Infectious disease is not a threat, says famous idiot

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called all of his friends together and opened his mouth. It’s helpful to assemble a gang of like-minded people to encourage everyone to say exactly what they think without reservation, and oh boy, the stupidity flowed like water. Here are Kennedy’s colleagues: frauds, quacks, and morons, every one.

The panelists Kennedy included were, by anyone’s standards, heavy hitters in the world of anti-vaccine activism and health freedom (a movement which advocates for non-traditional cures and fewer regulations in medicine). They included Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician and an extremely influential natural health figure who’s also a major funder of the anti-vaccine movement; Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, another osteopath and a longtime anti-vaccine activist best known for going viral when she falsely claimed COVID vaccines make one “magnetic”; Dr. Pierre Kory, a major promoter of ivermectin as an unproven and highly contested treatment for COVID; Sayer Ji, another major health freedom figure who often traffics in anti-vaccine claims on his site GreenMedInfo; Mikki Willis, the maker of the viral faux documentary Plandemic; Maureen McDonnell, a pediatric nurse turned anti-vaccine activist; and Patrick Gentempo, a former chiropractor and health freedom figure. The moderator was Charles Eisenstein, an author and lightly New Age-flavored motivational speaker who said he’s paused his career and is “working closely with Kennedy on policy,” while the ending remarks were delivered by anti-vaccine activist and filmmaker Del Bigtree.

Even when the panelists disagreed, it was for stupid reasons and both sides got everything wrong.

There was one notable point of semi-disagreement: Mikki Willis of Plandemic fame asked Kennedy if he believed the “climate change narrative has been exaggerated,” a loaded question for someone best known for many years as an environmental lawyer and activist. Kennedy responded that he believes climate change is real, but that he does not believe “carbon” is to blame. He added that climate science is not his strong suit.

“With vaccine science I know the science,” he added, citing his experience litigating those cases. “I know the science back and forward. Climate science is so complex and knows so many disciplines” that he’s not as strong on it, he added, especially because it requires “mathematical modeling” and “chemistry.” That said, he added, “I think the climate narrative has been hijacked by the World Economic Forum and Bill Gates” and, like other crises, is being used by “elites to consolidate their power.” (Kennedy is a celebrity and part of the Democratic Party’s most durably powerful political family, the nephew of a former president and the son of a U.S. senator.)

Keep that claim that he knows the science back and forward in mind when you read the rest. Does he? Does he really?

During the discussion, Kennedy made several unfounded claims regarding the origins of infectious diseases and their relationships to vaccines. At one point, he baselessly asserted that vaccine research had been responsible for the creation of some of the deadliest diseases in human history, including HIV, the Spanish flu, and Lyme disease.

“I will end all gain-of-function research [as president],” Kennedy said. “It’s just a disaster, it’s given us no benefits. It’s given us everything from Lyme disease to Covid, and many many other diseases. RSV, which is now one of the biggest killers of children, came out of a vaccine lab.”

“We can go down the whole list of diseases,” he added. “There’s even good evidence that even Spanish flu came from vaccine research.”

Kennedy then claimed that “the medical research on these diseases and vaccine research has actually created some of the worst plagues in our history. Anybody who reads The River will come away pretty much convinced that HIV also came from a vaccine program, there’s plenty of evidence on that as well.”

Kennedy has previously claimed, without evidence, that AIDS was not caused by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) but “a gay lifestyle” and the use of alkyl nitrites, or poppers. His 2021 book The Real Anthony Fauci included similar AIDS denialism — including the falsehood that the disease is not caused by HIV — views that he repeated this month on Joe Rogan’s podcast, which commands an audience of millions.

He is basically claiming that every disease ever is the product of mad scientist-style experimentation. He forgot polio, tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, smallpox, cholera, rabies, pertussis, leprosy, measles, and the Black Death. Those 14th century epidemiologists were incredibly sophisticated, being able to cobble up a plague that killed a few hundred million people without even any knowledge of germ theory is impressive. It’s unclear why physicians throughout history have been interested in killing people slowly and agonizingly; it probably has something to do with kickbacks from Big Pharma, the Illuminati, and the Fuggers. Oh, and the Pope, and probably the Jews, the usual scapegoats.

Oh yeah, he definitely knows the science backwards. Forwards, not so much.

He’s also not particularly sharp about history, or he wouldn’t make this claim:

“I do not believe that infectious disease is an enormous threat to human health,” Kennedy added. The presidential hopeful stated that if he assumed office, he would target medical journals and redirect funding grants away from epidemiology.

That could be true, if he ignores climate change — everyone will die of the heat, or of starvation, or drown in floods, or get killed by storms, before they have an opportunity to die of infectious disease. Nah, I take that back — climate disasters will probably kill more people with cholera after the storm/flood/heat wave ends.

