Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature Essay

Covid-19: a disaster five years in the making

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 09 April 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n657

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Rapid Response:

Science and Anti-Science

Dear Editor

Peter Hotez lists as “anti-science” [1]:

- Anti-vaccination
- Defiance of masks, and social distancing
- Political extremism

These are perhaps not normally criteria used in the philosophy of science. If you wish to exclude from discussion the safety and effectiveness of vaccination, or the safety and effectiveness of masks, are you being scientific or possibly just dogmatic? Are all vaccines as safe and effective as each other? How serious is the risk of asymptomatic transmission really?

And how do we define “political extremism” in an era in which political norms have been turned on their head? If those that contest new orthodoxies are simply categorised as extremist, what does it mean for the future of what used to be thought of as Western democracy?

I believe this needs more thought.

[1] Peter Hotez, ‘Covid-19: a disaster five years in the making’, BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 09 April 2021

Competing interests:, an on-line daily journal, concerns itself with the potential environmental sources for the proliferation of autism, neurological impairment, immune dysfunction and chronic disease. I receive no payment as UK Editor. I also moderate comments for the on-line journal ‘The Defender’ for which I am paid. I am also a member of the UK Medical Freedom Alliance

12 April 2021
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22