What followed next was the academic version of a roast, with critics raising issues with the researchers’ recruitment method (Facebook ads), flaws in their statistical methods, and even the tests themselves — manufactured in China, and since banned from export.

The tests are known to generate false positives up to 1.7 percent of the time. Given that the Stanford study originally identified 1.5 percent of its participants as having the antibody, critics pointed out that in theory, every single one might have been a false positive. The tests are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and a subcommittee in the House of Representatives opened an investigation into four vendors of antibody tests, including Premier Biotech, the maker of the tests used in the Stanford study…

But even as the scientific community was in this process of rough-and-tumble self-healing, the study was receiving a very different reception in the alternate universe occupied by the right-wing media. Having already been weaponized to serve an ideological purpose — lift the lockdowns — the scholarly debate could easily be cast as another attempt by elites to exercise a chokehold on an inconvenient truth.

Here’s how that weaponization took place.