Clever move, though, planning to end all the research that would show that Kennedy is an asshat. Maybe even more people will die of ignorance before the viruses and bacteria get them.


  1. Matt G says

    As Orac says, it’s always the vaccines.

    Robert knows the science backwards and forwards, so I guess 99% of people in medical science don’t know the science. What a raging narcissist. Infectious diseases not a big deal?? It used to be the biggest deal…until vaccines and antibiotics!! What an ass!

  2. numerobis says

    He grew up around people for whom bullshitting was a viable way to accumulate power and wealth.

  3. larpar says

    It’s a good thing that vaccine science doesn’t require “mathematical modeling” and “chemistry.” /s

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  5. wzrd1 says

    “I do not believe that infectious disease is an enormous threat to human health,”, said stupidly while we’re still reeling from the effects of a planetary pandemic.
    Well, since infectious disease isn’t a big deal, release a rabid dog onto his stage with him.
    After that mischief is managed, he can retire to the snack bar for some vibrio oysters.
    I’ll keep the ice pick laden with VRSA and tetanus handy, should he persist.

    But, I do think that PZ’s spot on about cholera. That typically follows on the heels of many major disasters.
    Although, for the Haitian earthquake disaster, cholera arrived via military aid workers from Nepal, to spread rampantly due to a lack of well, any sanitation remaining intact. Suffice it to say, the errors that allowed that to occur have been managed.

  6. says

    “With vaccine science I know the science,” he added, citing his experience litigating those cases. “I know the science back and forward. Climate science is so complex and knows so many disciplines” that he’s not as strong on it, he added, especially because it requires “mathematical modeling” and “chemistry.”

    In other words, he’s moving away from any connection to his previous environmental activism, and unequivocally embracing right-wing fascist lunacy. This point needs to be emphasized above all else: RFK Jr. is no longer the man who earned the respect on which his current fame is based. Anyone inclined to support him based on his previous environmental activism needs to know that’s all a thing of the past, and he’s no longer bringing any of that to any table.

  7. says

    This reminded me of Saskatchewan’s contribution to antimedicine, the late Hulda Clark. Her obsession was parasites, which she claimed were the cause of all disease, and that they could be zapped with electricity. Unfortunately for her she died more than a decade before the COVID pandemic, so she didn’t get a chance to either support ivermectin use, or denounce it for not being electrical. Then again she would have been in her early 90s, so maybe she would have been too busy trying to survive one of the nursing home outbreaks.

  8. says

    According to Rasmussen:
    – Nearly half of voters have a favorable opinion of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
    Pretty sure Rasmussen quit doing actual polls and is just making shit up at this point.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Since he does not believe in infectious disease, he is the perfect candidate to send into the rainforest to map out where the permanent reservoirs of Ebola in bat colonies can be found.

  10. moonslicer says

    ” . . . when she falsely claimed COVID vaccines make one “magnetic”.”

    I was once slightly radioactive. I was going for a bone scan in the hospital, and they first had to inject me with some kind of liquid which, they said, would leave me slightly radioactive for the next 24 hours. I was advised to stay away from babies and expecting mothers.

    I wanted more specific advice. E.g., if I saw that I was about to encounter an expecting mother in the hall, did that mean I should run as fast as I could in the opposite direction?

    The technician smiled and explained that it wasn’t really a question of proximity, but rather how long I would be around them. No lingering in their company, in other words. OK, no problem. If I see a pregnant woman, I can just scurry on by. As for babies, it would be better if I didn’t cradle one in my arms for any length of time. That was also no problem. At that point I’d guess it was at least 30 years since I’d cradled a baby and I didn’t have any immediate plans to do so again.

    So the scan went forward without a hitch, and as far as I know, I didn’t kill anybody that day.

  11. dstatton says

    I really hate these people. I just finished a book called Pathogenesis, about infectious diseases throughout history, including the Paleo-and Neolithic periods. Then plagues in Ancient Rome and Greece, and so forth right up to COVID.

  12. raven says

    “There’s even good evidence that even Spanish flu came from vaccine research.”

    Cthulhu, this guy is way out there on the lunatic fringes.
    The Spanish flu pandemic was in 1918.
    At that point we didn’t even know much about viruses.

    “In 1933, British researchers Wilson Smith, C.H. Andrewes and P.P. Laidlaw at London’s National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) made a breakthrough when they isolated and identified the influenza virus.”

    The flu virus was identified in 1933 and the flu vaccine invented in 1945.
    What Kennedy is claiming is simply impossible.

    Strangely enough, the current RFK (jr.) is a pale shadow of his namesake, Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1968. I was a big fan of him at the time and shocked when he was killed.

  13. says

    moonslicer @13: …So the scan went forward without a hitch, and as far as I know, I didn’t kill anybody that day.

