This week's episode is amazing with Dr. Jack and Sara Gorman, the father-daughter team who have devoted their time to helping educate communities around making rational decisions about health and security through their non-profit Critica and their book, Denying To The Grave.
We covered a number of topics including:
This week's episode is amazing with Dr. Jack and Sara Gorman, the father-daughter team who have devoted their time to helping educate communities around making rational decisions about health and security through their non-profit Critica and their book, Denying To The Grave.
We covered a number of topics including:
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[00:02:36] So get out there to Declan James, watch code, enter the code and pick one up, now for this week's incredible record breaking episode. We have two first for this show, our first mom and our first father daughter duo, who just happened to be both doctors, partners for the nonprofit organization, Critica and authors of the book.
[00:02:59] The [00:03:00] nine to the grave. Critica is a community committed to making rational decisions about health insecurity. in a culture dominated by polarizing politics and an abundance of unchecked misinformation. Critica exists to revolutionize the role of science and making rational health decisions.
[00:03:21] Critica is the result of the book denying to the grave, which explores how people make decisions about what is best for them and their loved ones. And in effort, better understand how people think when they're faced with significant health, the decisions
[00:03:39] so we brought dr. Jack and Sarah Gorman onto our show. We wanted to invite them after having a chance to read their book, to discuss COVID-19 and the highly debated topic around school openings. Do we open or do we not? So let's listen in to some real experts [00:04:00] who advocate for the scientific process and have skin in the game as parents and grandparents.
[00:04:05] Wow. happy Monday? Thank you. Although we went for a walk. We've had some neighbors and, neither of us could, that's not any of us could remember what day of the week it was. They all start to blend together a little bit at this point. Right, exactly right. How's New York city right now.
[00:04:27]Well, we're probably, Farther ahead than a lot of places. I mean, I think where you are in Florida is much, much worse at this point, but the Northeast, has really settled down. So they're starting to very cautiously, open a few things up, and we're actually going to try to go away this weekend to a place in the Berkshires where they actually, have some things going on.
[00:04:49] So be fun. Yeah. And Sarah, are you able to get out with the baby right now? It was for walks, nothing too fancy. How's the weather. really hot? degrees. . Wasn't really [00:05:00] today should be. Yeah. one of the interesting things, whenever we were still in the city, During the quarantine, when you're walking down Manhattan and you have the blocks of trees, right?
[00:05:12] Like you have a tree and then a tree and each one has that square around where the tree was planted and it's a little bit of dark. Right. And typically that's just. The most disgusting dirt that you would ever see? Well, during quarantine, it became name one of the most beautiful ecosystems I've ever seen.
[00:05:30] It was absolutely incredible. the flowers were past your knees and just vibrant and colorful. It really shows the imprint that humans have
[00:05:38] yeah. So thanks for joining us. appreciate the time. I had a chance to read your book and a very fascinating book, but, I guess, the, the key. Discussion point around this talk is the whole COVID debate.
[00:05:52] And should you open up schools? Should you not? And your organization Critica, you evolve really [00:06:00] I'm endorsed the scientific process and discussed the why I think in denying to your grave, people tend to deviate from science, for a number of reasons and maybe. as a starting point, Jack and Sarah can give us your, your backgrounds, your education, your story, and how the nine to grave came to be as well as critical.
[00:06:21] Okay. sure. I'm Sarah Gorman. I have a background in public health and, I, I have long been interested we're public health and psychology intersect. And so a couple of years ago now it's really a number of years ago. I wanted to understand better. What was the psychology behind people who denied the efficacy and safety of vaccines, especially childhood vaccines and what was really pushing people, not to get their children vaccinated, despite all the evidence we have about the importance of that.
[00:06:51] And as I sort of look further into this, I realized that this wasn't an isolated topic. So there were topics of science [00:07:00] denial in a variety of areas. And, I realized that this was more than an article. It was really a book. and so at the same time, my father, and I'm sure he could speak more to this, was getting more and more interested in, why people buy guns for safety.
[00:07:15] If there's a lot of evidence that that actually makes you less safe in the home. And so we sort of came together with these first two topics and explored from there, I realized there were a number of other areas where this applied and we wrote this book that really looked at the psychology. Of, what's behind those anti-science ideas and I'll let my dad talk a little bit more about Critica.
[00:07:42] Hi, so I'm Sarah's dad Jack. And my background is that I went to medical school and then did training to become a psychiatrist. And after my training, I went right into research. And worked for about 30 years [00:08:00] running a large research group in both clinical and basic neuroscience. And it's sort of important because in addition to being interested, obviously in psychology as Sarah is, my background in science is a very quantitative background.
[00:08:17] So every study that I did involved. Generating numbers that could then be analyzed. Hm. And I became obviously a devote taker of the scientific method. Cause that was my basic work. Then also I have two daughters. Sarah's oldest older sister is Rachel is a psychiatrist. and I always tried to take an interest in whatever my daughters were interested at the time.
[00:08:48] Which varied a great deal through the years, but when Sarah got interested in public health and in this issue of vaccine safety, it's true that at the same time, I [00:09:00] was fascinated by the fact that everybody debates, gun safety, kind of on the level of the second amendment. and I don't actually think we'll ever repeal the second amendment.
[00:09:10] What really interested me more is why do people make the decision to buy a gun? Not whether it should be legal or not, but why do people make a decision to buy a gun? and keep it at home, supposedly for protection where the data, or quite overwhelming now that the presence of a gun in home, as Sarah said, makes the people who live there much less safe, increases the risk for death by homicide or suicide, and also for accidental injury.
[00:09:38] and they say, well, I started talking about that and we realized that we were going along parallel tracks. We developed several others similar. things. And I like to say that we're equal opportunity offenders because, some of the, positions we've taken will, be in line with what liberal, political people think.
[00:09:58] And so with conservative, for [00:10:00] example, we, even though I'm very active in the environmental movement myself, it's very hard for me to be as against nuclear energy. As many of the people that I work with in climate area are because I think the data for nuclear energy are much more positive than people realize.
