Fact-Checking "Plandemic" [Part 1]

covid-19 May 07, 2020

Introduction

This series is a point-by-point fact-checking response to Mikovits' viral 26-minute movie preview of the film Plandemic. The film makes many implications, leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks and create a narrative. Rather than taking an overarching approach of responding to the implied storyline, we are taking the time to explain why each piece of this confusing puzzle is problematic. 

The review is conducted by two integrative health clinical researchers [Jessie Hawkins, PhD and Christy Hires, MPH]. Our training is in public health and clinical research, and our research emphasis is preventive, public, and integrative health. 

We are taking time away from our research responsibilities to compose this for the benefit of public health; we are not being paid to write this and obviously we have no agenda against the natural community as we ourselves are integrative health professionals.

Our focus is exclusively on science–what’s fact and what’s fiction. Below are quotes and summaries of the film–in chronological order–with our responses.

[For a complete picture of all that is wrong with this film, be sure to also read Part 2 and Part 3]

 

1. “<she is> ...one of the most accomplished scientists of her generation”

This is a subjective claim, but a bold one. When such a claim is made, hard evidence should be given to substantiate it. A brief look at her research career reveals that much of the movie’s claims about her achievements focus on events which happened as she was a research tech, not a lead researcher. This is evident by her qualifications. The film focuses heavily on her career in the 1980s, but at that time she only had a bachelor’s degree and was not yet a fully qualified researcher.

One of the most frequently used measuring sticks of a researcher’s success is their published work. A review of her work reveals she was not a lead author on a single manuscript until 1990. This further indicates she is hard-pressed on the claim to be one of the most accomplished scientists of her generation. 

Finally, keep in mind that the film bounces around on a timeline, often convoluting different phases of her career. It begins by discussing her work pre-PhD in the 80s, then leaps to her work in the 2000s. If we take this and put it back into a timeline perspective, we see that she worked as a lab tech in the 80s, achieved a PhD in the early 90s, her career ended in 2001, and she moved to California. She was working as a bartender in 2006 when she was recruited for the work related to her arrest. We don't typically find someone working in a completely unrelated career if they were thriving as one of the most accomplished individuals in their first career.   


2. “1991 thesis revolutionized the treatment of HIV/AIDS” 

This is going to be a recurring theme in this film. Bold, objective claims with nothing to support them. If she had revolutionized the treatment of HIV/AIDs, there would be ample evidence to substantiate it. However, there is no evidence that her work made any significant impact on the way HIV-AIDS was treated. For many of these claims, the burden of substantiation is on the filmmakers and Mikovits herself. Had she made such an achievement, it should be simple to find mention of such revolutionization of treatment in the press or at least her Wikipedia page. 

Additionally, that’s not how clinical science works. A single study should never revolutionize the way something is treated. Science is about reproduction and consistency. A single study can spark a breakthrough but isn’t the sole cause of changes in the standard of care. 

 

3. “Blockbuster article” 

[Pro-tip: This is how we describe entertainment, not research.]

 A few seconds later, the more accurate word controversial is used. It should also be noted that the article to which this is referring was published in 2009. It had nothing to do with the work the film discusses from the 80s and 90s when she worked at the National Cancer Institute. 

Here is a link to the retracted scientific study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19815723

This article by J Cohen gives details of the charges of theft brought against her in 2009 after her falsified data could not be replicated by other scientists. Mikovits was fired from her employer in September 2009 due to “insubordination and insolence” unrelated to the study woes. Her former research assistant then signed an affidavit that Mikovits instructed them to remove lab notebooks, a laptop, flash drive, and correspondence containing trade secrets and patented information that belonged to the institute (under the employment contract she had signed when hired). 

 

4. "… common use of animal and human fetal tissues were unleashing devastating plagues… " 

That’s a gross exaggeration of her retracted article (see above). The article in question linked a mouse retrovirus to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in the lab. It has nothing to do with deadly plagues. The work was retracted due to shoddy methodology and potential scientific misconduct. 

