Sunday, July 26, 2015

#1422: Kelly Brogan

Dr. Kelly Brogan was educated at Cornell and MIT, so one would think she ought to know a thing or two about methods for aligning beliefs to reality. Well, clearly Cornell and MIT need to do something somewhat differently, for Brogan has managed to delude herself into a pretty impressive array of ridiculous denialist and pseudoscienfic beliefs and conspiracy theories, and she has shown a remarkable inability to read scientific literature or evaluate hypotheses. You can read her articles on Sayer Ji’s abysmally insane website GreenMedInfo, as well as on her own website, where she claims to be practicing “holistic women’s health psychiatry,” for some examples. Oh, yes, Brogan has embraced a whole range of woo, including homeopathy, acupuncture, antivaccine views, anti-GMO views, functional medicine and pretty much every kind of medical nonsense you’ll ever encounter.

Given that she has some (nominal) background in topics related to science, she is dimly aware of the value of using scientific studies to support her views. But managing to find a single scientific study that could be twisted into looking like it supports your view isn’t enough to make those views respectable, and Brogan’s writings constitute some spectacular examples of how a professional denialist can dishonestly twist and distort and cherrypick real (as well as less respectable) studies to seem to support her cherished, otherwise non-evidence based views. What she does to an extent know how to do, is to mask her own unscientific rants in the format of something resembling real, serious writing (to those who don’t know better). Take a look, for instance, at her writings about the HPV vaccine (or here).

What is clear, is that Brogan is a hardcore antivaccine conspiracy theorist, who has managed to become a rather influential figure in the antivaccine movement, and she has been caught touting even the most egregious examples of inane pseudoscience published in profoundly disgraced pseudojournals to “support” her own insane ideas, such as the idea that vaccines are a likely cause of SIDS. She even appeared in the conspiracy flick “Bought” (oh yes, Brogan is a frequently cited “authority” over at, which is something that should make anyone with an even minimal wish to appear respectable stop up and wonder what they’re doing with their lives). The premise of “Bought” is the pharma shill gambit, one of Brogan’s own favorite tricks. Of course, the fact that she herself is constantly trying to sell stuff – speeches and suchlike – while she bashes Big Pharma is an irony lost on both her and her followers. (Here, for instance, if you buy the Depression Summit, you get the Sexyback summit Free!)

Much of her writings seem to boil down to fallacious appeals to nature, which are often also based on false premises. For instance, Brogan characterizes vaccines as working by “bypass[ing] natural immunity and provoke inflammatory response.” Vaccines do not bypass natural immunity, however; they induce immunity completely naturally. But that’s how Brogan starts off when discussing the HPV vaccine. It is hardly surprising that the results of her line of reasoning are absolute nonsense as well. It does, however, seems to suggest that Brogan really doesn’t understand even basic stuff about the topics about which she more than willingly shares her unsupported opinions. She is not above rank dishonesty either, as long as it can look like it lends support to views she has already convinced herself are true based on no good evidence or reason whatsoever.

She’s even been toying HIV denialism (oh, yes). Of the idea that HIV causes AIDS she has pointed out that AIDS is “a syndrome of 25 illnesses that does not satisfy Koch’s postulates of infectious disease” (Koch’s postulates date from 1890 and have been obsolete since then), and in the process positioned herself dangerously close to germ theory denialism – she probably doesn’t notice, though, since she doesn’t seem to have the faintest idea what she’s talking about. At least she rejects the effect of antiretroviral drugs on the mortality associated with this disease: “That drug toxicity associated with AIDS treatment may very well be what accounts for the majority of deaths,” says Brogan. “may very well” means there is no evidence or plausibility behind this claim I pulled out of my ass concerning topics I do not understand but you dear reader – since you are reading my bullshit – probably don’t know that. A collaboration of 12 prospective studies that included more than 62,000 HIV infected individuals found, contrary to what Brogan believes, that mortality was halved in the treated groups. We also know that in South Africa there were an estimated 3.8 million person-years lost between 2000 and 2005 because of delays in implementing treatment programs in part because central figures in the government had been convinced by pseudoscientists that HIV was not the cause of AIDS and that the drugs were not useful. We leave it to the reader to evaluate how, in light of that, Brogan’s recommendation should be used to judge her as a member of humanity.

Diagnosis: Raging pseudoscientific conspiracy theorist, who has managed to make something of a name for herself among conspiracy-minded “natural” healing gohmerts. One of those who, on balance, has made the world a worse place to live, and she appears to be just getting started. Dangerous.


  1. Thank you! I was wondering if you were going to include Brogan in this round.