We go deep on the “science” of double masking, whether an economist can comment on COVID, how a Hopkins surgeon was cancelled by Facebook, medical + government conflicts of interest, the beauty of the Seuss books that were “disappeared” for racism and much more.
Here’s that Atlantic article by Emily Oster that we referenced. And here’s the WSJ article that got Dr. Marty Makary cancelled by Facebook’s “experts.”
Full Transcript Below
Dr. Z: ZDoggMD, Tha’ Notorious VP: Vinay Prasad. We are here to talk about… We’re gonna talk about double masking.
Dr. Prasad: Double masking.
Dr. Z: We’re gonna talk about an Atlantic article about children being the equivalent of a vaccinated grandma. We’re gonna talk about Marty Makary being censored by Facebook–
Dr. Prasad: Two types of misinformation.
Dr. Z: Two types of misinformation. We’re gonna talk about the curious case of Dr. Vivek Murthy and the Surgeon General’s office. And we’re gonna talk about “Dr. Seuss” being canceled.
Dr. Prasad: Okay, this is the goal.
Dr. Z: This is the goal.
Dr. Prasad: It’s been a long time. So we’ve got lots to catch up on.
Dr. Z: In the end we’re just gonna talk about, nerd stuff. But so dude, so double masking. So it seems like this has become a cultural touchstone. Like everybody is obsessed with this, well but if we have one mask, then two is better. If two is good then 17 is better. 23 masks… And then the sort of more conservative people are like… But this is insanity. We already said we’re never gonna… You guys are creeping this mask thing. Now you really are creeping it. You want us to wear more and more and more. And then the left says but the variants. and then everyone freaks out. You’ve written about this tell me.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah, the double masking it caught me off guard. I didn’t think that we’d be a year into the pandemic where the first time the CDC says, “Oh by the way, consider the double masking.” Because if you’re gonna say it you gotta say it in the first month or two. What accounts for this 12 month delay if you were going to say it? And I looked into the evidence. The evidence is, of course they did one of their mask studies based on a mannequin. They got some mannequin, they had it wear a mask. And they had it’s plastic mannequin mouth spray aerosols. And of course there’s gonna be some leakage. Then they tied a knot in the string on the ear lobe of the surgical mask. Or you put a cloth mask over a surgical mask that was a double masking. And both the knot at the ear. ‘Cause it kind of tightens the fit a little bit, or the the cloth surgical mask on top reduced the spray from the mannequin’s mouth. And I was like, “What the hell are we doing?”
Dr. Z: So this has absolutely… We have no idea if it has any real world–
Dr. Prasad: That’s what I’m saying
Dr. Z: Value at all. They say in research, mice lie and chimps exaggerate. Mannequins, where do you put a mannequins on that spectrum? It’s not even an experimental animal.
Dr. Prasad: I did my own end of one study. At least it was a human. I wore a double mask for a couple minutes, maybe about 30 minutes. And one was over my nose and the other was over my chin so they Kind of pushed each other. It’s true they pushed each other apart. But I don’t mean that to offer that as evidence. That’s a silly anecdote. But the point is that this is not real evidence about how real people are gonna use it. More over we’re year into this pandemic where there have been major places that we could have put some efforts into, but we didn’t. I’ll give you one example. If you work as the cook in the kitchen of a restaurant. While all these people are on Twitter are saying, support local businesses get take out. In this country and particularly in California. The data shows that one of the highest risk occupations for getting SARS-CoV -2–
Dr. Z: Is a line cook.
Dr. Prasad: Is a line cook. So if you work as a cook. One day, you have a fever. Can you afford to call in sick? And the answer is, there is no national survey, there is no infrastructure to provide paid sick leave for people who having fevers in the middle of a pandemic. We don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about resources to support these people. What do we talk about? We talk about double masking. We talk about the visible symbol. I almost just started swearing.
Dr. Z: You can.
Dr. Prasad: I guess I’m–
Dr. Z: I’m swearing internally right now.
Dr. Prasad: It’s a distraction. It’s a distraction from the things that actually might help providing resources to vulnerable people who may be more likely to spread or to have the virus. Instead of doing that, we focus on this visible symbol. We obsess about this visible symbol. How many Twitter selfies have I seen of somebody running outside for many miles with no one around wearing a mask? Many, many. Because it’s a visible symbol that tells you I’m a good person. But it’s not actually what we needed. Not what we needed then it’s not what we need now. And double masking I think it’s a joke. That they’re even talking about it.
Dr. Z: It’s a distraction. Like you said, from the fact that they all know that the actual things that were gonna help people which is helping the most vulnerable people, it doesn’t happen. Like you said, the line cooks. I can feel so good to be part of the Zoomocracy and sitting here and going, “I’m gonna order Chipotle.”
Dr. Prasad: Support, local–
Dr. Z: Support, local Chipotle. So what do you do? You get an Instagram, not Instagram. Instacart driver to go put himself at risk in a unventilated restaurant, where the line cook is already infected and has to come to work because he has no other option. His lying about the symptoms because his kids livelihood is on the line. And no we do nothing for that. We give PPP money to the big corporation, Chipotle. And then they may be continue torturing that line cook.
Dr. Prasad: Another high-risk occupation has been construction workers. Why is that’s a high risk? Because many people are getting their house remodeled. That’s a great thing to do when you got a lot of money. I saw a Wall Street Journal article about How homeschooling isn’t so bad. Just remodel the kid’s room for 70 grand. This was a real article. People don’t have 70 grand to remodel their kids’ room to make it more friendly to Zoom school. We have failed. We failed to provide resources to the most vulnerable communities that are hardest hit by SARS-CoV -2. And what do we do instead? We’re one year into a pandemic you have the audacity to provide some bullshit mannequin study telling me to double mask putting more personal responsibility out there. I honestly think that to some degree it’s a political tactic. If you’re failing as a politician, you’re failing as a leader, how do you distract away from your failure? You put more responsibility on people. It’s you who’s failed. You didn’t wear fucking your double mask. I was like, “Get the fuck outta here with this double mask bullshit.” All it is is an aerosol study. It tells you nothing about real-world use. Nothing about compliance. I find it disgraceful that they would have the audacity to even say that. Have a press conference to talk about this when they have not invested in what they really needed to do.
Dr. Z: And the worst part of it is, the same social justice people who are very loud about saying that they care about poor people are the ones who obsess about the masks and shame other people. And this is their thing, it’s their outward symbol of virtue signaling. Whereas what about that line cook? What about the kid who doesn’t have the remodeled house? Doesn’t even have wifi, doesn’t even have internet? But you have closed that kid’s school because you don’t feel safe. And the teacher’s union doesn’t feel safe. Even though children have like a neg… We’ll get into that.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah we’ll get into that–
Dr. Z: And where’s the anger for that. It’s not manifest–
Dr. Prasad: How many times I’ve been on the show to tell people I am a progressive. I believe that society can be better if we invest in the most vulnerable people. The people at the bottom of the wealth distribution. And it pains me to see my fellow progressives take their eye off that issue and be so distracted by a visible symbol, engaging in shaming, personal responsibility. Now we see it again, pictures of Miami beach. You know what? The worst thing you can do, shame these kids at Miami beach for being outside, doing what young people need to do. I mean, it’s literally a crying human need. You’re shaming them. What are you gonna do? Drive them into motel rooms. I mean it’s–
Dr. Z: Oh, it’s the worst. You see it on Twitter immediately. Oh, Miami beach declares state of emergency because kids show up to spend money in their community and be kids. And their chances of actually dying of COVID are remote. And I mean, come on dude, we’ve lost our minds. I keep telling this story about the couple of 20 year olds I saw on the plane. When I took a family vacation to Maui proudly. We wore our mask on the plane. We got tested, I’m fully vaccinated. My wife is fully vaccinated. We went to Maui it was joyous. We spent money there. I tipped 50% on every meal because I was filled with joy. And I felt like here’s someone who’s working and is… And they would say, “Well, no, actually that’s not okay. And you can’t do that. And also you’re a bad parent for taking your unvaccinated children on a plane, which is obviously a festering cesspool of disease.” Until you look at the data and realize it has better ventilation than the schools.
Dr. Prasad: Which they themselves are probably pretty safe to open.
Dr. Z: Right exactly.
Dr. Prasad: And that’s a perfect segue to Emily Oster. Because had you written that in “The Atlantic”, you’d find yourself getting a mob reaction on Twitter. Now this Twitter mob, they’ve lost touch with what people are doing my friend. I walk around San Francisco we had outdoor dining open the lines for outdoor dining. Like you’ve never seen–
Dr. Z: Round the block.
Dr. Prasad: People are tired. They’re exhausted. They want to get some sense of normalcy. Enter Emily Oster she’s an economist at Brown. She’s a thoughtful person. She is somebody who’s written, I think two best-selling books about I don’t know “What to Expect When you’re Expecting” and “Childcare”. Full disclosure I haven’t read the books but I have some sense of her arguments. I’ve seen them here or there. She’s an economist looks at data and tries to give people evidence-based recommendations. And what she did here was she wrote an article that analyzed whether or not by this summer, it would be reasonable for somebody, two vaccinated adults and their unvaccinated kids to go on vacation. And that was the theme of her article. And her thought was that by the summertime any adult in this country who wants a vaccine will have gotten a vaccine. We have 30 million document SARS-CoV -2 infections. And at least two times, three times, four times as many undocumented infections. Plus the 75 million people already vaccinated, which is gonna go up. So we might be in a pretty good place by summer. In terms of just the raw number of people who have some immunity against this virus. And in that situation, she acknowledges the fact that kids if they did get the virus they have a very low risk of bad outcomes. Something on the order of one 10 to the power of six or seven. One in a hundred thousand one in a million kind of out bad outcomes from a number of studies. And she says it’s entirely reasonable to go on vacation. And she used an analogy. That analogy got her into a lot of trouble. Which was that, “Your unvaccinated child is like your vaccinated, grandparent.” They’re both at very low risk of death. And you can think about them similarly. And like all analogies, it’s imperfect. Like all metaphors, it’s not exactly right. But you know it’s not exactly wrong either. And the biggest thing that people said in response to her, what they call her, “Dangerous misinformation.” That’s what people say when they mean to say, “I disagree with this perspective.” They say dangerous misinformation.
Dr. Z: That’s right.
Dr. Prasad: The part they said is that, “We don’t know if an unvaccinated child might spread the virus more than a vaccinated adult.” And the answer is, I guess no one knows for sure the different propensity to spread in these two groups. And it’s also contingent. I think people on the internet may forget, it’s contingent on the baseline rate of SARS-CoV -2 in the population. The baseline spread rate, the number of cases per a hundred thousand per day diagnosed. That’s one of the factors. Plus the probability that child will acquire the virus, probably the child will spread the virus versus probably the vaccinated person acquires the virus or asymptomatic PCR carriage and the probably they spread. And the answer is, nobody knows these numbers exactly with precision. I’ve done a lot of work trying to estimate these, to the closest 10 to the power of. For some of these articles I’ve been writing. No one can say she’s wrong at the same time you can’t say for sure, she’s right. But I think it’s a reasonable perspective to have it’s a reasonable metaphor to argue. but she was destroyed online.
Dr. Z: So it’s what David Katz would call the marriage of science and sense.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah, that’s a nice way to put it–
Dr. Z: She’s done some numbers. Okay maybe they’re not perfect. And then she says, “Well, here’s the sense of it. These kids are generally low risk. By the summer, all this other stuff will have happened.” And I remember I’ve already done this. So I’ve done the calculation for the most important people in the universe to me. My family.
Dr. Prasad: Your family.
Dr. Z: And I would die for my family. So I don’t care about me. I’m thinking, okay, what about wife? What about kids? How is it gonna be? Did the math. Did the sense. Said no, this is the thing. And what happened? We had this tremendous bonding experience that had been pent up for well over a year. We got to give economic support to an Island that has been suffering. I mean, the place was pretty deserted but starting to open up. And we got vitamin D, which probably protected us more. From COVID than hiding in our house like fearful mice that have been poisoned by the social contagion of the media. Now I sound like one of these altDr. Prasad:right lunatics but I think sometimes I wonder.
Dr. Prasad: Sometimes I wonder. I think that Twitter is a place of lunacy. I mean, it’s a place of a certain point of view, a very exaggerated point of view that prioritizes some fears and not other fears. And those fears they prioritize are the fears of theoretical SARS-CoV -2 spread. The fears they don’t prioritize are people’s mental health, mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, schools. All these other sort of important needs. They simply just have a blind spot to. In the case of Emily Oster. Let me tell you what happened. She tweeted this. The headline said something like, “Your unvaccinated child is like a vaccinated grandma.” And for the reasons I mentioned. People leapt on that saying we don’t know that for sure. They actually went further. They said it was false. I would argue that they don’t know that it’s false for sure. It’s actually contingent on baseline rates. So under some circumstances it might be quite accurate. Anyway, it’s all beside the point. They piled on her. I mean, hundreds and hundreds of nasty… And most of it is nameless faceless, wouldn’t call it… But a few were real professors saying, I would say, inappropriate things. And a huge theme of it was, “Who the fuck is Emily Oster? A economist to tell us about trade-offs.” And I’ll tell you what, here’s a little secret economists they happen to know something about trade-offs–
Dr. Z: In fact that’s what they do.
