NOW ON KINDLE: The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Books: Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY, 2003), and The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus (Kindle, 2020).
Frank Visser brings light and sanity to the miasmal confusion of suspicions and misinformation. (David Quammen, November 23, 2020)
See also: Richard Katz, "Is if fair to say that COVID-19 is not infectious? Comments about Dr. Cowan's March 12 talk on Covid-19 and 5G and his March 26, 2020 follow-up webinar", October 2020.
Thomas Cowan and “The Myth of Contagion”
The Corona Conspiracy, Part 19
There is nothing here to react to, just a list of the usual nonsense.
It is all a matter of a perceived presence, or absence, of imminent danger.
Having collected the 18 previous parts of this series on the Corona Conspiracy in a Kindle edition, I felt compelled to write yet another part. This Corona Conspiracy story is just ongoing, since virus denialists seem to raise their head again and again. This time it was our old friend David Icke notifying us on Twitter of an article by dr. Thomas Cowan, which contained "shocking" content.
Now you have to know that Icke almost daily posts "shocking" content on Twitter related to the pandemic, most if not all of which turns out to be fake. Remember how he announced the "Chromosome 8 Bombshell" revelation, which we debunked in Part 15? The story went that PCR tests actually test for part of the human genome, which would lead to an enormous number of false positives. Our investigation showed that this was all based on an elementary misunderstanding of how PCR tests actually work.
This time he links to the article "Only Poisoned Monkey Kidney Cells 'Grew' the 'Virus'" from dr. Thomas Cowan, a naturopath and Anthroposophist, and one of the mentors of virus denier Andrew Kaufman (see Part 4). Note the quotes around "virus"Cowan doesn't really believe in their existence. He claims, in short, that even according to the CDC, the new SARS-CoV-2 virus is not contagious to human beings. And he criticizes the methods used to establish the whole genome of the virus as "scientific fraud." And here we go again!
Clear and Present Danger?
But first let me elaborate a bit more on an idea I expressed in Part 18, about how there seems to be a spectrum of opinions, ranging from conventional science to dissident science to alternative medicine and finallly to conspiracy theory.
For some this seems to be also the career path they have followed, starting out as a trained medical doctor but over the years finding the path to alternative medicine and conspiracy theory (Andrew Kaufman and Thomas Cowan being prime examples).
Underlying this spectrum is a difference in how the severity of the present SARS-CoV-2 virus is perceived: as extremely dangerous (conventional science), mildly dangerous (dissident science), harmless or even beneficial (alternative medicine) or as completely non-existent (conspiracy theory). Based on that difference, the current lockdown measures are either considered to be appropriate (or even too mild!), disproportionate and harmful to society and the well-being of its inhabitants, or even ludicrous and a symptom of evil intentions, which should be resisted at all cost.
It is all a matter of a perceived presence, or absence, of imminent danger. It is a matter of underestimation or overestimation when it comes to the severity of the pandemic. (The same psychological mechanism might apply to climate change).
Now for every opinion on the pandemic multiple data and graphs can be provided that seem to provide scientific support (see Part 14 for the infodemic we are now experiencing). Almost nobody denies a huge peak in excess deaths in the spring of 2020, but opinions diverge about their cause (the virus or the stringent lockdown measures and fear mongering, coupled with 5G or air pollution?) and about our current situation (are we witnessing a second wave, or just a "casedemic")?
It is true that the number of deaths attributed to SARS-CoV-2 are much lower than in early 2020, but conventional scientists point to better treatment methods and age related differences in the population (while at the same time emphasizing the effects of even "mild" Covid-19 can be long lasting and debilitating). Corona skeptics just declare the pandemic to be over and urge governments (through legal means or demonstrations) to undo the lockdown measures and go back to normal life.