[00:10:16] And similarly, I think the data for sure. Genetically modified foods is much more positive. On the other hand, obviously we believe that gun ownership is irrational, and that, vaccines should be, always given to when they're available and a bunch of other things like that. So we try to stick with the science and.
[00:10:39] Once the book was published in 2016, the last chapter of the book has a bunch of suggestions for what should we do about all these problems and about the fact that people resist making decisions based on science, usually because of some very ingrained often evolutionarily conserved [00:11:00] traits that we have that are often called biases or defaults.
[00:11:04] And people, our friend suggested why don't you do something about this? And after thinking about it for a while, we said, okay, we're going to form a nonprofit organization, which we call it Critica to pursue this idea of how to help people accept scientific evidence, how to counteract scientific misinformation in a way that actually is evidence-based itself.
[00:11:30] And third, how to improve the use of science in public policymaking. And so we pursue all three of those goals. We're only a few years old at this point, but, very busy with Critica and then we have a very nice team. Yeah, that's fantastic. Thanks for giving the background and you hit on a couple of things to kick us off.
[00:11:54] And so the first, very foremost. Thing that I want to announce is [00:12:00] Sarah, thank you for being the first mother on a bad court podcast. So you two are both hitting a, a first, but we have the first father daughter duo as well as the first mother. So thanks for breaking some records for us here at the dead core podcast today.
[00:12:15] , Sarah, , you're a new mother. So congratulations on that as well. I know you're going through the first year, so while you're balancing, Critica and, all the duties of being a mother, my hats off to you, and, and Jack, whenever we start to hear some stories about how you are as a father, Sarah, if I need to mute, Jack, so he doesn't hear them, let me know.
[00:12:32] I can do that. Right. Very good. So, when you talk about the subjects, when I was reading your book, what I found fascinating is it, it was a very courageous book, especially for the first one to come out. You hit on about every topic that probably people have some type of opinion, and tend to be very passionate about,
[00:12:55] and you, you kept going to the scientific method for the [00:13:00] listeners out there. At that starting point. What is the scientific method? Let's start? the scientific method is basically a mode of inquiry that's followed in the scientific field. It works really a little bit. Counter-intuitively by this. Idea through this idea of falsification.
[00:13:17] So when you're doing a study, you set up a hypothesis that there's no effect of what you're looking at, and you try to disprove that. That's just sort of the way that these things are formulated and as time goes on, what happens is that other people try to either replicate your findings or disprove them and.
[00:13:36] After a while, a consensus is sort of achieved on what they actual science shows on a given time. But I wanted to emphasize that process because it doesn't have, it happened instantaneously. And very rarely as one study going to tell you the whole story. So, normally what happens is that it, things have to be repeated.
[00:13:55] they have to be shown to be true in different. Settings different [00:14:00] scenarios, different contexts before people can really accept them as scientific fact. I think one of the interesting things about that and Sarah gave the perfect description of what it is is that sometimes people talk about the scientific method as if it's controversial.
[00:14:16] And somebody, somebody wrote a chapter for one of our books in which they said that we have a. Different scientific method than you use. And that's really misunderstanding what the so-called scientific method is. It's not really a matter of opinion. If it's done properly, it is clearly the best way to achieve at scientific consensus where controversies occur in science usually arise when it's not done properly or when it's misinterpreted.
[00:14:48] Not when the method itself is applied, it's really quite a benign formulation that is not intended to have any politics or opinion within it. [00:15:00] When we put that into it, then it can become controversial. Just one other concept that's important to understand for the scientific method is that, In, in the instance of human studies, which is what we're really looking at for how medical science, for the most part, obviously what you're looking, what you're trying to get is a representation of the population.
[00:15:20] So you, you're not able to look at the entire population in any study, but you're, you're trying to get a representative as much as you can sample. So something similar to the overall population from which you extrapolate. And so that's part of the reason why. like I said before, studies need to be repeated in different contexts with different people because the extrapolation is not as easy as it sounds.
[00:15:43] You can make some, general, you could have some general ideas from one study that things are going in this direction, but oftentimes because you didn't test the entire population. That's part of the reason why, you have to repeat and look at it again. And that's an [00:16:00] important point when, when you're doing some type of sampling and you talk about by extrapolation, just, to, confirm that, I'm thinking about this correctly.
[00:16:08], if you take 10 people, , and I know that that may not be a balanced statistical sample, but if you take 10 people and you have these 10 people representing a hundred people pop up a population, , based on what you find out of those 10 people, you can make some conclusions around what the best way forward for that hundred people would be.
[00:16:27] Is that, is that how you're discussing when you talk about extrapolation and sampling? Yeah. And that's a very good example because. The scientific method in that case is not wrong. It's being used incorrectly. So we know that you can't really make any generalizations from 10% of a population. So if somebody tries to do that, then they're making a mistake.
[00:16:50] it's not that the scientific method itself is wrong. And when you look at the it's situation that we're facing at this country, , I think you [00:17:00] made the point. It doesn't happen overnight. Do you have an idea or some type of opinion around where we're at?
[00:17:08] As far as starting to get smart around COVID, whether it's therapies, treatments, ways to protect ourselves. we've learned a lot. I think we really learned a lot about COVID. If you think about where we were a few months ago, not even totally sure how it's transmitted and how much more we know about how it's transmitted now, for example, we know that surfaces are not necessarily, probably not a huge transmitter, but we know that, being inside with no masks, that's really, a big, A big danger, potentially.
[00:17:38] We also know a lot more about how it affects different systems in the body as opposed to just the respiratory system. and I think that people tend to, to underestimate the importance of understanding the modes of transmission. I was actually having a conversation about this with my husband last night about, Epidemics that happen way in the past, before we even understood that there was such a thing as a [00:18:00] microorganism and spread diseases and how people could possibly put infection control measures in or protect themselves.
