Discover more from COVID Chronicles
Abusive Use of Public Funds: My Concluding Remarks on the Story of Timothy Caulfield
I Have Never Seen so Much Misinformation Come from One Person
Mr. Timothy Caulfield is a professor of law at the University of Alberta, Canada.
I tentatively looked into the curious case of Prof. Timothy Caulfield after having many members of the public rage over the purported abuse of his position as an ‘expert’ in the supposed identification of health ‘misinformation’. Specifically, it seemed to many people that he had tread into very deep waters with respect to declaring what is and what is not scientific truth when it comes to COVID-19 science; a realm for which he has no rightful qualifications to dwell.
COVID Chronicles is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
What really caught my attention was when members of the public showed me that he had taken several ‘jabs’ at me via social media over the past couple of years. I thought this was odd because any half-decent academic professional (half-decent human being, for that matter) would raise issues directly with a fellow scholar and allow them an opportunity to offer rebuttals and explanations before publicly judging and mocking. So, my first impression was that we might be dealing with an immature individual. Having tracked some this person’s messaging for a couple of months I have concluded that the immaturity of this individual is rather profound; to the point of being quite unprofessional.
I didn’t know anything about Caulfield until well into the declared COVID-19 pandemic. We clearly have different, non-overlapping areas of expertise. But what I have learned recently is disconcerting. Most importantly, I have found that trying to deal with the misinformation and partial truths spewing from this individual is like trying to hold back the flood of a broken dam with a bucket. The crap is flying so fast and furious that it seems like a waste (pardon the pun) of time and effort to try to stop it.
Here are a few observations from among the many that I have made…
Misusing tax-funded grants to commit what could constitute academic misconduct
Caulfield has received grants that were funded by tax dollars. I have seen some people criticize him for being a ‘paid shill of the government’. Receiving grants from government agencies is not in and of itself a conflict of interest. Receiving funds from our national granting agencies is, in fact, a high academic honour. However, it is my opinion that he has been misusing these funds throughout the declared COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Caulfield received tax dollar-based funding to counter medical ‘misinformation’ via social media.
All academic institutions that I am aware of, including my own, consider social media to be outside of their jurisdiction. But, this is not so for Caulfield; or at least, it shouldn’t be. He has been funded to extend his professional workplace into the realm of social media. In my opinion, this means that his use of social media should adhere to the tenets of professional academic conduct. But, I would contend that Caulfield’s tax-funded social media work exceeds the bar for academic misconduct. He openly ridicules the very tax payers that indirectly and unwittingly ‘paid’ him to educate the public about so-called ‘misinformation’. He calls them names. He swears at them. From the protective confines of his ivory tower, he lords his so-called authority, credentials and expertise over them and belittles or cares not for their credentials.
It is obvious that Caulfield directs this vitriol at any member of the public who simply holds a different opinion than him, no matter how informed their opinions may be (and when it comes to COVID-19 science, I have seen that many of the people commenting on his social media posts know more than he does in this area).
There are definitely potential conflicts of interest outside of monies provided by government granting agencies.
Prof. Caulfield: you are an academic public servant. Please recognize this and strive to interact with the public with respect, politeness and professionalism. When they disagree with your viewpoints, feel free to counter with fulsome responses that transparently and objectively reveal the overall weight of all available evidence, overlaid with commentary that clearly demonstrates deep expertise in the topics at hand. And if people continue to disagree you need to respect the fact that not everyone thinks the same way you do. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong. At times, you may have overestimated your degree of expertise and understanding. To treat the public otherwise undermines the reputation of our academic institutions and that of publicly funded scholars.
Screening calls to block public access
Members of the public told me that Caulfield was having his phone calls screened. I learned this was true when I called his office seeking to have a respectful private chat about his apparent differences with my science-based opinions about COVID-19. I thought it might be helpful if he could have the opportunity to voice his concerns directly and have me demonstrate my ability to thoroughly address all of them. After all, his social media messaging done behind my back clearly indicated that he had taken a disliking to me for reasons that he has never revealed to me.