Dr. Prasad: That’s what they do.
Dr. Z: I’m gonna make an interesting—I’m making an interesting parallel here. So there’s this guy Geert Vanden Bossche who’s a Dutch guy I think. He’s a vaccine scientist by self description, trained in veterinary medicine, but then got a PhD in virology, something along those lines. And he came out on video saying we need to halt our mass vaccination campaigns because we shouldn’t be giving prophylactic preventative vaccines during a raging pandemic. Because all we’re gonna do is basically select for vaccine escape variance, by putting selective pressure. And he went into the weeds on this. Talking about well but there’s these natural killer cell responses that we ought to be focusing on. He doesn’t say how. And of course he’s developing a natural killer cell vaccine so there’s a little conflict there. But so here’s an interesting case where, you can brand that as dangerous misinformation Like I could come out and do a video and say, “This guy’s dangerous he’s gonna kill people.” That’s not what I did. I said, so here’s this guy in this what he’s saying. Let’s look at his arguments.
Dr. Prasad: Right, you took him to task.
Dr. Z: Here’s what’s going on. This is what I think. This is based on the science that I understand. These are the things he’s missing. By the way here are his credentials. So I didn’t say it was bad that he’s a veterinarian by training. In fact, veterinarians know a little something about vaccines, too.
Dr. Prasad: Sure.
Dr. Z: You don’t like sit there and harsh on his credentials. I made a joke about his accent and I’m like, well the German accent no one wants to believe it. People convinced me that it was in fact a Dutch accent. And I was like now you’re the bad guy aren’t you? Because you’re noticing those differences, aren’t you? But the point being the way you deal with that is you then come out and say, “Oh, I disagree scientifically. Here’s the reasons. And this is why I think he’s totally wrong. And his arguments are not sane in this way.” But what they did to Emily is they said–
Dr. Prasad: She lacks the credential to make the argument.
Dr. Z: She can’t make the argument–
Dr. Prasad: She can’t make the argument.
Dr. Z: Forget about the argument. She lacks the credentials.
Dr. Prasad: She lacks the credentials. That’s what they said. And despite the fact that, I don’t know if they’re aware of the fact, she’s written two best-selling books, at the intersection of healthcare decisions and risk. That’s literally what she done. She’s the expert in that space. The second thing I would say is, I think there is… We have to be honest and maybe I’ve been guilty of this in the past. There’s a little bit of a bias against economists. It’s a dismal science. There is a bean counters. They don’t care about human emotions and human needs and desires. I think that’s how some of us perceive economics to be. I have since cured myself of that delusion by learning more about what they do and realizing that it is important. Like all these things are important. Epidemiology is important. Psychology is important. History is important. Economics important. I would never say she ought to not comment on this space because she is not an epidemiologist. She has every right to comment. And if you disagree with what she says, you can rebut her freely. But I object to the credentialism. The reverse credentialism is where somebody says which is what you’re avoiding. What you’re talking about is that somebody says he he is an immunologist air go he’s right? So that’s not true either. You can have all the credentials in the world but you also could be wrong. And you may have a different credential and you might be right. We have to debate the arguments on the face of the argument.
Dr. Z: That’s right. And it’s actually interesting because they were pulling the credentialism on me. So whenever I do a video about something like the Geert Vanden Bossche thing work. A large segment of the population wants to believe this guy is right because they’re tired of the pandemic. They’re afraid of vaccines. They don’t trust the government. They don’t trust big pharma. Look, I don’t trust the government or big pharma either. But I also have to science the crap out of stuff and go, Oh no, but this is actually a time when you do because it all kind of came together.
Dr. Prasad: All I’ve done is I when… In the cancer drug space, I’ve been relentlessly critical against the pharmaceutical industry. I read the data from Pfizer Moderna I’m sold.
Dr. Z: They nailed it.
Dr. Prasad: They nailed it.
Dr. Z: Now AstraZeneca is another subject, isn’t it? I Haven’t dug into that data but man–
Dr. Prasad: I haven’t dug too deep–
Dr. Z: They’re like the bastard stepchild. It’s like poor AstraZeneca. It’s like everybody else’s trials are pretty well done and it’s very hard to pick them apart. Then you look at AstraZeneca, it’s wait you have the dose and the second part. And then wait, what’s going on now where they’re saying, we’re not really thinking you have updated information. What does that even mean? When an independent review board says something like that. That’s unprecedented publicly. So something’s happening that needs to be dug into. But it doesn’t mean that the vaccine doesn’t work. It means that we better get the data understood. So on YouTube the thing gets a ton of views. 70% of the thumbs are down for me. And all the comments are like, “Why would I listen to a bald clown about vaccines?” Or the best is “I Googled ZDoggMD, what kind of name is that?” And this is what it says. And so I hadn’t Googled myself in like three years. So I Googled myself and low and behold it pops up a picture of me pulled from Wikipedia which I didn’t realize it’s full of errors. It says American comedian.
Dr. Prasad: You finally made it finally made it.
Dr. Z: I finally made it. I felt flushed with dopamine.
Dr. Prasad: My dream was to do that–
Dr. Z: My dream was to be a comedian. But yeah why would I listen to a comedian–
Dr. Prasad: UCS have trained physician, Stanford residency–
Dr. Z: Doesn’t matter.
Dr. Z: So the credentialism cuts all of it different ways.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah I mean, I think it’s so funny. I made a joke about it. And I know some people were like all good jokes somebody didn’t find it funny. They’re all lemon faced about on ugh I don’t like the joke. It always, Ugh I don’t care for–
Dr. Z: Ugh
Dr. Prasad: I don’t care for that joke. It’s always somebody.
Dr. Z: That’s what their voice sounds like In my head. when I read their tweets and stuff. “It appear you are a little tone deaf there, ZDogg.”
Dr. Prasad: The joke was something like, the same person who’s gonna fault Emily Oster and say, “Who is she to be commenting about what we ought to do after vaccination?” They’re really happy to tweet like some random tech worker who writes a medium post–
Dr. Z: Confirmation bias.
Dr. Prasad: About how we can get to COVID zero in the next four weeks. I’m like, you’re tweeting, just bullshit. This is bullshit by somebody with no credentials. And not only the argument is lacking the credentials are lacking. You’re happy to retweet that and amplify that. But Emily Oster professor at Brown, she doesn’t have what you need. Okay fine sure. Total hypocrisy. They literally are saying, if you agree with me you can be anybody on the street. But if you disagree with me–
Dr. Z: You have to be a PhD MD, double boarded in wokeness. It’s absolutely true.
Dr. Prasad: It’s ridiculous. And I don’t know people don’t see this that they’re complicitous but anyway.
Dr. Z: Well and speaking of a colorless off-color jokes I have one for you. Do you understand why we know the pandemic is ending. Because the mass shootings have started. It’s like we’re opening up you know the crazy is back when the mass shooting start and they’ve started. And that is the truth is they went away for a good bit of the pandemic. It was one of the silver linings of this. Makes you wonder, you could probably get to the bottom of mass shootings apart from the fact that it’s usually crazy individuals who’ve been influenced by God knows what. By understanding what the pandemic did that sucked it away. But that’s another discussion.
Dr. Prasad: I feel like this is… Another tragedy the other day. And I think many of us have been weary from these mass shootings. Where it’s tough to hear. And one wonders what it will take for this country to actually do something about it. There’s that Onion article a few years ago. It says there’s nothing we can do about this says only country on earth where this keeps happening.
Dr. Z: It’s kinda like healthcare too. We’re all going bankrupt from healthcare. says only country… And we don’t know what to about it–
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. The only country where it’s spending 20% of GDP on healthcare.
Dr. Z: Exactly. Exactly. We’re exceptional.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah.
Dr. Z: Vinay we’re America. So that brings me… Speaking of cancellations. And —
Dr. Prasad: Okay, that’s a good segue. To Marty–
Dr. Z: When you disagree with someone, Marty Makary, good friend. Friend of the show, been on the show.
Dr. Prasad: You mean misinformation spreading Marty Makary.
Dr. Z: Just by saying that, this video is now demonetized.
Dr. Prasad: Probably.
Dr. Z: Probably.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah.
Dr. Z: Yeah Probably. So he wrote a piece that he actually talked about on my show. In the Wall Street fucking Journal. Okay. That’s a minor journal. Nobody really has heard of it. It’s not mainstream media at all. And he says something to the effect of, he anticipates that we will have some vestige of herd immunity in the US by the end of April. And the reason being the combination of vaccines, the underestimates of how many people have actually been exposed to real wild type of coronavirus. And so generating a kind of immunity that will allow us to open up. And he was making other arguments too. But yeah.
Dr. Prasad: By April 30th, we will have herd immunity. That’s Marty Makary’s position. and we can relax restrictions. And I guess I would say that, it immediately got pushed back. There are a lot of people who feel like that claim is either not fully supported or might not materialize. We don’t know. We’ll see April 30 is coming. We will find out the answer.
Dr. Z: We’re gonna know the answer.
Dr. Prasad: We’re gonna know the answer. But, I think it was a reasonable way to argue. And actually he drew upon, a CDC estimate in calculating his estimate. Now that estimate has been criticized sure. But it is a CDC estimate. We have to point out. So there are some people who favor that estimate or at least at one point in time, they favored the estimate. So what happened to Marty? My understanding is that if you try to share that article Wall Street Journal opinion article by Marty professor Johns Hopkins university.
Dr. Z: It’s an op-ed.
Dr. Prasad: It’s an op-ed.
Dr. Z: And he’s got the credentials.
Dr. Prasad: He’s got the credentials. And he is a professor of policy, that’s the other thing I want to point out. Somebody says he’s a surgeon, he’s a surgical oncologist. This is just the ad hominem attack. Marty is somebody who has spent… He’s written a book about healthcare–
Dr. Z: A couple.
Dr. Prasad: A couple of book–
Dr. Z: And by the way. He’s not an American comedian.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah no.
Dr. Z: So there’s something I have–
Dr. Prasad: That Marty doesn’t have.
Dr. Z: So they’re attacking his credentials for not… They’re forgetting that he’s a policy professor.
Dr. Prasad: That doesn’t make him right or wrong. It just means that he… I don’t know what it means to me.
Dr. Z: It means that if he’s writing an op-ed. You would go, “Well here’s an educated guy who studies this stuff.” Yeah, exactly.
Dr. Prasad: This is what I got thought was very interesting. If you post it on Facebook. It would actually say that independent fact checkers have found this to be misleading. Something to that effect, independent factors have found Marty to be misleading. Not only that Facebook dethrottles those posts. They’re less likely to be seen by other people. They’re literally using their algorithms to drive Marty’s view into the dirt.
Dr. Z: Yes.
Dr. Prasad: Okay. So they are in fact engaged in what I would say is censoring.
Dr. Z: Censorship.
Dr. Prasad: Now there’s some people on Twitter… Or some people who say, well, it’s not censoring you can still read it. I’m sorry. If you use the brute force power of the platform to extinguish or diminute the view beyond the actions of the participants on the platform you are putting your hand on the scale you’re engaged in some act of censorship. That’s what it is.
Dr. Z: It’s what they call on YouTube a shadow ban. By demonetizing a video. And I talked with Dave Rubin about this on his show and Dr. Drew who got demonetized and all that and so on. By demonetizing a video, the algorithm says I’m not serving this video anymore. By banning it by tagging it with a misinformation label and, “Oh, click here to find the truth.”
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. You are effectively banning that from people seeing it. So you are censoring that video period. End of story.
Dr. Prasad: It’s like saying that in some totalitarian regime or the books are being burned in a pile, it’s not censoring ’cause there’s still a couple of copies out there. There’s still couple copies out there.
Dr. Z: You can still get a Gutenberg press.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. You can still print it yourself–
Dr. Z: Print it yourself from first principle–
Dr. Prasad: And read in your basement with a light and not let anyone see it.
Dr. Z: Have you heard of a oral tradition?
Dr. Prasad: It’s not censored yet, is it?
Dr. Z: It’s not censored.
Dr. Prasad: It’s oral fiction.
Dr. Z: Rip your voice cords out. If I could I would do it. No, no. It’s really true. So then you dug into this.
Dr. Prasad: Okay, I dug into it. I’m like–
Dr. Z: This blew my mind, by the way, when I read your piece.
Dr. Prasad: So first of all, I complained that they’re censoring it. This is not the first time there’s been multiple instances. So Carl Hennigan’s article got dinged. John Unide had a YouTube video on early pandemic it got ripped off YouTube.
Dr. Z: Ripped off, yeah.
