The good doctor returns to First Things with an essay on the demise of Dr. Didier Raoult, the (in)famous French microbiologist who falsely claimed hydroxychloroquine as a valid treatment for Covid-19.
A man who, whatever his faults, had deserved well of his fellow creatures, who contributed more than most to the reduction of the concrete suffering of mankind, will now be remembered not for the good he did nor for the enlightenment he brought, but for a kind of charlatanry, without his ever truly having been a charlatan. He is a man destroyed by the dialectical relationship of ego to mankind’s willingness to invest gurus with all but supernatural powers.
It is surprising that the good doctor continues to assume that Raoult’s case, which is many a doctor’s and many a scientist’s case, has been settled. Has he studied Raoult’s work in detail, or has he been reading the Pravda? Surely there are virtuous people around, even today. Couldn’t Raoult, McCullough and others be among them? Why would they sacrifice their peace and quiet, their professional lives and reputation? Considering that they openly oppose at least some of the most egregious absurdities which even their detractors don’t dare to deny (turning a blind eye to them at most), their positions seem to require an explanation. But could such an explanation be labelled as a… conspiracy theory? After all, history is full of conspiracies.