A staff member at a student information desk took my call after I dialed the number listed on Caulfield’s faculty webpage. They told me that I could only contact Caulfield via them. I could either leave my number and they would have him call me or I could send them an email and they would forward it to him and have him respond to me.
When asked why they were screening messages, they insisted they were not. Then I asked why, if all messages went to him and were responded to, the messages couldn’t go directly to him from the senders. No explanation could be given.
When I asked for his email address, which was not posted on his faculty web page, I was told that they were not to give it out. However, I was able to look it up in the University of Alberta staff directory. When I asked why they would not give it out when it was in the directory, no reasonable explanation could be provided.
It was speculated that he is quite busy and, therefore, difficult to get ahold of and this might be why he was having people screen his messages. When I informed them that this was the plight of all academic servants, they didn’t know how to defend this stance.
This was all very odd. Publicly funded academics are to make themselves available to the public. So, in the end, it proved to be exceptionally difficult to attempt to directly communicate with Caulfield. It is almost as if he is hesitant to take spontaneous calls, whether it be from members of the public or academic colleagues. My direct call to Caulfield’s office went unanswered.
A refusal to engage in discussions directly with or alongside academic colleagues with differing views
I invited Caulfield to have a public discussion about his apparent concerns with my COVID-19 messaging; something that he has labeled as ‘misinformation’. I was keen to learn what this professor of law who claims to have expertise in vaccinology knew that I as a vaccinologist did not. He did not accept this invitation despite many members of the public pleading with him to do so; highlighting how much it would help them sort through the complexities of the scientific facts.
Disconcertingly, it was reported to me by many people that he blocked their ability to comment on his publicly-funded social media after they encouraged him to accept my invitation. I then learned that he has often blocked people on his social media account when they have tried to engage him on multiple occasions to question some of his messaging, both within and beyond the realm of COVID-19.
Unless they are things like death threats, it is not okay to block members of the public from commenting when his social media account represents his formal, publicly funded workplace.
An objective third party offered to mediate a discussion and invited both me and Caulfield, with strict rules to ensure professionalism and respect. I accepted. Caulfield did not even offer the favour of a reply to the mediator, whose invitation was extremely respectful. Instead, Caulfield blocked her!
Caulfield and several other COVID-19 ‘experts’ were invited to sit alongside me and a few other professionals to answer questions from the public at a discussion panel event. I accepted. Caulfield did not even offer the favour of a reply to the organizer. Yet, individuals like him often rail at people like me for apparently misleading the public, despite me showing and explaining the scientific evidence for all of my messaging. Here was an opportunity for him to sit alongside me and, not address me, but have an equal opportunity to answer the questions that members of the public had. He was a no-show.
Caulfield disseminates misinformation and poor-quality evidence
I have recently provided examples of this. Having reviewed some of Caulfield’s Tweets and other public messaging, there is no shortage of additional examples. Here are a couple more recent ones…
See this interview between Adrienne Arsenault and Timothy Caulfield on CBC News. I don’t know who should have been more embarrassed; Arsenault for interviewing a non-expert about immunology or Caulfield for accepting and pretending to be an expert in immunology?!? Regardless, I have come to learn that Caulfield seems to be chronically revolted by natural approaches to optimizing the functionality of a person’s immune system.
He doesn’t seem to realize that there are many vitamins, minerals, and other natural products that are essential for many aspects of the immune system to function properly. If any of them are at less than ideal concentrations, it can cause the whole system to underperform; much like a race car having low-octane fuel or misfiring in one cylinder.
In this interview, he did things like make fun of a video made by a lady showing how to make vitamin C-enriched tea using orange peels, as well as cinnamon to take advantage of its inherent antibacterial properties. I give full kudos to this lady for coming up with a very clever way to use what most people consider to be waste (orange peels) to increase the nutritional content (and flavour) of teas. She should have been applauded. Instead, Caulfield and Arsenault made fun of her. Shame on both of them.