Dr. Prasad: So then I complained that they ought not do this to professors. That if you’re a professor and you’re arguing in a national forum, like the Wall Street Journal they have their own fact checking, their own processes. That argument has to be allowed to play itself out. Let the public decide. Let people decide. If Marty wins the battle of ideas, let him win, but he might lose as well, sure. So I complained about that. And then some people said, Well, that I was wrong. Said you know what, “I was the fact checker,” said one person. “I was the fact checker. And they’re problems with this article. It’s not meritorious.” And then I said wait, “You’re the fact checker for Facebook. You’re the fact checker.” I was like, “Have you been to Facebook? Cause it’s sea of bullshit.” You’re not doing your job.
Dr. Z: Are you kidding me?
Dr. Prasad: Are you kidding me? Facebook is an ocean–
Dr. Z: Cesspool itself–
Dr. Prasad: Cesspool of nonsense–
Dr. Z: Garbage.
Dr. Prasad: And in the cesspool of nonsense they found Marty’s article. Boom, you’re done Marty. I was like, what is this?
Dr. Z: You know why? Because he’s Egyptian. If I were Marty, I would have played the race card.
Dr. Prasad: You could have played it.
Dr. Z: And then Facebook would have had to back down because all their woke employees would be like, “But wait, He was what? Egyptian. No, we can’t do that.” I’m telling you, dude, all this anti-vaccs garbage on there. All this other swills supplements and-
Dr. Prasad: There business model is lies. I mean, that’s the whole thing–
Dr. Z: Predicated on spreading misinformation.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. I mean the whole thing is just like, what… We can belabor this to death. But the point is Facebook full of nonsense. For many many years. Of all the things on Facebook, there are only a few things that have been labeled misinformation. One is Marty’s professor. It’s really interesting. Is Marty the most egregious things said on Facebook? I would argue, no. I would argue, no. So I was interested. So this person said I’m the fact checker for Facebook. I was like, Oh it’s Okay–
Dr. Z: Who are you?
Dr. Prasad: So it turns out Facebook has contracted an independent site. And I’m blanking on the website name right now. But it’s something like health reviews, feedback something, something, something. And that independent site, they choose stories that they say are “Gaining a lot of traction”. They’re kind of vague about how they’re picking. Because the first thing about fact checking is like which articles do you fact check? That’s a potential source of bias. If you just fact check things that you don’t like. I can fact check other view… I can extinguish views I don’t like, ’cause I’m selectively fact-checking. So they don’t talk about how they pick the articles. Once they pick the articles, they don’t talk about how they solicit the reviewers, but they solicited between two and four reviewers per article. And those reviewers are often, people who are in the field. I don’t dispute that. They’re fine. I started digging a little bit more and I noticed that this website has been fact-checking pre COVID and post COVID. Pre COVID when they fact check they’re picking people who I believe off the top of my head. Like 50% of them had a Twitter account. They averaged about 1000 followers or something like that, or a few thousand followers. In other words, sort of modest Twitter presence. Post COVID, the fact checkers are 80% on Twitter and they’re averaging like 42,000 followers, media, and 10,000 followers. It’s unusual that so many experts at epidemiology–
Dr. Z: Are Twitter celebrities.
Dr. Prasad: Are Twitter celebrities. And then I picked random faculty members at Hopkins epidemiology department. And I said, how many are on Twitter? And of course it’s like, I don’t, I forget 30%, 40%. And they have very little followers. And then I started looking at it more. And as you read these fact-checkers. They’re like, Oh Marty’s article was immediately detected by somebody on Twitter. Who said, “This is a shitty article.” And someone else says it’s a shitty article. And then in one case, on fact checking. The fact-checker had already written a thread about why the article is problematic.
Dr. Z: Oh, wow.
Dr. Prasad: Let me try to articulate why this is really problematic. Whatever view you want, ZDogg. If you want the view that we’re gonna be herd immunity April 30th and we should relax restrictions now. Or the opposite that we may not have herd immunity until I don’t know 2022 and we should ramp up restrictions. I can look on Twitter and I can find you three people with domain expertise who hold that view. Somewhere in this world. I can find you three people. So if I read the article with my own biases and I either like removing restrictions or I don’t like it. I can give you three people that will censor it either direction. This is my–
Dr. Z: Easily, easily, easily. Confirmation, cherry picking easy to do.
Dr. Prasad: And so what’s Facebook has sanctioned is a kangaroo court I call it. Because they can extinguish any viewpoint that you don’t like. Let’s just take an example, totally separate from COVID. Mammography, there are at least 100 scientists who think women between the ages of 40 and 50. It is not very sensible to recommend mammography that the the net balance is detrimental. There’s 1,000 scientists who think that you ought to do it and maybe do it yearly. And the USPSTF comes out in the middle somewhere in between. Imagine if we were not allowed to have discourse about this. I wanna fight this war of ideas have a dialogue. But imagine if we allowed Facebook to censor the mammography views they don’t like. They can easily find somebody who works at this website can pick three people who feel one way or the other. And they can extinguish the other view. And so I guess I would say that I think this is a huge–
Dr. Z: That’s terrifying. Let’s just call it what it is. I mean, that’s not how science is done. And the thing is… So there’s a thing called false equivalence. Where two views suddenly are given equal status because they’re the one guy’s loud. So like, again, we’ll go back to this Vanden Bossche guy who was saying, “Don’t vaccinate. Stop the campaigns now. This is gonna kill humanity.”
Dr. Prasad: That is what he says.
Dr. Z: Basically what he’s saying. And–
Dr. Prasad: I hadn’t even heard of him.
Dr. Z: Oh nobody had. Nobody had probably until I started talking that’s not true. I would get a million emails from people saying can you debunk this guy? Because my grandma believes. And I said, okay, well, so let’s hear his arguments. And I’m like, Oh, they’re cogently put. I think they’re incorrect. Let me debunk it. Now, he now has a platform through video. And he got an interview with some guy. And he can reach as many people as a world-class vaccine scientist can. And the public then is gonna cherry pick the opinion that feels the most correct to them and now put scientific weight behind it. So how do you counter that? Facebook says, “Well now what we’re gonna do. Is we’re gonna put ZDogg’s video as the misinformation counter to that video.” And I’m deeply uncomfortable, I say. Because again it gets down this rabbit hole, “Based on what?”
Dr. Prasad: You can get more thumbs down if they keep adding those. ‘Cause they’re dragging his followers–
Dr. Z: That’s why. But you know what?
Dr. Prasad: I see your point.
Dr. Z: But you know what you’re right?
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. You’re right–
Dr. Z: It didn’t even occur to me because what every comment on my videos on Facebook–
Dr. Prasad: How they find your video–
Dr. Z: Filthy rubbish of like, “This guy is a evil bald doctor evil.” And I’m like, “When did my fans get so mad at me?” And then it was not my fans. “Cause you look at who they are is Joe Blow from Duluth who has no medical background. And so that’s where they’re coming in.
Dr. Prasad: But I think… I mean, you’re raising a broad issue. Which is, and we saw this with pizza gate in the capital riots. There is the possibility that there is information disseminating on these platforms that truly puts, I don’t know, real people in the real world at risk. So I don’t want to say that’s not true. And I have some ideas on how you can kind of tackle that. There’s a separate issue. Which is that there’s also the truth that everything in medicine is a matter of life or death. By definition. And there’s also the truth in medicine that there’s a lot of stuff that is genuinely live debates. And so I’m not ready to argue for the proposition that any idea on Facebook should be untouched. Because I don’t know if I we can debate that. That’s a broader conversation. What I’m willing to say is that when a national media outlet like the Wall Street Journal publishes a Johns Hopkins professors view. You need a process that is transparent, impartial, has an appeal process, is fair. We have an article we’ve submitted to some journals to try to sort of craft. What would this process might look like? And even if you believe that there should be censoring here which I’m not sure I believe in. There needs to be some process where Marty can have an appeal. Marty has no appeal. They’re needs to be some process where the reviewers are not just people on Twitter who have already said, “I don’t want restrictions to go away. I don’t want restrictions to go away. Oh, you’re the perfect person to review Marty.” Get outta here. They’re picking you because they know you’re not gonna like Marty’s view.
Dr. Z: It’s like if I did a video with Monica Gandhi and she says, “Variants shmariants.” The variants are not the reason to stop this vaccination process and opening up because of the X, Y and Z. And then they go, well, we need, okay… People are tagging this as misinformation who disagree. Let’s go to Twitter. Let’s find somebody, Angela Rasmussen, Eric Ding they’re gonna disagree strongly–
Dr. Prasad: They know that in advance.
Dr. Z: They know it in advance because they’ve already tweeted that they hate this idea and that they think it’s evil. Angela Rasmussen has directly personally attacked Monica Gandhi on Twitter.
Dr. Prasad: Something a little harsh about how she takes care–
Dr. Z: A character and we’ll leave it at that.
Dr. Prasad: A little harsh.
Dr. Z: So now and I will make this analogy because I want to. Like in the Salem witch trials. You have a power structure, you have the authorities in the power structure who are the popular people in the power structure in the tribe whatever. Are now saying, well we deem you a heretic. And they can say, this is now heretical non correct. The term for heresy now is “misinformation”. This is misinformation. Well, okay. I can’t appeal except to the court of public opinion because I have a platform. But if I didn’t have the platform, I have no appeal process at all. Like you said.
Dr. Prasad: You make the Salem witch trials analogy. I think that the analogy is interesting in a couple of ways. One, sometimes what happens here is that there is a preexisting–
Dr. Z: Preexisting grudge.
Dr. Prasad: There is a preexisting grudge. They didn’t like that… They didn’t like how Monica spoke to them five years ago. They didn’t like that Marty didn’t publish their paper in some journal five years ago. We don’t know that. I mean, I don’t know what backstory there may be. And then suddenly they’re in a position of power. They control it. Marty, Is Marty the.. Evildoer Marty? Or is he a potential visionary? And that temptation to air your old grievance. I experienced it too because… It’s funny I have a post about one issue and there’s always one perseverating person in the comments. Who’s like, “Five years ago. VP said he’s against whole genome sequencing.” I’m like “That’s not the topic.” And I was like, “By the way I was right then. I’m right now.” Two different–
Dr. Z: “Do you remember that time you talked about abortion?”
Dr. Prasad: I’m like, that’s one thing for you–
Dr. Z: We’re talking about masks.
Dr. Prasad: They always bring it up. I don’t know. Sometimes I forget about these things, but… I gotta say this. I can’t imagine like caring about no offense, I like you. We’re friends. But I can’t imagine caring about you so much that I remember… Like I dislike you. ‘Cause that’s one thing. I dislike you. And I’m keeping track of what you said five years ago on unrelated issues. And then I’m gonna bring that back in the future and talk to you about it. I have a life. I got shit to do dude. I don’t got time to keep track of you.
Dr. Z: It tells you more about that person than it does about the target of the hate.
Dr. Prasad: I can’t imagine… Is there anyone you keep track of in your life that you’re like–
Dr. Z: No.
Dr. Prasad: No.
Dr. Z: Nobody–
Dr. Prasad: I’m like I can’t even keep track of my own shit.
Dr. Z: I know. Believe me I know when I feel like I’ve been wrong. So it’s like I have plenty of people that I’m like, “Yeah this guy was a dick.” It’s not like, if next month we suddenly have an interaction on Twitter that’s positive. I don’t go. “I’m not gonna continue this because you were a dick.”
Dr. Prasad: In the past.
Dr. Z: In the past.
Dr. Prasad: You might change how you think about it.
Dr. Z: Exactly. And that’s happened to me so many times because–
Dr. Prasad: Can I just say this–
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Dr. Prasad: This is a psychological trait actually. Which I think is important. And I don’t know if you were brought up this way. But the trade is that, you can’t take disagreements so much to heart. You really can’t. It’s gonna poison your ability to have relationships with people. If you’re the kind of person who they look at some ZDogg video from four years ago, where you talked about your personal experience with how you felt during–
Dr. Z: Right.
Dr. Prasad: Right.
Dr. Z: Right.
Dr. Prasad: And they’re bringing that up to say that you’re not a credible source. That’s a pathology in that person. And it’s not a good way to be in the world. It’s gonna hurt them in their own pursuits. I think it’s maladaptive.
Dr. Z: It’s suffering for them and it’s suffering for those around them. That’s why all the ancient religions teach forgiveness. There’s a–
Dr. Prasad: We don’t have that anymore. Apparently if you tweeted something 10 years ago when you were an adolescent.. Your job can be taken away from you. I mean, we have to have some… There’s a statute of limitations in criminal law. It has to be some statute of limitations on what teenagers… I mean, I don’t know what to say.
Dr. Z: No, you’re with it.
Dr. Prasad: I don’t know. Dude, it’s it’s really bad.
Dr. Z: I will say right now. I will say right now publicly. The shit I did and videotaped and talk of like and shit just get a rise out of people in college when I was at Berkeley is abominable. I mean it was a childish person whose frontal lobe isn’t developed. Who’s trying to get a rise by provoking people. I mean, I would walk around with my pants down with my underwear, just like walk around campus like that. Just to get a rise out of people–
Dr. Prasad: By that you mean entertain them. Let them have a little laugh.