So who is right? Does it require an almost superhuman capacity to process all these data or just some common sense? Lacking the former I rely on the latter. Yes, we have a pandemic, and yes, it makes sense to take precautions to prevent spreading this virus to others. But the true and total costs of this operation should always be taken into account. And focussing on a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of comorbidities definitely helps reducing the number of deaths. But I see no reason to let paranoia get the better of us and succumb to fantasies about an upcoming (and evil) New World Order or obscure rings of pedophiles in need of being exposed (see Part 18).
Quoting Out of Context
This brings us to Thomas Cowan, the author of Cancer and the New Biology of Water; Vaccines, Autoimmunity, and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illness; and Human Heart, Cosmic Heart. In 2017, Thomas Cowan's medical license got revoked, because of his controversial cancer treatments (sharing the same fate with Andrew Kaufman). He claims Covid-19 is mainly caused by 5G (see also Part 1), and every next generation of mobile frequency has caused its own "pandemic". This idea is elaborated upon by Arthur Firstenberg (who was injured by X-ray overdose, which cut short his medical career) in his book The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life (2017). Here are some correlations believed to be causations in these circles.
In Cowan's understanding, 5G damages human cells, which releases poisons and viruses are actually exosomes, particles created by cells to get rid of this poison. This recalls Andrew Kaufman's "virus equals exosome" hypothesis which we debunked in Parts 2, 3, 4 and 9. Ironically, though David Icke (Part 1) had also linked Covid-19 to 5G, to his credit Kaufman said in his webinar he had found no evidence for that link. Yet, Cowan is listed as one of Kaufman's sources, so we need to take a closer look at Cowan. Cowan, in turn, frequently refers to Kaufman's work.
Cowan has ridiculed the idea of viruses attacking cells by likening them to ping pong balls being thrown at a brick wall. Apparently, Cowan hasn't studied basic virology and knows nothing about spikes, cell receptors and the strategy of viruses to cancel a cell's immune response. Listen how Cowan argues against the reality of viral contagion, in a webinar in which he refers to Andrew Kaufman's "brilliant webinars":
In a widely circulated talk by Cowan in which he links Covid-19 to 5G (March 26, 2020, now taken offline by YouTube), Cowan mentioned the work of Rudolf Steiner as one of his sources. Steiner, according to Cowan, had stated in 1918 in the context of the Spanish Flu: "Viruses are simply excretions of a toxic cell." In a critical response "Is if fair to say that COVID-19 is not infectious?" to this webinar by Cowan, long time Anthroposophy student Richard Katz has made a number of excellent points about the viral nature of Covid-19 in general and Cowan's misquoting of Steiner in particular (he contacted various authorities on Rudolf Steiner). He concludes:
Steiner was not saying that microbes were "excretions of a toxic cell." That seems to be Dr. Cowan's interpretation of modern research (see below) attributed to Steiner. Steiner did not contend that "Viruses [or bacteria] have nothing to do with it." As I understand Steiner, he was saying that there are multiple levels of causation, and we should look beyond the materialistic causes to find deeper causes... Dr. Cowan is unfortunately spreading untruth by inaccurate and misleading citations of Steiner...
A More Integral View of Health
I have made essentially similar points in this Corona Conspiracy series. We can take an integral view of health and disease in which both microbes (the "germs") and the body and its immune system (the "terrain") can be taken into account, without resorting to extreme points of view in either way. We often hear the quote attributed to Louis Pasteur who in his last hours supposedly said "the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything", but this sounds to me as going to the opposite extreme.
In a widely read and influential paper by Morens and Fauciyes, the Fauci, who most conspiracy theorists consider to be one of the really bad guysthe following factors are taken into account: agent, host and environment, resulting in a balanced and integral approach to the pandemic. There is no need to deny any of these three main factors. They conclude:
The triad of causations of emerging and other diseases, as conceptualized for over a century, represents interactions between infectious agents, their hosts, and the environment. This conceptualization acknowledges the reality that, while infectious diseases themselves are necessarily "caused" by microbial agents, emergences that produce epidemics and pandemics are also significantly determined by co-factors related to the host and to host-environmental interactions.