Sadly, Caulfield looked like a deer in headlights following a basic question. To the trained eye of an expert, it was obvious to me that he was way out of his element when discussing nutritional immunology. In desperation, he burst into an outrageous speech that constituted a truckload of misinformation about ‘boosting the immune system’.
According to Caulfield, if the immune system is ‘boosted’, it will result in anaphylaxis and/or autoimmunity. There was so much wrong with this outburst that it is very disturbing. He doesn’t seem to understand that what many people are referring to when they use the term ‘boosting the immune system’ is actually, ‘ensuring its optimal performance by increasing the concentration of key nutrients to ensure they are in an ideal range’. He definitely lacks a sound understanding about the mechanisms underlying anaphylaxis and autoimmunity
He didn’t seem to understand that there is no harm of toxicity with vitamin C because it will simply be eliminated in the urine, so having too much is better than risking having too little.
He certainly doesn’t understand that there is plenty of evidence in the scientific literature showing the antibacterial properties of cinnamon. This has long been known to be true. For example, see this older review paper. If the messaging is based on sound science, how can Caulfield call it misinformation. He outright lied in this interview. In my opinion (and I am not a legal expert; Caulfield is), what he did seems to be awfully close to slander.
He referred to autoimmunity as though it is inherently bad. He didn’t seem to understand that autoimmunity can be life-saving in some circumstances; like in the case of the immune system eliminating cancerous self-derived cells from the body. It is only autoimmunity that progresses to a disease state that is harmful.
He clearly did not understand that anaphylaxis requires priming against an antigen that programs the immune system to respond inappropriately. It is a form of hypersensitivity, not the result of immunological boosting.
Of key importance, he didn’t seem to recognize that his overarching statement that ‘boosting the immune system causes autoimmunity and anaphylaxis’ contradicts his public messaging that everyone should get repeated COVID-19 boosters! What does he think these boosters do, if not literally boost the immune system!?! So is he trying to warn everyone in this CBC interview that people who take the boosters will develop autoimmune diseases and/or go into anaphylactic shock? Have some consistency in your public messaging Mr. Caulfield.
What an unmitigated disaster this interview was. Caulfield was way out of his element and showed an enormous amount of scientific naiveté. But what else can be expected when a person holding a law degree, not a MD, nor a PhD, pretends to be a world-class nutritional immunologist?
It is sad to see an academic that lacks the humility and integrity to recognize when something is way out of their league.
I do not know why CBC would not have sought out one of the many immunologists in Canada, especially those who specialize in nutritional immunology. It is as though they don’t want to invest too much effort into seeking robust scientific truths. These kinds of gaffes are making CBC an embarrassment in the world of journalism.
Sadly, this widespread public messaging is downright harmful.
Canadians: ignore Caulfield when it comes to nutritional immunology, he is not an expert in this area. Promotion of nutrition-based optimization of immune systems will lead to a population that is healthier, suffers less disease and will spend less on health care.
The following Tweet was just brought to my attention today…
At its heart, there is nothing wrong with the message per se. However, Caulfield has provided no context, which is misleading. And misleading the public is not how one promotes scientific truths.
Specifically, Caulfield failed to highlight that what he is promoting is merely an abstract from a scientific conference. This represents, at best, what might eventually constitute a portion of a future manuscript. It is nowhere near the quality of evidence of a published peer-reviewed article. Such a document would carry no weight in court.
And this is after writing off, wholesale, a great peer-reviewed published study like the very recent Cochrane review. And Caulfield certainly has done nothing to try to place this mere abstract into the context of the massive amount of scientific literature about masking. If social media is his publicly funded workspace, then he cannot lean on the excuse that social media is most amenable to short sound bites. Writing is always the best way to put down comprehensive and well-referenced thoughts.