Dr. Z: A little bit of that. But then also just trying to provoke people. That was part of my oppositional defiant disorder. And now that would be considered basically rape. I mean, that’s how it’s progressed. It’s violence. And the thing is if you took that me and put me now. First of all, it would be inexcusable because I’m an adult who knows better. Yes. But to judge the adult by the child is it’s almost like retroactively abusing the child. You’re saying you can’t be you, you can’t be growing. You can’t be part of a growth hierarchy work. You’re gonna be better than you were.
Dr. Prasad: Yes. And it also ignores the fact that on some of these live cultural issues. I think people forget how quickly the culture has shifted. And 10 years ago a joke that would be on the “Tonight’s Show”. In a prime time audience and not a single person would think twice about is a joke that is so offensive. And that’s a good thing that our culture has evolved. But it’s also a recognition that everyone in the past is… We’re gonna have to talk about Dr. Seuss. ‘Cause this is another story. The thing you cannot judge the past by current morality. Similarly, if you want to do that, I promise you right now the future a thousand years from now. They will look at us all as horrible people. I’ll give you one example.
Dr. Z: Oh yeah.
Dr. Prasad: Today there is some child who’s going hungry in this world. You are not doing everything within your power to help that child have food. In a future morality that may be viewed as an unconscionable act–
Dr. Z: Slavery.
Dr. Prasad: It may be viewed as the worst thing imaginable. Why? Did ZDogg? But it’s the way we are right now. There are other things. I can’t even imagine where morality will evolve too. That’s good that morality will evolve in ways I can’t imagine. But it’s also a recognition that you cannot blame… You cannot hold future morality standards to people in the past. Now let me talk about Seuss.
Dr. Z: Absolutely. And before you get to Seuss. I’ll say this in that reference frame. The last movie of the old era that could never be made today that has that kind of joke morality is “Tropic Thunder”.
Dr. Prasad: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen… But he did blackface.
Dr. Z: He did blackface. They used the word “retard,” like “never go full retard.” Even just saying that word now will get me canceled. But that was part of the movie. It was baked into the movie–
Dr. Prasad: And What year was that? It was like–
Dr. Z: This was like–
Dr. Prasad: 2004.
Dr. Z: Yeah. Something like that. I mean in the aughts somewhere. And it was a hilarious movie. And now you can watch it with a little bit of discomfort but you still laugh really hard. But the thing is you couldn’t make a movie like that anymore. And like you said, some of that is the positive progression of society to go. “You know what that word.” Which by the way I interviewed a PhD a medical ethicist at Stanford whose son has autism. And she taught me why that word is so hurtful to people with kids with developmental disabilities. And so we can wake up and go, “Oh yeah. You know what? I don’t need to use that word to be funny.” But to judge Ben Stiller or, Michael, what was it? It was Robert Downey Jr. For that movie would be insanity. Because in its time that was again the morality of the time.
Dr. Prasad: No, I guess all those things can be true. Like that word has been hurtful to people. We shouldn’t use it. And Robert Downey Jr. should be allowed to continue to have gainful employment.
Dr. Z: Yeah, exactly. We don’t cancel. I’m like John Wayne posthumously.
Dr. Prasad: Like he should be allowed to earn a living.
Dr. Z: Exactly, now speaking of posthumous cancellations Theodore Geisel.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah, I guess, I don’t know, six books are no longer being printed. And my understanding is that eBay has suspended sales. You can’t even sell it on the secondhand market in eBay.
Dr. Z: Is that really true?
Dr. Prasad: That’s what I was reading, yeah. Not that I’ve tried to acquire it–
Dr. Z: And so just pile a bunch of books and burn them. Wear a swastika. And by the way the minute you start making Nazi analogies you’ve already lost
Dr. Prasad: And I haven’t read all of the six. But two when I was a kid people read to me and then I had read. And maybe I’ll talk for a minute about what those books about. One was “Mulberry Street”. And then the next is “McElligot’s Pool”. And Mulberry street is written in 1937. And it tells a story of this kid named Marco. And Marco says… It opens with Marco speaking to his father and his father was a stern man. He’s a man of like how parents were in 1937. That kind of generation. And he says, “Marco, go out there see what you see. Tell me what you see keep your eyelids open when you go out there today.” There’s some line in there says like “Don’t turn minnows into whales.” Don’t exaggerate. Just tell me what you see and keep your eye out. But don’t confabulate, don’t embellish. Marco goes out and he says… He sees a horse in a wagon on Mulberry street and he says wait a second, Horse and a wagon on Mulberry Street. That’s so ordinary. Anyone can tell that tale. And he Tom or Jill or Jack or Jane can tell the tale of a horse and wagon on Mulberry street. And he’s like, it’s gotta be more sexy, exciting. So instead of a horse lets say it is a zebra. Zebra and a wagon on Mulberry street. And he’s like, yeah. And you can already see this is how children are in the world. Their minds are creative in a way that we can’t really capture as adults where our minds, we come closed in so many ways. So then he starts thinking in zebra. He says no, zebra is not good enough. Reindeer, but a reindeer’s so big putting a little wagon no. It should be reindeer and a chariot. And instead of chariot it should be a sleigh that’s more fitting. And its like instead of a reindeer it should be an elephant. And on top of the elephant is a Raja from India. Okay. And the elephant is blue. And then it should be like a the entire band being pulled by it. So there’s like music on Mulberry street. And then there’s a mayor and then there’s this. And then there’s like two giraffes. And there’s like, it’s like this fantastical tale. And he thinks about all these things he could be seeing on Mulberry street. And then it gets to the end and he’s like skipping up the stairs to see his father. And his father says, “Well, what did you see? What did you see on Mulberry street? Did you see anything exciting? Anything to make your heart beat?” And then Marco is like stammering he doesn’t know what to say. And then he suddenly turns red as a beet. And he says, I just saw a horse and wagon on Mulberry Street. So I like, it’s just the story about like–
Dr. Z: So beautiful, yeah.
Dr. Prasad: The temptation to confabulate was there but he looks his father in the eye and he didn’t do it. And his father was teaching him something. A certain thing about values and certain thing about truth and fiction and also imagination. So those are the themes of the book. Fast forward, ’47. ’47 is “McElligot’s Pool”. Another of the book that got pulled. It’s the same character, Marco. And he’s fishing in a pond. And this is a pond. That’s like a neighborhood pond. And people throw their boots in, I don’t know, batteries and garbage in this pond. And it’s been a while since I’ve looked at these books but this is my recollection of what it is. And some guy comes to him, says, “Little kid you’re such a fool. You never catch anything on McElligot’s Pool.” And he says, “Oh, what do you mean?” And he’s like, “That’s a place where people throw all their shit in.” Nobody’s gonna put anything good… There’s no fish in that pond. And he says, “You know what? Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’ll sit here for a long time. I won’t catch a thing.” He said, “But then again, maybe you’re wrong.” And he says, “What if this pool was connected to an underground brook? And that underground brook goes under the ocean connects to this and I could catch this fish and that fish, and that whale and this.” And it just goes for 20 pages, lyrical color drawings all the things he thinks he might catch at McElligot’s Pool. And then he gets to the end and he says, “So that’s why when I sit here and fish in this pool, I think I’m not such a fool. Who knows what I’ll catch at McElligot’s Pool?” Or something like that. And it’s the same guy. And to me, what I think it shows in Geisel’s work is that the childhood capacity to imagine is not dead in this kid yet. He still has that creativity, that insight he still sees things. The potential, the wonder in the world. If we go into the world the way Marco does that life is full of possibilities. It’s much more enriching to us. He still has that. But at the end, he also acknowledges that maybe that won’t happen. He doesn’t tell the guy a lie. He doesn’t confabulate. He acknowledges that maybe that’s also not true. So he has to, some degree learned his father’s lesson. He’s growing. I think it’s what the book show. So when I read these books, or when I read the books as a kid. I don’t think they’re ordinary books. These are not ordinary random books. These are works of art by somebody who is one of the greatest 20th century lyricists. I mean, this guy is a poet. He’s one of the most prodigious writers. He’s written so many books they’ve sold. I mean, he’s crushed it. There’s nobody bigger than this guy, Dr. Seuss. And he’s not just some kid’s author. He’s somebody who’s trying to show you. He didn’t want his books to have simplistic moralistic stories. He’s trying to show you the wonder of youth. And he does that in all his books. Why are they pulled? In the “Mulberry Street” book written in 1937 there is the picture of the Indian man on the elephant, which you and I will think it could be our grandfather. My grandfather was a young man in those years.
Dr. Z: So was mine, yeah.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah, and it’s depicted in a way that, probably not like how my grandfather rode around in India. There’s a Chinese boy who eats with sticks, a little small picture in the corner of one page of that book “Mulberry street” And in the “McElligot’s Pool” book, I think the problematic image is there’s a fish that he calls an Eskimo fish in the Arctic. And it is depicted as a sort of stereotypical… like the head of the fish is kind of stereotypical but the body of the fish is a fish body. Of course, there’s no such thing as an Eskimo fish. So it’s a caricature. And those caricatures, are potentially offensive to some people. And I don’t discount that. I can see why. I see this Indian fellow it’s not the look on my grandfather. But I think that if you focus on the parts of art that don’t endure. You throw away the parts of art that are transcendent and for all time. And these books are not books about caricaturing an Indian. Caricaturing a Chinese boy. They’re not books that are intended to make Indians in the future, feel pain. It’s books that intend to show a child grappling between imagination and the constraint of being honest. And that’s something that we all grow up with. It’s a deep human truth. And so if you start to say, We’re not gonna print this book about . We’re not gonna put this book ’cause also it’s not selling well. It sold 5,000 copies. I hate to say, as somebody who’s written two books. If they stop selling books that sell less than 5,000 copies.
Dr. Z: We’re not printing those books.
Dr. Prasad: VPs books aren’t doing so fucking hot! My fucking books are not gonna sell. I would buy that book. It’s “Malignant” and “Ending Medical Reversals”. They’re gonna cancel this book anytime. It could be a collector’s item. You never know.
Dr. Z: Buy the books. That’s what he’s saying.
Dr. Prasad: Like 5,000 is pretty bri– It’s actually pretty decent. Okay shit. It hit close to home when they said that. But to me, it’s also like I don’t know. I just don’t agree. I don’t agree with not selling it.
Dr. Z: I’m sitting here wrapped by your descriptions of these books. Because what you’re describing. I’ve been reading this book written by a physician and he hasn’t released it yet. He wants me to read it and see what I think. And it’s a book on spirituality on recognizing your true nature. And there’s a quote in there where he says, “Adults are the corpses of children.” And as adults, we look at children with resentment because we see what we’ve lost. And this description of Seuss. Now, what do we do as adults? The dominant paradigm is wokeness. Well, we have to silence anything that could hurt people’s feelings at any cost because that’s the dominant paradigm. So instead of integrating our shadow saying, “This is how people used to caricature people in the past. Aren’t you so glad we don’t do that anymore. Here’s why it’s wrong to me. But look at the beautiful parts of this book.” We try to delete it because we are corpses. We no longer can imagine a world where that could have existed. We won’t accept it. We can’t integrate it into who we are to be a better person. We have to deny it. And then the shadow lives in us still. And that’s why I will die saying that the most racist people I’ve met are the ones that are overtly the most woke. Because they deny the part of them that they’ve never integrated. So–
Dr. Prasad: And then the other part of this analogy that fits “That adults are the corpses of children.” Is that the book reveals the mind of a child that is a corpse in you. How many days do I wake up and have these thoughts? When I was young, when I was a kid I remember, I had the thoughts that all sorts of things could happen. And life was full of possibility–
Dr. Z: Open–
Dr. Prasad: I’m an old man now. I don’t have those thoughts. It’s the practical, it’s the mundane it’s filled my thinking. The book, it allows you to get a glimpse into the mind of a child. It’s beautiful. It’s really not an a, it’s really… Like I say it’s not an average book. It’s a work of art.
Dr. Z: So you’re banning art. And the thing is that’s why in Zen they call it beginner’s mind. You have to approach the present moment as a blank. With your conditioning drops away. Children do that naturally. I had a conversation with my nine-year-old the other morning. I was meditating and she caught me. She always does this. She comes stumbling down with her little bunny. She’s sniffing it. And she comes and sits on my lap while I’m in this meditative state. And I asked her, and I said “Do you ever get the sense that all these rules and everything, that is just a kind of not real? It’s kind of like a dream. Can you distinguish reality from a dream?” And she goes, “No, I think it’s all like a dream.” And she had this conversation with me where I was like “Holy shit. This is how kids think.” Instead of banning that and trying to corpsify ourselves. We could integrate that and celebrate that. And Seuss did that. That’s why he was so popular.
Dr. Prasad: And I don’t know. All books written in 1937 have some objectionable elements. I don’t know. I mean, it’s not even the only. I mean…
Dr. Z: The biology books did. All of it did.
Dr. Prasad: You will lose a lot of literature if you hold it to the 2020 standard.
Dr. Z: Oh yeah.
Dr. Prasad: It’ll crush the cannon. Crush books that the point of the book is that you can acknowledge those imperfections that we have moved.