[00:18:06] So they didn't even understand, that there is such a thing, I think, as a microorganism and that it can spread through the air when someone coughs, et cetera, now it's really quite remarkable how much we understand. And that we know , there are a certain number of ways that a virus can be transmitted and.
[00:18:24] Then, we do the work to figure out in this particular instance, which one is it? Or which ones is it? And it's, that doesn't happen overnight either. I think people are a little impatient with the fact that, Oh, they said surfaces and now it's not surfaces. And they said, no, mass, and now they're saying mass, no, it's not so easy.
[00:18:39] So I think that alone, it is a big step, obviously, where we're a little bit farther behind is on the treatment front. really aside from supportive care, There's nothing that great there, to help treat the illness.
[00:18:51]And the question now becomes, are we okay to take a next step and get kids back into school? [00:19:00] what are your opinions on how. Parents can use science or the scientific process, or at least understand it to a degree to make a informed decision, whether the answer should be yes or no.
[00:19:12]So taking off on what Sarah just said, The first thing to do is to acknowledge what are the emotional factors involved in making this decision? So we can, put them aside for a second and be able to see what the science is because we may not like what the science is because of our emotions. And that is, we're all tired of being at home.
[00:19:36] Parents want their children to go back to school so that their children are getting the education. Occasionally they meet parents are getting really frustrated with trying to homeschool their children, trying to have their children on zoom, to learn things, having to babysit their children and themselves all day long, not being able to do their work.
[00:19:56] I've got lots of friends who have, children at home [00:20:00] and they can't do their work because the children are. Yeah, some of the things. So there are lot of things that make a parent obviously, and understandably want schools to open already. And they are right to believe that the children themselves.
[00:20:20] Usually, if they get infected with Colgate 19, with the virus that causes COVID-19 have relatively mild illness. and so there's a tendency for people to think, well, why not let these kids go to school? And even if they get it, so they'll be sick for a week or so, they are quite rare that children develop disease series enough to eat hospitalization or die.
[00:20:46] And that way we can get them back to school. So once you get all of that, which is kind of emotional, now we can start looking at the science and the science is that children are [00:21:00] clearly. As able to be infected and spread infection as adults, even though they don't get as sick as adults and schools have lots of adults, they have teachers, they have kitchen staff, they have janitorial staff, children go home to their parents and their grandparents and other adults.
[00:21:21] So it is not the case that it. Just because the children themselves don't get that sick, that by opening schools, you're going to prevent spread of the infection. And therefore this has to be done extremely cautiously. It can't be, let's just open the schools, no matter how much we want, because those children will be vectors for the virus and make people sick.
[00:21:45] And the best way to do it is. To listen to the public health people who are counting the number of new infections and the likelihood of spread of infection and to follow their lead very carefully. So in an [00:22:00] area where the infection rate is very low, which is not that many places in the United States yet, but is starting to happen England and New York.
[00:22:13] It may be possible to begin opening schools under restricted circumstances, keeping the classes small. So you can have the children separated. Having the children were face masks. That may mean you can only have older children. So it's store school because y'all get children may not be able to wear a face mask.
[00:22:31] So all of this very slowly following the public health feed is the only way to go about this. And that's gonna mean, unfortunately, starting up school only in certain areas. And not anywhere near to the extent that parents like Sarah May want to see them reopened. with the scientific process, and you talked about sampling earlier, you have these situations where you're trying to.
[00:22:58] Sample off [00:23:00] of population and get a representation of that population to extrapolate, to make decisions on the best way forward for that larger population. Correct. And so when you go down that path, one of the challenges I would think is that it's really difficult to get a representation of the population of the United States, because there's so many.
[00:23:20] Nuances to different segments. You've got ethnicities that seem to be impacted differently. You've got DNA genetics, you've got underlying health conditions. And so a child may be perfectly fine to get COVID, but if they spread that to another child that gets COVID that child's parents have an underlying condition that could turn into a very serious situation for that family.
[00:23:44] Right. And, and so what's your view on. Options. Is there a one stop solution for this, or do you believe that schools are going to need to have options to be able to manage the different nuances of the population? Yeah, I think they're going to have [00:24:00] to have somewhat of a hybrid approach.
[00:24:02] because like you said, there may be people in certain households or even children, themselves who are at higher risk. and so that needs to be accounted for, there's a lot we don't know, unfortunately about why do some people get. Sicker than others. Why do some people have the virus go to this part of the body versus that part of the body?
[00:24:20] it's manifested in many different ways and there's a lot, we don't know. We don't know in general about how people's immune systems work and why some people get sick or, and others don't, or some people get more sick than others. So we have to accept some of that uncertainty, but yeah, I think there has to be somewhat of a hybrid approach so that there are people who can stay home more if they need to.
[00:24:40] I think probably the only way to do this would be given an area that has a low infection rate and very good testing. It's important to keep track of that as well. Then you can kind of dip your toe in the water by letting some children go back on some days and that kind of staggered approach and keep it, I [00:25:00] keep testing people and see what's happening.
[00:25:02] That's really the only way, obviously, you can't just open up. and there have to, and I think you're right. Or do you have to be options for, for different situations? What about. The media right now and all of the news none of us can get away from it. . And I'm sure when you're all watching different news segments or reading different articles with the thought process of what you went through to create, the nine to the grave and critic overall, you probably, Face palming yourself every once in a while, what are the most egregious misconceptions that don't follow the scientific method that people should be aware of that they should, at least if they don't take our word for it, they should go and do a little bit more research before they, they believe that that's the truth.
[00:25:48] Well, I think never in our lifetime, have we been so challenged by the dilemma of, on the one hand? You do want any [00:26:00] information that might be lifesaving to get out there as quickly as possible. With, on the other hand, we want accurate information to get out there. We don't want to fill up the news wires with stories about things that may or may not work that are not true.
[00:26:19] And that's very, very difficult. So for example, vitamin D. It's one of the ones that I just wrote something about for critical. they were reports that vitamin D would prevent people from getting infected. And if you got infected would make you better. And the rationale for that is, is that it is known that vitamin D does have some positive effects on immune function.