    The magnetic radiation from the scan killed lots of people, but it al happened behind your back (that’s how “shedding” works, right?) and Big Pharma covered it all up.

  14. nomdeplume says

    Reading this I alternated between anger, sadness, rage, fear and despair. I want to retrospectively rescind my admiration for his uncle and father – their links with this dangerous maniac are now a blot on their memories.

  15. outis says

    Naaah, at this point I’d say we are beyond political posturing and wilful ignorance here.
    Not a medic, but if I were I’d call this a full-blown psychosis, with abundant paranoid ideation. And it seems it’s plenty contagious too.
    We supposedly live in the age of information, with such privileges of access as not even ancient kings could dream of. And yet for many people the only effect is, it’s making ’em reach breathtaking heights of stupidity. Hhhh.

  16. wzrd1 says

    raven @ 17, during the 1918 influenza pandemic, the existence of any virus as an animal pathogen was considered a wild fringe theory. Many didn’t believe that a virus in animals could exist, as our best microscopes couldn’t visualize a virus at all. It wasn’t until electron microscopes were invented that visualization of a virus was possible and only quite recently have giant viruses been discovered – largely infecting amoeba. The only virus discovered was in 1898 with the tobacco mosaic virus and plants and animals are decidedly different…
    Much of the pandemic was lead down the merry path in thinking that the cause of the illness was a novel form of H. influenzae, a bacteria, in part due to an error by one researcher simply being accepted, despite zero replication of his results.
    But, vaccines were in use at the time – largely against H. influenzae, with quite a few physicians actually producing antibacterial vaccines in their own labs.

    But, our treatment for COVID-19 was informed by tons of research into the 1918 influenza pandemic, especially in understanding cytokine storms and how to blunt them, as much of the damage from COVID-19 was due to cytokine storm induced damage. Literally, it’s a hiccup in immune response that sends the immune system into scorched earth mode, as the second target the virus engages is white cells that ingest the virus, are infected themselves, resulting in their response being muted.
    Hence, why a corticosteroid is administered early on in an infection, a lesson hard learned from the early pandemic, when initially, cytokine storms were denied. I can’t blame them for the misstep initially, it was a confusing, hectic time, with hospitals overloading and no end in sight.

    As for Dr Twopence, I find it fascinating that she doesn’t understand enough about magnetism, something every school child understands, to realize that brass keys aren’t attracted to any magnets.
    I’m confused though, if all diseases are due to mad scientists, why did Jesus go running around curing lepers, rather than whammying the mad scientist away first?

    nomdeplume @ 19, I can easily despise him without seeking the corruption of blood that you seem to be tempted by.

    moonslicer @13, the usual agent used is technetium-99m for bone scans. Had similar with iodine-131 for my thyroid scan. Got the same instructions. I was somewhat tempted to go to the PX at Barksdale AFB, a nuclear capable base, but reconsidered. The military tends to lose their sense of humor when Radioactive Man trips their nuke detectors at the front gate…

  17. wzrd1 says

    @22, well…
    It worked in the converse direction as well. It’s part and parcel of European “civilization” of the period it was considered acceptable.
    Entire families tainted and outlawed by the actions of one family member. Basically, ensuring the extinction of an entire family.

    Personally, I’m more on merit. His ancestors earned their merit, which had a massive uphill curve, given the criminal history of their ancestors during prohibition.
    He’s achieved some merit, but has richly earned demerits ever since. Environmental, big plus, vaccines, nope.
    Hell, I’d happily get another booster right in front of him and live 24/7 for as many months as it takes for him to admit that a key or anything metallic won’t stick to me, save I don’t want to live the remainder of my life with him.

  18. Doug Little says

    I’m sure Orac has some choice words to say about his knowledge of vaccine science. I’ll be over there reading the takedown.

  19. unclefrogy says

    wow some times I despair for my fellows
    the fear and the ignorance are such a deadly combination of things to be victims of.

  20. KG says

    According to Rasmussen:
    – Nearly half of voters have a favorable opinion of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
    Pretty sure Rasmussen quit doing actual polls and is just making shit up at this point.- Ray Ceeya@11

    Unfortunately, I don’t find anything implausible about that particularl claim of theirs, given the stupidity of much of the American electorate, plus the lure of the Kennedy dynasty.

  21. Louis says

    Is it ethical to infect an infectious disease denialist with something fucking horrible?



  22. numerobis says

    Rasmussen has as far as I remember always leaned RWNJ in their polling. But not enough that if they claim 50% we can dismiss it; the true number might be only 40-45%, but that’s still a lot!

    However, most people probably don’t know anything about RFK Jr other than his name. He’s got a following, but he’s mostly just got a name.

  23. felixd says

    What’s with this “health freedom” phrasing in the original article? It’s not “health freedom”, it’s threatening people’s health.