Additionally, lab studies do not meet the criteria for establishing causation. As a lab scientist, not an epidemiologist, Judy Mikovits would not likely be familiar with criteria (such as Bradford Hill) for establishing causation. However, it is noteworthy that lab research inspires epidemiological studies, which are necessary for understanding whether the lab findings actually have any impact on human outcomes. During the film, Plandemic frequently convolutes the scientific process by generalizing information beyond what is scientifically acceptable. 

5. “the minions of Big Pharma waged war” 

Big Pharma is a convenient enemy. Who doesn’t love to hate Big Pharma? But Judy Mikovits' only links to the pharmaceutical industry are when she worked for Upjohn Pharmaceuticals in the 1980s before her doctorate. Her article was retracted because in the words of one of her coauthors: “I requested a full retraction of our findings this summer after discovering that the blood samples were contaminated.

It was the rigorous demands of scientific integrity, not Big Pharma, which led to her paper being retracted

 

6. “Discovery that conflicted with the agreed-upon narrative” 

The implication here that the entire scientific community has an agreed-upon narrative and that we are silenced when we disagree is laughable. We can’t even agree on what to call a p-value of 0.051.

A breakthrough discovery like Plandemic claims Mikovits made inspires other scientists to follow the methods and see if it can be reproduced. Reproducible work becomes a scientific theory and has the potential to change the way patients are treated. This is a highly rewarded accomplishment in science, but you better bring receipts. If you make bold claims, you can be sure your work will be checked. And if your claims are false or your methods are flawed, it will be discovered.

Which is what we see happened here. This is a good thing. The self-correcting system worked as it was intended to work. For more on this process, here is a great overview of the timeline of events. 

 

7. “Gag order” 

Non-disclosure agreements are a normal part of scientific research. As evidenced above in Cohen’s article, Judy Mikovits signed an employment contract acknowledging that fact. Here at FSIHS, our research team has NDAs with every single one of our clients. 

They’re also a normal part of legal settlements, which she has as a result of allegations of theft. The implication that this is unusual or nefarious is misleading. 

It is worth noting again: Mikovits and the makers of Plandemic imply that Fauci and the government are part of this gag order and legal settlement. It's important to point out again that this is in reference to her criminal and civil charges of theft from her non-profit employer in Nevada after her paper was retracted and she was fired. The gag order was part of the settlement after the stolen items were returned and charges were dropped. 

 

8. “There was no evidence the first time...” 

Numerous contemporaneous sources at the time seem to be clear on the evidence and the charges. Here's an excerpt from one:

“On 4 November, WPI filed suit against Mikovits, alleging that she had wrongfully kept her laboratory notebooks and other information about her work for the fledgling institute on her laptop, in flash drives, and in a personal e-mail account.”

Additionally, the warrant was in Nevada and she escaped to California; she was charged with being a fugitive from justice because she ran. 

 

9. "What did they charge you with?" "Nothing." 

Again, not what contemporaneous records show: “She is accused of possessing stolen lab notebooks, a computer and other material belonging to the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease (WPI), a private research center in Reno, Nevada, where she was research director. Mikovits faces extradition to Nevada, while the WPI is seeking the materials’ return in a separate civil suit.” 

  

10. "<they> searched my house without a warrant, terrorized my husband for 5 days... "

According to J Cohen’s article,  WPI’s spokesperson told Science that Mikovits’s husband “returned some material to police in Ventura” but that it had not all been accounted for as of 28 November (2009).  

 

11a. <paraphrased> If you don’t find the notebooks/material …  planted in my house 

Noteworthy that just a few seconds ago Mikovits says she was charged with nothing, yet here she acknowledges knowing exactly why she was arrested. 

Interestingly enough, numerous records reveal that the missing data were returned and her case was subsequently dropped. 

 

11b. "It was intended to appear as if I took confidential material, names and intellectual property from the laboratory. And I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I didn't."  

