Making Sense with Sam Harris
#325 — A Few Thoughts About RFK Jr.
- RFK's Misrepresentation and Lack of Expertise
- RFK Jr.'s Misinformation about Vaccines
- Distrust of Institutions and Misrepresentation
- Mistrust of Institutions and Spreading Lies
The episode discusses the problematic nature of platforming RFK Jr. due to his pattern of misrepresentation and lack of expertise in vaccine science. He promotes suspicion towards the scientific establishment, spreads unfounded ideas, and questions established scientific consensus. RFK Jr.'s misinformation about vaccines, including the debunked claim of MMR vaccine causing autism, puts children at risk. The episode also highlights the pervasive mistrust of institutions and the spread of lies, contributing to distrust in science and public health organizations. It emphasizes the importance of calibrating one's bullshit detector when platforming individuals like RFK Jr.
RFK's Misrepresentation and Lack of Expertise
00:22 - 08:23
- RFK has been a guest on several podcasts, including those of Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Barry Weiss, Bill Marr, Elon Musk, and Tucker Carlson.
- Platforming RFK is problematic due to his pattern of misrepresentation and lack of expertise in vaccine science.
- RFK promotes suspicion towards the scientific establishment but trusts the scientific consensus on climate change.
- He advocates for prosecuting corporations and think tanks that spread misinformation about climate change.
- RFK spreads various unfounded ideas such as blaming SSRI's for mass shootings and claiming cell phones cause brain cancer.
- He questions whether the HIV virus causes AIDS and believes pandemic restrictions were part of a CIA plot for control.
- RFK taps into a real distrust of institutions but contributes to the misinformation cult surrounding vaccine fear.
- While some vaccines have been recalled and vaccine injury is real, herd immunity relies on vaccination.
RFK Jr.'s Misinformation about Vaccines
08:07 - 15:47
- COVID vaccines don't prevent transmission, so the herd immunity argument is invalid.
- RFK Jr. spreads lies about the MMR vaccine causing autism, despite it being debunked as a fraud.
- Thimerisol, the preservative with traces of ethyl mercury, was removed from childhood vaccines in 2001.
- Children absorb more methylmercury naturally than they ever got ethylmercury in vaccines.
- RFK Jr. systematically misrepresents study conclusions and makes false claims about FDA and CDC.
- Vaccines undergo greater scrutiny than drugs and are extensively monitored for side effects.
- Kennedy's claim that Offit made $186 million with Merck is a complete lie.
- Offit's rotavirus vaccine has saved hundreds of lives every day and he is proud of his professional accomplishment.
- RFK Jr.'s lies about vaccines put children at risk and he is running for President of the United States.
Distrust of Institutions and Misrepresentation
15:27 - 22:48
- We need a CDC and FDA that we can trust.
- Elon Musk should not be dunking on vaccine experts in front of millions of people.
- Joe Rogan giving four hours to RFK Jr. is problematic because he makes things up.
- RFK Jr. told a false story about Jake Tapper censoring the truth about vaccines.
- Kennedy's claims about thimerazol and autism have been thoroughly debunked.
- Kennedy misrepresented his interaction with Jake Tapper in 2005.
- Podcast hosts like Jordan Peterson may not know the truth behind Kennedy's claims.
- There is some truth to the bad incentives in the pharmaceutical industry, but drug approval is a mixed story.
Mistrust of Institutions and Spreading Lies
22:25 - 26:29
- The drug approval process is often slow and frustrating, with drugs approved in Europe not being approved in the US.
- Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s traction comes from a pervasive mistrust of institutions and pandering to cynicism.
- Kennedy raises valid concerns about wealth inequality and US foreign policy, but lacks concern for facts.
- Platforming people without calibrating one's bullshit detector is irresponsible and contributes to distrust in science and public health organizations.
- Spreading lies and misinformation about racism does not help solve the real problems of racism and inequality.