Dr. Z: Tom Sawyer. And he used the N word. I mean…
Dr. Prasad: Exactly. “Huckleberry Finn”.
Dr. Z: “Huckleberry Finn”. This is not… Again it’s this witch hunt kind of group think philosophy. We can’t have it. We have to make noise when these things happen. Now people will say, well, like you said. They’ll say, well, but it’s no, it’s not censorship. It’s just, it wasn’t selling. So we’re not printing it. Then why is eBay banning even selling it?
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. That’s one point. And the next point is that I suspect that that is a disingenuous statement because I think it is probably likely still profitable for them to print that book. I doubt that if those sales that is actually unprofitable. I say that as somebody who has written some books that are selling less than that. But I hope are profitable because I think they’re not profitable to me. ‘Cause I only got like a dollar a book and they haven’t sold a lot of copies. But they’re profitable to the publisher makes like 20 bucks a book. And I don’t know, there’s a whole bunch of related issues, Which is one like, why does the Seuss estate still have the copyright on this book? Maybe it should have lapsed earlier so that it would be the public domain. So anyone could print the book. I don’t know the answers to these questions. I mean, these are broader sociopolitical questions than my skillset. But I just wanna say it’s a shame. It’s a shame that we’re in a society where a book albeit imperfect that still has something to add is just pushed aside. And that we did it without… 10 years ago no liberal I know would have been supportive of banning books in any context.
Dr. Z: Even the most illiberal–
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. It’s an illiberal.
Dr. Z: It really is. It’s a regressive tendency. I think again, and I say, go back to the shadow metaphor. It is a shadow element of the current mainstream culture that says, okay, these are good things. Multiculturalism is good. Getting rid of racism is good. increasing widening circles of acceptance is good. There’s even some aspects of postmodern thought that I think are good. That there is a relative view that does matter based on the perspective of like, I may not like Thai food. Actually, I love Thai food. And I’ll give it another example. No, I love all food. Forget that example.
Dr. Prasad: Well maybe you’re talking about that guy. What’s the name? Tom. Some reporter said something like… Somebody tweeted something like, “Tweet something that people will think is controversial.” And that was a tweet. And then he co-tweeted and said, “Indian food is no good.” And I think all he meant by that is, “I don’t like Indian food.” Oh my God. You remember he got like 15,000–
Dr. Z: Yeah, all kinds of hate. Why? I mean, but again, this is the pathology of the shadow element of our current pluralistic culture. And that means that people who formerly felt like I am a liberal, a classic liberal. Look at that and go but I’m very uncomfortable with this. This is censorship. This is very illiberal behavior.
Dr. Prasad: And you can say whatever you want. Well it’s not censored by government it’s censored by the publisher. They have the right to do it. These are all fine things to say. But what I’m saying is that, it’s a problem in the culture where you feel that this is necessary. And actually government censorship is ironically in this case is easier to grapple with. And easier to combat than this nebulous… How many people actually want the book published? How many people don’t? We don’t even know. We don’t even know. And some voices make it harder for other voices to articulate their feelings here. I think there are a lot of people who are silent. They would be hesitant to even comment, scared to comment. Maybe they’ll lose their job. I think. And that’s a crazy place to be.
Dr. Z: When I graduated high school my AP English teacher, Demetra Chamberlain. That’s education, man. People forget they’re like surgeons. They’re operating on the young mind and changing it. And you remember them. She gave me a book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. And she signed it and said, ’cause I was going to Berkeley. Which was her Alma mater. And I mean, I remember every page of that book. Two Christmases ago, I live streamed me reading a book. I’m forgetting the name of it. It was about Christmas… Dr. Seuss talking about old people on Christmas. And it was so applicable to like hospice palliative care like how we treat elders and all of that. And I mean, Seuss was a powerful dude. It’s crazy that any aspect of him would be de-legitimized in any way.
Dr. Prasad: I mean yeah.
Dr. Z: Without proper analysis without saying, “Well this part of it doesn’t hold up. But the rest of it.”
Dr. Prasad: Yeah, I got some more stories about it but I’ll tell you some other day. Let’s talk about Vivek Murthy before we finish.
Dr. Z: Oh yeah, no. So here’s the thing. So my bias is Vivek is a friend he’s been on the show. He’s a lovely human being and you took a shit on him. So tell us why, because I think this is actually not about Vivek. It’s about the influence of money in our space and public’s service. You’ve written about it in pharmaceuticals forever. So tell us about this.
Dr. Prasad: So I guess first I wanna say exactly what you said, which is that like… I’ve never met the guy. I’ve never had any interaction with him. And I’ve got no ill will to him as a person. And in fact, everyone who I know who knows him, ’cause I’m only one link away in my social circles. They all say he’s a wonderful guy, super nice guy. And I don’t doubt that. He’s a nice guy. I mean, I’m happy to concede. He’s a nice guy. That’s not even my close to what my issue is here. My issue is conflict of interest. And I guess I would say that, I’m rather consistent on this issue. Like I’m not a fan of conflict of interest any day of the week. I’m not a fan on Monday. I’m not a fan of it on Tuesday–
Dr. Z: It sounds like a Seuss thing.
Dr. Prasad: It sounds like a Seuss thing–
Dr. Z: I do not like conflict of interest. I do not like it on my Pinterest.
Dr. Prasad: That’s good.
Dr. Z: No formal training. No footsteps for a years of parody writing and formal training.
Dr. Prasad: So, what happened? The issue is this. The issue is that Vivek Murthy was the Surgeon General under Obama for a few years. And then afterwards he went into retired Surgeon General life. And the pandemic hit and he ended up giving a lecture at the DNC or something. He had some stage presence at the DNC and the Zoom meeting that was the Democratic National Convention.
Dr. Z: He wrote a book on loneliness–
Dr. Prasad: He wrote a book on yeah… “Together” or something. Yeah. Okay. And he was renominated by Biden to be Surgeon General again which is unusual very unusual. This is an unusual nomination because Biden said He’s not gonna be a regular Surgeon General. The kind of person who tells you don’t smoke and eat well and exercise more. The typical Surgeon General kind of stuff. He’s also gonna have an expanded scope of authority and be able to help shape COVID-19 policy. In fact, I think he was the head of the Biden COVID-19 task force one of the co-heads. That’s an important role because federal COVID-19 policy has implications for many businesses. For instance, under what conditions would you recommend people stay home? What is the aerosol standards going to be in I don’t know, say a cruise ship things like that? OSHA aerosol standards and things like that. So he’s got a big role to play. As in the year prior to him coming to this nomination convention. He did some consulting work. And it was a bit odd. He’s gotten 800 grand from Airbnb. If you go to the Airbnb website, I was there recently, but obviously I wasn’t thinking about going on vacation.
Dr. Z: You’re gonna get canceled.
Dr. Prasad: That would be wrong.
Dr. Z: That’s right. That’s right. You’re gonna be worse than Seuss.
Dr. Prasad: I was just looking as I normally look at the Airbnb website. Yeah–
Dr. Z: “Malignant” and “Ending Medical Reversal”… They’re both gonna be out of print all of a sudden.
Dr. Prasad: People would be like, “Oh, it never sold more than 5,000 copies.” Fuck you.
Dr. Z: He started his paragraphs with a number. That’s what Marty was saying or something like that. That’s why the journals told him that he couldn’t be published, because he started a paragraph with a number.
Dr. Prasad: Oh Marty.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah.
Dr. Z: It’s amazing.
Dr. Prasad: So yeah, this guy Vivek, he took $800,000 from Airbnb. If you go to Airbnb website it says like our rooms are cleaned by like the Surgeon General recommended protocol. And I was like, what exactly is that ’cause there’s no magic cleaning. “Open the window when you clean.” All right. All right. But anyway, but he sanctioned the Airbnb cleaning protocol. Five-step protocol or something. He consulted 400 grand from Carnival Cruise Line, 600 grand from Netflix. I saw these conflicts ’cause they were reported by Dan Diamond of the Washington Post. And I was like, “Oh boy, that’s not good.” There is a conflict of interest where you put yourself in a financial situation where you have allegiance to two different masters. In this case, one would be what is in the best public interest. The other would be, “Hey Carnival Cruise Line just gave you a ton of cash, 400 grand to consult for them.” And now you’re shaping aerosol standards that may impact their cruise industry. So the temptation would be to kind of, downplay that a little bit. Netflix, they have a vested interest in COVID policy because they are happy. I think I would suspect they’re happy to have you stay at home, except they got to get out to film their new shows. So they want exemptions for their filming.
Dr. Z: So they’re playing it on both hands
Dr. Prasad: Airbnb. They want the… He’s really just selling his brand. He’s selling the Office of the Surgeon General just so they can stamp that their places are clean. So I saw these conflicts and I remembered that this isn’t my first rodeo with conflicts. There’s other people who had conflicts, Scott Gottlieb when he was running for Commissioner. He had received a lot of money from pharmaceutical industry. I think like 300 grand and Elizabeth Warren took him to task in that meeting. He said, how can you impartially regulate the industry that has given you so much money? And here Dan Diamond called the office of Senator Warren for a comment, no comment. None can be provided all my liberal colleagues who historically were very critical of Trump’s swamp. This sort of revolving door politics. They were dead silent on Vivek Murthy. So one, I was offended because conflict of interest I think is a deep problem. This revolving door between industry and government service is a disservice to the impartial adjudication of government actions. I don’t like it. And I think we need to diminute it. That was one, but two, the hypocrisy bothered me. If you’re gonna pick Gottlieb and rip him apart then Murthy should be subject to the same treatment. And in fact, I would say, somebody said, “Well, this kind of stuff is common.” Janet Yellen consulted for Goldman Sachs, she’s a Treasury Secretary that’s common. I’ll tell you what, I’m pretty sure that the ain’t no Surgeon General in history, who got 400 grand from a cruise line industry. I’m pretty sure that never happened. Because this cruise ships aren’t in the Surgeon General Consulting business.
Dr. Z: Well, you know, Jocelyn Elders took about $400,000 from Big Masturbation. But you’re right. I don’t think that’s probably happened.
Dr. Prasad: I don’t think that’s in their thing. So I mean that it stinks of quid pro quo. It stinks of we’re giving you this money for you to curry a favor in the future. The other point to make is that like, he doesn’t have to be Surgeon General again. There are hundreds of public health experts who unsurprisingly to you and I have probably never received any money from industry. Because industry is not in the public health expert–
Dr. Z: Yeah, exactly. I’m not throwing money at, you know, exactly.
Dr. Prasad: On some public health expert. Here’s all this cash to consult. No, it’s not really that kind of business. So there are lots of people who could do it. He didn’t need to do it. Democrats if they allowed it. And I guess they’ve allowed it. It’s gone through, they have I think a very little leg to stand on. They’ll be viewed as hypocrites. And so the next time a different politician will want to nominate somebody to be head of the EPA, who prior to running the EPA they were literally pouring chemicals into swamps. And somebody will say, and it got all this money from the chemical swamp industry. And then somebody’s gonna say like, “That guy shouldn’t be the head of the EPA. He’s in the dumping chemicals in swamps industry.” And then you’re gonna be like, “Well your guy Carnival Cruise and at Netflix. And then he ran the COVID policy. It’s all the same.” And I think that will likely happen. And I think I wouldn’t blame anyone for saying that. I think there’s a lot of similarities. And then the next thing I think is, imagine, there is some COVID policy. One of these scary and sexually. It pops up–
Dr. Z: Variant schmariant.
Dr. Prasad: Variant schmariant. But something happens. And somebody says like, “Okay we’re gonna lock down again.” Well, one, I think in this country we’re gonna be deeply divided. People don’t wanna do that. It’s gonna be a rough thing to suggest. But let’s say somebody says lock down again. And then let’s say you find out the person who said lock down again. I’m not talking about Murthy. Let’s just hypothetically. You gotta lock down again in your house. Stay home, stay at home order. And you find out that person is getting money from Amazon prime, Uber Eats–
Dr. Z: DoorDash.
Dr. Prasad: DoorDash. Can you imagine how you’re gonna feel? Especially when you come from where I come from, La Porte, Indiana, rural Indiana, how those people are gonna feel? You’re telling me I got to stay in my house and you’re getting money from the delivery service. Their heads are going to explode. Are you kidding me? The perception of conflict here is even worse than the typical industry FDA conflict. Because you’re talking about taking away liberties that have never been taken away in the history of the Republic. And you’re talking about doing unprecedented government action. You need to be squeaky fucking clean. When you get into that job, you can’t be like this. Then I see on Twitter, people defended him. They said, “Well, he’s a nice guy. I like him.” That is beside the point. It’s not about the person. These institutions have greater meaning than any one person. You can replace him with someone else. He doesn’t bring any special magic gift to the Surgeon General job. Lots of people can do it. So I find it distasteful. The hypocrisy, it’s not good for politics. I think you don’t have a leg to stand on. I’m no longer gonna take seriously. Anybody who voted to confirm him on conflict of interest ever. Because they’re happy to overlook it when it suits them. And that to me is a crime. I mean, that to me is why I frankly don’t like politicians. And that’s why nobody likes politicians. They’re hypocrites.
