If you’re on social media and you follow news related to the coronavirus pandemic, chances are you’ve stumbled upon some panicked pandemic posts coming from a man named Eric Feigl-Ding, a nutritionist and longtime democrat political operative who has succeeded in impersonating a medical professional, and is generating a cult following in the process.
With one hysterical tweet after another, Feigl-Ding went from having a small social media following to accumulating a massive army of influence. Feigl-Ding’s consistent elevation of fear and panic, doom and gloom, and his relentless themes of chaos and destruction related to a virus with a 99.8% recovery rate has brought his accounts millions of clicks and views, and hundreds of thousands of new followers.
And he did it all without having a clue what he’s talking about.
At the beginning of 2020, Feigl-Ding was an unpaid, visiting scientist in Harvard’s nutrition department. His academic research centered entirely around nutrition, diet, and exercise. If Eric Feigl-Ding was interested in pandemics and the study of viruses, his research and academic credentials did not reflect that.
When the coronavirus pandemic began to make waves in the media, everything changed. Feigl-Ding, an aspiring politician, appeared to see an opening to influence the masses and build up his brand.
Feigl-Ding’s rise to coronavirus stardom began with this since-deleted tweet falsely describing the coronavirus as “the most virulent virus epidemic the world has ever seen.”
But not everyone associated with Feigl-Ding was thrilled with the early panic promotion act. Feigl-Ding’s frequent use of Harvard-associated credentials to elevate his baseless COVID-19 proclamations greatly upset some of his colleagues (despite many of them advocating for the same draconian measures proposed by Feigl-Ding to “combat” the virus), and landed him in hot water with the academic institution.
Twitter, for reasons unknown, decided to credential him as a “COVID-19 health expert,” which further elevates his supposed legitimacy as an “expert” on the pandemic.
In mid March, Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard, described him as a “charlatan exploiting a tenuous connection for self-promotion.”
The Association of Health Care Journalists also took notice,