COVID Anti-Vaxxers Make $$$ from Crowdfunding

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People who spread garbage anti-vaccine myths on the internet—why do they do it? Turns out, for some of them, it’s actually a business. People like Morgan Kahmann (pictured).

Some anti-vaxxers make tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars from crowdfunding, selling unproven supplements, or even e-books showing how to persuade others that vaccines don’t work. Talk about a Ponzi scheme.

It would be funny—if the outcomes weren’t so serious. In today’s SB Blogwatch, we get really, really angry.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Science is hard.

This Guy Raised Half a Million

What’s the craic? Aaron Mak reports—“The Lucrative Business of Stoking Vaccine Skepticism”:

Truthers
For years anti-vaccine figures have made money publishing books and giving speeches. … During the pandemic, as the coronavirus created new markets for health hoaxes, conspiracy theorists have been able to make money online by using the misinformation … to sell supplements and books.

Now, vaccine skeptics with large followings are turning to crowdfunding platforms … to monetize their activities, often to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. … Vaccine “truthers” often portray themselves as little guys in a fight against the pro-vaccine tyranny of big pharma, big tech, and big government.

Vaccine hesitancy may be the most potent force choking off the country’s attempts to escape the coronavirus pandemic. [But] a crowdfunding campaign for “independent journalist” Ivory Hecker, for instance, has raised nearly $200,000 to support her “true journalism” … trumpeting other phony cures like Ivermectin and amplifying fears about the vaccines.

Self-styled “whistleblower” Morgan Kahmann has [raised] more than $508,000 [by] purporting that Facebook is running a shadow operation to hide the “truth” about the vaccines. … A recent fundraiser for a documentary about the “benefits” of not vaccinating kids has raised nearly $30,000, while another to put up a Times Square billboard about “vaccine injuries” has raised about $2,300.

“Fundraisers raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines violate GoFundMe’s terms of service,” … GoFundMe’s senior communication manager Monica Corbett wrote. … “We will continue to … remove any fundraiser attempting to spread misinformation about vaccines.” … And GiveSendGo, which positions itself as a free speech alternative, has proven more than happy to take in people kicked off of GoFundme. [It] did not respond to my request for comment.

And it’s not just crowdfunding. Liz Essley Whyte adds—“Meet the influencers making millions by dealing doubt about the coronavirus vaccines”:

Spreading doubt
[For] Tennessee couple Ty and Charlene Bollinger … and a network of similar influencers, speaking out against vaccines, including the coronavirus shots, is not just a personal crusade. It’s also a profitable business.

The Bollingers, for example, sell documentaries and books; other influencers hawk dietary supplements, essential oils or online “bootcamps” designed to train followers in anti-vaccine talking points. … They are among the most influential conduits for anti-vaccine messages online, with more than 1.6 million followers on various social media platforms and 2 million they say subscribe to their emails.

The Bollingers have falsely claimed that the COVID-19 vaccines edit a recipient’s genes. They’ve insinuated that the shots caused an uptick in COVID-19 deaths in Tennessee. They’ve called vaccination “this abominable COVID shot.”

In 2017 … the couple began to sell dietary supplements. “[We want to] make sure that you have a reliable source of bioavailable, whole-food-based supplements,” the Bollingers told their customers. … But in 2018 … the supplement business they helped start with a partner … agreed to pay $119,500 to settle … an impending lawsuit alleging that some of their products contained dangerous amounts of lead.

The Bollingers’ work has made them wealthy. Their 10,000-square-foot home with a pool and pool house … is valued at more than $1.4 million. … For now, the Bollingers continue to hawk their DVDs, post online and speak at conferences, spreading doubt about the coronavirus vaccines.

Where do we start with this stupidity? How about with u/DogParkSniper?

Pissed
When can we start prosecuting quacks and the people who spread their garbage? I’m ready for it, as someone who lost relatives because they believed [this] exact line of horse****.

To quote Hank Hill, we’re beyond ready to tie the long hair on your heads to the short hair on your ****s, and kick you down the street.

We’re kinda pissed.

Also pissed is hdyoung:

Darwin
I’m past the point of being patient or nice about this sort of stuff. The vaccine efficacy is absolutely undebatable, and the proper medical guidance is is being broadcast from every rooftop. [But] we should just let it play out. We need to allow idiocy to take it’s course.

I want a policy … where the vaccinated people get the hospital beds first. … The unvaccinated people can publicly struggle for air on the front lawn of the hospital for a few hours and then die.

I realize that I used to be a nicer person, but this is getting out of hand. Once you have a critical mass of idiots, it’s better to simply stand back and let them earn their Darwin awards.

But dead-snake’s comment was downvoted into oblivion. And you can kinda understand why:

Hysteria
Let’s be frank. A few years in the future, the behavior this … is referring to as “stoking vaccine skepticism for money,” will be rightly seen as fighting the vaccine / medical tyranny hysteria.

While u/RejanStan turns the Whatabout dial up to 11:

Making a fortune
Do you know how much money vaccine manufacturers have made throughout this whole thing? Billions. They will continue to as well. Not to mention anyone who has shares in these companies like Bill Gates.

They’re making a fortune off of this, and there are side effects and deaths happening worldwide and these companies have total immunity.

Should we even care? RobinH steals from the poor to give to the rich: [You’re fired—Ed.]

Free country
I hate the misinformation system as much as anyone, but for the most part, the existence of these buffoons is proof that you live in a free country. … I’m fully vaccinated, and so is my family. However, I absolutely want to retain my rights to not get vaccinated, and my right to freedom of expression.

There are other people who will exercise those rights when it’s inappropriate to do so. It’s our duty to look into this stuff ourselves, make informed choices, and speak up about what we’ve found.

It’s not easy to live in a free country, but it’s worth it.

But isn’t the mainstream media complicit? Yes, but not in the way you might think, says u/BangarangRufio:

Greater media coverage
If vaccine risk was actually high enough for mainstream “exposure”, they would get that significant press. If anything, the risk for covid vaccines have been given far more airtime by mainstream news agencies than is actually warranted. The risk of vaccination (covid or otherwise) is just so low.

If the risk was high enough for greater media coverage, it would be getting it.

Meanwhile, here’s VeryFluffyBunny:

Scaremongering
Dr. Anthony Fauci has had a very long and prestigious career as both a scientist and an advisor in the fields of infectious diseases and virology. … I’ll take his advice over someone turning a profit or simply seeking attention by scaremongering on the interwebs any day.

And Finally:

Science: It’s complicated

Previously in And Finally


You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE. 30.

Image sauce: Morgan Kahmann / ExposeFacebook

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