[00:26:44] Also has some anti inflammatory effects that might potentially be useful. And also that. we know that the, disease COVID-19 affects people of color, much more severely than white [00:27:00] people and people of color tend to have lower vitamin D levels than white people. Because the pigment in their skin tends to block some of the conversion of sunlight into the useful types of vitamin D.
[00:27:15] So that's all that is not irrational. but what I saw is the media. rip from the headlines, take vitamin D and you'll not get COVID-19 and that kind of stuff just drives me crazy. When I actually reviewed all the literature. It turns out that the chance that vitamin D is going to have any effect or at least what we know right now is very, very low.
[00:27:40] and that telling people to take vitamin D is probably not useful. And reason why I think some of these things are dangerous is because that people spend all their time. Getting vitamin D and researching vitamin D and not paying attention to something that might really work on the other hand.
[00:27:58] let's say that somebody [00:28:00] makes an observation that a drug, that has been in use for a long time. they see in their patients that it seems to help. right now we have this system that's increasing for the first time of publishing papers as what's called preprints that's before the papers have been reviewed by scholars in the field and make sure that the paper is looks like it's accurate.
[00:28:22] Dexamethazone is a good example of that. That's a steroid that's been in use for a million years in medicine to treat a certain, dangerous types of inflammation. And some physicians noticed that dexamethazone seemed to reduce the severity of the illness. Now, if you get that information out, Where doctors might try dexamethazone on the other hand, we don't really know if dexamethazone really works or if it's safe at this point, headlines again, all over the place.
[00:28:52] Oh, about this. so it's a real challenge right now, but I really think that people need to take with [00:29:00] a grain of salt, everything they read in the media, where it's a first time it should be reported or where it's not been verified by at least some followup research and some peer review. right now I would say, , we have some reliable things.
[00:29:16] We can tell people that. Seemed to work facemasks is primary among them, social distancing. Hand-washing those kinds of things. Those are the most important everything else you see, you have to say, wait a second. That's the first time I've heard that let's not jump on that bandwagon right away until we see if it holds up.
[00:29:37]Sarah, are there any for you that you've seen ? , I did some headlines recently about proton pump inhibitors and how they doubled the risk for COVID. , then there was this whole thing about how it really matters, how much you're taking, people who are on like a normal dose.
[00:29:51] We're not really having much of an effect that people who are on a really big dose for having, all that stuff was buried. And that sort of bothered me because. it just felt [00:30:00] very like the headline was just like, don't take proton pump inhibitors and some people, I could see people actually either just stopping them.
[00:30:08] Cause people stop their medications all the time without asking their doctors and they're on them for a reason, you know? the media articles don't discuss, the risk benefit, you have to think about what are the risks of me not taking this medication. There are risks involved in that too.
[00:30:22] It's not just that. now I'm scared of COVID. So I'm not going to stop taking my medication, or maybe . using up a lot of their doctor's time on this question, which may not be that relevant in the end. So , I understand why there was reporting on those findings, but it was a little bit the way it was reported that bothered me because all these relevant details and things about, think about why are you on this drug and what would happen if you're not on that truck?
[00:30:46] That step wasn't even in there. Yeah, I'll just add that, for people who may not know what a proton pump inhibitor, as an example is the common drug pry low sick, that people use to reduce gastric acid and reflux. [00:31:00] and that's, again, another problem with, how things are reported in the media.
[00:31:04] I actually did a lot of journalism when I was younger and I know that journalists are taught to put the most striking thing right in the first sentence. And then as you go along more and more of the boring details. So the story like that lead pilots that doubles your risk of getting a COVID-19 and you'll have to read down to near the end of the article to get the nuances that Sarah was saying that some people need to take pilots sec, for very important reasons.
[00:31:35] And. If you take the proper dose, the risk is not as, as high. So another thing I really advise people to do is when you see these headlines, whether they were on social media or in the traditional media, keep reading, don't stop at the first paragraph or the headline I read down. Cause invariably, as you get longer and longer, you'll see that there are lots of [00:32:00] details that will modify what you think.
[00:32:03] If you just read the first paragraph. That's a great point. And, first, thanks for making that clarification about proton inhibitors, because you would have demonstrated my ignorance because I was about to ask the question after that. So you saved me some face, but on a, on a serious note, you made a comment there that I think is really important.
[00:32:23] And I hadn't even thought about it until I was listening to you. You, you all talk. The headlines. And one of the areas you hit in your book a lot are conflicts of interest. And I thought that was a really fascinating section. In some ways, the media and reporters at this point have a little bit of a conflict of interest in the sense that they need you to click on , their headlines. ? And so they need to make the most catchy headline. They need to capture your attention. There's so much information out there and there's not enough knowledge, but. I started to think, as you were talking, is. maybe the first step is why are we going [00:33:00] to major media as our health resources, those articles, and maybe that's the first kind of mistake in this process that we should be going to the right areas for that are using the scientific method.
[00:33:15] We know, Journalists are using anecdotal evidence, or they're trying to use the one egregious case that just captures your attention and so you read these headlines, you might come out with an opinion that's misinformed. Where would you recommend people actually go ? When they're trying to get educated information, it's using the scientific method around COVID and the latest research and the latest findings and learnings.
[00:33:42]Well, I'm gonna answer that question and then. Undermine what I'm going to say in a moment, but traditionally we've told people to go to among other things, to the reliable federal health agencies onto their [00:34:00] website. So if I wanted to tell somebody where to go about it, vaccinations, I would tell them, go to the CDC.
[00:34:07] I would also tell people to go to the websites of, respected, medical societies, again, like vaccines, the American Academy of pediatrics website, and then finally to, help organizations that we respect. like the Mayo clinic, the Cleveland clinic, the Harvard newsletters, they all have websites or very scientific.
