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.
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1) Anna Merlan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/annamerlan
2) Anna Merlan on Bluesky: https://bsky.app/profile/annamerlan.bsky.social
3) Anna Merlan’s Vice News author page: https://www.vice.com/en/contributor/anna-merlan
4) Anna Merlan’s email address: anna(dot)merlan(a)vice(dot)com