And, of course, the findings reported in this abstract rely solely on wastewater testing, which is all too often based on crap, both figuratively and literally. Wastewater testing can serve a useful role. However, it can never be used on its own to diagnose COVID-19. The authors of the abstract clearly don’t understand that PCR can, if calibrated properly, only detect tiny pieces of the genetic blueprint of targeted viruses. Neither Caulfield nor the authors seem to realize that the "D" in COVID stands for "disease", which means there need to be clinical signs and or symptoms that have been assessed by a physician. PCR testing can ONLY be used as an AID TO DIAGNOSIS. A positive PCR test result does not equate to a case of COVID-19. And it certainly does not provide a shred of evidence as to whether there is any risk of transmissibility.
Generally speaking, I find that Caulfield all too often parrots the conclusions of authors without convincing me that he has the expertise to deeply critique their methods and data.
In the abstract, there is no disclosure of key aspects of the methods; most importantly, we don't know what cycle threshold was deemed to be the cut-off, nor whether there was any objective rationale for selecting it.
And then there are the myriad of confounding variables that blur any conclusions that can be drawn from these merely correlative studies.
Masked children are often scared children; some teetering on the side of becoming hypochondriacs due to the abusive fears instilled by misinformed adults. So more masking could simply mean more kids holding their waste until they get home because they don't want to go anywhere near the 'yucky' toilets. After all, isolation from the microbial world is the key to a healthy immune system… NOT!
More masking could equate with greater attendance by those who received COVID-19 shots, which are known to increase the risk of acquiring COVID-19. For example, look at this graph which shows the public health data provided by the government of New South Wales in Australia…
…hospitalizations have been occurring 59.7-times more frequently among the COVID-19-’vaxxed’ as compared to those who have received no shots!
Do you remember the last thread that people like Caulfield are holding onto?..
Ignore the fact that we told you the COVID-19 ‘vaccines’ would stop transmission, we moved the goalposts to claim they were only ever intended to dampen the severity of disease, hate the ‘unvaxxed’ for filling up our hospitals and not letting the ‘vaxxed’ access them.
Really!?! Well, the narrative-pushers can no longer use their highly biased analytical methods to hide the reality. This graph is representative of public health data in most jurisdictions that are transparent enough to provide it. We stopped showing these data in Ontario, Canada two Christmases ago, when this trend became to obvious to hide.
So, Caulfield, et. al, why are you still pushing the boosters? Do you really have the best interest of the public’s health at heart? Do you want to amplify the number of hospitalizations and children in school that have COVID-19 by telling people that they should be in the light blue curve in the graph above instead of the near-flat line that is just above zero? Follow the science!
And there are many other potential confounding variables that could explain the conclusion drawn in the abstract being selectively promoted by Caulfield.
If the data in the abstract do eventually get published, I can guarantee that the next objective review of the masking literature will pile it in with the rest of the poor-quality studies that are accumulating under the label of 'low quality evidence'. I agree with the large number of reviews in this area that have published the nearly universal message that we need some masking studies that can start to populate the 'high quality evidence' pile.
I honestly can't believe that Caulfield is wielding this type of low quality evidence like a weapon in his personal crusade. As the scientific community seeks to identify the overall weight of the evidence, he seems content to pile these tiny grains of sand-like evidence on his favoured side of the scale.
My expert opinion
Prof. Timothy Caulfield is a public academic servant who is misusing public funds that he has been granted. He is using them to belittle and name-call members of the public rather than engaging them in respectful conversations that promote the exposure of the full spectrum of scientific evidence to see where the weight lies.
Caulfield is often highly selective in what evidence he shows and much of it is of poor quality or premature and out of context. Further, he often seems incapable of doing anything other than trusting the conclusions drawn by the authors. No real expert relies on this. A real expert first reviews the methods, then the unbiased results section, then draws their own independent conclusions.
