quacks.
His conclusion also brings up a very good question: why do people promote pseudoscience?
The above discussion is by no means an exhaustive list of the blog post’s incorrect statements or conclusions. Nonetheless, I hope it has been sufficient to make clear that the blog post, and even the scientific article that likely inspired it, should not be viewed as a source of any meaningful insight into SARS-CoV-2, how it affects patients, or how the virus might be treated. What I still don’t know is why the blog post author, under a pseudonym, chose to present such an incorrect description of this disease and the underlying pathophysiology with such confidence. That they would go so far as to suggest treatments for the disease despite a lack of any medical training, and in virtually the same paragraph condemn “armchair pseudo-physicians” who push incorrect information, is truly mind-boggling. Tragically, whether it arises from genuine malice, unfounded arrogance, or just simple ignorance, this sort of misinformation about a deadly pandemic can genuinely put lives at risk, and it’s up to those of us who work in this field to fight back against it in whatever way we can.
I wish I understood this phenomenon myself. It comes up all the time in evolution debates — some clown makes grand, sweeping statements dismissing evolutionary biology, and when he gets quizzed on the subject, it becomes rapidly apparent that they know nothing about the subject, and their colon is packed with so much misinformation it’s backing up their throat and dribbling out their ears. Yet somehow the frauds get all the acclaim, get paid well, and bring in adoring mobs of followers who love to see the experts get dissed…oh wait. I think I might have just answered my own question. It’s all money and ego.
Note: there are also skeptics who are all about the money and ego. I’ve known a few.