Dr. Z: Look, I agree with everything you say about conflict. I’m not gonna say anything about Vivek–
Dr. Prasad: He’s your friend–
Dr. Z: He is my friend. But I’m gonna say this that this idea that money doesn’t influence us or favors don’t influence us. Is absolute bullshit. It influences consciously and subconsciously. When I was training in the late 90s at Stanford. Pfizer would provide our noon conference lunch and there would be the rep detailing us on Norvasc or Viagra or whatever it was they were pitching at the time. Now those reps became our friends because they were there every lunch and they would hang out and they would chat. They would bring us food. They would teach us about the drugs. And I started noticing what was happening. I’m like, well, if I’m choosing between Norvasc and some other, you know. I’m just gonna pick Norvasc because Chuck’s a nice guy. And also they took me to dinner but… And it seems like the company is pretty cool. I mean, Pfizer seems pretty cool ’cause it’s insidious dude. And then you wake up later and you go, Jesus Christ. If you actually look at the data he was giving you the difference in number needed to treat between this drug and the cheap generic, is you have to treat 10,000 people to see one benefit. This is a scam and then you get outraged and then you hate yourself for being so easily played.
Dr. Prasad: For a little meal. You know it’s funny. So you’re talking about industry detailing around calcium channel blockers. This is, I believe a New England Journal paper. Somebody has to check me from the 1990s.
Dr. Z: What?
Dr. Prasad: We actually studied this phenomenon. Yeah–
Dr. Z: No.
Dr. Prasad: The industry put a lot of money into CCBs, because CCBs were on patent and very lucrative. Whereas thiazide diuretics, which again, by the way still mainstay therapy. They wanted to move people to CCBs. And I think it’s been a long time since paper came out, I think something I have to check the 96 97. But I think it does in fact show that there was a link between these two things. But what you’re saying reminds me of my other argument. Which is how can you tell a medical resident, which we’ve told them, that we’re not gonna have drug lunches anymore? Why? Because if you got that sandwich from, subway paid for by GlaxoSmithKline, potentially it’ll affect your medical career. And it could influence you. Because there’s some data that suggest that that’s likely to be the case. But the Surgeon General of the United States can take $2 million in cash, from all these companies and run COVID policy. Like the messaging is terrible. And I actually, I don’t know… As passionately as I feel about conflict of interest. I’ve tried to move my research team away for a little bit because I feel like we’re fighting against the ocean. We’re losing. And I don’t know if we’re making a difference. I feel like people don’t care. Everyone in power, they get more cash from doing this stuff. So they don’t want to fix it. They’re happy to make excuses for why it doesn’t matter. We’re happy to enforce it in like trainees, but we don’t give a shit, when it’s like the guy in charge of the whole thing. So, I mean, we’re hypocrites. We don’t care about it. People deny its influence. I’ve written so many papers on it. I feel like I’m making no headway. So I’m like, I don’t know. What am I going to do? I just give up on it.
Dr. Z: You keep talking about it the way you are.
Dr. Prasad: You think it keep talking about it.
Dr. Z: Yeah you have to keep talking about it. Because I mean–
Dr. Prasad: I’ve been doing it for 10 years.
Dr. Z: You gotta keep going. It’s like banging your head against a wall because what you’re resisting, what you’re running up against is tremendous power and money. And that’s gonna resist everything. But if we don’t, you know… It’s like Sam Shem, he wrote “House of God”. Says he wrote “House of God” from a place of resistance. He saw what was happening. He screamed into the void. His way of screaming into the void was writing a book. He didn’t think anyone was gonna read it. It became what it became a catalyst for changing work hour rules and some of the culture of medicine, because he kept talking about it. And he found his art form and your art form is podcasting and writing books. And so you’ve got to keep doing it. And the interesting thing about Murthy that’s that’s interesting is that like you said, it’s unusual. He left and when everyone leaves government they go and do this shit. They cash in. It’s like known. It’s like, you come into government to do good and you stay because you’re doing well. And then you leave because you can do even better. But the fact that he’s back in his same position means now he’s dragging that–
Dr. Prasad: I would say one thing I suspect, and it will be very difficult to show. ‘Cause the sample size are small. But I suspect that the average Surgeon General, post Surgeon General they can make some money. Give some lectures talking about don’t smoke and talking about eat more fruits and vegetables. I don’t think they’re pulling down 2 million a year. I doubt it. I doubt they’re pulling down that kind of cash. You only pull down that kind of cash when you’re not just a former Surgeon General, you’re the guy who spoke at the DNC who’s very likely to be shaping COVID policy. And then you’re gonna be pulling down some serious cash from people who have a strong interest in getting that policy to go one way and not the other. And so I suspect unlike the typical situation, that the smell of quid pro quo is more.
Dr. Z: That’s important ’cause I remember doing a talk and Jocelyn Elders was opening for me former Surgeon General.
Dr. Prasad: She’s your opening act?
Dr. Z: She was my opening act. And she did a great talk on equity, actually. It was really well done. She showed a beautiful slide of here’s a fence and here’s a kid that’s really short and here’s a tall kid that just sees right over the fence. And you can either put like boxes under the short kid to get him over the fence or you can knock the fence down. And that allows equal opportunity, not equal outcome, equal opportunity. And it was very powerful talk actually. And she referred to me as ZDogg. Which I was like… I learned about masturbation from you. I learned that it was just as good as abstinence. Or whatever she got deleted from Bill Clinton’s–
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. That was her undoing. And before that C. Everett Koop was the smoking. Surgeon Generals have always had these kind of ceremonial roles. That’s the other thing somebody said like, “Oh it’s a ceremonial role anyway.” And I was like, If it’s a ceremonial role anyway why do you want the person who’s got conflict? I mean, you can find somebody ceremonial who’s–
Dr. Z: Why have even then have a confirmation hearing if it’s ceremonial?
Dr. Prasad: I guess that’s the Senate procedure. But why also have him run the taskforce. Anyway, you mentioned “House of God” and we were talking about books. But that’s a book that also in some ways is not aged perfectly, has it not? The depiction of women–
Dr. Z: Oh no. It’s horrendous. In that sense.
Dr. Prasad: In that sense.
Dr. Z: Yeah. The depictions of sex and women and objectification it was written in 1978. But it was based on stuff that happened earlier to him. And by the way, so full disclosure Shem is a friend.
Dr. Prasad: I can imagine.
Dr. Z: And he’s been on the show and he talks about this. He actually has gone full feminist relational theory in his newer books. Because he recognized even… And his wife is a Buddhist teacher. And so he’s grown a lot. So why would you delete the previous work?
Dr. Prasad: That’s what I’m saying.
Dr. Z: You allow for the growth–
Dr. Prasad: You allow for the growth and let people see the growth. And that’s a great example of a book that still imperfect still also resonates a little bit. I read it as a student. I read it again at the end of my intern year. And I think I took a vacation. I’m picturing I was reading on a sandy beach, reading that book. And not only does it evoke certain things, but for those of us who’ve lived the experience of being an intern. When you read that book again it really forces you to take stock of how tough that year was. And so it provides some emotional value to people who read it. Even acknowledging that in many ways it does not reflect the culture of when I trained. In the 2010s. So that’s the power of literature is the similarities and differences. It’s not always, sugarcoated, perfect by modern morality standard.
Dr. Z: Absolutely. And even Shem says that he threw in all the sex and stuff for entertainment value. Back then that’s how you did it. It was like “MASH” era. And it’s really fascinating. And to watch society march on. But yet, so many… Like you said, I read that in my second year of residency and it just framed everything. I was like, Oh. But yeah, you look at the other silly stuff and… Listen we’re not idiots. You can look at the stuff that doesn’t apply and go, “Man that was another time.” And let it go. That’s what we ought to be training our kids to do. Is kind of think critically. You don’t buy everything at face value. You also don’t get lost in the sauce. You have to look at what’s relevant and reject the shadow or integrate it or whatever it is the psychologists say. The union psychologists. So–
Dr. Prasad: Yeah, I think, I don’t know. That’s a principle that transcends all these things. You can read Emily Oster, you can see wisdom in her as I see. You can disagree with her but you don’t need to go on Twitter and say she’s killing people or that she’s an economist doesn’t know anything. You can read Dr. Seuss. You can see some images that I think are problematic. I’m not gonna say they’re not. You can also see that the theme and the growth of a character over 10 years those books are 10 years apart. And that they’re written in a different era. And the parents of that era were different people. And that parenting has changed. Children have changed. The mere fact that the parent is letting little Marco out on the street for all hours of the day. That’s changed too–
Dr. Z: Free range kids.
Dr. Prasad: Free range kids. So all these things have changed. So you can see the artistry of the book. You can also see the downsides. But you don’t need to suppress them from print. You can read Marty’s piece. You can agree with it. You can disagree with it. But you don’t need to ask Facebook to de throttle it while you simultaneously allow all sorts of crackpot ideas on your platform. Which by the way I didn’t say my solution to Facebook is of course. You crack it into pieces. I think it’s a monopolistic corporation. They are engaged in information hijacking. I think it will someday be viewed like tobacco smoke that it is an addictive product. And I think they need to be broken up by federal regulators. They need to be cracked into little pieces. And when you crack them into pieces, then suddenly the risk for these pizzagate and this kind of thing is gonna diminute overnight. They’re not gonna have a single network where they can spread crazy ideas to lots of people.
Dr. Z: First of all fuck you. You just demonetized my video.
Dr. Prasad: Oh, you’re right. I probably did. I’m sorry.
Dr. Z: Thank you… I will edit this out. I’m not.
Dr. Prasad: I’ll get Carnival Cruise to come– Make it up for you.
Dr. Z: Actually. I want to double down on what you said because I think I agree with you. I think that any individual, large monopolistic information cache can fuck with everybody in a way. And as it is, the algorithms have destroyed our ability to have civil discourse. They prey on polarization. They make money on it. And that’s why… So I was just actually independently, I was gonna tell you more about that locals platform. So it’s interesting. So locals.com. I got pitched on this thing. It’s like Dave Rubin like co-founded it with an Israeli guy. And so I was like, “Oh, that’s not gonna be polarizing.” But yet the premises people… It’s either free or paid and creators set up a tribe there where you can join. If you like the creators vibe and you feel like you’re gonna be among like-minds but also be challenged. And the entire algorithm… There is no algorithm. The algorithm is you like the creator, you join their tribe. The creator makes material and the audience makes material. And post it up. And the way people behave my crowd in there. So if you go to like zdoggmd.locals.com. You can see it. If you’re a supporter, then you get the more private stuff. So people have skin in the game. So they’re like, “Well, I’m paying to be here. So I’m not gonna be a dick to the other guys paying to be here. ‘Cause I don’t wanna get kicked out. And then I don’t wanna be the guy that’s the asshole.” People post some provocative stuff. But they always frame it as, “Hey, you know this is how I feel. I’m very upset by this. I understand if you’re not but I need to vent and put this here.” On Facebook It would be like, “Can you fucking believe this.” And then hate and love and hate and love. Here it’s like, if you disagree you just go, “Oh yeah. That’s all right. I’m gonna scroll on. This is not something I wanna get into.” And the discussions, like the level of conversation the level of acceptance. The level of support is through the roof. That’s one shard of a Facebook that spins off.
Dr. Prasad: Yes, exactly. I see–
Dr. Z: You see what I’m saying?
Dr. Prasad: I see what you’re saying.
Dr. Z: So you’re right. Break it into the pieces that provide value on their own instead of trying to be one thing for everyone. And it works, dude. I hate social media. I’m not a user of social media.
Dr. Prasad: I noticed that.
Dr. Z: I’m a pusher of social media. Like I’ll go on Twitter, drop a piece of feces there and then run like, hell. I don’t even look at what’s happening. And I’m like, “Shit. I’m out.” I’m like “Forrest Gump”, just blade hands. Just running. But yet on locals I will dig in and I’ll be like, “What did they say?” Oh, this is a fascinating angle. I disagree. But let me leave a very conscious comment.
Dr. Prasad: That’s interesting. You’re talking me into it, but I also, I’ve tried to reuse… I tried to change how I use social media a little bit. Like you just want a brief example. I don’t know. There’s a professor who disagrees with me on a handful of issues. I think he’s taken it a little too personally. Because the other day on Sunday night he like, dropped some shit to troll me. Something personal, like something critical of me like a joke at my expense. But more of a personal nature than about any of the issues we disagree. And I was like, you know what? It’s not really… I mean, I could say something. I’m happy to make some snide comment back and then I’ll get my likes and he’ll get his likes. I’m like, “Yo God.”
Dr. Z: The game goes on.
Dr. Prasad: The game goes on. And we fight for another… Okay. But I was like, I won’t do that. Let me do something different. And I was like, let me make a little thread about where we agree and where we disagree over the course of the pandemic. To let maybe readers get a sense of like, well why did he feel the urge to make this joke at my expense? Because he doesn’t know me personally. I’ve never spilled coffee in his lap. I never slighted him personally.
Dr. Z: It’s all virtual.
