Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Jul 18, 2023

Jonathan and Chris speak to Anna Merlan, a senior reporter with Motherboard and the author of the book Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power.

How has the anti-vaccine movement changed since the COVID-19 pandemic? Its influencers deny the “mainstream narrative” on vaccine safety, which makes them prone to embrace other conspiracy theories. And what happens when one of their leading figures makes a run for the American presidency?

(1:18) Today’s anti-vaccine influencers

(7:09) Malice versus stupidity

(8:20) The anti-vaxx media ecosystem

(10:46) Doctors becoming anti-vaccine

(12:23) RFK Jr. for the presidency

(20:20) Contradictions in the conspiracy world

(23:50) How do you responsibly interview an anti-vaxxer (or a cholesterol-denying doctor)?

(29:44) Debating vaccine safety

(39:41) Are all anti-vaxxers conspiritualists?

(46:02) How profitable is the anti-vaccine industry?

(48:48) How much opposition to vaccines is due to the needle?

(53:59) Reconciling Pharma skepticism and a pro-vaccine stance


* Theme music: “Fall of the Ocean Queen“ by Joseph Hackl.

 To contribute to The Body of Evidence, go to our Patreon page at:

Patrons get a bonus show on Patreon called “Digressions”! Check it out!



1) Anna Merlan on Twitter:

2) Anna Merlan on Bluesky:

3) Anna Merlan’s Vice News author page:

4) Anna Merlan’s email address: anna(dot)merlan(a)vice(dot)com