[00:34:33] You can use good science. so that's where I would, I would definitely check almost everything that you see in the newspaper against that. So if you read something about face masks, I would definitely go to that kind of a source. before I would make a decision, what I'm going to undermine myself by saying, though, and this is, I hope we can tolerate a little politics here, but these agencies, and we've just done a lot of writing about this, both for Critica and [00:35:00] in the update of our book, which Sarah and I are working on.
[00:35:04] Now, these agencies have really been trashed in the last few years. they've been subject to tremendous political influence. And so I understand that people are like a little bit less. You are a good example is going back to your question about school openings. The CDC first came out with guidelines that I thought were definitely typical CDC based on the evidence.
[00:35:29] And then there was some political interference and now they've come out with new guidelines that seemed to. Be more in line with what the political demands are, that are a little scary because they are too. Aggressive about school reopening and they don't look like what the CDC really believes at at this point.
[00:35:51] So that's unfortunate, certainly going to make it more difficult for people and also makes it, opens up an Avenue for people who don't use science [00:36:00] to say, well, if you can't trust the CDC, you might as well trust anybody. I still think you can use those, for the most part to get information. and I certainly think the websites of respected medical schools and medical societies are, are better places to go than simply relying on the media.
[00:36:19] I would add. so federal health sources are, as Jack said, a little bit troubling right now. you can, you should still use them in general guidelines, but for things like in the moment updates, I've found that city and state. health departments often have good effects information now depends a little bit on the city and state.
[00:36:41] So at the risk of sounding bias, I would say New York city and New York state have very good material and information. Some States are not handling the COVID crisis as well as others. So those might not be the best place to go, but you can look at States outside your own. They will have general information that would be useful.
[00:36:58] Useful about [00:37:00] COVID. Although some of it might be specific statistics to New York or wherever you're looking. Yeah. That's good information. And you mentioned a word Jack trust, and it also in your book, I know you all spent some time talking about conspiracy theories and, Let's use mass, for example, because we've seen this, mass work mass don't work mass are used out there to control us.
[00:37:27] This isn't really a matter of safety. It's about the government trying to find out who complies, who does, and I'm sure you've all seen those conspiracy theories out there. And I've seen it from very smart people, which I think you all touched in your book.
[00:37:40] You've seen anti-vaccination right. Like extremely intelligent, very, very successful people by all means, are making decisions around whether they vaccinate their kids. And so like anybody can fall to this. And for me, it just kept. It kept ringing trust in my head. The fact that people may not trust these organizations and [00:38:00] then when they come out with , , we're not sure if it works or it should does work.
[00:38:04] And then it doesn't. And some of the scientific method is that learning process. Right. , until you get that representation, it's hard to make a conclusion, but yet they're being forced to give information so quickly. ,
[00:38:15] how can people get better understanding around trusting these different guidelines that they may not necessarily trust at this point and, that, these organizations are going through the scientific process or learning and mass are actually a good thing.
[00:38:32]Well, I think I would start by trying to help people understand what the profound scientific problem is with finding out if masks and the gold standard for trying to find out if any intervention works is something called the randomized controlled trial. And if we were going to do a randomized controlled trial, To be absolutely certain that masks work.
[00:38:55] What we would have to do is take a large group of people and assign [00:39:00] half of them to wear masks and half of them to be forbidden, to wear masks, have the, they go out into the world and see how many people don't wear masks get infected and how many people they infect and compare that to the people who wear masks, .
[00:39:17] And then we can get a pretty good idea. About whether they work or not. Now, obviously that's sir, that example I gave, that's the kind of study that we demand. If there's like a new drug, for example, that we want to test, but we obviously couldn't do that kind of a study. so that's a profound problem for scientists then how in the world are they going to prove that masks work?
[00:39:40] Okay. And as Sarah will probably jump in right in a second, there are lots of other ones, ways to do studies that. Confirm whether or not something works, but they generally, or more difficult take longer. And. Proposed war controversy within the scientific field itself. [00:40:00] And so I think to the extent that people understand how that develops among scientists themselves, they will understand why it's possible to start off not thinking that masks were necessarily of use to coming to this different opinion at the same time.
[00:40:19] and. You are absolutely right. That all it takes intervened in this. There's some reason to be concerned, for example, that the. World health organization, which gets its funding from all different countries may have originally formulated its opinions about these things on the basis of some of the countries that early on had high rates of COVID-19, but didn't want the world to know about it.
[00:40:41] at first. So, that's a conflict of interest for the world health organization, which is one of those very. Organizations, I totally respect and think they're generally great, but they can succumb to that kind of political pressure somehow. And I think books and books will be written about this.
[00:40:57] I'm not exactly certain. Maybe Sarah has a better [00:41:00] idea how it got to be that wearing a face mask was a, something, a sign of your political persuasion. That is one of the oddest things that's ever happened. I think, Because, I don't like they were annoying. I wear glasses and it fogs my glasses up.
[00:41:20] And, I think that I, get out of breath, which is not true by the way, they will make you out of breath, but it feels like you're out of breath when you wear them. But I can't understand why people think that it's a sign of personal freedom not to wear them. That's kind of a interesting phenomenon.
[00:41:38] Maybe Sarah has some better clues about that. It's hard to say. I mean, I think people, cause a couple of things, first of all, it's a very distressing time and I think people want to hang their hat on something and say, this is what I believe in because it's easier to do that when you're really stressed out and everything.
[00:41:57] It seems like it's really out of control. [00:42:00] And so not wearing a mask may, may just be a way to affiliate yourself more strongly with your group of people who don't wear masks. And that's comforting also, it's a little bit of denial of course, because the whole idea is, well, Not just that I don't think they work and maybe they're, a weapon of political control, but if I don't wear a mask, it's easier to say to myself, there's no problem.
[00:42:23] If I'm wearing a mask, it's a reminder all the time. That's something's wrong. it would be helpful if the media would tell you the story a little bit more about what happened with the mask recommendations. So, , we couldn't do a randomized control trial, but over time, and this takes time, we looked at what happened in countries that were masked wearing was more common.
