David Gorski: The “Nuremberg Code” Gambit


The “Nuremberg Code” gambit

Antivaxxers love to claim that vaccine mandates (especially COVID-19 vaccine mandates) violate the Nuremberg Code. As usual, they have no idea what they are talking about.

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By Orac Post date July 20, 2021 166 Comments

If there’s one thing antivaxxers love, it’s citing the Nuremberg Code. We’ve seen it (and I’ve discussed it here) many times before, coming from antivaxxers as diverse in their level of fanaticism as Mike Adams, who has all but called for “Nuremberg-style” trials for pro-vaccine physicians and scientists; washed up comedian Rob Schneider; the grande dame of the antivaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher; our recent acquaintance, “holistic” cardiologist Joel Kahn; Phil Valentine; VAXXED “documentarian” Del Bigtree; and disgraced antivax physician from the Cleveland Clinic, Daniel Neides. The examples go on and on and on. Antivaxxers invoke the Nuremberg Code so often that I’ve started calling their doing so the “Nuremberg Code gambit.” That’s why, every so often, I feel the need to revisit this topic and explain why the way antivaxxers invoke the Nuremberg Code against vaccines reveals a poor understanding of history and is a thinly disguised (actually undisguised) Godwin.

So what is the Nuremberg Code? The Nuremberg Code is a set of principles for human subjects research that published in 1947 as part of USA vs. Brandt et al (also often called the Doctors’ Trial) as one result of the Nuremberg Trials. The trial involved doctors who had been involved in Nazi human experimentation and mass murder disguised as euthanasia.Of the 23 defendants, seven were acquitted, while seven were sentenced to death. The rest received prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

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