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?


  1. djc Reply

    Scroll down to bottom of the page for a warning about this back in March:

    1.3.2020 Corona-Hype:

    Without PCR-Tests there would be no reason for special alarms.

    We are currently not measuring the incidence of coronavirus diseases, but the activity of the specialists searching for them.

    by Wolfgang Wodarg

    I think it is in one of his videos, that has probably disappeared from utube that the point is made that it was the creation of a test by a lab in Germany based on Chinese research that was the start of this.

    … further down the linked page,
    “The horror reports from Wuhan were something, that virologists all over the world are waiting for. Immediately, the virus strains present in the refrigerators were scanned and compared feverishly with the reported newcomers from Wuhan. A laboratory at the https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.3.2000045#html_fulltext and was the first to be allowed to market its in-house tests worldwide. Prof C. Drosten was interviewed on 23rd of january 2020 and described how the Test was established. He said, that he cooperated with a Partner from China, who confirmed the specific sensitivity of the Charitè-Test for the Wuhan coronavirus. Other Tests from different Places followed soon and found their market.”

  2. Ed P Reply

    I wonder what tests are/were used in China, as their very low stats (even when “adjusted” x10 to account for the deliberate massaging of the figures), show much lower incidences and mortalities.

    Could the Chinese figures actually represent the true levels of infection, with the rest of the world mostly detecting chimera?

  3. Devonshire Dozer Reply


    I’m an old coot who has always tended towards the ‘cock-up’ rather than ‘conspiracy’ explanation, but something really bad is going on here. Things have now reached a point where, if something is described as ‘Fake News’, I’m almost inclined to believe it to be true.

    My missis posted something on Farcebook last week with a link to the open letter (written a few weeks ago) signed by hundreds of front-line doctors & healthcare workers in Belgium. Her post was then labelled as ‘Fake News’. I don’t do FB, but I was astonished that the limited credentials of the FB ‘fact checker’ could overrule the signatories in such a way.

    How about an RSS feed?

  4. dr-no Reply

    DD – thanks. Dr No doesn’t do facebot either, too cloying. Your missis’s experience is all too typical of virtue policing. Dr No saw the Belgian doctors’ letter and although it did draw some flak from the usual corners, there is nothing fake about it whatsoever.

    Long overdue (has been asked for before, so Dr No apologises for not having fixed it earlier) RSS feed button added in right hand column, alongside the Follow Dr No twitter button.

    • Devonshire Dozer Reply

      Thanks for the RSS.

      It’ll be interesting to see how long the video you linked to (https://tinyurl.com/y67vn7m8) persists. If your post propagates widely then I don’t think it’ll see November.

      “Just because you find a needle in a haystack, it doesn’t mean the haystack is a sewing machine”. That is brilliant & has already entered the DD household lexicon.

  5. dr-no Reply

    djc – yes, that’s the Trumpdemic thing. You do no tests, you have no epidemic, and vice versa. Somewhat ironic given recent history… (that said, Dr No is no fan of Trump but does not wish the unwell ill will).

    Terry – yes, that’s a key point. Some (many – see posts passim) will be false positives (test +ve with no covid RNA present), other will be true positives but of no clinical significance ie over-diagnosis (viral RNA present but a red herring – not ill, not infectious, maybe had (asymptomatic) covid in the past etc). The even bigger problem is we don’t really have an idea of how many of the positives are true cases and how many are not. All the pointers suggest the true clinically significant cases may be far less in number than the establishment data suggests.

    Tish – have been trying to find out which tests are actually used in the UK – perhaps unsurprisingly this does not seem to be readily available (commercial claptrap etc) and so get data sheets for those tests. Some do appear to claim to be for diagnostic use, with no visible Mullis warning anywhere in sight.

  6. Terry R Reply

    According to this old BBC report 78% of ONS positives were then asymptomatic, later adjusted to 67% – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53320155

    Things may have changed but there must be a reason why such information, including test results by individual pillar and test lab, are not published. It can’t be national security.

  7. dr-no Reply

    Terry R – “It can’t be national security.” Too right. Dr No calls it obf*ckstration, a deliberate attempt to make data and information obscure, impenetrable, unfindable and/or unusable.

  8. dr-no Reply

    Tom – there is a bit of a debate about whether Mullis invented PCR or whether he developed/operationalised it, or something very similar to it, which is why I used the wording I did, as no one is in any doubt that he was a leading expert in and authority on PCR, and got a Nobel Prize (mentioned twice in the post, and in related tweets) for the work he did.

  9. djc Reply

    With any invention there is always some element of chance who gets the credit. Patent law places some importance on the notion of ‘inventive step’; the critical move which takes nebulae of ideas and precipitates an ‘invention’.

  10. Russell Chandler Reply

    “[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.”

    Err, am I the only one who understands the simple concept that NOT ALL VIRAL INFECTIONS MAKE SOMEONE SICK? Some people are infected but asymptomatic (durrrr!), and Mullis doubted the specific link between HIV infections (the virus) and AIDS (the disease). This Mullis quote is being misunderstood and taken out of context – it’s verifiable fake news / bullshit.

    Sorry to blow your stupid conspiracy theory out of the water dude. Perhaps you should do your homework next time …

  11. dr-no Reply

    Dr No does not have any conspiracy theories, public or private, so nothing to blow out of the water, dude.

    Most doctors including Dr No are very familiar with the concept of asymptomatic infection and many including Dr No know that Mullis doubted the link between HIV and AIDS but neither invalidates Mullis’ general point (for any PCT test for anything) that, to quote him again, ‘quatitative PCR is an oxymoron’.

    To repeat, finding a broken needle fragment in a haystack does not mean you can say the haystack is a sewing machine => finding a broken RNA fragment from SARS-CoV-2 in a sample does not mean you can say you have a patient with an active/infectious infection.

  12. Gno' Reply

    Thank you very much!
    I can’t speak English very well, but I’d like to give you a hint more anymore. Hope to express myself properly: dig on the number of the cycles of amplifications. This is another useful key to understand what’s going on.

  13. dr-no Reply

    Gno’ – thanks for your comment which is perfectly understood, and yes, agree high Ct (cycle thresholds) are a major problem, increasing positive test rates. This is the finding a tiny broken fragment of a needle in your haystack doesn’t mean you can say your hay stack is a sewing machine. I expect you have a similar saying in your language for ‘finding a needle in a haystack’ meaning something very difficult to find so you will get the meaning.

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