This is a new narrative, not her original story. In an interview after her arrest, she defends taking the intellectual property.   

"To this day, she defends her choice to have the notebooks removed from the lab. “If we had left those notebooks unsecured, patient names would have been exposed,” she said. “It’s like letting your credit card information get out.” '

 

12. <paraphrased> HHS, DOJ, FBI …  all together in this plot… Can’t say there is a case or your lawyers are in contempt of court, so you can’t get a lawyer to defend you… 

It’s pretty standard for scientific researcher's employment contracts to state that all data and findings belong to the lab. Our research contracts state that we own all raw data and findings. This isn’t a multi-federal-agency plot. Stealing physical and/or intellectual property from a company that fired you is a crime. 

 

13. "I have no constitutional freedoms or rights"

 This is an interesting claim to make in the middle of a propaganda video in which you accuse multiple federal agencies of falsifying charges against you to silence you for your scientific work. Sounds a lot like you’re freely exercising your right to freedom of speech and are experiencing zero repercussions. 

14. <Plague of Corruption promo>

Oh! It’s promo time. Since we’re doing promos, please sign up for the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences' newsletter for our research news and updates:

 

15. "We will be killed by this agenda."

This is an incredible claim to make in the absence of any clarity surrounding the agenda that will kill us all. What is the agenda? How is it going to kill us? 

Substance: 0%. Fear mongering: 100%.

If these speakers legitimately thought lives were in danger, surely Mikovits and the makers of Plandemic can bother to clarify by what and how? 

 

16. <paraphrased> Anthony Fauci was involved in a coverup ... he directed it and everyone was paid off big time, millions of dollars from NIAID 

What is the coverup being alleged here? Literally no claim has been made thus far about any coverup. Who is “everyone?” Who is being paid off? With what funds? Is she still talking about the retracted paper that was shown to be a result of contaminated lab equipment? 


17. “What he [Fauci] is saying is absolute propaganda … to kill millions since 1984” 

So Fauci is playing a verrrrrry long game to kill millions of people. He’s been involved in this plot since 1984. So far it sounds like a terribly ineffective plot. 

 

18. “We understand that you have a paper in press and we want a copy of it…” 

 So we’re back to the 1980s. It would help if the film was transparent about these timelines.

She claims it’s in the press, but also that the NIH can’t access it. Again, word salad. The crux of her claim over a few minutes here is that her work held the cure to HIV-AIDS, but that Fauci and Redfield halted it so someone else could patent it; they patented the wrong thing and caused millions to die. 

But for the background and context to make any sort of sense of this bizarre interaction, here’s a more in-depth look. And another one here

We're not wasting time digging into the he-said/she-said here. The burden of proof is on her to substantiate her claim. What any of this has to do with today’s pandemic is beyond either of us. This sounds more like a typical personal vendetta against Fauci that dates back to the 80s prior to her PhD and is unrelated to her retracted paper or the pandemic. 

 

19. “It’s in press… it’s confidential”

Yes, this is usually where we put confidential things. Anytime we want to keep a study confidential, we go through the trouble of formatting it and submitting it to journals for publication. 

 

Addendum: Bayh Doyle Act

Comments from Dr. Tara Prairie, Assistant Professor at Tennessee Wesleyan University: "The Bayh-Dole Act allows the private sector to collaborate with federal labs like the NIH and universities, knowing their intellectual property will be protected. ... The act gave academic institutions the ability to own and manage inventions made with federal funding. Previously, the government made them freely available and few were developed in the US. Innovation, especially in biotechnology, flourished subsequent to the act. I believe the protection of intellectual property is important. When the act was passed it helped the US be competitive on an international level with invention. If corruption is happening, it should be addressed on an individual level and those people punished or if there are loopholes in the law that allows corruption to take place, then they should be addressed but [that doesn't mean the] law as a whole as corrupt."

 

That's it for this post. For more, head on over to part two

 
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