[00:42:42] And we saw that. Oh, okay. this seems to have made somewhat of a difference. We don't know for sure if it was that or something else, but again, wearing a mask is not a high risk thing to do. So it may as well do it. And it looks like it really helps. So that took some time to develop. And that's part of why, at first it seemed like it made no [00:43:00] difference.
[00:43:01] And then, people saw actually, I think it's important. that's such a great point because. It's one of those things where like, personally I'll even raise my hand and say, I've went back and forth on, cause I, I would read that, yeah, the virus is too small and it'll go through through the mask and nothing's going to stop it.
[00:43:18] Right. And so essentially it's a theater of safety and then. You would read that it does stop it. And, and then I used to laugh. I'm like, I don't remember people sneezing on me so much. Like I, I just don't remember walking through and everybody coughing. Yeah. Right. Like I, it was a joke, but it was just, I would go back and forth and I would say, okay, well, I'm seeing that people were wearing it.
[00:43:39] It became more and more, almost accepted. At first in New York city, you would see one or two people wearing, then you saw 10 and then before you know it, if you weren't wearing it, it almost created a peer pressure of okay. What's wrong with you. So then I think people started to comply more with, and I hate to use the words complex.
[00:43:53] I know in the United States we hate that word. but , , I think people were more likely to feel it's it's okay. They're not, breaking the cultural [00:44:00] norms that, we don't generally cover our mouth. , what I got to even before, the data is becoming more and more prevalent as I think started, you mentioned is, may not be a hundred percent conclusive, but if there's a chance and it seems like there's a high chance that it is effective to some degree.
[00:44:18] Out of respect for all of the citizens that I come in contact with. ? , and Jack, you mentioned is a little hot. Maybe it's not the most comfortable thing. and in Florida heat right now, certainly , I can confirm that that's true, but a little bit of miss comfort for us getting through this devastating pandemic is worth it.
[00:44:36] If there's a chance. Right. and I just wonder if, in some sense, what makes us great as a country is we do value individual rights, right? And we have this kind of contempt for government for hundreds of years. That's how we formed as a country. But in some ways it's also played in this situation, seems to our detriment because we haven't trusted the government in.
[00:44:57] Sorry. I think you hit, hit it spot on is it would have been. [00:45:00] It'd be amazing if somebody just came out and talked about that story, because that story isn't out there, it's, the news story is mass work. Then the next day the mass don't wear it, and then now it's become hyper politicized.
[00:45:10] So it's really fascinating to see. And it'd be nice if there was a little bit more objective, Kind of discussions and understanding and saying, listen, we're, we're learning. We learn this. This is why we've learned it. Versus like, people seem to always be discussing to try to be right or wrong, which is, which is so yeah, we have about 12 minutes left and I do want to make sure Jack would get to some of these dad's stories for Armenia.
[00:45:31] So let me, let me ask you one kind of final question on that. On the COVID we covered a lot of ground, but as parents, if you had to make the decision now and following your scientific method, , and taking the emotion out, what are the key things that you would look at for your school to make this decision?
[00:45:50]I think it'd be good to understand. what's going on in your local. Situation. So what would a cases look like? ? How high is it and how [00:46:00] well is the health department keeping track and testing? that's one thing that backward job is important. If the cases are very, very high, or if you have no idea because the health department is Mia or not collecting good data, then then you might be a little bit on more shaky ground.
[00:46:17] Then I would ask a lot of questions to the school, if you can. About what precautions they're taking and things you'd want to look for things like definitely want people wearing masks. , you want a lower number of people there at any given time so that people can be, not too close to each other.
[00:46:34] I think importantly, you know how well the facility is cleaned is important, but probably less important than masks and how far apart people are. And then you also want to understand sort of how close of an eye or is everyone keeping on the trend in the data? , what you don't want to happen is that there's this recurrence in the fall that everyone's predicting. and that, you got behind that, it's already off and running and your kids still in the school, [00:47:00] and then, you get sick. So you want it, you want to know that things are being followed closely and regularly, so that if that starts to happen, then, you would have some advance warning about that. I think that those, would be my main recommendations. Yeah.
[00:47:14] I think that sounds good. it depends where you live very much. I think if, if I lived in a high prevalence or high incidents area for COVID-19 at this point, and , they said let's just open the schools. I would be very reluctant to go along with that.
[00:47:30] If I lived in a low incidence area and they said, we've studied this extensively, talked to the top people, and we're going to have a modified reopening of schools that has the following restrictions. Then I would probably feel pretty confident going along with it. Got it. Well, thank you both so much for giving us this COVID perspectives.
[00:47:52] And I think that that ties back really well to the book sections. So I can see where your opinions are our forms. [00:48:00] So we'll, I'll give you a second at the end to talk about where people can find your book and Critica. just out of full disclosure, I had interviewed dr. Serge , who was on the front lines and New Jersey.
[00:48:11] with COVID and he's become a you won't have a public speaker on COVID and, and his recommendations were very similar to yours, and I had not told you all. So it goes to show that people following the scientific method, then to kind of go through the same process and thoughts.
[00:48:26] So that was good to see. but Jack, so let's talk about the dad Corp part though.
[00:48:32] So how do we add dads? What's the feet to raise a U Penn graduate doctorate and, author and supermom. so, Oh, that was what you did, right ? Well, yeah. it's really, up to other people to say how well our method worked, my wife and I, cause we, my wife, Lauren and I, Sarah's, mother's also a psychiatrist by the way.
[00:48:53] So it's kind of the family business, with, how we did, but we're in a [00:49:00] generation whose parents, Kind of took a much less involve parent attitudes. So our parents were, I think, much less involved in our lives than our generation of parents or with our children, if that's clear. So, we, I think that basic attitude that, Trying to be involved with your children is a really good thing. And, so we did, encourage them to do things. We did support them to do things. now it may be that we overdid it because Sarah will tell you that she took millions of different kinds of lessons.