Dr. Prasad: It’s all virtual. And it’s all based primarily because I think… I mean the root of the anxiety the disagreement is that we disagree on substantive issues. So I was like issue number one, John Ionnadis came out and I wrote this things and we need to hear the voices of people who think that the prolonged lockdown may be problematic. And I think he is somebody who genuinely thinks that prolonged lockdown is reasonable. And that if you even entertain those concerns that bad things will happen. The second thing, the Santa Clara study he thinks that their mathematical errors in John’s paper. And I concede that those errors exist. But I think that the demonizing of the person is not helpful for the broader conversation. And even though that those errors existed in the early version the paper still provides value and he still has a point on other issues. Three, what was it? I think Marty’s thing was one. ‘Cause there are a lot of people who call themselves liberal who are fine with big companies in an absolutely opaque manner suppressing speech. I’m not cool with that but they’re cool with that. And, but that’s a point of disagreement. And then I put this like list together things we disagree. And I think I’m gonna try to do that more. Not with obviously everybody who trolls me. I can’t even do… I mean, I’d spend my life. But with like people who I think are, I don’t know, within the academy they actually are like real people. They have their real name and face. If there is these kind of snipping, I’m gonna try to not snip. I’m going to try to articulate for a third-party. Here are the six times we’ve disagreed over the last five years. You may not agree with me. You may agree with the other person but let’s try to move this away from–
Dr. Z: Person and to issue.
Dr. Prasad: That’s what I’m trying to do.
Dr. Z: Yeah. That’s wonderful. What was the response to that?
Dr. Prasad: Nobody liked it nobody retweeted it.
Dr. Z: Fuck yeah. Exactly, there you go. And you nailed the problem. ‘Cause Twitter, the social media doesn’t reward rational, I call it middle, it just means integrating all these different ideas and thought. I mean it’s crazy, My God man.
Dr. Prasad: And he didn’t engage with it. So I was like
Dr. Z: Of course not, because it’s too hard to engage on issues. It’s very easy to engage ad hominem. I’m guilty of it all the time. Especially when I… Early days especially when I was dealing with anti-vaccers. they just trigger me so much because I really feel strongly about that issue emotionally too. Because you see one kid who’s had a preventable illness and you get very upset. But they’ll say, “Well you’ve seen one kid who has vaccine injury.” And then you start to drill down, “What is it really vaccine injury?” And then you get in your head. And how about this, we agree we want children to be safe. We agree that pharma is not perfect. We agree that science isn’t done perfectly. We agree there’s no perfect answers. So now let’s start with our agreements and then we’ll start to hash it out. And lately that’s been helpful with people who are on the fence about vaccines who will message me and say, “Oh, you actually convinced me because you didn’t discount instantly, me as a bad person for even questioning”
Dr. Prasad: I feel a lot like you. My issues are different. But my issue was like, when I started in faculty in 2015. I came out on Twitter guns blazing that like some new cancer drug that improves survival one month and it cost like $200,000 and had all this horrible side effects. I was like, I would go there and I’d see like experts say how wonderful it was and a miracle. And I’m like, “Oh, What are you talking about?” I was like, it’s too expensive. It doesn’t offer enough to patients. It’s so toxic. The trial is flawed in like an innumerable ways. It doesn’t extrapolate to real-world patients who are older, frailer, racially diverse. I had all these criticism and I would go in real hot and like blow that topic up. Although I would always try not to like insult them. But of course we all slip. Always slippery. But now I don’t know. Oh, and of course they’re all conflicted. They’re getting paid by the company while they’re doing that. So that of course irritates me even more. But now I’m like, well, I don’t wanna let my emotions be ruled by them. So I think about what they’re saying. I think I see why it’s wrong and not helpful. And then I think to myself, like, okay, imagine that fellow out there, looking at this, they’re being influenced by this nonsense about this cancer drug which I think the trial is terrible. How might I change their mind? ‘Cause I’m not gonna change this person’s mind. I need to change their mind. And so that’s why I started making a podcast. And tried to write this book that, less than 5,000 people.
Dr. Z: You started a sentence with a number dude. You can’t do that. I think you put your finger right on it Which is you’re not who… If you’re, if your goal is to persuade because you believe in something. It’s no point going full on against the person who’s already got their own belief. You’re trying to influence those people that are listening. And that was with vaccines that’s a great example. Because how are you gonna influence people if you tribalize it even more you’re only going to rally your own people which is very rewarding on I will say Twitter.
Dr. Prasad: The only thing about the vaccines that I think Is a missed opportunity. Is that people who want to be advocates for SARS-CoV -2 vaccines. I put myself in the camp because I’ve received it. And I think it’s good. We have to be honest about the different thinking around children and adults. And if we are not honest about that. And I see on Twitter every day–
Dr. Z: They want kids to get vaccinated.
Dr. Prasad: Oh my God. And they haven’t even seen the data. And I was like, if you’re already… Your role is already everyone must get vaccinated including young children. When you haven’t seen the data and the risk benefit is gonna be substantively different. We need to see the AEs. We need to see all this stuff. I think you’re not helping your cause. You’re helping the other side. ‘Cause they’re saying you’re a zealot. You’re a zealot in the other direction. You’re not an impartial observer of science.
Dr. Z: I couldn’t agree more. I mean the saving grace of persuasion is being persuadable yourself.
Dr. Prasad: Oh, well said.
Dr. Z: So, in the early days of the vaccine development, I’m like there’s no way this is happening. You gotta really convince me that this is gonna happen in a safe and effective way. That isn’t politicized, that it doesn’t have conflicts. And then slowly but surely I was persuaded, but then I’m still not persuaded that children should get this vaccine. I haven’t seen data that tells me that’s the case.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. The ongoing studies to my knowledge use immunologic end points. They’re not using clinical endpoints. We’ll see what the AEs are. I mean it and–
Dr. Z: Adverse Events.
Dr. Prasad: Adverse Events right–
Dr. Z: For people who don’t know that.
Dr. Prasad: And then the absolute potential benefit is contingent on how bad the illness is at the age group. And we’re talking about something that has a steep age gradient maybe three or four log difference. Oh, so there’s the line in Emily Osker’s thing where she talks about the probability that a child will die if they get COVID. Which is a percentage of how much less that is than an adult. She’s looking at that age gradient and drawing an extrapolation from that. Anyway, we’re going on a certain–
Dr. Z: That’s the thing, you worry when you see a zealot. Even now when I wanna fact check something that’s my intuition. I have to stop myself from going to my zealot of choice. Because I know what they’re gonna say. I know what Gorski’s gonna say about this guy, Vanden Bossche. He’s gonna say he’s showing a new vaccine and he’s wrong in all these ways. And I’m like, okay, well, there’s some useful stuff there. But at the same time when I watched the Vanden Bossche video. I watched with rapt attention because he’s actually bringing up points that I’ve thought about myself with the vaccine. Which is okay, well in a rapidly replicating viral load in a pandemic, and you introduce a vaccine that we know the variants can escape, eventually. It’s just gonna take a long time and it’s not gonna be fast as we think. But is that going to be problematic if you’re partially vaccinating people with like say one dose? Or only some of the populations vaccinated? And then what about, are we too late? Have we already gotten enough immunity from natural infection? These are questions that you should ask. And then debate it. So I listened quite open-mindedly but what’s interesting is then you kind of… Because you have a bias, like I actually disagree with him. You’re watching him go off the rails towards the end. He started saying things like this is gonna create a monstrosity. Nobody’s listening to me.
Dr. Prasad: Oh boy.
Dr. Z: Nobody’s talking about this. And then you’re like, okay, there’s the conspiracy thinking. And now we’re wondering is he a fake expert?
Dr. Prasad: Nobody is listening–
Dr. Z: And then we’re wondering are they going to move the goalposts? And then you’re wondering are there logical fallacies? There are. And then all the signs of true mistaken misinformation start to emerge.
Dr. Prasad: It’s funny. So I guess I don’t know about this dude but I do know about this… They had that big debate on a delayed second dose of versus second dose. Whether or not you gotta to get two doses of .
Dr. Z: Marty weighed in on that too.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. Marty weighed in on. He was delayed second dose. He was–
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Dr. Prasad: And Bob Wachter, the chairman of medicine at UCSF, delayed second dose. Ashish Jha Brown Dean of public health, delayed second dose. But there were equally prominent people on the other end of the spectrum–
Dr. Z: Including Offit, he doesn’t think it should be.
Dr. Prasad: He doesn’t… Okay. So there’s some people you respect on both sides. And one of the arguments is like, you can model, what do you think that the number of people will die and our different strategies will be? And there’s been at least to my knowledge three different models of that one was in the annals of internal medicine. Then the next thing you’re thinking, you can be like what is the probability of vaccine escape or vaccine partial resistance or something like that. And I got into that literature a little bit. Because I was kind of… I never really took a strong side in this. Yeah, me neither. I think now that I look at all the data I probably wouldn’t… If I had a gun to my head I would lean towards the delayed second dose. We’ll find–
Dr. Z: Very subtle. Yeah.
Dr. Prasad: But anyway, I looked into that thing. And I would say that it’s a lot. I mean there’s a lot of speculation when it comes to which of these vaccination strategies would increase the probability that some replicating viral strain evolve, some partial or total resistance and that propagates itself into the future, which strategy better works for that. That’s a couple bits of daisy chaining a bunch of reasoning. And so I would say, I didn’t reach a strong conclusion. I felt like, okay, there was a little bit of speculation in all directions. But that’s a fine debate to have.
Dr. Z: Well, but see, that’s important saying, yeah we can’t really know.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. There’s a lot of things you can’t really… I think actually Emily Oster makes another point which is like, is the risk to an unvaccinated child the same as a vaccinated grandma. And I think the harder thing for people to admit is not that she’s right. Not that she’s wrong, it’s that she might be right. She might be wrong. And the best we can do is probably get it within, a big range.
Dr. Z: Exactly. Exactly. And that’s all right too. And one thing you pointed out when you have experts on both sides that are quite reputable. That’s when you really have to go, “Boy, I don’t know if this is answerable with our current data set.”
Dr. Prasad: I’ll add one more thing. I think you’re right. And I think that if we didn’t… If we had not politicized SARS-CoV -2, they would have been more experts on both sides on more issues. For instance, the schools issue. There were a lot of people who questioned school closure in the fall. There were some vocal proponents, Oh, this person who disagreed with me, he said that it is fine to close schools. I disagree. That would have been a more live debate. If we didn’t create this culture of–
Dr. Z: Now, you’re a right-wing nut if you wanna close schools.
Dr. Prasad: You’re right wing nut, if you wanna open up–
Dr. Z: Sorry open ’em. If you wanna open them, you’re right. If you want to keep them close forever, you’re left. And why should that even be because we politicized it.
Dr. Prasad: I would say hydroxychloroquine is–
Dr. Z: Another great example.
Dr. Prasad: So the folks on the right liked it. And then folks on the left what they should have done is be silent let the trials run. But they started saying you take one hydroxychloroquine you get QT prolongation and boom. All on T phenomenon. You’re dead. Okay. So they push the harms and that made it harder for the trials run as well. That was another foolish politicization does need to have to be, didn’t have to go there. Masks, prudent to do precautionary principle some sort of bio plausible data to support it. Danish mask study. We could have run some cluster trials. We didn’t, but there’s gonna be one from the New Guinea that comes out hopefully in the fall. It’s something that we could have had more nuanced about. We could have talked like we really wanted let’s focus on inside. Let’s let people outside. Let ’em have a little… We really don’t know. WHO says don’t mask kids under five. CDC says two. They’re slightly different. So there’s some echo poise there. WHO says you don’t need it when you exercise. CDC says, yes, do it if you exercise. So if you exercise outdoors, so there’s differences there. It got so politicized and it became identity. And then it’s so much easier to say, you’re a bad person. You didn’t wear your mask. You’re a good person. you did wear a mask. Rather than that guy who’s cooking our food that we’re getting through Uber Eats. Oh, he doesn’t have an M95 in the kitchen. And the other guy has fevers. He has to go because if he doesn’t go to work his wife and kids are not gonna get food this month. Nobody wants to talk about it.
Dr. Z: Nobody wants to talk about it. It’s absolutely true. You see, there was a recent article in San Jose Mercury News. They got access to the Slack Channel discussions among all the Bay area, public health officials–
Dr. Prasad: What did they say?
Dr. Z: Oh, it was fascinating. So it was from the early days. And they were going like Erica Pan and Mauro here in San Mateo and so on. And they had no clue what was going on because they had such incomplete information. And they were suddenly given ridiculous amounts of power in making decisions that were affecting millions, 8 million people in the Bay area. And at one point they said, “Okay, so we’re gonna limit people to 30 outside and this many.” And so Scott Morrow just asks in the thread. “So what’s the science behind this?”
Dr. Prasad: Is he that San Mateo guy.
Dr. Z: He’s the San Mateo guy.
Dr. Prasad: He wrote that long beautiful letter–
Dr. Z: He’s brilliant.
Dr. Prasad: He wrote this letter. I mean, I read it a long time ago but my gist of reading it was–
Dr. Z: He’s got a big beard.