The authors refer for this triadic model to a very elementary handbook of epidemiology, Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice (CDC, 2010), which is freely available online. Note the use of quotes around "caused", signalling that these conventional authors are very well aware of the multi-dimensional nature of explanations for the pandemics that have occurred. Note also they state this model is known "for over a century". So this is common knowledge, folks. Nothing spectacular or revolutionary. In an alternative diagram in this handbook they show there is a fine balance between agent and host, given a certain environment:
As a matter of fact, like myself, Katz too felt compelled to contact James Hildreth (who featured prominently in Parts 2 and 3) directly to check about Kaufman's claim that even "real" virologist agree with his view on viruses. Again, Hildreth strongly repudiated Kaufman's misinterpretations and stressed the dangerous nature of SARS-CoV-2 as an infectious virus. Listen to Hildreth himself, in a video linked to by Katz:
A Case of Scientific Fraud?
"At this point, there is simply no evidence this virus exists, let alone causes any disease." Tom Cowan
His latest book, The Contagion Myth: Why Viruses (including "Coronavirus") Are Not the Cause of Disease, was recently banned by Amazon, because it "objected to its content"obviously because Cowan denies the existence of any contagious virus. I know Facebook and Twitter censor conspiracy content at the moment, but I hadn't heard yet that Amazon follows this policy too (a policy I am not in favor of).
The central premise of 'The Contagion Myth' is that, contrary to what we have been led to believe, no actual scientific evidence exists that any novel coronavirus exists. Science lays out clear, well-accepted, and defined rules for how we determine that a new virus exists. Researchers take a sample from a sick person, macerate, filter, and centrifuge it until a pure virus is obtained. This virus is then examined under the electron microscope.
Like Kaufman and Lanka (see Part 7), Cowan doesn't believe in the existence of viruses, and yet criticizes science for not properly following its own methodology. And again, they see the isolation issue as decisive, overlooking the advances made in genomic science to fully sequence a viral genome, to the last base pair. These naturopaths simply don't seem to be up to date about the accomplishments of science. At the moment, over 50.000 full genomes of SARS-CoV-2 have been generated, with a perfect match, except for minor mutational variations (see Part 12).
He declares on this blog, asking for "Rigorous, Open, Scientific Discourse":
We, of course, could be incorrect in our documentation of these statements as well as many other pieces of historical evidence we lay out, in which case in a free, open, and post-Enlightenment society, other researchers would come forth with clear evidence that we are in error. I would welcome such a discourse. I would love to review whatever studies they would present. Yet, instead, we are met with censorship and scorn. This response is an ominous development in the life of humanity, one we must oppose.
Let's see how Cowan fares with reporting on this topic of sequencing. He refers to an academic paper published by the CDC in June 2020, which reports how the full genome of SARS-CoV-2 was established from a US patient. Let's first listen to what Cowan has to say:
First, in the section titled 'Whole Genome Sequencing,' we find that rather than having isolated the virus and sequencing the genome from end to end, they found 37 base pairs from unpurified samples using PCR probes. This means they actually looked at 37 out of the approximately 30,000 of the base pairs that are claimed to be the genome of the intact virus. They then took these 37 segments and put them into a computer program, which filled in the rest of the base pairs.
To me, this computer-generation step constitutes scientific fraud. Here is an equivalency: A group of researchers claim to have found a unicorn because they found a piece of a hoof, a hair from a tail, and a snippet of a horn. They then add that information into a computer and program it to re-create the unicorn, and they then claim this computer re-creation is the real unicorn. Of course, they had never actually seen a unicorn so could not possibly have examined its genetic makeup to compare their samples with the actual unicorn's hair, hooves and horn.
"Scientific fraud", no less. Virus denialists usually have a preference for this strong language when it comes to judging the scientific validity of conventional science.
