What should we do about fake news? Perhaps nothing, given it has been around since the Garden of Eden, according to the Pope. But what is new is social media, and so the means to spread fake news fast and wide. Before social media, the only things that went viral were viruses; now, any titbit of anything can set off a chain reaction where the R number operates on an industrial scale, spreading fake news around the world at a dizzying rate; and furthermore, the social media propagators are not subject to any of the conventional checks and balances that are supposed — not that they do these days — to inhibit the worst excesses in mainstream media. Indeed, the MSM have gone their own extra mile, by setting up reality checking units, even if some of it looks rather like Joseph Goebbels fact checking the Thousand Year Reich.
One item of alleged fake news supposedly spiked by Reuters and AAP among others is the suggestion that Kary Mullis, the biochemist awarded the Nobel prize for his work on developing PCR testing, said that the PCR test should not be used to diagnose covid–19 infection. On one level this was a dead duck from the get-go, as Mullis died in August 2019 (mercifully not from covid–19, but pneumonia…but hang on, isn’t that how covid–19 first appeared? This conspiracy thing is catching!), and so would have needed 20:20 clairvoyance to see round the invisible curtain, but that hasn’t stopped the word that the world’s leading expert on PCR testing had said “PCR tests cannot detect free infectious viruses at all” going viral. This being ammonia to the eyes of the fact police, they, and a fired up Aussie virologist who advised readers “Don’t listen to a car dude” — one of the perps of the fake news operated from inside a car — turned on the truth lasers and fried the fake news. The quote turns out to come from one John Lauritsen writing about HIV and AIDS in 1996 on the url-it-like-it-is website http://www.virusmyth.org/. He wrote [emphasis added]:
“Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize in Science for inventing the PCR, is thoroughly convinced that HIV is not the cause of “AIDS”. With regard to the viral load tests, which attempt to use PCR for counting viruses, Mullis has stated: “Quantitative PCR is an oxymoron.” PCR is intended to identify substances qualitatively, but by its very nature is unsuited for estimating numbers. Although there is a common misimpression that the viral load tests actually count the number of viruses in the blood, these tests cannot detect free, infectious viruses at all; they can only detect proteins that are believed, in some cases wrongly, to be unique to HIV. The tests can detect genetic sequences of viruses, but not viruses themselves.”
The quote is real, but it wasn’t Mullis who said it, it was an American investigative journalist and ‘AIDS critic’ (author of ‘Poison by Prescription’ among many other tell-em-like-it-is titles), and was being used out of context. Job done, nut job nuted, fake news nuked. Or was it? Somewhere in the recesses of his mind Dr No heard echoes of suggestions that using PCR for diagnosis was over-reach, a clear case of diagnostic pétant plus haut que son cul.
Just as Dr No happened to be contemplating this very question, a comment on arrived on a previous post mentioning a video that had the real Mullis saying PCR tests cannot be used to determine if anyone is ill with a virus. Ah ha! But then, not so fast. The video, a short clip of what appeared to be Mullis saying PCR testing couldn’t be used to determine if anyone is ill from a virus, had been posted several times, but all within the last three weeks. How come it had cropped up out of nowhere and spread so fast? Was this fake news going viral? Perhaps it was time to run a PCR test on the video, looking for fragments of fake news nucleic acid?
A forensic level study of the video failed to settle matters. Mullis’s manner and speech are malleable and animated, the lips Donald Duck like, and the videos are blurred, making it impossible to be sure the words heard on the audio were the words being spoken, or whether they had been dubbed from an actor, a perfectly feasible task these days. Another search of both Google and YouTube confirmed all the postings were recent, all within weeks and days of each other. Where was the original, the source? When had the meeting shown in the video taken place, and where? If these facts could be determined, then a better assessment of the veracity of the video could be made.
Given that the internet giants including Google, who owns YouTube, see it as their public duty to censor fake news, and that the claim that Mullis had said PCR tests don’t work for diagnosis had been declared fake news, another possible explanation for the recent crop of postings was that Google had simply removed earlier postings from its search results. Time to circumvent Google.
The way to do this is by using an alternative search engine. Dr No used duckduckgo.com and within seconds had the answer. A video posted on YouTube, and yet not to be found by a YouTube search for kary+mullis+HIV+PCR, in March 2017, and so long before covid–19 appeared, confirms the meeting did happen, in Santa Monica on the 7th December 1997. It is almost an hour long, and shortly before the end, at around 51 minutes 40 seconds, Mullis says [emphasis added]:
“[PCR] is just a process that’s used to make a whole lot of something out of something. That’s all it is. It doesn’t tell you that you’re sick, it doesn’t tell you that the thing you’ve ended up with was really going to hurt you, or anything like that.”
If that, coming from a leading expert on PCR tests, isn’t tantamount to saying don’t use PCR tests for diagnosis, then Dr No doesn’t know what is. For sure, Mullis was talking about HIV and AIDS, and no doubt PCR testing today is more sophisticated today than it was back in 1997, but the fundamental flaw — that finding a needle in haystack means the haystack is a sewing machine — remains as true today as it was back in 1997.
It’s worth taking a moment to ponder the implications of this. The first and more obvious point is that fact checkers can themselves promote fake news. Although Mullis didn’t say or write the words “these tests cannot detect free, infectious viruses at all”, he most definitely did say — you can hear them in the video — words that amount to the same thing. To hand down a verdict of fake news, as both Reuters and AAP do, may very strictly be true, but at the same time it is both disingenuous and misleading, such that it amounts to fake news, because it obscures the fact that Mullis did say words that amount to the same thing.
The second much more serious and disturbing and Dr No admits extreme implication is that the whole covid–19 edifice, the pandemic, the lockdowns, the misery and hysteria, are all built on the sands of fake test. Today’s alarms about second waves are all largely built on huge increases in PCR testing and consequent positives, with detectable but as yet miniscule rises in covid–19 hospitalisations and deaths, themselves only so defined because of a positive needle in a haystack test. We do ourselves a terrible disservice if we fail to ask, and answer, this most awkward question: could it be that the whole pandemic is a ghastly artefact of a flawed test?