Dr. Prasad: And I think I looked at a picture of him… The gist of it was, he was completely honest about what he knew and what he didn’t know. That was the–
Dr. Z: Yeah that’s Scott. I think his name is Scott Morrow. M-O-R-R-O-W. I reached out to his office a few months ago to ask him to be on the show. Yeah. And they were like, “Oh, we can’t really.”
Dr. Prasad: That’s another failure.
Dr. Z: Failure. Go on the shows, man.
Dr. Prasad: You’re the public health commissioner of the county. Get on the show. We’ve gotta talk to people.
Dr. Z: They wouldn’t do it. And I’m here. I live in your county–
Dr. Prasad: Dude we have to talk for a side tangent briefly? When someone doesn’t want to come on the show. I understand if they think like that the platform is not worth their time. But if they start making these other excuses. I have–
Dr. Z: I don’t think it was Scott. I think it was his PR people.
Dr. Prasad: These people.
Dr. Z: They’re horrible people. So I’m gonna say this right now. PR people are garbage people. I am gonna say this because I hate it. If you, okay, I’m gonna… I’m gonna look right at the camera. If you are somebody who has a dumb ass book coming out or you’re trying to self promote and you stick your fucking PR person on me. I will delete the email and never ever will you get to be on my show ever. I hate PR people. I hate the fact that you resort to them to get on my show. I hate the fact that you’re so inauthentic that you need a PR person. I hate everything about you. That’s just me. And I’m triggered.
Dr. Prasad: I feel the same way. And I probably get a fraction of the requests to come on, “Plenary Session”.
Dr. Z: Oh, come on. I’m always begging to be on the show.
Dr. Prasad: Will to get you there, yeah.
Dr. Z: Your podcast is awesome, dude. I mean you’re the next… I still see you as like… I mean we’re 10 years frame shifted off each other. You are a vastly smarter and better version of me. So when I die of my massive MI from just an angst. As I’m dying, I’m gonna be like, tell Vinay take over. Just hand them the mic.
Dr. Prasad: He can have the camera.
Dr. Z: Wait, what? No. The camera’s going to my daughter to make TikTok videos.
Dr. Prasad: The feedback I get on my videos is like, “This is like filmed in a bunker. It’s a shitty camera. Shitty sound.”
Dr. Z: That’s how I know you’re a really good scientist and thinker. That your camera is garbage. Again. If it’s like, your angles are bad… We were talking about this before the show. I was looking at your stuff. But the content is amazing. The fact that people–
Dr. Prasad: Acquired tastes–
Dr. Z: No, I don’t think so.
Dr. Prasad: It’s not like Mulberry street. It’s like…
Dr. Z: Maybe if you dressed in stereotypical Indian garb.
Dr. Prasad: Like the Raja on top of the elephant–
Dr. Z: Like the Raja on a big blue elephant. With the curly Q’s and everything. You need all that.
Dr. Prasad: I forget how it looked.
Dr. Z: Yeah. It was pretty racist.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah, it probably was.
Dr. Z: But still, I mean, in 1930s. There’s practically…
Dr. Prasad: 1937.
Dr. Z: I mean come on dude. I was like, watch “Temple of Doom”. That was 1980–
Dr. Prasad: 80 something.
Dr. Z: 80 something it’s so racist.
Dr. Prasad: Kali Ma–
Dr. Z: Kali Ma rips out… Of course at least it was a legit Bollywood actor playing that guy. But still in the whole thing. I remember–
Dr. Prasad: Ben Kingsley is Gandhi.
Dr. Z: Right.
Dr. Prasad: 81.
Dr. Z: It’s Brown face.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah.
Dr. Z: And God, and that won an Academy award. And —
Dr. Prasad: That was eighties. This guy’s 37.
Dr. Z: It’s crazy. And my dad, I remember we watched “Temple of Doom” in the theater. And my dad came out at the time. And my dad came out and he’s like, we don’t eat insects and rip our hearts out of people. Like that was just frankly disgusting. And this was in the 80s.
Dr. Prasad: I got it in school. People after watching that movie like, “Oh is that what it’s like?” And I was like, “No.”
Dr. Z: It’s better than that. We’ll pull your spleen out because we know. And I love how the wound just closes. I’m like, God the guy would make the best surgeon in the world. Like he rips the… I watched it recently it was on TV. I was like, “This is a garbage movie.”
Dr. Prasad: He’s like a DaVinci robot.
Dr. Z: He is. and then it lights on fire. There’s a scene. It’s on fire and it’s this plastic heart and it’s burning and you just see his face. And he’s like And he’s a bald guy like me. And I’m like, one day I will be that guy. That’s gonna be me. Kali Ma. Still love the theme song of that whole thing. Just enough middle eastern elements to make it racist.
Dr. Prasad: Kind of memory.
Dr. Z: Dr. Jones. Remember Short Round. That was the other guy–
Dr. Prasad: Oh my God, your memory–
Dr. Z: Oh my God no. I’m telling you, I just saw it. The little Vietnamese kid. And he’s like Dude that’s racist. But still the movie doesn’t hold up at all.
Dr. Prasad: I say.
Dr. Z: But it’s still entertainment. So you can watch it and suspend your racial disbelief and just enjoy it.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah. That’s how you I mean… Better way to take these things.
Dr. Z: I suppose. I think Short Round, the actor who played Short Round was in the zombie series. What’s it called? “Walking Dead”.
Dr. Prasad: Was he?
Dr. Z: I heard that I may be wrong. I say a lot of apocryphal shit man.
Dr. Prasad: No I gotta check that out. I mean, I feel like I watched most of the “Walking Dead” until Neagan got a little too. So much for me to take.
Dr. Z: Well shit man we went like an hour and something.
Dr. Prasad: And no one’s gonna watch it. Now you can whatever you want.
Dr. Z: Now we can say… So the thing about Seuss. Free period.
Dr. Prasad: Free period.
Dr. Z: Free period. What would we talk about in free period? This is for the bonus… This is for the people who are go… I don’t even know–
Dr. Prasad: We did all the things we wanted to do.
Dr. Z: We kind of did everything.
Dr. Z: Although… Oh yeah, we can’t even talk about that JAMA guy because it’s too much. Yeah, it’s too much. That’s a whole nother shit show. I don’t know Vinay. I think I’ll say this. We can end with a positivity.
Dr. Prasad: Let’s end with positivity.
Dr. Z: The fact that these discussions get any views at all tells me that people are waiting for the next emerging in our sort of collective consciousness. Which is okay. We went a little crazy there for a second.
Dr. Prasad: That’s interesting.
Dr. Z: I think now we can integrate this better and understand like truth is found in parts. And we can have civil conversations and we’ll fix social media. So like you said, maybe it’s breaking up Facebook. Maybe it’s coming up with competitors. Maybe it’s unplugging for a bit. Maybe it’s teaching our kids critical thinking. Maybe it’s God knows what another awakening, whatever it is. I don’t care what it is, but it’s coming.
Dr. Prasad: Ah, that’s well put. I guess my only closing thoughts are I don’t even care if it’s not civil. I was like, “You can be nasty.” I guess I’d say like the things that get a diminish this idea that they shouldn’t even… If they took away, you couldn’t even visibly see followers or likes or retweets the numbers. You’ll already disincentivize that. So you’re not just chasing the sensational. You gotta be very careful about censoring people and telling people… And you gotta not tell people you’re an economist. You shouldn’t even talk–
Dr. Z: Yep. Credentialism yeah.
Dr. Prasad: It’s not helpful. And you gotta say like, we’re not gonna like ban the sale of… You can buy “Mein Kampf” on eBay but you can’t buy “Mulberry Street”.
Dr. Z: Can you buy “Mein Kampf””
Dr. Prasad: I think, yeah. I think you buy it on Amazon.
Dr. Z: So what are we doing exactly. You’re gonna censor something which you shouldn’t. I don’t even think you should censor “Mein Kampf.”
Dr. Prasad: I guess, I mean, it’s sensors itself because I’ve never read it.
Dr. Z: It does. I haven’t read it either. I would have no desire.
Dr. Prasad: I have no desire… By all accounts. It’s like poorly written as well. In addition to all pro–
Dr. Z: Failed artists, failed writer, failed dictator failed human being.
Dr. Prasad: What I did read though that was really stellar was Volker Ullrich, “Hitler” two-part biography came out, finally translated into English as of September of last year–
Dr. Z: It was good–
Dr. Prasad: Stellar, stellar. I mean, it’s like the con… It’s like the definitive biography, two parts.
Dr. Z: Wow.
Dr. Prasad: I think it’s like almost, it’s like 2000 pages.
Dr. Z: So you came away from it learning something new about the–
Dr. Prasad: The whole cluster and civilization. I mean, I think you learn… It’s not just about the man. It’s about how the times make the man, the man makes the times. And it’s how–
Dr. Z: Niche’s Superman “ubermensch”, yeah.
Dr. Prasad: Very interesting, yeah.
Dr. Z: Wow. Fascinating. Really interesting. I’ve been listening to more… Since Jordan Peterson had that whole spell where he had the benzo thing and was hospitalized. I mean, I think it was more than that. I think he really was struggling with mental illness and so on. Then watching some of his stuff as he’s come back. And it’s really interesting to watch the change in–
Dr. Prasad: Is he different?
Dr. Z: He’s different. I think he’s still quite persuasive and amazingly smart guy. But he’s less strident about certain things.
Dr. Prasad: Interesting.
Dr. Z: It’s kind of interesting. He does his own podcast now and he interviews people. It’s really trying to get a diversity of thought is kind of important. You really have to look at all these ideas and hear counter-arguments and incorporate them and understand them before you can speak really intelligently. When Seema Yasmin was on the show, she was talking about Dunning-Kruger. I mean, it seems like our whole society is… Learns a little about something and thinks they’re experts now. Seems to be the thing. But to have a humility in the face of our lack of understanding of it.
Dr. Prasad: And that sometimes it’s the folks you disagree with who gives you the best ideas for how you advance your cause?
Dr. Z: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You need a good worthy opponent–
Dr. Prasad: You need a good worth opponent–
Dr. Z: To trigger your thinking and clarify it. It’s really true. That’s actually why I kind of like this again, getting back to this Bossche guy. Well-spoken articulate scientist. Great. Now let’s talk about what he’s saying. Wonderful that’s what you want. He’s wrong by the way. But yeah. So I think we did a thing. Guys check out Vinay’s “Plenary Session” podcast. I’m gonna–
Dr. Prasad: Get the books before they’re banned.
Dr. Z: Get the books before they’re banned for selling less than 5,000. “Malignant.” I’m actually surprised that you haven’t made more enemies that would get your books banned.
Dr. Prasad: That’s interesting. I mean once you start going on the book banning route. I mean my books probably threatened more billion dollars of annual sales.
Dr. Z: And it’s like, Marty’s book “The Price We Pay” was basically taking on the medical industrial complex, and saying you’re suing poor people for inflated bills that are completely untransparent. I read that book like “Malignant”. Same thing, you read it and you get really angry because it’s pointing out truths that most people know. And they’re emotionally relevant truths to us as humans, which is key. It’s like one thing “Well, you know, the price of oil is inflated artificially by these various cartels.” Okay. Who cares? There hoisting on you a $20,000 cancer drug per dose that is not going to improve the quality of your life, even if it extends it. And there’s all these conflicts in how it was even approved.
Dr. Prasad: Oh, that’s interesting. Well, I guess we’re done. But the last thing I’d say is like, April 27th, 28th and 29th. I think three days of ODAC where they are looking at six drug approvals that failed to meet post-marketing commitments. So perhaps my complaining has been heard because it might revoke some of these approvals. So we shall see.
Dr. Z: Won’t that be something.
Dr. Prasad: It will be something. They’ve been very reluctant to do it. Not since Avastin in I think 2012 was–
Dr. Z: Wow.
Dr. Prasad: That they added ODAC.
Dr. Z: Was Xigris ever de approved?
Dr. Prasad: I think Eli Lilly voluntarily withdrew Xigris–
Dr. Z: Voluntarily.
Dr. Prasad: Xigris after their confirmatory study did not confirm what they thought.
Dr. Z: Science is difficult, especially when there are conflicts. It’s difficult anyways.
Dr. Prasad: Yeah.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Dr. Prasad: COVID is worse. There’s conflict if you ask me. All right–
Dr. Z: On that note Love you guys. Join us on locals man. zdoggmd.locals.com. If you want to throw this… This is a new pitch that I have that has been so wonderful because this is what people do. I go. If you wanna put like a dollar in the tip jar or whatever paypal.me/zdoggmd. You can do a one-time donation. You get nothing but a personal, thank you email from me. So what people do is they’ll send like 20 bucks and they’ll write. Here’s what I think about what you’re doing. And it may be positive. It may be constructive. It may be hateful, but it’s always relevant. Because they’re actually paying to get my attention. And so I always respond. And it’s actually a great way to interact with people that care enough that they’re willing to throw a couple bucks at you. So thank you guys. Love you. Share the video and we are out peace.