[00:49:36] And she has a very famous Ted med talk. And we, she talks about, how. Too influential. We were in the about, ballet for example, and things like that. but I always tried to be involved, but I always tried to be involved with the kids from it, point of view of they take the lead. What they seem to want to do is something that I'm good at to encourage and support.
[00:50:00] [00:50:00] It was also interesting to have two daughters because, I, I do believe that women are generally at a disadvantage in our society for, getting all of the, again, to choose. and so we were very clear that that would not be the case. And I remember one time, one of my daughters came home and said, I don't remember it was Sarah, Rachel.
[00:50:19] They wanted to be a giant to be a cheerleader. And, I hit the roof. You absolutely cannot do that. That's a stereotypical thing. And you must not be, I think they were just bathing me cause I, I don't, I'm not sure how serious they were about doing it and they didn't do it. Now. You could say either that I was trying to uphold the feminist ideal, or I was discouraging my child from doing something that they really wanted to do.
[00:50:47] So in all those cases, it's very hard to know. I'll just say one other thing, which is, as a psychiatrist, one of the things I observed it did, it's very rare. It was very rare in my experience that you did much damage by loving [00:51:00] kids too much. and, I saw some pretty terrible examples of, emotional and even some physical neglect and abuse of people who became my patients as well.
[00:51:11] Because of that. I very rarely had patients who said my mother and father loved me too much. I mean, it's obviously possible to be over involved in and all those kinds of things, which I don't think I really love. So that was always another one of my mantra is that, if it really came down to, should I discipline a child about this?
[00:51:31] Or should I tell them no, that, The most important thing is that everything you do as a parent, be out of a basic emotion of loving them. That's a great, that's a great quote. We'll be definitely meaning that one and replaying it many times. So when you look at being raised by Jack, what. Or the things that really helped your life and enabled you to be where you're at professionally, him personally .
[00:51:59] Yeah. [00:52:00] So this, this isn't from my childhood is from a little bit more of my adult life. But one thing I didn't tell you earlier when I talked about my background is that I used to be a medieval literature scholar before I went into public. Why not? And one thing that, it was just so amazing about my dad is that he, everything, I, and I think he alluded to this earlier, everything I was interested in.
[00:52:23] He instantaneously, like without asking any questions, he would just get with the program. Like I was reading all these, like, biographies of martyrs from the middle ages and I was writing about them and he would like read them, they were boring and long and all of that middle English.
[00:52:40] And he would just, anything I mentioned, he would just go and on his own and he would just read because he wanted to. Be a part of whatever I was interested in. And it was really so encouraging, it just made me feel like , first of all, I could do anything, which , that's something, both my pants that's really instilled in me, whatever you want to do, .
[00:53:00] [00:52:59] We'll support you, first of all, there's no judgment, as long as it's not illegal or something, we support you 100%, whatever you're interested in and not just that, but, we think it's so interesting. And this was especially, my dad did this, it was just, I'm going to get involved too, but to educate myself and, and make sure that I really can participate.
[00:53:19] And that's something that I, that I really hope that I can do with my son too, because I just think that's so. It just makes you feel so wonderful when somebody is that interested in what you're, what you're interested in and they want, they just want to be more part of your life as much as possible.
[00:53:34]yeah, I think taking the interest, but also, I mean, my parents and my dad really taught me how to improve on something like I did.
[00:53:43] I remember getting really frustrated. because I I'm a little bit, I'm very perfectionistic and I, I was that way as a kid. I remember this where if I didn't get something right away, I just give up. And I just remember both my parents being very patient and sort of teaching me. [00:54:00] How do you actually learn how to do something, you know?
[00:54:02] And, and just being so calm when I would just freak out that couldn't do it. and I still have that tendency sometimes, cause my husband will ask me like a math question and if I can't do it, I just start freaking out and he's, he's like, it's okay. You can figure it out. You don't have to freak out like, Oh, that's.
[00:54:19] Yeah. I remember this, trying to learn this as a kid, as a kid. And do you know it's interesting. one key question. I want to ask you to check you. You mentioned having daughters and enabling them and I have a daughter and that's something that goes through my mind quite often. how to make sure she has the right role models.
[00:54:36] She understands like we, we spend most of our time. If we're watching athletics, we watch women's athletics. Right? I want her to see that she can do anything. And, and unfortunately society is still not there quite yet. Right? Like we're, we're making the right moves or were maybe not as fast as we should, but what, what did tactically did you do too empower and enable your daughters?
[00:54:58] And then Sarah, I would love [00:55:00] your advice on fathers. How, if they do have daughters, they could continue to do that or things that we should be thinking about. Cause I think that's really important, in parenting right now. Well, I think, my wife really said a lot of the tone for this.
[00:55:12] My wife is from a generation where women were told if you're smart and you can go to college, you should become a teacher or a nurse. And, my wife went to medical school and is now a very successful, sought after position. and so I think that that. And another, another experience I had, which I'll just mention quickly is that, our class in medical school, my wife and I were in the same class.
[00:55:37] That's where we met at Columbia was the first class at Columbia medical university medical school that had more than just one or two women. It had actually a. Substantial number we're now it's about 50 50 in medical school, but it was the beginning of, so I got to before, right before I got married and had children, I got to meet some really incredible women, myself who [00:56:00] were really smart and, really interesting, and really fun to be with also, and that taught me that, in raising daughters, I didn't have to push them to be successful.
[00:56:12] I just had to support them. and , also pay attention to the fact that childhood should be fun. And so that, I would do both of those things. I think I'll just tell you an anecdote that I always spend time using is Sarah today is an incredible downhill skier. and she does things with her sister that are very frightening.
[00:56:33] And then I just closed my eyes. now when Sarah was learning how to ski at first, she hated it. And this is, we're a big ski family. So it would be hard for somebody to be in our family and not do this cause we've all do it. and so how did I handle that? What I get is everybody would go skiing and she refused to go.
[00:56:53] I would spend a day with her wandering around the ability, talking, doing things. and [00:57:00] once in a while, I'd say, well, you want to try it now, do you want to track it now? And, But I tried to be both supportive of the fact that she wasn't interested and also to encourage her. and it sort of worked because one day we were just skiing, just the two of us.
