Whatever happened to Naomi Wolf?

I admit that I have not been following the career of Naomi Wolf closely, and had not read any of her stuff recently. I had read a few essays some time ago and had the vague impression that she was a feminist author who was somewhat involved in politics and had been a former advisor to Al Gore. So I was blindsided by the news that she has been permanently suspended by Twitter for spreading the wildest Q-worthy misinformation about vaccines. She seems to have gone completely bonkers.

Wolf, who wrote the influential feminist work The Beauty Myth, holds staunch anti-vaccine views. Last month she told a US congressional committee that vaccine passports would “re-create a situation that is very familiar to me as a student of history. This has been the start of many, many genocides.”

As the pandemic continued, the author variously claimed that vaccines were a “software platform that can receive uploads” and that “the best way to show respect for healthcare workers if you are healthy and under 65 is to socialise sensibly and expose yourself to a low viral load”.

In her most recent post, she argued that “vaccinated people’s urine/feces”(sic) needed to be separated from general sewage supplies/waterways until its impact on unvaccinated people via drinking water was established.

The award-winning author Steve Silberman, who is a historian of autism, said: “I’ve been reading vile anti-vaccine propaganda for 20 years, and Wolf’s claims were as out-there and delusional as I’ve ever seen.”

In other unsubstantiated claims, Wolf has said the US military was importing Ebola from Africa with the intention of spreading it at home, and that US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden might be a government plant.

Apart from having the bizarre idea that it is vaccinated people who pose a danger to society, her suggestion for creating a separate sewage system for vaccinated people is completely nuts. Doesn’t she have any idea of what such a solution would involve? The mind reels. Even if individual homes could be retrofitted to channel their sewage in different directions, is she calling for separate restrooms in public facilities as well?

When the history of this period is written many years hence, analysts will have to grapple with explaining why it was that so many people, especially those opposed to vaccines (another case is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.), seemed to lose all sense of reason.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    Doesn’t she have any idea of what such a solution would involve?

    I’ve come across her type many, many times before. She’s “a creative” -- what you’d call “an ideas person”. Or what engineers (the people these people expect to put their ideas into action, as though that activity has no element of creativity) often refer to as “a moron”.

  2. Matt G says

    For some people, staying rational in crisis is like holding your breath: you can only do it for so long.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Wolf seems just a more visible case of the mental illness dysfunction sweeping (parts of?) US society. She hasn’t (sfaik) followed the usual conspiracy-kook paths, but don’t most of us know people who seemed fact-based and reasonable who’ve started dancing on thin air in the last few years?

    I hope that somewhere some mental-health practitioners and sociologists will implement a broad-based study of how and among whom this problem arises -- with some suggestions for treatment!

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    her suggestion for creating a separate sewage system for vaccinated people is completely nuts.

    Why, the solution is very simple: lock them in concentration camps.

  5. Mano Singham says


    If you are alluding to the play Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?, that would be Edward Albee.

    But it is a good allusion, nonetheless!

  6. Nomad says

    Based on a “greatest hits” style compilation PZ posted, it appears she’s also a believer in chemtrails. She spoke about mysterious clouds that supposedly don’t move with the wind. That was a new one on me.

    She also has a very Trumpian penchant for “many people are saying” arguments. For instance, claims that many people are telling her about experiencing menstrual dysfunction after coming into contact with vaccinated people. Or my favorite, that unvaccinated people are reporting feelings of the uncanny when spending time around vaccinated people, or are even getting depression from them. I casually follow anti-vax stuff and she’s coming up with claims I’ve never heard of before.

    It sounds like her grip on reality, or at least her commitment to it, has been a little vague for a while. You can find allegations of shoddy journalism going back to at least 2014. I’m getting the impression that she was a little too in love with her own take on things and when reality didn’t agree, she lied about it.

    As to the anti-vax thing, I also get the impression that she likes being the center of attention. The anti-vax world will shower you with attention if you show them support. She might have once dabbled in anti-vax and liked the response she got. All those people telling her how smart and clever she is, it can be irresistible to a certain kind of person.

  7. Holms says

    My only exposure to Naomi Wolf prior to this recent nonsense was her interview on Ali G. I thought she coped with his… style… pretty well, and then thought nothing more of her until the recent absurdities.

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