This is what the original academic article said (and these descriptions are highly technical, so bear with me):
We designed 37 pairs of nested PCRs spanning the genome on the basis of the coronavirus reference sequence (GenBank accession no. NC045512). We extracted nucleic acid from isolates and amplified by using the 37 individual nested PCRs. We used positive PCR amplicons individually for subsequent Sanger sequencing and also pooled them for library preparation by using a ligation sequencing kit (Oxford Nanopore Technologies), subsequently for Oxford Nanopore MinION sequencing. We generated consensus nanopore sequences by using Minimap version 2.17 and Samtools version 1.9. We generated consensus sequences by Sanger sequencing from both directions by using Sequencher version 5.4.6, and further confirmed them by using consensus sequences generated from nanopore sequencing...
So, where to begin? Cowan misunderstands these findings completely. He thinks that 37 base pairs out of a total of 30.000 (amounting to 1/1000 part) were used to guess the nature of the viral genome. In reality the article mentions that "37 pairs of nested PRCs spanning the genome" were used. The pairs refer here to the forward and reverse primers used for each PCR (see Part 15 for explanations of these terms). That means, that the full width of the genome was covered using 37 different tests. One such a test can contain up to hundreds of base pairs. Since there's a maximum to the number of "reads" that can be handled by one test, multiple overlapping reads are needed. That's why combining these tests gives us the picture of the whole genome.
The "consensus" that seems to bother Cowan refers to the technology of finding the sequence that occurs most frequently in a sample, when various alternative sequences are found for a given part of the genome (multiple copies of the virus are tested simultaneously). It is not a matter of voting but of calculation. And their result claims 100% identity to another US viral genome.
Furthermore, the scientists could separate human from viral RNA, because "all the remaining contigs mapped to either host cell rRNA or mitochondria." As you may remember, Andrew Kaufman, who also hasn't the faintest clue about how whole genome sequencing works, frequently makes the unfounded claim: "The main point: we don't know where these sequences came from" (see Part 15). Again, this shows a total disregard of how modern day genomic science operates.
A contig (from contiguous) is a set of overlapping DNA segments that together represent a consensus region of DNA. In bottom-up sequencing projects, a contig refers to overlapping sequence data (reads); in top-down sequencing projects, contig refers to the overlapping clones that form a physical map of the genome that is used to guide sequencing and assembly. Contigs can thus refer both to overlapping DNA sequence and to overlapping physical segments (fragments) contained in clones depending on the context. (Wikipedia)
“The most shocking statement of all”
The second point Cowan makes in his article is that even the CDC now acknowledges that SARS-CoV-2 is not contagious to humans. Cowan doesn't believe in any form of contagion, but let's focus on this particular virus. Of course, he is on the look-out for any shred of evidence that seems to support his outlandish notion. This is what he concludes from the same academic article referred to above:
The real blockbuster finding in this study comes later, a finding so shocking that I had to read it many times before I could believe what I was reading. Let me quote the passage intact:
'Therefore, we examined the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to infect and replicate in several common primate and human cell lines, including human adenocarcinoma cells (A549), human liver cells (HUH 7.0), and human embryonic kidney cells (HEK-293T). In addition to Vero E6 and Vero CCL81 cells. … Each cell line was inoculated at high multiplicity of infection and examined 24h post-infection. No CPE was observed in any of the cell lines except in Vero cells, which grew to greater than 10 to the 7th power at 24 h post-infection. In contrast, HUH 7.0 and 293T showed only modest viral replication, and A549 cells were incompatible with SARS CoV-2 infection.'
Again, where to begin? One of the aims of this study was to find different cell types other than the usual Vero cells that could be used to culture the virus. This is useful knowledge for research purposes.
Because research has been initiated to study and respond to SARS-CoV-2, information about cell lines and types susceptible to infection is needed. Therefore, we examined the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to infect and replicate in several common primate and human cell lines, including human adenocarcinoma cells (A549), human liver cells (HUH7.0), and human embryonic kidney cells (HEK-293T), in addition to Vero E6 and Vero CCL81 cells.