Caulfield often ventures far from his realm of expertise and this sometimes leads to the dissemination of outright harmful information to the public.
My recommendation to the public
IGNORE Timothy Caulfield. He disseminates dangerous misinformation and half-truths and downplays and ignores legitimate science that disagrees with his personal opinions. Based on the amount of misinformation that he has disseminated, I don’t know if any of his messaging can be trusted, even when it is in his area of expertise. Instead, seek truth from those who have demonstrated an ability to follow the science and predict where it will lead.
If you view Caulfield as a champion of scientific truth, then ask yourself why he publicly judges dissenting scientists via social media but is unwilling to engage them in a scholarly discussion. A supposed ‘champion’ who refuses to step into the gladiator arena is no champion at all.
My recommendation to funding agencies
Caulfield has used public funds to wrongfully malign members of the public who hold differing viewpoints. Worse, he has used these public funds to disseminate what can easily be proven to be misinformation; and he has done this repeatedly. Why you are providing funding for a lawyer to define truths in scientific fields for which he completely lacks credentials is mind-boggling. Plus, it is dangerous to use public monies to fund a person leading an organization that is akin to the Orwellian Ministry of Truth. This will only lead to the ultimate and wrongful censorship of members of the public who are contributing to the funds that create these grants.
My recommendation to the University of Alberta
Caulfield should be investigated for potential academic misconduct based on his tax-funded engagement with the public in social media and other realms. Get objective assessments about whether any of his messaging represents misinformation. If any of it does, how can you allow him to promote himself as a ‘misinformation’ ‘expert’ under your watch? He would also be an ideal candidate to undergo public engagement training.
My recommendation to the Governor General of Canada
You should also seek objective assessments of Caulfield’s public messaging. If any of it can be shown to be misinformation (see this and my previous Substack articles), then he should be stripped of his Order of Canada, which was apparently awarded for his ability to accurately identify and weed out health misinformation. A ‘misinformation’ ‘expert’ who chronically disseminates misinformation would be egregious.
Another invitation to Caulfield
Prof. Caulfield, if you ever want to chat about any scientific messages within my realms of expertise that you are concerned about, feel free to contact me at any time. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to have a respectful, professional and adult-like conversation with you. If you are unable to do this, I would ask that you refrain from the immaturity of targeting me in social media behind my back and in child-like fashion.
My advice to Caulfield
As the deputized leader of Canada’s budding truth police, lean not on your legal credentials to critique everything under the umbrella of health science. And don’t be so selective and limited in your sources of scientific data. Rather, lean on an array of people with genuine deep expertise on both sides of any given debate. Listen to them. Learn to identify the real experts based on their ability to dissect methods and raw data (not simple regurgitation of what other scientists have concluded). Then, perhaps, you can help establish where the overall weight of the science lays.
And stop trying to be a ‘misinformation’ ‘expert’. It is an impossibility. Centuries ago, you would have claimed that the round-earthers were spewing misinformation. Then, you would have to turn around and declare the flat-earthers as the disseminators of misinformation. You can’t have it both ways. It would not have been that the scientific truth flip-flopped. Rather, it would have been an example of a growth of your limited understanding of the world around you. Recognize and be open to the dynamic nature of our scientific understanding of the natural world.
I must move on; my time and energy are best invested elsewhere
Prof. Caulfield, I wish you well in your career as you pursue your goal of definitively declaring at any point in time which pieces of health information represent misinformation versus unchangeable truth. Just try to do it in a more professional and respectful way and, ideally, without using tax dollars to attack and mislead the very public that you are paid to serve; even those who have the audacity to disagree with some of your points of view.
Although I am hoping to bid you farewell, I do reserve the right to protect my integrity again in the future should you resort to social media to smear my reputation rather than having a conversation with me.
And so ends the strange tale of Timothy Caulfield.
(genre: science fiction-horror)
COVID Chronicles is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.