A Twitter controversy over vaccine misinformation between podcaster Joe Rogan and scientist Peter Hotez has led a number of individuals — including billionaires Bill Ackman and Elon Musk — to goad Hotez into debating anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in an alleged online spat. that this led to anti-vaxxers showing up at the Hotez home to “haunt” him.
The conflict began Saturday, after Hotez tweeted an article by Vice criticizing an interview Rogan gave to Kennedy on his podcast. The Joe Rogan Experiencein which Kennedy made false claims about vaccines — including links to autism that most experts discredited — that Hotez described as “nonsense”.
Rogan answered to Hotez’s criticism by inviting a vaccinologist to his podcast to discuss Kennedy and his pledge of $100,000 to charity if Hotez agreed.
Then billionaire Bill Ackman Pledge An additional $150,000 if Hotez agrees to debate, leading public figures and other vaccine skeptics Make similar pledgesbringing the total charitable pledges to at least $600,000.
Hotez – who previously appeared on Rogan’s show –Agreed to go on Rogan’s podcast to “clear the air,” but in separate tweets, Hotez said he wanted to discuss getting more vaccines and misinformation about vaccines — a show Rogan made. I have not seen in response to his request for Hotez to discuss Kennedy.
The world also retweeted several people who criticized the idea of debating Kennedy, Including one who called the proposal “ridiculous” because Kennedy – known to be a vaccine skeptic – is a “freak”.
I’m hot Tell His followers tweeted on Sunday that a Houston resident “was stalked in front of my house by two anti-heroes mocking me for discussing RFKJr” — less than 24 hours after the initial controversy began on Twitter.
Minutes later, a Twitter personality to publish Video appeared to show himself and another person shouting questions at Hotez outside the house, asking why Hotez wasn’t discussing Kennedy and whether the vaccinologist thought “vaccine injuries” were real (it’s unclear if the video is consistent with the incident Hotez mentioned).
Twitter owner Elon Musk was also among the chorus of people defending Rogan’s order on Twitter. At one point, Musk suggested that Hotez “hate charity” in an effort to get Hotez to agree to Rogan’s terms.
Kennedy, a scion of the Kennedy family and a 2024 Democratic presidential candidate, has repeated dubious claims about vaccines for years, a trend that has continued during the pandemic. During his three-hour appearance on Rogan’s podcast Thursday, Kennedy reiterated a number of his controversial claims about Covid-19 and vaccines. Kennedy wrongly linked vaccines to autism, despite ample evidence to the contrary: “Everyone will say, ‘There is no study showing an association with autism and vaccines.'” “This is just crazy. These are the people who don’t look at the science.” This isn’t the first time Kennedy has publicized anti-vaccine claims. He was previously banned from Instagram for making the same claim that vaccines are linked to autism and for comparing Covid lockdowns to Nazi Germany. But Meta reinstated his account after Kennedy announced his presidential candidacy. Also, Kennedy’s appearance on the podcast isn’t the first time Rogan has repeated or hosted false or questionable health claims. He has made headlines throughout the pandemic for falsely claiming on his podcast that mRNA vaccines are a gene therapy, that the risk of myocarditis — inflammation of the heart muscles — is higher than vaccines from Covid and that healthy young people do not need a Covid vaccine.
Hotez — a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine — has spent much of the pandemic on Twitter debunking misinformation surrounding Covid-19. Hotez was also part of the team that received a Nobel Prize nomination for their work creating a cheap and easy-to-make Covid-19 vaccine. His Twitter spat this weekend certainly isn’t his first, but it may be his most rebuke for the propaganda of medical misinformation. In a separate tweet amid the controversy on Saturday, Hotez noted the number of lives lost to “anti-vaccination misinformation,” and said, “There is nothing personal against Joe, Elon, RFK Jr.” But she “hopes to stop further destruction.”
Joe Rogan Covid Claims: What Does the Science Actually Say? (Watchman)
From obscurity to Nobel Prize nomination: Houston scientists land patent-free COVID-19 vaccine (Texas Tribune)
Instagram lifts ban on anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after launching the presidential bid (CNN)