But not each and every human cell type is equally susceptible to being infected by this virus. Hence their seemingly negative result: "No CPE [cytopathic effect] was observed in any of the cell lines except in Vero [african monkey kidney] cells." Apparently, human kidney cells, adenocarcinoma cells, and liver cells did not get infected. However, other researchers found many human cell types that were susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, such as respiratory, corneal and intestinal epithelial cells. Other researchers found cells in the lungs, nasal passage and intestines more susceptible to infection. So this is part of an ongoing type of research to find out which species can get infected by this virus and which cannot. And which cell types in these affected species are affected and which cell types are not.
Cowan stated he had to read the academic paper several times, "before I could believe what I was reading". Apparently that didn't help him understand it properly. He only saw what he wanted to see: there is actually no evidence for contagion. By consistently disregarding and misinterpreting these scientific data the new SARS-CoV-2 virus will forever remain an elusive unicorn, at least for Thomas Cowan.
Appendix 1: TECHNICAL DETAILS
More technical details about the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 can be found in:
In this protocol document you can read that the fragments ("reads") of the SARS-CoV-2 genome analyzed are about 700-1000 bases in size. Having 37 of these gives us roughly the 30.000 bases of the full genome, including the necessary overlap. See also Part 6: The Subtle Science of Whole Genome Sequencing
See also: Richard Katz, "Is if fair to say that COVID-19 is not infectious? Comments about Dr. Cowan's March 12 talk on Covid-19 and 5G and his March 26, 2020 follow-up webinar", October 2020.
 David Icke, "Shocking revelations about the 'virus' from the CDC itself - a must read for confirmation of what I've been saying since March: It's all a scam", davidicke.com, October 20 2020.
 Thomas Cowan, "Only Poisoned Monkey Kidney Cells 'Grew' the 'Virus'", drtomcowan.com, October 15, 2020.
 Kelly Wynne, "YouTube Video Suggests 5G Internet Causes Coronavirus and People Are Falling for It", Newsweek, March 19, 2020;
Petr vagner, "Is 5G related to coronavirus? This conspiracy theory is more cunning than you expect. How did it originate and why does it attract people?", www.time24story.com, October 22, 2020.
 Richard Katz, "A Query: Is if fair to say that COVID-19 is not infectious?", www.flowersociety.org, Updated April 9, 2020.
 Morens, D.M. & Fauci, S.A., "Emerging Pandemic Diseases: How We Got to COVID-19", Cell, Volume 182, Issue 5, 3 September 2020, Pages 1077-1092.
 Thomas Cowan, "Whatever Happened to Rigorous, Open, Scientific Discourse?", drtomcowan.com, October 6, 2020.
 Jennifer Harcourt et. al., Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 from Patient with Coronavirus Disease, United States, cdc.com, June 2020.
 Waradon Sungnak et.al., "SARS-CoV-2 entry factors are highly expressed in nasal epithelial cells together with innate immune genes", Nature, 23 April 2020;
 Anne Trafton, "Researchers identify cells likely targeted by Covid-19 virus", MIT News Office, April 22, 2020.
83 Vaccine Myths from docbastard.net
To all those who claim SARS-CoV-2or any virusdoes not exist: the virosphere consists of 4 realms, 9 kingdoms, 16 phyla, 2 subphyla, 36 classes, 55 orders, 8 suborders, 168 families, 103 subfamilies, 1421 genera, 68 subgenera, 6590 species. Take that. https://talk.ictvonline.org/taxonomy/
A summary of early parts of this series has appeared in the Dutch magazine Skepter 33(3), September 2020, as "Viruses don't exist" (covering Parts 1-5). German: Skeptiker (December 2020); English: Skeptic.org.uk (January 2021)
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