[00:57:15] And all of a sudden she said, Oh, I think I'm getting the hang of this. And, from there, within, a year or two, I couldn't keep up with her. so it was always a kind of a thing with. raising daughters to, be supportive, but not to have my own political agenda. I mean, if they had wanted to be teachers or nurses, those are wonderful professions.
[00:57:36] I would have supported them. Sarah, what's your thoughts on , how his fathers can empower and enable our daughters? Yeah, well, I think this was something my mom talked about a little bit more than my dad, but it was a matter of either parent could do this. it was just, well, first of all, she was obviously a wonderful and is a wonderful role model as someone who, had a lush has an illustrious career and two children.
[00:57:57] but I just think that making sure that. [00:58:00] Your daughters know that it doesn't have to be a choice between work and family. Now that's not to sugarcoat the fact that it's very hard to balance them. women are viewed differently in the workplace and et cetera, et cetera. Once you have a kid, that all that, all that stuff.
[00:58:15] but I think just sort of keeping harping on the message that you can have your children and love your children and you really into being a mom. And also be really into your career. And, my mom always talks about that and it's never a cliched. It's very genuine, she says all the time, like having you as my greatest accomplishment, but I'm like, but you're like this amazing doctor.
[00:58:41] And she's like, yeah, that's really important too. she doesn't try to say like, it's just this. Or it's just that I always got the sense that, it really, really can sort of do both. And so I think that was. and also I saw my parents sharing responsibilities around the house. And so that was, that's obviously really [00:59:00] helpful.
[00:59:00] And my husband and I really split things very evenly now. So I think that, that those ideas can be. Cross-generational. Yeah. And those are fantastic ideas. I'm glad you talked on that because that's an important topic that a lot of, families discuss whenever there's these stereotypes out there. I think I had mentioned to you all, like, we're trying to modernize the data image and get away from that Homer Simpson, dad, and that you, you see, parents splitting the duties cause you have two parents working and you've got careers and you can balance it all and be engaged.
[00:59:32] And I think it also has a data. I remember I had a, a sociology teacher and I didn't understand this at the time cause I was 21 years old and I never thought I would have children at that age. Right. that he said. you need to change some diapers. He's like as a, as a father, one day, if there's one thing you do change some diapers, , because there's a bonding there that happens.
[00:59:51] And he was right. So, I want to give you one last question then I want you to have a chance on Critica. So. Jack. We have the [01:00:00] data owed, here at the dad Corp, which we had a, rhyming, artists come on, a Gareth, Rudy wrote this book, very fine rhymes and recipes.
[01:00:08] And he sung the song of what he'd hope his kids would sing about him. One day. I won't ask you to sing a song for us, but, as a father, when Sarah and her sister, describe you, when you're not around, what. What do you hope that they say about you as a father?
[01:00:25] I will hope that they will say that they felt not just no, but felt that I genuinely loved them and that I imparted to them a sense of, being. Loving to other people so that the, my daughters care about, social justice and human rights on a global scale and also about loving their own families.
[01:00:57] Yeah. maintaining the yeah. Family [01:01:00] relationships. So I hope I have been able to inculcate all of those things from my own example of simply, Loving them very much. That's great. Is that a fair? Description Sarah. Yeah. I would say you've already accomplished all that. So you can retire as a book.
[01:01:24] Yeah. This was an interesting subject. Thanks for having the courage to do that in front of your children. Usually most of the dads, I can say it without. Having the daughters sitting there watching. So this has been a lot of fun. So tell me, I guess to wrap it up. Thanks again, I am, I'm honored to have a chance to speak with you, and hopefully we'll get a chance to have you all back.
[01:01:42] As you continue to learn and evolve with Critica. Tell us about where you can find Critica. what you're up to, any new things coming out and, where they can all continue to follow your online.
[01:01:52]So Critica is our website is [01:02:00] www.criticalscience.org. And, we hope that you'll go there. We have a commentary page where we publish usually about at least three commentaries every month on a critical related topics, something in science that that is. We think important for people to understand. the things I said about CDC for example, is the topic of a, and also by vitamin D that I said on that this podcast or topics that are covered in, in some of our, Recent commentaries.
[01:02:33] And also one of the things we're working on now is every couple of months we go over the actual illnesses that vaccines are for, because we think that modern parents probably have never seen a case of measles or mumps and rubella, or it theory or any of those kinds of things. So we actually go over what those were.
[01:02:51] So people understand why it's so important to vaccinate against those. And people could sign up for our newsletter, which goes out every month and. To [01:03:00] get the commentaries delivered to them and we hope they will do that. Right now. We're working on many different projects. We'll probably the biggest one we're working on is trying to test out our protocol for how one goes about dealing with ms.
[01:03:15] information on the internet about health and science topics. We have a substantial grant from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation to pursue this work. We are in a scientific mode. We've developed what we think is a evidence-based method for doing this and that we have to see if it works.
[01:03:32] I just wanted to say we actually are working on an updated edition of our book. I'm not exactly sure where it'll be out probably sometime next year, but, we have new chapters on COVID and health crises and misinformation. And so it should be. Very relevant and denying to the grave. you can get it on Kindle.
[01:03:52] That's where I've got it. is there any other place that you'd recommend people who would go find it I think is the best, it's also available on the [01:04:00] Oxford university press website. Great. Wonderful. Well, it's a fantastic book. I really enjoyed reading it. I even enjoyed more speaking with both of you, Jack.
[01:04:08] I hope that I can be as successful one day as a father, as you've been in Sarah, my hats off my goodness. I'm adding the downhill skiing and I think I'm ready to take a nap after hearing all of that. Thank you both. And, and appreciate us. My apologies for running you over. but I really appreciate the time.
[01:04:27] Great. Well, thank you. It's been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for having was fun. Yeah, the same. And let's keep in touch sounds great. All right, thanks. Have a great day. You too.