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Get this man a job at the Hoover Institution!

Paul Alper shares this charming/horrifying news story:

Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg who destroyed more than 500 doses of covid vaccine is a flat-Earther

Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist who is charged with destroying nearly 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine, also believes the Earth is flat and that the sky is not real . . .

Dude could get a job as the Mary Baker Eddy Fellow at the Hoover Institution, along with the guy who predicted the number of Covid deaths would max out at 500 or the guys who were giving their expert advice to the organization that said the pandemic was over in the summer (that’s summer 2020, for those of you keeping score at home) and that there is no one for whom the benefit would outweigh the risk of these vaccines.

The Hoover Institution needs a house pharmacist, right? Fight the power, man. Stick it to those pointy-headed East Coast and Hollywood elites and show them what you think of all those highfalutin science guys! Hoover stands fast against that fancy theory of evolution, and it should be able to hold the line on that secular humanist round-earth theory too.


  1. John Tillinghast says:

    Summer 2020, not 2000.

  2. bbis says:

    I worry the sarcasm may be too subtle for some readers.

    • Andrew says:


      I think that some Hoover affiliates do read this blog, so we can see if they take action and decide to hire this guy. The only challenge is that they’d probably have to pay him a lot to get to move from Wisconsin. Cost of living in Palo Alto is really high, or so they say.

      • bbis says:

        That would be wonderful (ly amusing). Perhaps the attraction of working with all the brilliant minds in the Bay Area would be sufficient to overcome the pricing issue. Not that I could help find them. Despite living just down the road from Palo Alto, the brilliance level feels much the same as anywhere else.

  3. paul alper says:

    The world is so insane, at least in the United States, that I barely recall forwarding the article to Andrew back in February, 2021. To indicate that we have not yet bottomed out, here is a very recent item that rivals flat earth beliefs:

    “‘Italygate’ election conspiracy theory was pushed by two firms led by woman [Edwards] who also falsely claimed $30 million mansion was hers”

    “According to the conspiracy theory known as “Italygate,” people working for the Italian defense contractor, in coordination with senior CIA officials, used military satellites to switch votes from Trump to Joe Biden and swing the result of the election.”

    “In September 2019, Edwards announced that her USAerospace group had bought the assets of Iceland’s bankrupt airline Wow Air and said it would soon resume flights. It has not.”

  4. chrisare says:

    Way to punch up. If only he believed empirically well tested ideas like white supremacy, intersectionality and that the only way to fight racism is through racism he might be redeemable and employable at nearly every elite institution in the country.

    • Andrew says:


      I don’t think anyone thinks that the only way to fight racism is through racism. Regarding the other ideas you mention, I don’t think white supremacy or intersectionality are “empirically well tested” or that anyone claims they are. I think of white supremacy and intersectionality as ways of thinking about the world, and these are not well-defined terms. Here’s a recent news article that covers some of these issues in a reasonable way, I think.

      Also, I’m not a fan of the terms “punching up” and “punching down.” First, I’m not punching; I’m pointing out absurdities. Second, Stanford is neither “up” nor “down” relative to Columbia. I mean, sure, Stanford is higher-ranked than Columbia under the usual metrics, so I guess you’re right that I’m punching up, but I don’t see them as above or below me; they’re just a different university with their own problems. Not that Columbia’s perfect; we’ve got Dr. Oz. Anyway, it’s not my fault that Stanford hosts evolution deniers and covid minimizers; that’s their call. And as long as they’re out there promoting this sort of thing, I think the rest of us have every right—even, at times, a duty—to mock it. This shouldn’t get in the way of you criticizing intersectionality or whatever. There’s a lot out there to be mocked, and a big internet is available to do so.

      • somebody says:

        I think there are people who think the only way to fight racism is through racism.

        Reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X, the old black muslims under Elijah Muhammad were of the opinion that white people were devils (literally), life with them was impossible, and the only way out was segregation into a separate black state. They were segregationists. Though, I guess Malcolm X was disgruntled from them so, grain of salt, though he didn’t seem to hide many of his warts. Anyways, the black supremacist followers of Farrakhan, then Louis X, are still around; I think the young black left refer to them as “hoteps”.

        On the whiter and more popular side, there’s the Robin Diangelo school of beating racism through self-flaggelating white guilt.

        Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book and I’m predisposed to dislike it on account of its corporate flavor, but it’s exemplar of what I feel is popular liberal attitude, that if white people feel bad and self-analyze enough it’ll solve racism.

        All this to say, I don’t fully disagree that there are some annoying things that happen in left-leaning and high-achieving spaces that are undercriticized, but this is all obviously a non-sequitur. The subject of the original post is a crackpot who’s funny to laugh at and did some very bad things. You get to mock him—the audience isn’t entitled to your criticism of the other side like you’re a referee of a sporting event. And of course, on “punching down”—yes, we should never criticize the kooky views of people who cause material harm in the world. And if a view is kooky enough, then it’s beyond criticism by virtue of being severely wrong, I guess.

  5. chrisare says:

    He might even be able to teach a reality based course like this at one of America’s premier universities.

    • Andrew says:

      Ahhh, Cornell! They should put all their wacky courses in a single department.

    • somebody says:

      2 things can be stupid at once. At least this course is explicitly about fiction–most courses in art and literature have never been reality-based you know.

      • Andrew says:


        Yes, I agree. Looking at the course description more carefully, it seems that they’re just using astronomy as metaphor, which is not so much more wacky than lots of other literary metaphors such as clocks, steam engines, evolution, etc. It was unfair of me to (implicitly) lump this in with the pizzagate guy and the ESP guy, both of whom abused statistics and the good faith of the scientific research community to promote implausible and unsubstantiated claims about the real world.

  6. the_real_tiddlydump says:

    Pretty sure Richard Epstein has fallen all over himself to make fun of his bad prediction, so that one feels a bit like a cheapshot.

    I’m also not aware of an institution-level stance against evolution. Interview show guests are guests? Maybe knock Robinson for inviting them, but afaik none are fellows at Hoover.

    C’mon Andrew.

    • Andrew says:


      1. Regarding Epstein, I refer you to this discussion by Rex Douglass. tl;dr: No, I don’t think it’s a cheap shot to slam Epstein for his misinformed and ridiculously overconfident statements, nor to slam Hoover for promoting this guy’s opinions.

      2. It’s a free country, and if Hoover wants to give a platform to evolution denial, they are free to do so. And I’m free to mock them for it, just as I’m free to mock Cornell for promoting ESP, etc.

      • the_real_tiddlydump says:

        Of course. You’re free to continue to hold Hoover in low esteem, but it strikes me there are easier targets! VDH is considerably more controversial than either Epstein or Robinson.

        In Hoover’s defense, however, I discovered your blog was a result of your (excellent) appearance on EconTalk!

  7. Mark says:

    This is beneath you Gelman. It is sad to see you turning you blog into this.

    • Andrew says:


      But I did write it, so it’s not beneath me! Is there a specific aspect of the post that you disagree with? I guess it’s possible that the round-earth and evolution theories are wrong, but I’m doubtful.

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